• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

anyone here make money from permaculture?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 9859
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
219
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Michael Bushman wrote:The problem with permaculture and people today is that we get two broad groups of people doing this. One group sees it as a way to have their work provide a more fulfilling life and others who see it as a way to halve their work, the former works the later doesn't.



Actually, the later has totally worked for me. I have reduced my working for money by half or more, and I'm able to be reasonably comfortable doing so because of permaculture: http://www.permies.com/t/54918/frugality/Working-money-expensive
 
Posts: 2
Location: North Dakota
fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So much inspiration!!!
 
pollinator
Posts: 673
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
82
bike dog forest garden hugelkultur cooking urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Diego de la Vega wrote:Does anyone here make money? ... I know there are designers and consultants making money teaching people permaculture, selling books, etc. However, I have searched this board over and have not really found anyone who said that they themselves made enough income from their homesteading/farming operation to support themselves throughout the year. ...
Can permaculture be the farming of the future? From all I have read and the production claims people have made you would thing the answer is yes. If all this is true why isn't anyone making any money? Is anyones net income from sales of food, medicinal plants, animals greater than $50,000? $100,000?

Why am I asking? I want to believe that permaculture can be as great as it sounds, but I have not seen any evidence that it has worked for more than possibly one man (Sepp Holzer). If the production is as great as people say, than we should be able to make a good living without the government subsidies that other farmers rely upon to survive....

Honestly, I was disappointed when I came to this board and failed to find evidence of financial success.

Maybe permaculture is great on a small scale to help individuals and families to be more independent and to eat better food. Maybe it cannot work on a larger scale. Please prove my impression wrong.

Diego


Hi Diego. I think you misunderstand the word 'permaculture'. Permaculture is not only agriculture. Permaculture is a total 'way of life'. The agriculture/horticulture part is only one of the many facets of a permaculture life. Someone having a small plot, growing his own vegetables and fruits, and earning his money from teaching, writing books, designing, making home-made products, etc. is someone who 'makes money in permaculture'. At least that's my point of view.
 
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:
Hi Diego. I think you misunderstand the word 'permaculture'. Permaculture is not only agriculture. Permaculture is a total 'way of life'. The agriculture/horticulture part is only one of the many facets of a permaculture life. Someone having a small plot, growing his own vegetables and fruits, and earning his money from teaching, writing books, designing, making home-made products, etc. is someone who 'makes money in permaculture'. At least that's my point of view.



I guess that depends on how you define that way of life. The saying, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach," is not meant to insult educators, whom we all have found valuable. Rather, it refers to the reality that teaching is often something people fall back on when they cannot make a living from the activity being taught. An example that has nothing to do with permaculture: not many professional surfers can make a living on just surfing tournaments and competitions, hence the plethora of surfing instructors out there.

On a more sinister note: you will recall the housing bubble a few years ago. Well, the astute could tell when the bubble was about to burst, because you would see ads on TV for courses teaching how to make money in real estate speculation. Speculators began to teach it when they could no longer make money doing it.

But not all of us have the people skills to do well at teaching. Some of us would prefer to be able to live off our own products -- and that can include making home-made products to sell. But there is a saturation point for such activities as teaching, writing books, and design. Look at it this way: suppose you were so successful at getting people interested in permaculture that all suitable land in your county was occupied by permaculturists. You could still sell your products in the towns and cities, to people who have no access to land; but there would be a dwindling demand for teaching and design. And unlike consumables, which consumers must continually buy again and again, books stay around; the total number of books per capita increases steadily, whereas the total number of apples does not. When a reader has many permaculture books, eventually they will stop buying more.

What I am trying to say is: a sign that a lifestyle is a viable one is that the number of people teaching it is only a small percentage of the number doing it. If everyone doing it has to teach it, that is reason to doubt its viability long term.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9859
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
219
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jason Hernandez wrote:
What I am trying to say is: a sign that a lifestyle is a viable one is that the number of people teaching it is only a small percentage of the number doing it. If everyone doing it has to teach it, that is reason to doubt its viability long term.



I think geoff lawton said less than 1% of the people he has taught have gone on to be teachers. Most people seem to learn permaculture in order to apply it to their own lives.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4339
Location: Anjou ,France
240
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Also those who are trying to make a living at least partially from teaching make a lot of noise about it
To attract students one supposes

David
 
gardener
Posts: 2381
94
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Part of the point here is that when we all learn to grow our own food and medicine, we ALL get richer, healthier, happier, and more confident. Wildlife gets more places to live and the earth gets healthier. Many of us can live like rich people because we have learned to grow, cook, bike for transport, gather food and medicine and share ways to live a really fulfilling life that money cannot buy. Some of the posts have sounded really negative in this thread. I think we are making a better world in which many more people realize that having all the things that permaculture brings means focusing on more positive things and having more time to spend on things that are also good but possibly unrelated to permaculture. In my case that might be skateboarding, baseball, playing music, outdoor sports with my family. Having that frame of mind and the extra time gives us the opportunity to spend our lives in truly fulfilling ways instead of slaving in the rat race. It isn't always paper money, but time and a real sense of satisfaction are often better than money.

John S
PDX OR
 
Posts: 25
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Most of the comments mentioning people making money from permaculture have links to farm websites. Is this an indication that being searchable online is an important (or vital?) part of their business plans? A necessity? prudent resource investment?
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
Posts: 673
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
82
bike dog forest garden hugelkultur cooking urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Paul Lutz wrote:Most of the comments mentioning people making money from permaculture have links to farm websites. Is this an indication that being searchable online is an important (or vital?) part of their business plans? A necessity? prudent resource investment?

I think it is important to be 'searchable'. Maybe, when you only sell at farmers'markets you do not need a website. But most people who buy products of a permaculture farm are interested to know more, so they will search online ...
 
Posts: 23
Location: Southern NSW Australia
6
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Paul Lutz wrote:Most of the comments mentioning people making money from permaculture have links to farm websites. Is this an indication that being searchable online is an important (or vital?) part of their business plans? A necessity? prudent resource investment?



I think having online presence is a good idea, but I know of a couple successful farmers who are making plenty enough money through their contacts (no website necessary).

Part of the benefit to having a website is that it serves essentially as a business card. People can tell their friends about you easily by referring them to a site.

Another benefit is the ability to share your "story". Why would someone want to buy from you and not xyz? Online pictures, videos, and blog posts can help make people feel more connected to you and your farm. This creates a sense of loyalty- a desire to help you continue with the story.
 
gardener
Posts: 1813
Location: Zone 6b
195
books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Having spent an evening upon finding this thread and reading....

I consider that I need to reduce my NEED for income (aka 'money') and to provide for myself what I need and want. I want to reduce my footprint (carbon) and reduce my labor to do all of the above.

So to do that I'm going through about ten steps to do so. I am somewhere about four...

I have land. 2 acres in town with good water supply that is inexpensive. Not cheap, inexpensive. The city will not let me drop a well though the aquifer is 150-190 feet down. Land is also my hedge against stuff nailing me later in life as that tends to hold value. Because of location and the fact I buy water that does give me two expenses--property taxes (not too bad) and water (usually not too bad)

1 have planted trees to produce fruit and nuts, plus grape vines. All are in full production. I am continuing to plant trees. Trees are future. I am also propagating trees.

I am growing more of my own food. More active than permaculture, but yes. I have planted in rhubarb and do something called RGGS as well as t-tape irrigation (required for some of what I grow) plus in ground heat tapes with hoop houses plus bale berm coldframes to extend season. Generally I preserve what I grow for myself. It isn't doing my entire year needs yet but it helps.

I work to decrease my energy use with strategic planting in hot season for shade of my house and using various solar items to cook with, dehydrate, and capture heat during the cold season.

Replace things with more durable items and getting away from the throwaway.

We volunteer at our local food pantry. The shareouts for volunteers has greatly reduced our food purchase needs.

I sew, mend, dumpster dive, and recycle, especially fabric. It helps a great deal in clothing us and looking well to boot.

I choose carefully and may spend more up front to save more throughout (whether it is a quality tool, workboots, or quality food and suppliments in bulk).

I walk a lot. I have totes and other things and am used to carrying 30-50 pounds for a good mile one way. It costs me time, but returns dividends on exercise and health as well as less fuel burned, wear and tear on vehicle, etc.

Income? I would count less expenses as income. It is money I didn't have to outlay for things I need and want. I didn't have to pay taxes on that money. My goal may not be 100% permaculture but I can certainly use those concepts and practices to lower the amount of consumer goods I need, consumer services, as well as less of a carbon footprint and comfortable quality of life.

Money to cover those things (such as electricity, water, property taxes, internet access), it will be nice if I turn around far enough to be able to get my lifestyle, what I grow, and what I do directly to produce enough money to cover those things. Do some do that by doing active total permaculture? You bet. Permaculture is a way of life as well. So do people make money at/for/with Permaculture? It depends on your definition. I would say shifting over, as far as I've gotten, has reduced my income need by a third. More of that reduction to come. In that case yes, I would say I'm making a living at it, when I get to where I reduce that income need to something I can juggle, covering all the bases.  Some make an income that the traditional practices and norms can recognize (growing blueberries and pulling thousands of dollars a year at market). But. A lot of permies, are living better with less ... less money. With a happier life and health.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2381
94
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nice post, Deb.

I think real life examples like yours help people see some real possibilities that might not be exactly the same but similar enough in their lives or with their friends. 

I don't think that it's helpful to worry about having achieved 100% pure permaculture.  I think it's like eating. I don't worry that everything I eat is absolutely sustainable and healthy. I just try to aim in that direction and enjoy the sense of satisfaction that I get from gaining some ground over time.  I still eat cheesecake on my birthday, and several other things that aren't 100% pure.  It's still better than how I used to be.

I think that very few of us are 100% carbon neutral, grow all of our food, never use outside resources and contribute mightily to others pursuits thereof. I just think aiming in that direction is a positive.

I still drive my car to work sometimes even though I now ride my bike/use public transit more than I used to.  Judging myself for some car use is not helpful, in my opinion. If we can enjoy the small victories along the way we can enjoy them more with a positive attitude.
John S
PDX OR
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
Posts: 673
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
82
bike dog forest garden hugelkultur cooking urban
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Deb Rebel wrote:... I consider that I need to reduce my NEED for income (aka 'money') and to provide for myself what I need and want. I want to reduce my footprint (carbon) and reduce my labor to do all of the above. ...
Income? I would count less expenses as income. ... living better with less ... less money. With a happier life and health.


I totally agree Deb!
I am 'going in the direction' of needing no money at all (not a goal, but a direction). I call that 'living money-low'.
Growing edibles in my own garden, as well as participate in a permaculture community garden, is one of my 'steps' in that direction.
Sewing and repairing clothes, buying 'quality materials' at the thrift store, is another step.

I think everyone has their own 'steps' to go in their direction. Some people like 'making money', selling produce, others don't. It can all be part of the 'permaculture lifestyle'.
 
gardener
Posts: 3296
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
747
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I fondly remember the emotions I had the first time that I harvested a stick in the forest to make a handle for the set of pruning sheers that I have been using for 40 years. During that time, I went through a lot of handles, cause I've used them a lot. Previously I had bought handles, because that was how I was raised. But one time when the handle broke, I was pruning a 20 acre orchard, and the store didn't have a replacement, and I didn't have money to replace them that day anyway, so I cut a branch off a walnut tree and made a handle. I was horrified at myself!!! Redneck! Hillbilly! Poor! How is that related to this thread? I stepped out of the need for money. I'm a tree pruner for Pete's sake. I don't need to be buying sticks!

Here's a photo from a few minutes ago of the lopers. I am proud of them today. They celebrate the transformation in my life from being a consumer that requires money, to being a producer that doesn't.

PC220013.JPG
[Thumbnail for PC220013.JPG]
Graduation certificate.
 
Posts: 35
Location: The Ozarks
3
books forest garden hunting
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For what it's worth, I agree with the comments about reducing the need for a large income. In my previous lifestyle, I would have had to make about 45k-50k annually to stay afloat. That's a big ask for a newbie at permaculture with only raw land to work with, because TIME. But now that I have just moved to my land, my spouse and I are spending 15k a year. That's because I do not have debt, rent, bills, etc. A lifestyle change can, in a sense, "earn" me 30k a year. 15,000 dollars a year from selling resources and food that result from permaculture seems to me a very attainable goal, even for my earlier years out here. Everything I make beyond that amount would just go into speeding up more permaculture projects, which in turn provides more money, and so on.

I guess asking if one can personally make money from permaculture is kind of like asking if _____ method of building will work. the answer is almost always...well, that depends on where you're at. In the same way, if you want to make enough money to cover your expenses, you really just have to ask yourself what expenses you believe are worth paying. Want a lifestyle that costs 3 million annually? You might need to own several very successful businesses. Want a lifestyle that costs 80k? Be an IT Manager for an energy company. Want a lifestyle that costs 10k? Walk some dogs or sell some arts and crafts.

 
Posts: 14
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live in the Capay Valley in Northern California. The farmers here are mostly organic. Maybe some qualify as permaculture. The largest farm, Full Belly, keeps their workers employed all year. They grow a variety of crops plus sheep, cows and chickens. They think it's part of their job to grow other farmers. We have farms that grow almonds, walnuts, stone fruits and citrus, tomatoes and row crops.  Farms are mostly small--20 acres or so and some make more money than others. If you are trying to homestead then you're probably trying to grow everything you need to live. That doesn't leave much time for cash crops and you're probably going to be poor. If you are a farmer and grow cash crops, you are unlikely to have the time to grow all your own food and provide all you need from your land. Are those people farmers or permaculturists?  I think people trying to be self-sufficient are homesteaders. People trying to make a living off the land are farmers. Investing in a farm makes sense but I haven't found a way to do that. I looked and mostly found nonprofits who wanted rich people to give them money. I wanted my money out of the stock market. Still do but other than becoming a partner in a farm, I couldn't find a way to invest with the goal of having a return on my investment. I retired, bought some land and am
Looking at the farmers around me. If you want to become very good at what you do, you can't do everything. The more varied your crops the more things you have to manage and try to do well. If I grow the best oranges and two or theee other crops and get the best prices for them then it makes more sense for me to buy my eggs, milk, cheese, meat and veggies from my neighbors.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2381
94
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Barbara,
Your post really made me think.  I don't think that you have to be 100% self sufficient to be doing permaculture. Trading and buying is part of life.  Most permaculturalists like growing some things to feed their families, but not necessarily everything. 

I think that some diversity will make it easier to do organic efficiently, because the bugs will have to cross over "foreign" territory that may harbor predators that eat them.  If you have a gigantic block of one crop, you are providing an ideal buffet for that one pest.   You don't have to plant 50 commercial crops. Your diversity can be flowers to attract pollinators, unrelated plants that are trouble free but give you food that you personally want to eat but can harbor spiders, little birds, and other diverse wildlife.  You can intercrop some trouble free plants that harbor natural predators of your pests.  The other plants can also put nitrogen into the soil, and put deep roots in that bring up nutrients and drive away root pests.  I think your plan for a few commercial crops to focus on to make money makes sense. The other plants can diversify your commercial crops, but they don't necessarily have to be commercial crops themselves that you fuss over.  It sounds to me like you are doing very good work.
John S
PDX OR
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
Posts: 673
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
82
bike dog forest garden hugelkultur cooking urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
in my 'future permaculture plans' I think of
- growing the fruits and vegetables I like, to eat myself,
- trying out a lot of techniques (dams, swales, Hugelkultur, etc.) because I like experimenting
- sharing these experiments with interested people by inviting them for workshops/ courses
- trading the products of my garden and handcrafts for food I can't grow myself
Last two things can be my 'income' (be it money or traded goods) .
That is my idea of 'living money-low'.
 
Posts: 1442
Location: Fennville MI
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seems the thread has drifted a bit from "making money from permaculture"

'self-sufficiency" is an unrealistic goal, but it's also a goal that is, in its essence, the opposite of making money.   If someone were, in fact, self-sufficient, they would have no need for money.

Sometimes we talk about the need for a farm operation to make money in order for it to be "sustainable".  There is some truth in this, but how much money does it take, and what is the money for?

Are we seeking to be "sustainable" within the current paradigm - that we know is not sustainable -? There's a paradox.  Sometimes there is discussion about making a white collar salary doing permaculture. 
Again, this has the feeling, to me, of a desire based in the existing paradigm rather than being founded in the full meaning of permaculture.

From my perspective, the original question is phrased in the current paradigm of an infinitely expanding economy - a thing that simply cannot continue indefinitely and that, indeed, appears likely to have plateaued, if not fully topped out.
I recently heard a lecture by toby hemenway, which I need to find and listen to again more carefully, because of a point he made about our current energy consumption.  If I heard and understood correctly, he stated that our current annual energy demands are substantially in excess of the total amount of energy Earth receives from the Sun each year.  Assuming I understood correctly (and I tend to trust Toby to have done his research and have the numbers right), this is a pretty frightening idea.  We are overspending our energy budget as a planet every year.

That certainly cannot continue forever.

Rather than "does anyone here make money from permaculture", I suggest the question should be "does anyone here make a living from permaculture?" The difference may be subtle, but I suggest it is profound.
 
Posts: 26
6
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For me reducing my need for money is the same like making money. I just started to make a foodforest, and I can say I am already very succesful, if I look at the amount of money I used to spend, and what I spend now.

One and a half year ago I was still working fulltime in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) in a restaurant (cook). Not a great income, but because I found cheap housing, I could save money for my current life. But its very hard to find affordable housing in Amsterdam, the average rent for an apartment is 2000 euro per month (that is more than my income was). Above that, you have health insurance, and for me paying back my student loans was my biggest expense. Because of my cheap rent, I could live with about 1000 euro a month, saving almost the same amount. The higher your income, the more student debt you have to pay back. Below an income of  15000 a year, you don't have to pay at all.

So for me keep working didn't make much sense. I went to Portugal, and bought a small (1 acre) plot of agricultural land, with a lot of fruit trees already there. There is a good supply of water from a well. I payed 5K for the land (including costs and taxes), and invested in some materials, a solar system and trees and seeds, for about 3K. Now I live on about 300 euro a month, so 30% of what I spent in Amsterdam. In the summer I had some vegetables from my garden, so I could manage to do shopping once in three weeks. Now I have not much to harvest, but I have my fresh eggs. So I need to go shopping about three times a month. In Holland I was used to go shopping a couple of times a week, think about it, most of the time I was eating at the restaurant where I was working!

One of my goals is to be an example to other people, afraid of making this transition. I don't say I do everything perfect, in fact I made a lot of mistakes. But that would be even a better example, every idiot can do it! In my point of view, urbanisation is history. The life in the city gets more expensive every year, especially in gentrified cities like Amsterdam (housing prices up 20% in a year). For the average Joe it doesnt make sense anymore to stay in the city. You can do what I did!
 
Posts: 5
Location: belgium
bike food preservation fungi
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

i visited quiet some biological farm, and some of them are practicing permaculture without calling it permaculture and make a living that way.
 
author
Posts: 25
Location: Cobden, ON
2
bee solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi,

Great question.  Yes, you can make a living Permaculture farming and it requires opening up to a practical approach that focuses on profitable diversity.  Check out our website: www.kulafarm.ca

🌿Zach
 
steward
Posts: 1794
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
441
bee books chicken forest garden fungi hugelkultur trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's a great video from Ridgedale Permaculture

Richard talks about the things that tend to hold people back from creating successful small permaculture farms, and what you can do to move past them. It's really all about the mindset, the planning, and the creativity and innovation it takes to make it work.

Enjoy!


 
Posts: 75
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is one of my favorite videos to show in answer to the question, "Yes but, where's the money?"

I think they're making a good profit and managing land at commercial scale:

https://vimeo.com/110995798

The folks who are producing and making profit and regenerating land are the Holistic Management folks. They say over 10,000 ranchers have been practitioners for 20+ years.
 
Mother Tree
Posts: 10464
Location: Portugal
1174
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar tiny house wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for sharing that video.  I've embedded it below.

 
Posts: 59
Location: Canada
1
forest garden fungi tiny house
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the big reason why there aren't a lot of extremely profitable permaculture farms is that most people become passionate about permaculture for reasons other then money.

When running a business your balance sheet needs to be the number one priority. If you compromise your balance sheet for ideals or because you would rather experiment with 100 different plants then focus on 3-4 that are profitable; the business fails and then the whole movement cannot attract investment.

It's obviously a bit more complicated then that but it really boils down to not running a business like a business.

There are a few examples of success though so it should be repeatable.

Stefan Sobkowiak and Mark Shepard have working farms that someone could model after.
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 1794
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
441
bee books chicken forest garden fungi hugelkultur trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The author of the book The Permaculture Market Garden, owns a successful permaculture farm in Canada. Here's their website.
 
Posts: 11
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems there is a disconnect between the vocabulary.

"Permaculture Farming" is an oxymoron.

Permaculture is one thing.

Farming is quite another.

Only when people agree on this dichotomy will there be any agreement whatsoever.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1074
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
151
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David, that's not my take on it. I believe that the term permaculture can be applied to a type of farming.

I have created a homestead farm which has gradually morphed and adapted to the point of being predominantly a permaculture farm. The farm supports itself plus provides nearly all our food and farm oriented resources, in one way or another. Having reached this point, my aim now is to see the farm's excess converted into a livable income. I don't need much to live on, so I deem this to be an achievable goal.

To me, permaculture is Permanent agriculture, a method of agriculture that can continue for hundreds of years without degrading its environment. That precludes the use of finite resources, as I understand it. Since I use small amounts of oil based fuels and products, use a truck, use tools that have not been hand tooled, in the eyes of a purist I am not strictly permaculture. But if every small farmer used so little outside resources as my farm uses, this form of agriculture would far outlast the duration of our species while not outstripping its resources nor degrading its environment.

I agree with you that the majority of commercial farming can not be deemed permaculture. But that's not to say the there cannot be permaculture farms.

Permaculture has grown to be a lifestyle. Not everybody aims to become a farmer. But some folks, like me, have a passion for farming. And I've gradually changed my farming style to permaculture.
 
Posts: 42
Location: Southern Thailand
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sam White wrote:Here's a study done by the Ecological Land Cooperative focusing upon the economic viability of smallholdings (10 acres or less). UK based study but you might find it interesting.


It's available here as a PDF
library.uniteddiversity.coop/Food/Small_is_Successful-Creating_Sustainable_Livelihoods_on_10_Acres_or_Less.pdf
 
Posts: 325
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9, 60" rain/yr,
23
dog duck hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am Gerting it at home, producing or trading with home produce for 1/3-1/2 our food and drink with very low overhead. I am also making decent money part time working with volunteers, interns and students on our local community college food forest installation to increase local food availability and provide for our free food pantry for those in need. The main aspect i’d emphasize is that permaculture allows you to build capital (in all its forms) and live off the interest like an endowment, whereas so much of our economy and food is dependent on practices that rob from the principal resource base their profits depend on. The latter is not profit, it is stealing from our descendants.
 
Posts: 85
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If permaculture were an economically-efficient system then more farmers would do it.

Subsistence farming seems a more apt classification. Fine if you're a hippy-type but poverty for most. Most people aspire to accumulate more wealth and standard agriculture is the way to do it.

Even big agriculture, non-permaculture organic produce can't compete with standard large farm produce. In Australia it's always more expensive, hence catering to only a niche market.
 
Ben Zumeta
Posts: 325
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9, 60" rain/yr,
23
dog duck hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tim, while I think you should be welcome here regardless, why are you here if that’s how you feel? Subsidies put “most farmers” atop a house of cards with feedback loops leading to dependency on large corporations and the subsidies they dictate through lobbyists. This is why many farmers are adopting permaculture principles and profiting from it on all three bottom lines. I have seen a moderate sized and well established vineyard quadruple output and income streams within 5yrs using permaculture endorsed practices. I have seen how in Samoa, subsistence polyculture practices that looked a lot like permaculture sustained a culture that had much better health and quality of life outcomes than what had resulted from “modern agriculture”  So in my overly opinionated opinion, your comment sounds willfully ignorant.

Based on permaculture principles put into action, I eat and drink better than most French Kings ever did and live in an incredibly beautiful place for well within my means. If I had a million dollars, my life wouldn’t change much. I do come from a relatively affluent background and my education was provided by family and merit based scholarships with little debt. But if this is poverty, I don’t know what to call the sanitized squalor most humans live in.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1986
280
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, I am everything everyone hates! :-)

I do a farm class on raising sheep, but also a class on taking a farm from Hobby Farm/Beginner status to full time farming status
I Farm Full time
I write books on farming (3)

For those that that have read some of my posts lately, I have been kicked in the teeth a little bit these last few months by having to sell some of my farming equipment, some of my forest products, my flock of sheep, have lost my health due to cancer, lost an unborn baby to miscarriage, and found out my cancer is now spreading. That all seems like complete failure, but is it?

I am a 9th generation farmer here and have read books and dairies from my forefathers and they dealt with teh same issues. There is no such thing as farming without problems, but rather perserverence through those problems that makes farmers successful. I am still here, reduced in size granted, but still farming, and full-time at that.

As for profit, yes I was profitable last year.

Net worth wise, I am still a Gert.

My debt to farm value is 9%

For many months I did not go here and post, and almost did not do some farm classes..."why should I", I thought, "how can I tell others how to farm when I have failed so bad?" Yet after a lot of thinking, I realized what sets me apart is being humble and telling people the mistakes I made so that they do not go down those rabbit paths. We have all read the articles, teeming with glorious reviews on this breed of pig, or that, but no one says the drawbacks. I tell people both sides and let them determine if this style of farming matches their farm.

I am too big of a farm, and cannot afford to bank everything on new ideas that may or may not work, but a lot of permiculture is actually old ways of farming that is tried and true. For me and my farm, treading that thin line between constantly trying something new, and doing things the old way, ensures a future and prosperous farm.

 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1074
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
151
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tim, your post provokes thought. That's good! But your conclusion may not be entirely accurate. It is the same argument I heard made about organic style farming decades ago. My ag agent said that organic farming could never be profitable. It was for hippies. It was a niche fad. You could never make a living at it. In addition, no bank back then would loan money to an organic farmer. No government money was available either. Of course, all that is changed now. Organic farming is indeed profitable and recognized.

As with all farming techniques, one can practice permaculture on a level ranging from hobby to subsistence to small business to large business. Plus a farm doesn't need to be 100% permaculture. It can just incorporate those methods that benefit the farm.

My own farm is a homestead farm. Over time it has become more and more permaculturely oriented. It has gone from costing me money, to supporting us and paying its way.....and is now on the verge of making a modest living beyond subsistence. As it grows it should provide us a comfortable life.

I talk story with local farmers all the time here. Some just want their farm to give them a basic comfortable life. Some others aspire to making lots of money. What farming method they are using makes no difference in their goals. Some of the modest lifestyle farmers are conventional farms, others are not. Same for the aggressive big farming outfits.....some are conventional and some are not.
 
Troy Santos
Posts: 42
Location: Southern Thailand
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seems to me Geoff Lawton featured this too Urban Agroecoloy: 6,000 lbs of food on 1/10th acre - Urban Homestead - Urban Permaculture 


Travis ... your story is encouraging and inspiring. I wish you well
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 1986
280
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tim Kivi wrote:If permaculture were an economically-efficient system then more farmers would do it.


It took me awhile to understand this as well, but a lot of Permiculture is actually just old school ideas on farming that are tried and true. In many ways they just have different names, or they just went out of farming vogue. That does not mean they are not effective.

Back in the 1950's swales were huge here. Today, after a long hiatus they are coming back.
I grew up in 1970's riding helicopters spreading cover crops on fields. After 30 years that is coming back.
We always used Keyline Farming, we just called it a different name

Because people are not involved in agriculture, many think these things are "new" when they are anything but new. But that is all good stuff; The new people to farming are excited to get into something that really works, and the old ways of farming are not being lost.

Tim Kivi wrote:Subsistence farming seems a more apt classification. Fine if you're a hippy-type but poverty for most. Most people aspire to accumulate more wealth and standard agriculture is the way to do it.


This is only true if you look at farming from a production type of view, where a person has to grow something to make x amounts of dollars. But if you flip that thought around, a person actually "makes" more money if they do not spend money in the first place. That is because when you get into production, there is inherently a cost. "You have to spend money to make money", but when you do not spend it, that is $100 savings and stays right in the person's pockets.

I can spend $425 on a ton of commercial fertilizer and get my grass to grow to make feed. OR I can plant that field into a mixture of clover, alfalfa and timothy and get feed that uses nitrogen fixation to self-fertilize my fields. It does not give me the potash and phosphorous I need, but thankfully those needs are less than nitrogen.

It is the same with hugels or other aspects of Permiculture, and in the end you "make" a lot more money when you are not spending it, whether talking about fertilizer or buying food to feed the family.

Tim Kivi wrote:Even big agriculture, non-permaculture organic produce can't compete with standard large farm produce. In Australia it's always more expensive, hence catering to only a niche market.


This is not necessarily true.

For instance, my family has a conventional dairy farm and since I left it it in 1992, production per dairy cow has doubled due to technology. Since organic dairy farms cannot enjoy that rate of production, it means they either have to have:
1) Twice as many cows to provide the same income if the price for organic milk was equal to conventional milk
2) Have twice the cost per gallon/hundred weight of milk
3) Have some sort of mix between one and two which is generally how organic farmers get by (more cows with a higher cost for their milk, but not twice as high as conventional)


It really depends on the farm. Most of the time, it is the smaller farms that get into organic production because they can get the higher prices and thus make smaller acreages profitable that do not get the benefit of economy of sclae. Part of that too is cost per acre. Since a bigger organic dairy farm would have to have twice the land acreage as a conventional farm to get the same production, if property taxes and land availability were cheaper, it could very well be done, and is being done, profitably.
 
Ben Zumeta
Posts: 325
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9, 60" rain/yr,
23
dog duck hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nothing but love for you here Travis! Be well and kick that cancer!
 
Posts: 125
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Since this topic just keeps on giving, might I mention that Permaculture, according to its founders, is primarily an ethic, not a method or a career essentially. It is a way of thinking, acting--'culture-ing' as it were. You can make money in whatever ethical way you choose.

In that vein, there's nothing un-Permaculture about "selling" the knowledge and understanding of that ethic. Sounds like a very honorable and fulfilling career.
 
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Perhaps saving money might compare to actually making money. For example, instead of purchasing some prescription medication, homeopathic alternatives are much less costly. Granted, some prescriptions cannot be easily replaced if at all. Just getting out of the loop (some call it the rat race) can be a money saver.
 
WHAT is your favorite color? Blue, no yellow, ahhhhhhh! Tiny ad:
Binge on 17 Seasons of Permaculture Design Monkeys!
http://permaculture-design-course.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!