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Permaculture real estate development

 
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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Okay, now that I've had a chance to make it through the whole thread, here's a few questions:

How much community infrastructure are you thinking of trying to include in the development? It would be great to have a market area where people could come to sell what's produced on their land. Like a farmers market but only selling community made products. If people didn't have the time/desire to sell what's produced on their plot than others might make a business harvesting other's unwanted excess and selling it themselves. Or if the community expressed interest the HOA could be responsible for running something like co-op also, one focused on providing the things that people living in the development need. Another thing that I think would go a long way with a development like this would be including a commercial grade kitchen and food processing area. That way people would have access to one of the major roadblocks to being able to sell food commercially: FDA approved processing equipment.

Think it would turn too many people off (and would it even be possible) to require owners to attend a PDC or prove they've gone through an accredited course? Maybe include the Lawton online PDC with the purchase price.

Seems to me like if you made a basic requirement that the houses be built with basic permaculture concepts in mind even stick built homes would end up with a more natural aesthetic and fit in amongst the other styles of building used. I feel like making them cluster together would separate them from the rest, make it become it's own entity. That could have merits of its own, too. I could see a big discussion over that one concept...

Awesome idea you're working on here, I really hope it works out. If there's anything you think I could do to help let me know.
 
Posts: 49
Location: Mid-Missouri
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Hey Mike!

Must be a snow day in Mt. Shasta, I can't imagine a guy that works as hard as you do having time to read this entire thread in the middle of the day

As far as a market area is concerned, it's something I want to happen but I think I'll let that develop on its own. Probably start with an honor system produce stand and grow it from there as needed. Same thing with the community kitchen. I want to build a community center for having meetings, dance parties, weddings, PDCs etc. and including a commercial kitchen in that building seems like a real good idea. In the early stages when there is only a few houses this may not exist. As the development grows we can add it. I intend to set aside an area near the entrance for use as a commercial area. It will be an area for the community center and anyone who may want to open a small business there. I can envision a pub and a general store being needed as well as maybe a bed and breakfast.

Regarding the potential PDC requirement: I would not require someone to have a PDC in order to live here. I am considering requiring a PDC in order to have a vote during HOA meetings, definitely required to serve as an HOA board member. Folks without PDC training may voice opinions at meetings, but not vote. The reasoning behind this thinking is that everyone involved needs to have been exposed to the same basic information that is covered in PDC's. I want vegans to understand the importance of including animals in the system. I want tree huggers to understand that culling weak trees, chop and drop, and coppicing are a part of the management taking place here and that there is a long term plan. I want everyone to understand that long term planning is considered 100 years or more, too many people think of their "long term plan" as the next 1 to 5 years. As a person with a vote that can potentially change the future of the community, I think having the knowledge taught in PDC's is very important. Of course there are many ways to obtain this knowledge but the only way I know of to guarantee that all voting parties have at least that basic information is a certificate from PRI. I'm not set in stone on this and we will see how it plays out. According to other real estate folks I've talked to the developer maintains control, and the HOA doesn't come into action, until a certain percentage of the lots are sold. Say 50% or so. By the time half the lots are sold we should have a real good idea of where things are headed and how best to proceed with HOA operating rules. In the meantime, including a Lawton online PDC would be a great marketing tool and benefit the neighborhood as well. I'm definitely considering that one.

Regarding the conventional stick frame construction, I am hesitant to put in too many rules regarding appearance of structures. Just because you are stick framing doesn't mean you can't incorporate things like passive solar, RMH's, natural plasters etc.. I understand that it was a requirement that all houses built in Village Homes in Davis, CA incorporate passive solar design and all of those buildings are conventional construction. We could set up similar requirements through the HOA. As far as grouping these homes together, that is mostly due to infrastructure requirements. If there are going to be homes tied to the water supply and having flushing toilets, they are going to need to be grouped together out of necessity since that is where the water mains and sewer mains will be. Naturally due to the higher costs of adding infrastructure these lots will cost significantly more. Here is a place where the homes appear conventional and are built using stick frame construction but they are anything but conventional.

Good to hear from you Mike. Hope to hear from you again soon.

 
Todd McDonald
Posts: 49
Location: Mid-Missouri
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Regarding the PDC requirement, I've backed off my hard line approach to this. If you own a lot, you get a vote. Soon I'm going to start a new thread discussing the permaculture HOA and I look forward to everyone's contributions.

I'd like to explain why I was thinking of requiring a PDC to vote at meetings. Its based on intentional community horror stories I have heard and read about where worthwhile or even very necessary projects get severely delayed or even tabled because people in the group have ideological differences. My thinking is that we could avoid many of those issues if everyone involved at least a base line understanding of permaculture and what it was we were trying to accomplish.

Things are still moving forward on this and I should have some more substantial updates soon.
 
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If you can find a away to avoid voting altogether, you'd be doing yourself a huge favor. If the membership is small enough, it is better for the leader (or someone with some authority) to just have regular conversations with individuals. In larger situations, perhaps Dave Snowden's app could help. Here's a shorter video of him:



If you have time, I highly recommend listening to some of his lectures that will likely show up in the side bar. I was a little doubtful about the app itself (I don't have a way to trial it right now) but I watched all the lectures I could find on youtube at the time and I think he has very good information and advice. I certainly wish my place of work would hire him.

 
Todd McDonald
Posts: 49
Location: Mid-Missouri
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Thanks for the video August, very interesting indeed.

August Hurtel wrote:If you can find a away to avoid voting altogether, you'd be doing yourself a huge favor. If the membership is small enough, it is better for the leader (or someone with some authority) to just have regular conversations with individuals.



Voting won't be used for everyday decisions rather to elect a board who then makes the everyday decisions. Currently working out the organization of all this and hope to be posting about it soon.
 
Posts: 93
Location: zone 6 (Kansas City)
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Todd, the last post was a year ago... interesting thread, any new updates?
 
Todd McDonald
Posts: 49
Location: Mid-Missouri
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Thanks for checking in Leif. Here is a brief summary of what happened in the last last year.

We are still trying to find the right piece of property to get this started. I have been amazed and humbled at how hard this part is. I've been in real estate (property management) for almost 10 years and have bought and sold many houses, but land is apparently a whole different ballgame. First off I have learned to stop telling people what I'm going to do with the land. In rural areas words like "subdivide" "develop" "neighborhood" and "build houses" are pretty much conversation enders. I have had 3 potentially great pieces of property absolutely shut down negotiations upon mentioning of more than one home being built. One of those pieces is actually STILL for sale, just not to me.

We did end up making an offer last October on an absolutely perfect 95 acres, but after a few weeks the owner decided to pull it from the market and stay put. She's still there, maybe she will change her mind and it will come up for sale again.

We've learned a ton about rural development in Missouri. In the process of making that offer last year, we started digging very heavily into the nuances of subdividing land. We are doing this in one of the counties in Missouri that has no zoning and no building code enforcement, but they do regulate wastewater at the state level. If you subdivide into lots smaller than 5 acres, the state gets involved regarding permitting and inspecting septic systems. As a result of learning this information, I decided to take the state's wastewater installer certification course and am now happy to say that I am a licensed wastewater installer in the state of Missouri. Also, with my newly minted wastewater license, I was able to schedule a sit down with the wastewater program director for the entire state and for an hour and a half we went through Art Ludwig's gray water builder's guide. He asked a lot of questions and was very interested. I let him keep my copy of Art's book. He seemed legitimately willing to give it some credit and we talked about plans for a trial run so the state could observe how the gray water system performed. So that's probably the coolest thing that has come out of this project so far.

In short, the dream is still alive and we are still pushing forward. It just takes WAY more time than I would like, or ever thought it would take.

 
Leif Ing
Posts: 93
Location: zone 6 (Kansas City)
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Well, permaculture seems to me to be a change of heart, of attitude, of wanting to do better for our families and our community... these things take time.
 
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