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making money from forests: ideas?

 
Wesley johnsen
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i know that timber sales, maple syrup are great ways to generate money from forests but does anyone else know a way to hit the jackpot without clear cutting or building or oil and gas? i want to start a conservation business that uses the forest for everything possible in an environmentally responsible manner to pay back loans and to acquire more land. if anyone can give me some ideas that would be great.
 
chrissy bauman
Posts: 131
Location: Sunset Zone 27, Florida
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i suppose you could have a mixed orchard forest. there are a few fruit trees that prefer being in the understory, pawpaw comes to mind. coffee. grapes. where are you located?
a lot of people run pigs through their forest.
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Take a look at Dauerwald, you can selectively harvest trees, to leave the better for later. If you know how to make flooring, etc and know how to sell it, you can making flooring out of many woods that normally aren't used by the big producers.

 
Kitty Hudson
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Location: SW KY--out in the sticks in zone 6.
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When you say "hit the jackpot" I assume you mean a big return fast without a huge investment of time and energy. Not possible, I'm afraid. There are ways to make money from a forest while working responsibly with nature, but I'm afraid they're just going to take time and effort, and the return will not be a huge one.

The one way I can think to make some fast cash with a stretch of woodland would be to lease it to hunters during hunting season. Kind of depends on how big an acreage you have, if you have any houses bordering the property that would be hit by a stray bullet, and if any pastures border your property (a big brown calf or a 6 month old filly can look like a deer when views through a screen of brush--hunters have been known to shoot at what they think is a deer only to run to their kill and find they were near the edge of the woods and hit something NOT a deer.) You would have to make clear that the hunting party was not to nail makeshift stands to the trees and had to police their brass and trash, as well as sign waivers of liability so that they could not sue you for any accidents. Also, it would have to be made clear what dates they had reserved the property, if you wanted to rent to another party later, so that you'd not have more than one group shooting on the same days unaware of one another. Considering that deer season has archery, black powder, and rifle seasons in fall, and that there are also 2 turkey seasons, and squirrel season, it would be possible to make a bit of money there. (Arrows don't go as far as bullets, so a smaller acreage could support archery hunting when firearm hunting isn't possible.)

If you are in an area afflicted with feral pigs (an invasive and destructive and flat out mean critter) you might be able to make an arrangement with a person or 2 to pay a small fee to set up pig traps--they get to subsidize their grocery bill with organic free range meat, you get a small fee and get rid of a pest at the same time.

Other than that, Black walnuts trees produce large crops and also support certain groups of wildlife, as do shagbark hickory trees; black walnut wood is also valuable--takes about 10 years for a BW to bear nuts, and 15-30 more to reach the size for a good wood harvest, so it would be 10 years before you got a return from seed grown trees.

Pawpaws are a good tree for understory growth and they do tolerate the presence of BW trees. The fruit is rather delicate for shipping, though it does have quite a bit of demand in some areas. Mine, which are seed grown, are about 6 years old and I'm hoping to see blooms on them for the first time this spring. Container grown grafted varieties are available and would bear in a few years.

Native plums are a good plant to market as a wildlife feeder and an erosion control plant. The plants grow fast and then begin to sucker from the root. The suckers can be dug when young, potted up and sold after they develop some roots of their own. Fair bit of work there, but it does work with the plants natural tendencies and promotes good stewardship of the land.

Ginseng is a highly desirable medicinal that grows wild in the forests, and it is possible to seed hillsides with it, though the best and most profitable specimens are several years old, and the seed can take a couple years to germinate.

In all of this, you do have to factor in your time and efforts (planting, maintaining, harvesting) as well as advertising. With the rent to hunt option (if possible in your situation), you would have to clean up anything the hunters left behind (you could add a clean up deposit to be returned if they leave the property tidy). Good luck.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Wesley,

I couldn't add to much that Kitty didn't cover. The most important things that I could add/expand on are as follows. What ever you do, the forest can sustainingly take care of you, but it will be very hard (rewarding yes) but very hard work, with slow returns, for the most part. Feral pigs are really bad!!! get rid of them if you have them, and if you don't, do let them in your forest. Learning a guild craft or cottage industry skill sets that stem from your forest is the best way to make money quick. I teach indigenous life skills, green woodworking and sustainable timber framing practices. A nice forest can give me all the materials I need to build timber frames and furniture, including beautiful floors, but you will need several hundred acres for that, and to learn the skills or work with someone that has them.

Best of luck to you,

Regards,

jay
 
David Goodman
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"Other than that, Black walnuts trees produce large crops and also support certain groups of wildlife, as do shagbark hickory trees; black walnut wood is also valuable--takes about 10 years for a BW to bear nuts, and 15-30 more to reach the size for a good wood harvest, so it would be 10 years before you got a return from seed grown trees."

I was going to recommend them myself but Kitty beat me to it.
 
Wesley johnsen
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is maple syrup just a winter thing? i live in ohio and there are paw paw trees and i could grow them for a paw paw fruit CSA [community supported agriculture] along with nuts. are blueberry's a shade or sun plant? i have herd of blueberry syrup. i could create a shack along with jobs for people to work to make syrup and to harvest nuts year round like everything in the summer and maple syrup in the winter. oh by the way does anyone know a great way to get money to buy a big working forest? i fear investors because they mite control the company into a forest destruction business for home building.
 
David Goodman
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Another thought: perhaps understory plants isn't the way to go. What about animals? Chickens can forage really well beneath trees, being jungle animals by origin.
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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charcoal could make you a bit of cash from what ive HEARD, havent done it myself though
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I don't want to sound like a stick in the mud, but introducing livestock and cultivars into a forest biome is not a good practice from an environmental position. Both these plants and animals can reek havoc on those ecosystems.

If the forest is large enough, and you acquire the skills, you can make a very good living as an indigenous wild harvester. We have a couple locally that have been doing it for years. I ran a trap line and "natural harvested" enough to buy my first house at 17 and later build my first timber frame house at 19 of 20 acres of land that I purchased for selling the house, (after I fixed it up,) that further sustained me, the garden and live stock stayed in the yard and pens, the forest sustainably yielded everything I really needed, while the garden and livestock was a extra bonus. I think you can do this, as long as you live in harmony with the forest, and don't try to bight of more than you can chew, both in the hard work, or in your financial expectations.

Regards,

jay
 
David Goodman
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I don't think you sound at all like a stick in the mud, Jay... what you're sharing is just another angle - and a fascinating one at that. What precisely was bringing in your income? Furs? Meat? (Pardon me if I sound daft, but I'm originally a city boy.)
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Thanks David,

Back in the day, (fur is coming back in vogue, as the anti fur folk have lost some foot hold,) a fur off a raccoon or red fox could fetch up to what would be $100 today or more. On a good weekend I could harvest 10 to 20, sometimes of each. Brutally hard work, and dangerous. I would think twice about it today, but in some regions it is more than warranted, and the paycheck is coming back.

Mushrooms, fiddle heads, Gin-Sing for the botanicals, with a smattering of this and that. Black trumpets could fetch almost as much as silver per ounce at times, but you have to know (skill sets again,) to harvest, with out hurting the crop and where to sell, (high end chiefs,) it is a real net work and rather "hush, hush." Still is and part of the reason I stopped and only consumed what I harvested. I'd rather teach skill set, crafts, etc. and green building.

Regards,

jay
 
Wesley johnsen
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i wander if a cabin rental business is a good way to make money. has anyone done this before? also a private camp ground. do you think building cabins in the woods would be bad to the environment? here is a great video about what i could do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l7bhtjstGQ
 
David Goodman
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Very cool, Jay. I'm just delving into the possibilities of wilderness here in N/Central FL. Thus far, I'm only doing little things like finding native fruit trees, digging wild yams and picking greenery for salads... sound like there's a lot more out there that could be useful. What I've done is already like magic for the people I shown it to. "You can EAT that?" "Whoa - that root is like 10lbs... you found it"

Learning these skills is a big obstacle for most of us stuck in the standard American life... glad you jumped in and shared a bit.
 
David Goodman
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@Wesley

RV sites are even easier and there's a big slice of market there. Aging boomers, trying to reclaim their wandering pasts... ka-ching!
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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David G,

How far are you from black water bayou near Pensacola, Fl? I spent part of my youth in those swamps from age 8 till 13. You have a great place to learn and master skills.

Wesley,

Contact a local B&B and see what kind of turn over they have. You can often contract with them for "primitive cabins" or "tree house" stays. Very lucrative, but again it has it's challenges both physical, and fiscal.
 
David Goodman
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I'm about 5 hours from there. I live a little south of Gainesville right now. One of these days, I need to visit the panhandle again... I've only been there once in my life.
 
Cohan Fulford
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Location: West Central Alberta, Canada
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If you have or can acquire the skills, there are various fine arts and crafts that can be made from and inspired by the forest without any large scale/destructive harvesting..
To add to the wild harvest idea, depending on how intact your native flora is, there are many possibilities for harvesting wild herbs and crafting into edible, medicinal and cosmetic products...

There is something that is getting more attention lately- based at least in part on a Japanese practise: forest therapy- the person in need of the therapy (aren't we all? I wont get into the promoted benefits here, you can google) simply needs to spend a modest time in the forest setting- doing nothing particular! I think one could easily set up an environment for this kind of therapy- some seating, viewpoints, easy trails, and of course some modest marketing in a hopefully nearby urban area. Farther from an urban area you might need to think of accomodations, and in any setting value added services/products could include refreshments, and any of the sort of craft/herbal/edible products mentioned above, or to take it to another level, healing/spirituality/ widlcrafting etc classes/ meetings so on....
Of course that leads us to general sorts of ecotourism, guest houses, etc....
Depending on your terrain, another sort of angle could be creating trails for offroad cycling, cross country skiiing etc..
 
John Polk
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If you live anywhere near "Fine Dining", both mushrooms and 'ramps' (wild leeks) are natural woodland crops that command very high prices from 5-Star chefs.

 
Bruce Meyers
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Great idea.

Make a business plan just like you would if you were opening any shop.

Write down all the possible ideas from what you read and hear and just come up with. Keep them in a book. Don't judge them up front as ideas lead to more ideas and take on a life of their own.

Look at others doing something along this line and get into communication with them and join a group or start one. The only competition you have is the insane situation that we find in America's insane policies so 'birds of a feather'. Go to meetings, start meetings and get involved, always keeping the log books of what you have learned. Be very diligent about this.

Andy Lipkis, the founder of Tree People started out creating a movement in Los Angeles and now has a group that has planted millions of trees in the LA area and his foundation gets major funding from big donors and people that just want to help. I think he planted over one million trees in less than one year.

And know this, when there was a big problem with the dust bowls in Roosevelt's time, and they became aware of the problem, because the dust filled the skies of Washington D.C. that the federal government got involved and set up a program in which they planted 200,000,000 trees and they had to have people that knew what they were doing to orchestrate that. On a scale of 1-10 I believe that government people are at least a -200 but there are times when they are useful, so look around and see if one of them that is useful maybe slipped through the cracks a la Ron Paul.

Here is one thing that I especially recommend; hang out on YouTube and NextWorldTV.com and follow up with the speakers you find there. Create your own database of resources (people you meet) and websites you go to and see about creating your own website so you can all communicate together.

Also, many of the farmer's markets have people who are very interested and maybe even expert in the fields of farming and growing things and so might be able to steer you with referrals.

Then see if one or some of them are really great ideas and take the steps to get one or more implemented. Do little tests.

Now, if you have a great idea that might take a long time, ginseng growing for instance, you might get an investor or maybe people will pay for the ginseng ahead of time.

Think about starting small depending on your resources and also farms like Polyface Farms have lots and lots of people that are willing to almost give their property to someone who will take care of it because their children don't have an interest in it and they love it.

There is so much opportunity right now because there is that confusion of what to do.

Hook up with Amish or Quaker farmers in an area because they, while it is farming, are also great Stewart's of the land.

Much Success in your ventures.
[color=blue]
[/color]
 
John Alabarr
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Nuts
Pinecones (I was at a grocery store around Christmas time and they were selling pine cones tied together with twine. I thought, what the heck? I was surprised when my wife asked me to get some.)
Pine branch wreaths (seasonal)
Pinestraw
Firewood
Hammer handles
Axe handles
Fee hunting of deer, turkey

 
Kevin Wilson
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Location: Powell River, BC
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The phrase used here (BC) is "non-timber forest products" and what those are, exactly, depends on your location and your forest.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Wesley johnsen wrote:does anyone else know a way to hit the jackpot


"Hit the Jackpot" is not the way of the woods. Forests are a long term, slow crop in any sustainable manner. There are many things to do including a mix of sustainable logging for timber, firewood (different), syrup, mushrooms, many forest floor edibles, silva-pasture, orchards, plantations, agri-tourism. Forestry is part of our farm mix. It takes a lot more acres to earn much money per year over the long run doing forest than pasture or other farming as the woods are much slower but it is a good balanced part of the mix.
 
Claire Gardner
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Location: Idaho
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Wildcrafting is worth looking into. It depends on what is growing there, but edible mushrooms command a premium price. If you have an local herbalist, ask them what herbs they buy and what they pay. It may not bring you a "jackpot" but if you really want to encourage sustainable living, that is a lifelong project. Dreams of "hitting the jackpot" are understandable, but what would you do with your "jackpot?" Start living the life of wanton consumerism again? Maybe you already hit the jackpot - you have a forest you may live harmoniously within.
 
kobyn schlichter
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Cohan Fulford wrote:If you have or can acquire the skills, there are various fine arts and crafts that can be made from and inspired by the forest without any large scale/destructive harvesting..
To add to the wild harvest idea, depending on how intact your native flora is, there are many possibilities for harvesting wild herbs and crafting into edible, medicinal and cosmetic products...

There is something that is getting more attention lately- based at least in part on a Japanese practise: forest therapy- the person in need of the therapy (aren't we all? I wont get into the promoted benefits here, you can google) simply needs to spend a modest time in the forest setting- doing nothing particular! I think one could easily set up an environment for this kind of therapy- some seating, viewpoints, easy trails, and of course some modest marketing in a hopefully nearby urban area. Farther from an urban area you might need to think of accomodations, and in any setting value added services/products could include refreshments, and any of the sort of craft/herbal/edible products mentioned above, or to take it to another level, healing/spirituality/ widlcrafting etc classes/ meetings so on....
Of course that leads us to general sorts of ecotourism, guest houses, etc....
Depending on your terrain, another sort of angle could be creating trails for offroad cycling, cross country skiiing etc..


sweet idea. setup a sweet area for people to come and take pictures at.
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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ive noticed in the forests around here that the early spring/late winter after a fire, one can find iron rich sand quite readily available at the surface where pines once grew proudly, if one were to use this iron rich sand to teach a smelting class or smelt something themsleves than they could make money from the newly smelted iron/steel and possibly some off of the metal made, i know tagahagne(i know i spelled that wrong) steel that is easily made from iron sand and charcoal go for a pretty penny to the right sword making blacksmith and some would pay decent money to learn how to smelt metal from raw material provided you can find the right niche community/market

this wouldn't work on a huge scale with the method that i use for collecting the sand (go with a bucket while hiking and mushroom hunting and when i don't find any mushrooms i fill the bucket with the iron sand by kneeling down at a location and scooping it out, i think that it washes back into the soil within a few months of springs arrival and the snow melts though so its a seasonal collection period)

interestingly, this would be the perfect time to collect a lot of charcoal without having to make it yourself from the charcoalized trees

which makes this a decent potential contribution to income for the fire recovery period
 
Sean Banks
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American Ginseng and rare native plants for the nursery trade....these two are going to bring in a lot of cash.......you can grow the american ginseng in your woodlot, it likes shade and fertile humus soils. It takes a few years before you can harvest the root though, they are often exported to china and other countries in Asia for use in medicine. For the rare native plants I would try growing the orchids; yellow or pink lady slipper, I seen some websites selling them for $60 per plant. I would also consider trilliums and turks cap lily.
 
Mike Cantrell
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bee books duck food preservation forest garden hunting solar trees
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Devon Olsen wrote:ive noticed in the forests around here that the early spring/late winter after a fire, one can find iron rich sand quite readily available at the surface where pines once grew proudly, if one were to use this iron rich sand to teach a smelting class or smelt something themsleves than they could make money from the newly smelted iron/steel and possibly some off of the metal made, i know tagahagne(i know i spelled that wrong) steel that is easily made from iron sand and charcoal go for a pretty penny to the right sword making blacksmith and some would pay decent money to learn how to smelt metal from raw material provided you can find the right niche community/market

this wouldn't work on a huge scale with the method that i use for collecting the sand (go with a bucket while hiking and mushroom hunting and when i don't find any mushrooms i fill the bucket with the iron sand by kneeling down at a location and scooping it out, i think that it washes back into the soil within a few months of springs arrival and the snow melts though so its a seasonal collection period)

interestingly, this would be the perfect time to collect a lot of charcoal without having to make it yourself from the charcoalized trees

which makes this a decent potential contribution to income for the fire recovery period


Not a bad idea, but I think only realistically going to add a few bucks a year to the budget. I've done two smelts... it's a 12-hr day of fiddling with a crude and unpredictable furnace to yield (IF it comes out right) enough for one medium sword or a couple small knives.
Someone might pay $100 or even $200 for the billet, but you're down around minimum wage by the time it's done. Don't forget you need a $1500 power hammer to form the billet from the bloom. Maybe an apprentice with a sledge will do in a pinch.

On the other hand, it's great fun. Just a frickin blast. If you want to veer away from permaculture a bit and into smithing, that is.


To add one different thing to the list, I know burls fetch good prices for specialty woodworkers. Some woodworking shops will buy them to saw them into slabs for turners, knife/gunsmiths, furniture builders, etc.
I don't know what it takes to harvest one.
 
Ed Waters
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We grow and sell the following:

Good King Henry
Sorrel
Ramps

These are good choices because they are easy to propagate from cuttings. We have just started trying the same with bloodroot. Ramps are our biggest seller but the season only lasts around 6 weeks.
 
Mateo Chester
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Location: Zone 4b
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You could set up a vermicomposting and/or composting operation... Lucrative practice if you're producing high quality humus...
 
Ed Waters
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We have 45-50 black walnut trees on our property. Does anyone know of an innovative new way of getting the meat out of them? It is about the most expensive nut in the store.
 
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