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How do you become a permaculture orchardist?

 
Patrick Mann
Posts: 302
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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Stefan, I'm curious about your background and how well it equipped you for becoming a permaculture orchardist. Did you simply learn by doing? Or are there skills it would make sense to acquire in a more deliberate fashion? I'm thinking about the business of running a profitable orchard as much as the actual growing.
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
permaculture orchardist
Posts: 118
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Patrick Mann wrote:Stefan, I'm curious about your background and how well it equipped you for becoming a permaculture orchardist. Did you simply learn by doing? Or are there skills it would make sense to acquire in a more deliberate fashion? I'm thinking about the business of running a profitable orchard as much as the actual growing.

Patrick your a keener I keep coming across your name. Good for you.
Yes I learned by doing with a great background to complement what I was and still am learning. I'm a wildlife biologist by training (my penchant for the 'allies' in the orchard), furthered by a Masters in wildlife on animal behaviour. Then a Masters in Landscape Architecture where I learned design. 20 years running a landscape design office that phased out as I phased in the farm. Finally I had to decide since Design and Farming have their peaks of activity in the spring, I decided to close the design office to focus on the farm and begin the Permaculture Orchard. I was a near total newbie respecting orchards when we bought a 4,000 tree conventional apple orchard. Began conversion to organic immediately, lost 1,000 trees first 2 years (ouch!!), learned a WHOLE LOT. Certified Organic for 4 or 5 years. Now just beyond Organic with the Permaculture Orchard.
Lot's of teaching (8 years teaching at McGill University), training (PDC's and parts of PDC's since 1995) and speaking (over 400 presentations). You can see the links to most of these at: www.miracle.farm
 
Patrick Mann
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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Thanks for patiently answering all my questions. As you can tell, I'm very excited about the subject and thinking about embarking on an orcharding project myself (beyond just my backyard). This information is really helpful.
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
permaculture orchardist
Posts: 118
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Patrick Mann wrote:Stefan, I'm curious about your background and how well it equipped you for becoming a permaculture orchardist. Did you simply learn by doing? Or are there skills it would make sense to acquire in a more deliberate fashion? I'm thinking about the business of running a profitable orchard as much as the actual growing.

Sorry I missed your second part of the question.
There are 2 parts to your question:
1) Running an already insanely great designed Permaculture Orchard. Anything else but a redesigned orchard keep away from since it will be a ton of work.
Any retail sales experience is great (oh yes I worked retail as well). Since you will have to think like retail in sales per ft2. Know yourself. Do YOU really like the sales aspect, the growing aspect, the design aspect? Maybe you would do best to partner with someone who is passionate about the parts you are not.
2) Establishing such an orchard (design and implementation phase). Maybe get someone who loves to design for this phase. Implementation: you better like planting. We are working on a system to establish such an orchard at the rate of 1/2 to 1 acre acre per day. That would be a huge breakthrough needed to really take it commercial. I've done the R&D to show it works. Now to get it to scale and deploy rapidly.
3) Skills: you have to love working with people (unless you will do this for your own food only). Wholiistic, systems wide thinking is a great asset. Ecology was one of the most useful subjects in school it gave me a broad outlook. Design (you can farm this part out). Operations (you can get someone who loves the day to day operations of such a system- hint if you find someone send that person my way Implementation (be able to follow a plan and please see the film before you embark on such a journey, I really will save you 10 years at least of trial and error and $1,000's of dollars. Don't reinvent the wheel. Take what I've learned and build on it. There is still so much room for improvement but start there, please.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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