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Might buy 4 acres for permaculture use.. WWYD?  RSS feed

 
Nicholas Culpeper
Posts: 2
Location: Tennessee
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Hey guys, this is my first post and I'm trying to figure out if I should take the leap into farming/agriculture and potentially into permaculture so I came here for advice!


The RED outlined area is what I'm going to buy if I do decide to.. the YELLOW outlined area is also for sale and is the exact same acreage and price but I feel like space wouldn't be utilized as wisely with such a long rectangular shaped parcel of land vs. a good square.

I'm 21 years old and live in Tennessee and this particular land's hardiness zone that's pictured is 6b but I don't currently know the soil quality. I understand many things can be done to fix poor soil quality or other problems with land but I'm definitely new to that concept. Everyone in this area would rather do things the most destructive and counterproductive way possible it seems.. WITH ANYTHING from agriculture to forestry. So, during my upbringing I've had no real concern for the environment or future generations after me but for some reason the past 4 years my whole outlook on life, conservation/preservation, and helping my community and possibly the world has changed. Now comes the undying need to buy land. For some reason I can't get buying land out of my head. First I wanted 1-2 acres for large greenhouses to grow aquaponically to feed myself, girlfriend, and family.. and sell surplus for profit.. then I wanted 5-10 acres for a small homestead.. then came 5-10 acres for growing timber as sort of a retirement plan.. All of these have one thing in common that I can't really provide.. time. I will be having to move an hour.. maybe 2-4 hours away from this land pictured within the next 1-2 years and the time period that I will be gone will be 4 years. My girlfriend is going to get her graduate degree and the nearest place that offers her degree is 1 hour away.. the next nearest is two and a half hours away. I really want to be productive with something instead of working a dead end 9-5 that is making me really depressed but I can't fully commit to anything because I feel like I'll have to just up and leave once I get something established.

To describe myself in the best way I can.. I'm looking to make a living off of this venture and some type of agriculture in general.. whether that be through commercial aquaponics, traditional but organic farming methods, permaculture, etc. I see myself as a "green entrepreneur" rather than a person strictly worried about holding up permaculture principles.. Money does come first to me but only to invest into my community more than just being able to sell organic produce.. I could see this transforming into a juice bar that is fully operating off of the produce I grow.. or a joint effort with grass-fed cattle farmers to have a little burger joint.. this town of 10k people has no access to organic food and I can probably count on 2 hands how many food establishments that were started by local people.. everything else is fast food chains.. the only grocery stores are Kroger and Walmart. It's the same story in every other town for 2 hours in all directions.. I would like to make big changes but still be compensated and essentially secure my future along with my children and grandchildren and their grandchildren.. I currently only make 12k-14k a year. I would personally be happy with 20k-30k and be very comfortable. So, I'm not out to get rich but I would like to be able to quit my job and bring healthy food to my community and make a living doing it.

I'm sorry for this wall of text but it's almost 5am and every single night for the past 2 years has been this way.. me sitting up all night long thinking of things to do to make a living but make this area healthier or at least give it the OPTION to be! My main question is.. should I take out a loan to buy this land.. (I could have it paid off, interest and all, in 5 years if I stay at my job..) I would like to do something similar to what Stefan Sobkowiak at Miracle Farms has done but I couldn't deal with the.. "clutter" I guess you could say.. I know that's kind of just a thing with permaculture but is there not a way to streamline the process to more along the lines of companion planting rather than full on permaculture? Something like where the plants benefit each other but have a permaculture environment that doesn't require lots of work like traditional agriculture? Also to not have so much stuff packed into one big ball of green that is so hard or daunting to harvest? I would like to incorporate goats for milk, butter, yogurt, etc. and let them forage without me having to feed them (in case I can only check on the "farm" twice a month) but I know if I had a bunch of things that I specifically planted to climb another plant or tree just laying out everywhere it would be completely gone that same week with foraging animals..

Maybe I'm just tired and need to go to sleep.. I hope I wasn't rambling too bad and maybe I made some sense.. I'm not even going to re-read this post before I post it I'm sorry.. I will check back when I wake up tomorrow before work.

THANK YOU if you read this. I know this is a great community with people that actually care and that's why I'm here..
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3981
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
166
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Howdy Nicholas, welcome to permies!

If you can pay it off in 5 years and it is all you can think about... I say you had better go for it.

Start slowly, observing things and work on it when you can. 5 years goes by quickly.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
79
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Welcome to Permies, Nicholas!

My advice would be to avoid competing head-to-head with Kroger and WalMart and supply the people with something that the big boxes don't carry. Creasy greens maybe? I just started growing these last year, and I can see how it could be a profitable niche market. Plus they don't require milking every day.

Other people use small acreages to raise a sorghum crop and process it into syrup. And in the fall, when they are cooking and bottling up the syrup, they always sell out.

Keep on thinking about which niche would be the right fit for you -- it's out there.
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
6
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Hi Nicholas
I'm totally jealous that at 21 your looking to buy some land with the intent of growing some food.
I'm just past the 50 mark and it took me over thirty years of working in the landscape horticulture field to find my true passion, growing food.
You are way ahead of the pack. Trust your instinct.
Good luck with your decision.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 503
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
26
books food preservation fungi hugelkultur trees
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I would say go for it. Take some time, observe the land for a year or two, depending on how much time you can be there. Work on some of the infrastructure like perimeter fencing, water, power, sewer, etc. After you observe for a while start with some earthworks (swales, hugels, general water harvesting, maybe even some roads). After that start your plantings with trees and other perennials so they will be established once you are ready to move onto the land full time. Think about things that require little attention. I definitely wouldn't get any livestock out there until you can be there close to full time (Maybe lease some out for grazing to the right person). Like I said go for it man! Have fun, experiment, observe, and learn! You should be able to really make a go of it after five years of setting up systems and infrastructure. I think your goals are completely achievable, just take your time and keep costs low. Good luck!
 
Nicholas Culpeper
Posts: 2
Location: Tennessee
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@Miles Flansberg, Thank you, 5 years will go by quick and I'm hoping I don't lose out on that valuable time! My goal is to be financially secure so I can retire at 40 (from a job). I don't think I'll ever fully retire from working per say but I don't want to work under anyone. I'd like to provide for my own self instead of depending on someone else my whole life. In 5 years I'll be 26-27 so I need to be getting on it lol

@John Elliot, Thanks for the welcome! I'm really glad you brought up sorghum because I actually thought about growing and processing sorghum because it's almost a lost art in my opinion. Sorghum will be non existent in the next 20 years, I'd almost bet on it! I'm very interested in growing niche things like sorghum to process into syrup or having an orchard to make jams. My big thing now that I've just gotten interested in is beekeeping. I've never touched a beehive but I feel like it would be a cool little hobby to start. Plus, honey never goes bad, wax can be used for tons of cosmetic items, propolis can be taken as a supplement and royal jelly as well. I would love to sell products like that but I think around here it would be near impossible to have true organic honey. Are there any ways to keep bees isolated to 4 or 5 acres of land without them wandering off onto a field that's been sprayed with agricultural chemicals? I was thinking about somehow setting up a massive mesh net/screen around the whole property connected to trees. If that's not dreaming then idk what is! lol If it's never been tried I'd like to do it! I'm strict about the term organic and if I was to sell something I would want it to be completely 100% organic and without the contamination of synthetic crap that would never naturally occur on Earth in the first place. I'm willing to go to whatever lengths I have to make that a possibility! Are there any other niche things that have long shelf lives that I could potentially sell online as well? Sorghum and honey are perfect examples of something I would like to do. I even thought about planting a massive herb plot and harvesting them and making tinctures, salves, tea bags, culinary infusions, etc. and selling online. I just don't know how much money that would give me.

@Jamie Wallace, Well I've been influenced by the movement as a whole. I think me spending sleepless nights on the internet looking for ways to secure my future and reading about the corruption of our food and water supply ( and seeing it first hand).. I put the pieces of the puzzle together and dialed in to this exact thing. I want to make a living in agriculture but I want to be a good guy regardless of the income. The university I go to literally caters to people getting agriculture degrees with political science minors and vice versa.. if that's not screwed up then I don't know what is. Our future and more importantly the ones that will come after us is completely shot at this point. I'm praying that I can get the funds to make a little change in my community in the beginning then spread it far and wide and partner with others. My biggest dream as of right now is to have the biggest organic farm in the strictest sense of "organic" and I'm talking not even a plastic water bottle on the premises! I wouldn't even allow water to be stored in plastic holding tanks! If our great great grandparents could find a way then we can too.. my generation is a generation of entitlement and laziness and there are some out there that want change but mob mentality always prevails and I've seen some great minds go down hill due to popular culture spreading this "I don't care about anything lifestyle".. it's definitely one of my biggest fears because when our food supply is controlled by a couple of corporations, our water supply is completely privatized and regulated, and well our energy supply is already controlled by a handful of "grids" that the government has access to.. You can't help but do the math and figure out what way we're headed.

@Dave Redvalley, Dave I think that's my main concern. I'm probably not going to move onto this piece of land. I already live about 30 minutes away from it and even after my girlfriend graduates we won't be going to that town to live. It's in the same county but will still be 30 minutes or more away when we buy our property where we want to build our house. We are looking to buy 200-300 acres or maybe a little more in the town we both grew up in. She'll be making great money when she gets out of school so we are kind of just on pause until then. That's why I'm wondering if I should hedge my money. I definitely don't want to just save it in a bank considering the low interest rate vs. inflation.. I will technically be setting myself up to lose money after 5 years. But, that get's me into the problem of "what should I put my money into".. lol I swear my cause of death will be a heart attack. I shouldn't be stressing this much but I really want to do something productive so I can be at ease and don't feel like I'm wasting time.
 
Grant Peters
Posts: 5
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From 2 or 3 acres is a big jump to 200 or 300. The bigger place would be easier to keep your bees out of harm. I would say save what you can, and learn as much as you can with hands on while your partner finishes school. The more you are exposed to, the more you will find out what you do and don't enjoy. All the best.
 
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