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sepp holzer income  RSS feed

 
steward
Posts: 25174
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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MortgageSepp started off with the farm in so much debt that he seriously thought about walking away from the land.  So - like most folks, he started off with a mortgage. 

Hundreds of dollars for a tour:  I think I once did the math and came up with something like $125 for the tour.  Keep in mind that the first time he allowed a tour of his horticultural empire, he was just a kid and he charged a lick of an ice cream.  Later is was "50 goshen" which I guess is very little.  I suspect that the rules of supply and demand came into play and he kept raising the price because so many people wanted to come and see and ... here we are.

how long is the tour?



I have not been on the tour, but my impression is that it is an all day thing.  And you park at the bottom of the mountain and walk up.  And you can take home all the produce you find. 

For me, think of it this way:  Most farmers eek out a miserable living.  Lots and lots of work for itty bitty pay.  Sepp has successfully eliminated irrigation, fertilization, pest control and most seed planting.  He also sells his stuff for way more than what other folks sell their stuff for.  So if I'm a farmer making $15,000 per year and Sepp is bringing in $400,000 per year just from the farm (I am making this number up) - not including his consulting services or book/video income.  And he is gladly sharing a peek for $125 ....  I think it is well worth $125. 



 
paul wheaton
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I'm not interested in small numbers of incredibly expensive things



You can sell a butcher pig for $200.  Some people sell them for $250.  Some for $300.  Some for $350.  Some for $400. 

So .... some people sell them for twice as much as others.  Why is that? 

Is the $400 pig better than the $200 pig? 

What if you sell your pigs for $400 each and you sell about 50 per year.  But you have a waiting list of 30 people wanting to buy pigs from you because they like your pigs better than the other pigs?  Do you try to raise more pigs, or do you choose to raise the same number of pigs and just raise your price a bit? 

 
paul wheaton
steward
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someone told me we should grow organic saffron flowers, of all things, because it "has a really high selling value."  Yeah, well it won't provide any real calories for people, and that makes me think it probably might not be valued as much in the future.



Why not grow a little and see how it goes? 

I think that is the key to sepp's success:  he seems to have about 40 different income models.

 
paul wheaton
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Uh .... I'm not sure why sexism and catholics are being talked about in a thread about sepp holzer.  Maybe some of this should be in a different thread?



 
                          
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Paul i think you are right diversification of income is the key, relying on only one sorce of income could be harmfull, many things can and do go wrong, but if more than one income sorce there is less chance of all income stopping for that year/season and more chance of saving yourself from finacial hardship
 
                    
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Yeah, I admit that post got very off-topic, and I almost suggested it be filed under meaningless drivel.  Rose was the one talking about catholics, and I don't really get what she's getting at.... 

Well, if our new food system becomes a bunch of people trying to sell each other expensive things that aren't full of nutritionally dense calories, I have a feeling we'll all be kinda skinny.  The reason I scoffed at the saffron thing is that it was suggested with the intention of becoming a full farm income, and I seriously think that plan would be foolish. 

I completely agree with the original spirit of this posting, which is that many different avenues of revenue are always the best way to ensure a steady income. 

I think it's kind of unimportant to guesstimate how much money Sepp "makes," because I'm sure he's done hours of work without anyone standing there handing him cash for it.  There are no time cards in this line of work.

I like that he makes people park their dang cars and walk up a mountain....
 
pollinator
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A 17 min podcast of Paul doing a Q & A after watching the film "Aquaculture." He talks about Sepp's money-makin': in particular charging folks to come to the farm for the day, and then letting them take as much stuff with them as they can. http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/?s=sepp+holzer+film+discussion+2
 
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The talk about having several different incomes reminds me of a farm on Oahu, Olomana Gardens. The man in charge, Glenn Martinez, originally bought the land and then said to himself: How will I support my wife and I.

Many years later he has developed a beautiful farm. He comes up with many different ways of income: he sells compost worms, vermicast, eggs, frogs, fish, produce, aquaponic systems, feathers (of chickens) for fly fishermen, a folding raised bed (which is very cool).

He gives tours which he charges any where from $5-$50, gives classes on aquaponics, and rents out part of the property for events like weddings. Whats great is he will tell you how to build an aquaponic system with out pressuring you to buy his. He just wants to spread the knowledge. I attended an aquaponic class of his for free (it was $50). Although I did not think it was worth $50, people were still very happy and satisfied with the info they got.

Just giving an example of multiple incomes from 1 farm
 
gardener
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I hope these post don't get chopped up. I get Paul's effort's to provide a space for equality of position's and that he's quite responsible for what may be the most active permaculture forum site on the net. But allot of these viewpoint's represent larger groups of people they just don't get onto forum or This forum.  It would be ashame to sequester people's capacity to learn from positionallity that could be considered politically and ideologically charged.

Frankly allot of wild viewpoint's are quite helpfull, just witnessing the social breakdown of view's on affluence in the category of what we hold dear as permaculture using Sepp'y as an inanimate target was quite enlightening. Maybe it's the homesteading, maybe it's the time we spend on the net, but one thing's quite clear. Allot of us are Isolated, if I'm not researching something I need to know the internet's pretty useless, I'm not big on entertainment and wasting time, but I do love to mix work with socializing. I'm sometimes ashamed at home much I refresh this site looking for new ways to talk on the job.

I represent, naive enough to think everyone who use's the word permaculture has read all of Bill Mollison's books, I didn't even know people where learning it from other people. I'm not use to people expressing "what permaculture means by interpretation to them" It really is valuable just to witness regardless of agreement. I realize how permaculture like anything else we human's get into is just as assailable by pollution.

I really didn't know people where getting suckered into thing's like crap pdc's, or the race to be "authoritative" cause true "authority" that comes from experiential reality.

I remember one day complaining to my wife that the only people I see earning an income I could call a good living by my culture, where people who attained celebrity or authority by interpreting permaculture to suit the ideal's of the widest audience possible. I always start with "who the f is this guy and what's he on about" Then when I start paying deep attention, I can value even that which I disagree with for I see it's benefit's from a wider context.

One day blah blah blah I'll be like Sepp yahh, and this little two page spat just reminded me of a really true hard life lesson.  Your dammed if you Do and your dammed if you don't. I really liked how extreme the spat got so I could see the middle way, and that's really to not give a dam what people think, because people ommit what they need to satisfy the human urge to be right.  The vanity of something like attacking Sepp which + or - we don't know a dam thing about, for what you can assemble of a man's life from video's and internet blurb's is so ridiculous that it almost makes you want to stay inside.

Half way through the debate, I started to look at my own viewpoint's and analyze them for some kind of let's say "decency". I don't want to be just another opinion spat online for the sake of seeing my own name is "text based lights" One might aspire for invincible wisdom over swaying a crowd to think I'm an awesome character.


I think when we start to omit things for the sake of a shinier world, we commit the same act's in reverse as the people who omitted self honesty and reason in order to make their viewpoint seem right.  The fact that fight break out is good, most of the time they lead nowhere, but some of the time's they lead a man no-one knew was watching on a brighter path. I'm all for managing overt negativity, but how can we expose something like Marxist view's actually exist within permaculture if we oblate these pimple's that pollute each time they arise. 

Money is neutral, for the man who isn't destroyed by it, money comes as a natural consequence of the gift's he's given the world. For he who think's the world of money and it's attainment , comes the natural destruction of such a view.

Sepp's affluence looks directly proportional to his gift's and his effort's in life, so of all the people to worry about, I have no doubt 10 dollar's or 10 million he can sleep at night. That's all anyone should really be worried about, I don't want a dollar I don't deserve nor are any of us truly the arbitor of what is Just in life, so I'm pleased with 10 or 10 million any day of the week.

It's very pleasing to see intelligence getting monetary respect, but I very much doubt money is what make's Sepp respect himself.
 
pollinator
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I have two thoughts on this subject:
1. He knows something we don’t.  We want to know it.  How much is it worth to us?  How much have any of us paid for a TV, pair of sneakers, monthly cell phone bill?   He has already shared a great deal through films and writings on the internet for free.  As Paul says on this forum  “I will answer a question on the forum so every one can learn or I will come to your house for 1000+ bucks.  I think that is very charitable.
As an ex horse trainer I was always amazed at the number of people who just wanted ME to spend HOURS telling  them how to do something for free but didn’t want to spend a dime for me to hand over information that cost me years and years and lots of money to learn.

2. Capitalism in it’s purist form is, in my opinion, a great thing.  It is pure voting with dollars and no matter how big or small you are – if you provide something that someone else wants you win.  I think that it is when we start talking about what someone should or shouldn’t do, or making sure that the playing field is fair (fair to our advantage) that things get screwed up.
I do believe that, even though Monsanto is a giant, if they did not have all of the subsidies, tax breaks, lobbyists, big lawyers to squash little people, they could not survive.  There are too many of us that would pay the little guy – and we would pay him more for his ear of corn than we will ever pay Monsanto.

So, if Sepp charges, and gets, what ever price he asks for – more power to him.  He is making money, the customer gets something they want, and the really neat thing is that what we get from him helps everyone in the long run.
 
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I only read the first half of this and I have only this to say.



LONG LIVE sepp holzer!!!

come on hes a living legend, if you listen to the video he charges 90 bucks but the people get to take a van full of produce away if they choose,

You cant put a price on a visit to sepps farm, if it was in england I would go once a year and happily pay that.

He doesnt trick people into going they form orderly lines.

and whats more he says words like biotope and hugelkulture and spells it with a k which is even better LOL.

its all a load of fun guys, if you can make money do so because if you dont big brother will bite you in the a$%e.

once i get my alotment set up i think ill charge people to come, he he he oh yeah and if you got a spare 5 minutes please go to my thread, asking for advice on setting up my allotment its in permaculture part, cough cough

ps sorry for poor grammar.
 
steward
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One of the most wonderful things that can happen to you, from an income point of view, is being regarded as an individual, instead of a category. An example, I was a software developer for years but pay often three times as much as other software developers. Why, people wanted me, and there is only one of me. Good ole supply and demand.

Could others have done what I did? Sure but there were always those who wanted the sure thing, which was me.

sepp holzer earned his higher income by being the Rebel. He took lots of risk to do this from what I can tell. He deserves whatever people are willing to pay him now.

just my opinion
 
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This has been an interesting thread to say the least. I just finished sepp holzer's Permaculture a few weeks ago, and I can sympathize with the both sides of the debate. Holzer is an experienced farmer with a lot of hard-won knowledge, and I genuinely appreciate his willingness to chart his own course and and to share his knowledge. He's a also a first-rate self-promoter, a trait that (obviously) is shared by any number of successful business people. It's also a trait that leaves me a bit cold. By nature, I tend to be suspicious of self-promoters, and I know I'm not alone. It's a sliding scale, of course, and Holzer is no Donald Trump (I mean that as a complement!).
 
E. Elkins
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paul wheaton wrote:

I think that is the key to sepp's success:  he seems to have about 40 different income models.



That's definitely one of the most important points that I took away from the book, and, if I remember correctly, one that he learned the hard way (after the post-Chernobyl crash of his mushroom business).
 
Fred Morgan
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E. Elkins wrote:This has been an interesting thread to say the least. I just finished Sepp Holzer's Permaculture a few weeks ago, and I can sympathize with the both sides of the debate. Holzer is an experienced farmer with a lot of hard-won knowledge, and I genuinely appreciate his willingness to chart his own course and and to share his knowledge. He's a also a first-rate self-promoter, a trait that (obviously) is shared by any number of successful business people. It's also a trait that leaves me a bit cold. By nature, I tend to be suspicious of self-promoters, and I know I'm not alone. It's a sliding scale, of course, and Holzer is no Donald Trump (I mean that as a complement!).



I can't tell you how many very talented people I have met who didn't know they need to promote themselves at least a little bit and failed because of it. I have read Sepp's book and he doesn't seem to be anymore than a person who has had to deal with all his life people telling him he was wrong, he would fail, etc. Thankfully, he knows you have to promote your business. And business owner is a self-promoter, if they stay in business.

Yeah, I am speaking from experience. Our business thrived because I was willing to share stories about life here in the campo. Was it self promotion? In a way, I was trying to show who I was so people could make a rational decision on whether to trust me. Most people don't buy based merely on facts, but "the story". Sepp gets this.

The self-promoters that I am leery of are those who don't want to say how they are doing it . Sepp seems more than willing to share to the world.

Being from a very technical background, I can't tell you how many engineers I have met (and I am an engineer) who assume that those in marketing and sales aren't doing anything. Actually, they know what they are doing very well - which is why they sell things.

And if you are going to generate an income from your farm / permaculture / plantation / etc, if you want to get premium prices, you have to do more than just sell to someone who then sells to someone else - and that means promoting what you are doing, which includes yourself, if you are the owner. The truth is, I don't like sharing about myself, but as the owner and president, well it is part of the job description.

Just my dos colones, but we are very successful at what we have done.
 
Peter Fishlock
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Fred you said you are a President, where are you President for? Barack is that you he he.

About self promoting and stories, I watched a documentary last year about Homo sapiens and the neanderthal, and it basically said evolved and went on as the dominant species because our tribes traded things and ideas, the spear thrower for example, we told stories and shared songs which had meaning and traveled around the globe.

The neanderthal was extremely intelligent, a much larger brain than our own, much stronger and faster, but they made grunts and hand gesture not that great for detailed conversation, they also didnt intergrate with other clans as good as we did, and therefore if a clan made a discovery it would stay and die with that clan, the homosapiens shared it.

Its how we survived trying times and its what we have to do with permaculture, its the only thing that will save the planet, its the only way to turn desert landscape back to rainforests, its the only way to make arid dry landscapes plentyful,

There are a few people have have watched alot and learned alot from, Sepp is one of them, I would love to go and see his farm and I am so glad he is such a great self promotor or i might not have heard and learnt from him.
same goes for Bill Molly and geoff lawton I love watching those guys, the PDC course is actually awesome, got my hands on the dvd a few weeks ago and its just jaw dropping stuffing and im only on disk 4 not even half way through.

Now for a bit of self promotion, I am an absolute noob at permaculture having never actually practiced it, I have a thread about my allotment space I have uploaded my design please take a look and offer your opinions.

http://www.permies.com/t/11937/permaculture/PERMACULTURE-ALLOTMENT-DESIGN-SMALL-SCALE

another thread I saw that has great relavance for me and other newcomers is this:

http://www.permies.com/t/11954/permaculture/Which-plants-should-combine


please take a look and offer your opinions

thanks

Pete
 
E. Elkins
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Fred Morgan wrote: And business owner is a self-promoter, if they stay in business.



It depends on your definition of self-promotion. My wife and I have been self-employed small business owners for the last 11 years, and we take a very restrained approach to marketing and promotion. At times, I've wondered if it's to our detriment, but the fact remains that our approach has worked for us. In short, we don't toot our own horn -- we let our work and our customers speak for us. In part, it's a personality thing. Both my wife and I are introverts who prefer to be out of the limelight, so we do business in a way that's comfortable and satisfying for us.

Nonetheless, I don't want to come across as saying that self-promotion is a bad thing or that sepp holzer is a bad man because he's a good marketer. I have a great deal of respect for Holzer both as a man (his compassion for non-human animals struck me especially strongly) and as an entreprenuer. Nonetheless, I think he is a bit of horn tooter. Of course, you could argue that he's earned the right to toot his horn. And that by tooting his horn he's better able to spread his message. And you're probably right.

 
Fred Morgan
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Peter Fishlock wrote:Fred you said you are a President, where are you President for? Barack is that you he he.
Pete



Just a president of a company, thank fully.

Nothing wrong with people deciding to not promote themselves if that is the direction they choose to go. If you can make enough to live without having to "expose" yourself, why not? But, would we even know about Sepp if he wasn't into promoting what he is doing?

Just saying self-promotion is not necessarily wrong. Sometimes people are sacrificing to promote themselves since they really don't enjoy it. Here in our community, though we employ a lot of people (up to 100 at one time, which represent a significant percentage of the nearby town) most people don't know me to meet me on the street. (street - well let's say what tries to be a road for part of the year)

I am better known from our website than locally - because it is business.
 
gardener
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It's silly to conclude that any part of someone's operation "dosen't count". A simple examination of bank records shows that it certainly does. If I can weasel a buck on a tour, it counts. If someone pays me for information that is freely available on the internet, that counts, and Iif I build a giant pyramid and turn it into a motel for tour guests, that counts too. What definately doesn't count (monitarily) are the opinions of those who are unlikely to spend a nickel on my goods or services.

Mr. Holzer only collects from those who value his services.

Money in always counts. Money out always counts.
 
E. Elkins
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I definitely understand your points, Fred, and this back and forth has made me regret my original comment. I should have kept my thoughts to myself, because I do admire Holzer and really don't know enough about him and his background to be venturing into this territory.

Back to Paul's original post, Holzer is definitely an inspiration for others who'd like to be independent, self-sufficient and commercially successful farmers. As someone who often dreams of turning his gardening hobby into a career, it's encouraging to know that it doesn't have to be a back-breaking, hand-to-mouth endeavor. A healthy dose of creativity, the willingness and ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and careful diversification have clearly been crucial to his success. A few things that I took away from sepp holzer's Permaculture...

*As with his other endeavors (livestock, for example, as Paul mentioned), his focus on unusual, heirloom, and hard to find strains seems to have really paid off. There's a clearly market for these things, especially in the modern world of mechanized farming where diversity has all but disappeared. Of course, that's by no means a novel discovery -- there are lots of other farmers who are profiting from the same realization. Still, a salient point.

*I was fascinated by the fact that he sells a particular variety of pears to schnapps makers, and he DOESN'T EVEN HAVE TO HARVEST THE FRUIT! They send in their own people to do it, so all he has to do is keep the trees healthy and happy...and, of course, he does that in large part by permaculture methods, not the intensive methods of most fruit growers.

*He diversified his fruit business by selling the fruit and by raising trees for sale. He must be doing very well, because he apparently shut down his tree business because he no longer had the time. I assume that he's in high demand as a consultant and speaker at this point, and that's probably very lucrative.

*His methods for growing mushrooms sound fantastic and easy -- set up time and cost are minimal, yet the payoff is potentially very big. Once again, he didn't listen to everyone else and has sucessfully grown Shitakes in the mountains of Austria for many, many years.
 
Peter Fishlock
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OK guys I think we are leaning off topic a bit here,

This thread was started by Paul Wheaton to discuss ways in which sepp holzer makes his income, and from his original post it leans this thread towards us taking a lesson, or some hints in which how we can maximise the profit of our own lands.

Its safe to say some of us are trying to save the world, some to maximise profit, some both and others just because permaculture above all else makes complete sense and to be honest feels right.

When it was mentioned that Sepp charges $100 for people to spend a day on his farm, looking at how he does things, some people felt it was too much or maybe taking advantage of in some way, whilst others felt it was justified.
But the fact of the matter is we all have to earn money in life.

After all Paul Wheaton charges $120 an hour just to speak to him on the phone, a day will cost you $1000, that includes travel. Some people might think this excessive, but you have to look at what there getting I spose. I see no one making comments about him, however maybe him having the odd job here and there get scores him $1000 a day is what enables him to spend so much time here with us for free. Like he says he will give you any advice on here for free and If a phone call or a day with Paul can increase your income its money well spent. Its not really like there saving that money for some evil plan, it probably goes to paying the bills and keeping the wolf from the doors just like everyone else.

If im honest if I new enough about Permaculture for me to do that I would, definately.

Now although I am aware that there are people reading this thread that are only doing permy for fun, we must also appreciate that there other readers here that might own big and small farms, even small holdings that are struggling to keep things going on the current unsustainable methods.

It might be they were browsing this forum with a view to learning more so they might convert to our great methods of sustainability and abundance. This thread is probably more about them people that do what to learn about maximising profit.

you see the name of this thread probably should of been, How can we maximise our profits and yields using methods that sepp holzer does. thats what the thread is about, not wether or not making a profit is a moral thing to do.
The absolute clue was the fact that its in the Farm income section, and not the save the world section : )

This is a discussion on how we can get more, because sadly enough we still live in a world controlled by lunatics that will absolutely destroy the planet to make more money and they want more from us, more for fuel more for electricity, more for food, more for even bloody water!!! water just think about it!!! in england we are metered and we pay for every drop, or atleast at where I am it is, it will soon be everywhere in england.

so lets get back on subject, how can we get more?

I would like to see my allotment make me a profit, it cost me £35 a year, but my start will be more for seeds greenhouse chickens etc.


Now i dont know about you guys but because of the direction this thread has taken it probably would be best that Paul start it again, with a more fitting title because alot of the people that might have given good ideas or taken good ideas might not be following this now.

thats all for now chaps
 
steward
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I think Sepp's success mirrors that of many others that are doing well, and it is based on diversity.
Most operations that I have seen failing are based on mono-cropping. For example, a hay making farm can be ruined if they don't get enough rain at the right time, or it decides to rain at harvest time. Even if conditions are perfect, they will be perfect for others, and the price will plummet due to a surplus crop.

Is Sepp's tour worth $100? If you walk in with an open mind, observing what you see, you could walk away with knowledge that money couldn't buy.
You could probably do the same on a failing farm, if you could learn why it is failing. I'd rather give Sepp my $$$.
 
Suzy Bean
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Paul and Kelda continue reviewing sepp holzer's Permaculture (the book), chapter 1 part 5 in this podcast: podcast

They talk about Sepp's income.
 
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Just want to say that the videos on Sepp's farm compelled my mama to try her hand at permaculture. This is something I've been praying for and visualizing for a quite a while. And then she went out and bought 10 lbs of heirloom veggies seeds, she's buying 2000 strawberry plants, and 10-25 lbs of native wildflowers to do a permaculture strawberry u-pick.

^^^This is an amazing feat because I've been trying to get her to do permaculture for years. And last year I did a permaculture garden which basically meant I planted a bunch of heirlooms and then walked away for the season attending my other stuff. So I spent not but a few hours in the garden the whole season (I got distracted with a new relationship-oops!) and we were harvesting delicious cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini and some other things. probably hundreds of dollars worth of produce for 3 hours or so of work. And THAT didn't convince her. She just thought it was a mess (but she didn't mind heisting my produce from me on a regular basis!) So when she saw Sepp's videos and got all excited, that just goes to show you the power of inspiration and faith that a well done permaculture op (or any well done thing) can have.

When we permascape my mama's farm and become a profitable venture, the rest of my family will follow suit. And all this because of Sepp's wonderful example!
 
                                
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I do not understand people who log on, use a web browser, and post on the Internet complaining about having to pay for permaculture information. On YouTube alone, videos are going up faster than I could watch them in 8 hours a day at the computer, and the rate is accelerating. There are e-books, PDFs, blogs, websites, pictures, stories, forums. This forum. Paul Wheaton gives you... how much space, Paul, is your data storage alone? Couple terabytes?

There are petabytes of free information out there.

Every bit of information you could possibly desire is online, except hands-on work.

If people did that work instead of complaining about how much free stuff costs, they'd have some experience too.

That's not even as bad as the people who expect me to travel to the other side of the state -- or to another state -- and tell them how to do earthworks, for free. (Unlike permaculture, I didn't get to learn that for nothing on the internet. Did that the hard way.)

Anyway.

Back on topic. Multiple income potential. I live by this. The writing was on the wall by the time high school teachers were haranguing us to go to college, get a degree, get a career, yadda yadda. There was rapidly getting to be no such thing as a stable career. Now, while my peers with their fancy degrees are working as part-time coffee-jerks ("barista" sounds a bit elitist for such a position) because, whoa, their specialty is in the tank... I have my truck, my tools, and go wherever I feel like my time will be valued. Sometimes it's tough not having that steady paycheck. I don't know what I'll be next week -- carpenter, welder, mechanic, software engineer. But I wouldn't trade it. Except for a nice farm.

It's sort of a permaculture lifestyle. Planned versatility. Economic diversity. Biological diversity. Same idea. Kudos to Herr Holzer, I say.
 
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Ryan Quinn wrote:Just want to say that the videos on Sepp's farm compelled my mama to try her hand at permaculture. This is something I've been praying for and visualizing for a quite a while. And then she went out and bought 10 lbs of heirloom veggies seeds, she's buying 2000 strawberry plants, and 10-25 lbs of native wildflowers to do a permaculture strawberry u-pick.

When we permascape my mama's farm and become a profitable venture, the rest of my family will follow suit. And all this because of Sepp's wonderful example!



sepp holzer is a very compelling guy!

Would you be willing to share any more details of the permaculture style strawberry u-pick set-up? Either in this or another thread?

Thank you!
 
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To me, the term "maximizing profit" always sounds like it has a "without bounds" clause stuck on the end of it, the whole of which is, in my inestimable estimation (!!), what causes runaway profiteering, exploitation of resources, and no development of long term sustainability structures. In my opinion, for whatever it's worth, maximizing profit without bounds is for Wall Streeters, corporate raiders, and third-world warlords. On the other hand, maximizing profit within the bounds of responsible, sustainable management of resources, community, and environment, well, that's just plain good business.

I'm new to the term "permaculture," but as far as I've read, it's something I grew up with. As our family moved from home to home, we always gardened. My grandparents led the effort, and they always left properties enriched far beyond the state they found them in. My grandfather's way was to put what he could into the land, manage it as best he could, take what it gave him, and live comfortably on that. He used the same model for several business ventures, including the bicycle shop we had for most of the time I was growing up: he bought piles of old bicycles at auction, sorted them, cleaned them up, added parts where necessary, and resold them. He had an idea of what "fair" was, and priced things accordingly. In our small town in the early eighties, before the advent of big-name bicycles like "Specialized" or "Giant", we did OK. Between that and the garden, food was kept on the table.

Now, in my mid-forties, living in the city where hustle and bustle is a way of life, I find a yearning to get back to my roots. To do that, I have to find a way to make an agricultural lifestyle profitable in order to leave my high-tech career behind and focus on what I hope will make me happy. Having read through this thread, it seems that learning more about what Mr. Holzer and others have done is a step on the road to realizing that end. Thank you all for the input you've provided so far. I look forward to this discussion continuing.

Cheers.

J.D.
 
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I lived in Austria for 3 years and I never went to sepp holzer farm. Even though I know he has done such an amazing project.

Why? Because when I call him to visit his farm first he was really unfriendly and second he would charge 100 dollars per person.

I have visited some other farms around the world where I learnt a lot of permaculture, and it was for free!

I also never took a Pemaculture course (actually I never need it). I learnt everything from books, forums, visiting farms and mostly by doing it myself. But this is my personal perspective only. I spent very little money to educate myself about permaculture.

Everyone has its own sense of fairness concerning prices. To me it is fair to charge 30 dollars for a tour but 100 dollars is too much. Same goes for permaculture courses, I think most of them are too expensive for the value I consider they deliver. I personally think its much better to spend that same amount in a lot of seeds, books and visiting many more other farms for free.



 
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I have met a guy in the bus who was doing permaculture.
He invited me to see his farm.
Then I invited him and his family for a lunch and visit mine.

Then one day I received a mail complaining about when I was going to pay for the visit + pay for all the advises they gave me at my place... And I was given the price I had to pay.

I agree to pay when I know before... I was not told about what was going to be charged...
I just want to chose what I decide.

This is not the only permaculture person that was not clear about charging, so it made me take some distance.
So, permaculture is something for me, but permies just do not exist!
I agree with someone saying about using the word agro-forestry and not permaculture.

Sepp is clear, and then if you do not want to buy something, then you don"t.
Or you get it in another place.

I guess Sepp was not nice on the phone because just TOO MANY people disturb him and he cannot spend his life on the phone, nor his day answering to people by mail . It happens when you are famous...
 
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Loony K wrote:

People paid him to tour his land.  Something like a hundred bucks a head.  And one of the youtube videos shows him talking about doing this at a very young age.



What I've quoted disturbs me, I don't know, but I'm not much of a fan of Sepp when I hear things like that.  It reminds me of those prosperity preaching televangelists.  Charging big bucks on tours and whatever other  'services' that he has provided seems to give the wrong message.  Now, I have seen alot of videos on youtube of him, and he just looks like a poor, bum peasant.  So who knows how much money he's really made on it, must have a stash somewhere if he really did profit alot. 


If he makes any amount of money off his land he's earned it, especially considering all the legal battles he's had defending his right to use his land the way he wanted to. He may still have to defend his place in the future as well ...I hope he does have a big stash somewhere.
 
Paulo Bessa
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Its one year later and I actually decided to go and visit the Seff's Kramerterhof. Yes, for one full day of such a crazy and inspiring project, and all that knowledge, I think the 100 dollars plus a lot more of travelling costs was well justified and well worth.

I actually changed my mind and I praise for Seff's project, his books, and what I learnt there.
Reading what I wrote 1 year ago makes me laugh. Yes, there is a lot of free information out there but some paid courses and tours can also be well worth added.



Paulo Bessa wrote:I lived in Austria for 3 years and I never went to Sepp Holzer farm. Even though I know he has done such an amazing project.

Why? Because when I call him to visit his farm first he was really unfriendly and second he would charge 100 dollars per person.

I have visited some other farms around the world where I learnt a lot of permaculture, and it was for free!

I also never took a Pemaculture course (actually I never need it). I learnt everything from books, forums, visiting farms and mostly by doing it myself. But this is my personal perspective only. I spent very little money to educate myself about permaculture.

Everyone has its own sense of fairness concerning prices. To me it is fair to charge 30 dollars for a tour but 100 dollars is too much. Same goes for permaculture courses, I think most of them are too expensive for the value I consider they deliver. I personally think its much better to spend that same amount in a lot of seeds, books and visiting many more other farms for free.



 
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I think a lot of you missed the point of Sepp charging $100 to visit his farm.

Local regulations and red tape make it so prohibitive for him to sell his produce directly to the consumer that he circumvented the entire nightmare by simple charging people to "tour" his property.

If they take things with them then there is nothing he can do about that. He can't very well call the police every time someone takes a radish, or a fish (Pretty much his words in one of his videos).

Joel Salatin has some great profit maximising tactics too. I like the fact that he's an advocate on minimising capital expenditure. This means that instead of paying 150K for a fancy combine, pay the next door neighbour to come over with his one and do the work.
Instead of purchasing hay making equipment and spend the rest of your days paying off the loan, and fixing the darn stuff, pay a local farmer to come over and make hay with you, using his equipment.

Not only are you keeping yourself out of debt and reserving your capital for more productive applications, but you are stimulating the local economy and utilising resources that would otherwise be standing idle.
 
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rose macaskie wrote: A freind of mine who is living in germany says Sepp means lard or somthing of the sort , so as a child he liked ice creams eh,  it all fits.

Your friend is confused...'Sepp is an affectionate nickname for Josep (pronounced yo-sep). The word your friend is likely thinking of is 'speck', a word that *could* mean lard, but usually means a pig's caul fat.

Just the linguist in me rebelling at the misunderstanding.

 
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I think it's both hilarious and sad how people demonize someone for making profits or being successful. Neither the profits nor the success are inherently evil in their own right. Even being brusk on the phone to others doesn't make you evil. Yes, greed can be evil but so can jealousy and envy, yet the evil tends to be more in how they affect the person attaching the label than the labelee. How many people think to themselves, "I'm a greedy, evil, bastard!" In my view, profit is not bad or good in itself. Nothing in the world is. It purely depends on one's perspective. To the person making the profit it is good, to the person who finds value in the service it's indifferent or at worst tolerable, but to those looking in from the outside with judgmental, envious or disdainful eyes it can be the most abhorrent thing under the sun. It's this last group that always seems to be making the rules for everyone else.

The philosopher Lao Tze warned about those who sought to create benevolence through regulation. Paraphrasing he said, any society in which the population is given maximum freedom will tend toward benevolence on their own but as benevolence becomes more institutionalized through regulation the people themselves become less benevolent. I choose Lao Tze here because permaculture very much follows the Taoist outlook of letting all things follow nature.

So how does profit become evil? Profit allows someone to provide for the needs of themselves and their family. It allows them to increase their yield so they can share with their community. It allows them to provide for their descendants. The lack of profit on the other hand causes struggle, an inability to provide for the needs of one's self, family, community, or descendants. In the undisciplined mind it engenders feelings of lack, shame, sorrow, envy, fear, discontent, contempt and hatred. These are the negative feelings we need to be on guard for. We combat these things with self-sufficiency, industriousness, contentment (being happy with what one has rather than with yearning for what one does not), open-mindedness, generosity, and love.

Does greed exist? Yes, it is industriousness without contentment, caused by a feeling that one must hoard or secret their profits for fear that they may be taken away. Regulation and taxation seem to be major factors here. But, I find that many more people are labelled as greedy than there are actually greedy people. That then is again just a perspective of people looking in from the outside. Instead of comparing ourselves to others and wagging our fingers of shame and contempt at them, would it not be better to focus on ourselves and eradicate those things which we find shameful and contemptible within?

How do we deal with greedy, evil people and businesses? Simple, we don't business with them. If you don't find value in a product or service don't buy it! You probably don't need it anyway. Find a way to solve the problem yourself. At the very least this will make you re-evaluate the value of the original product. Try not to complain. It wastes your time and is generally unproductive to the listener. Better to find another way and share it or, if it has sufficient value and meaningfulness to you, sell it and make your own profit. The market will tell you if this is so, or not. If Sepp Hoilzer's $100 farm tours did not provide equivalent value to the consumer, there would not be very many visitors to his farm. And, I don't think he would really care either way. He is putting a value on his time and if he isn't spending time giving tours, he will use it to do something else he finds to be more valuable.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found value in it.

 
Roxanne Sterling-Falkenstein
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Thank You Victore Hammet when I saw this thread come up again I almost got upset that people here would still be concerned/dissecting Sepp's Income. The only people whom I lack respect for are those who profit from poisoning or harming all of us. When I went to Sepp's workshop last year I heard a lot of groaning about the price... I was probably the poorest person there and had a much better attitude about the price than some of the folks who have obvious financial solvency. Some people have a bad relationship with money and resent those who posses it. I wish for wealth for all my friends and those who do the good work. Personally I don't think they charge enough for ANY of Sepp's workshops or tours, nor would I resent being priced out of obtaining my certification!!! Thank You for your thoughtful and wise words.
 
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It puzzles me how some people seem so fixated on his income and how some people equate income or profit with evil. Without those you can't buy tools, pay the butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker. More importantly the tax man, the banker, the utility and then you have no home or farm. Profit is good.

paul wheaton wrote:You can sell a butcher pig for $200.  Some people sell them for $250.  Some for $300.  Some for $350.  Some for $400. 
So .... some people sell them for twice as much as others.  Why is that? 
Is the $400 pig better than the $200 pig? 
What if you sell your pigs for $400 each and you sell about 50 per year.  But you have a waiting list of 30 people wanting to buy pigs from you because they like your pigs better than the other pigs?  Do you try to raise more pigs, or do you choose to raise the same number of pigs and just raise your price a bit? 



Good point, Paul. Here's an example I can speak to... I raise pigs. In fact, pigs are how our family earns our living. We are full time pig farmers. Specifically, we're full time pastured pig farmers.

We charge a lot more than $200.
A lot more than $250.
A lot more than $300.
A lot more than $350.
A lot more than $400.
We charge $630 per pig retail plus processing costs.
Wholesale, which is most of our sales, is lower of course but you're talking retail above so I'll use that.
I know that people will pay $1,200 for our pigs so I'm apparently not charging enough by the theory of "what the market will bear" but $630 is what I charge. I know this $1,200 number because I have had some people pay shipping to far away places. I don't particularly like shipping but that tells me the prices is north of that.

At that price we sell all that we can produce. We have sixty breeder sows, five breeder boars and about 400 feeder pigs on pasture. We have standing orders out indefinitely.

So why are people willing to pay more for our pork than for the "manager's special" at the supermarket?
Taste.
Humanely raised.
Pastured.
Local.
Natural (no antibiotics, etc)
Those are the top reasons given.

Our pork is not for everyone. Some people can't afford it. I can't. We don't eat pork chops, tenderloin or sirloin because they are too valuable - I sell them. Occasionally there will be a package that doesn't seal right and our family will have that but otherwise we eat low-on-the-hog. It is still delicious, healthy and pastured pork from our own farm. This is economics. This is reality.

So what does all this have to do with permaculture?

Well, we get no subsidies which means we have to compete with the pig farms that do get government subsidies, mostly in the form of subsidized energy, waste and grain. Their real prices would be about the same $3.50/lb that we charge if they had to compete on a level playing field. The difference is we're doing it with managed rotational grazing out on the mountain sides in a sustainable permaculture. My daughter and I just watched "Dirty Jobs" about a "Pig Farm" today on DVD. The "Pig Farm" was a factory farm, very small scale and only about twice the count of pigs as us so this is very comparable. After seeing the movie my daughter asked, "Why are they doing everything the hard way?!?" It was pretty amazing to watch them. Just about everything they did has an easier way in extensive pasture based sustainable permaculture. I guess they need their subsidies to make up for doing things wrong.

So what's all this have to do with sepp holzer's Income? I hope he's making enough to keep going, to get the tools required, to do what he needs, to fund his retirement years (and hopefully die doing what he enjoys) as well as a profit beyond that. I wish this on everyone.
 
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Thanks for the insight Walter!

As someone who's going to try raising a few mangalitza crosses this summer I appreciate the value in what you've written.

Fortunately I will be partnering with someone who already has ten years of experience raising pastured hogs. The arrangement we have came about from simply asking around and meeting someone who knows someone who knows someone else sort of thing. I feel much more confident knowing that I have somebody to fall back on if I need help getting them sold or when questions arise.

Because of this I'm hoping that like Sepp I'll still have extra time to invest in finding the other 39 ways to make the farm profitable and get finished with my house building project too!
 
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Knowledge is power and I think it's really silly to suggest that someone shouldn't make a profit from sharing knowledge or that someone who is making a lot of money is somehow an evil profiteer.

Profit is one of the best motivators that can be applied to people. I can't think of a time in history where removal of a profit motive didn't harm innovation. If you want innovation you need to have a strong profit incentive. Period.

I also believe that the best way to learn more about something is to try to teach others about it. When you need to explain why you're doing something you are forcing yourself to understand on a much deeper level. This means that you'll be more likely to see synergies between related things and you will get better at whatever it is you are teaching. A lot of innovations come from marrying really basic concepts in simple ways.

I don't know what sepp holzer is making and I don't care. What I care about is what I can learn from him that allows me to do things better.
 
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