Bryant, thanks very much for the wonderfull insights you have given us. And others for their contributions.
I went through and combined all that in this PDF document hoping it is alright with you. I am guessing it will be a usefull resource for anyone who wants to establish a commercial permaculture farm in the future. It is certainly helping me to understand concepts better. Thanks again.
hau kola Gurkan, Thank you for liking what I have presented.
I do not mind at all that you went to the trouble to create the .pdf file (it is quite nicely done, and I have saved a copy of it for myself).
I am currently working on a research project with Mark Shepard at the helm and it will end up in book form once the research is completed, there are somewhere around 500 people or more working on this project for data collecting and approach methods.
I will be writing some more on this subject in the future.
I have to disagree with much of what Dylan says, and while not all of it for sure, the basic premise behind my disagreement is because farming…while a business…is so radically different then most businesses. I am afraid that if people apply that logic to their farms they will ultimately fail. In fact only in the last 10 years has the Dept of Labor considered farming to be a business, to allow those on unemployment to seek business counseling, and use the leveraging power of the small business administration; before that someone transitioning into farming had to go through the USDA almost exclusively. Another example of this is the IRS tax law. Most businesses, if they do not make a profit in 5 years or less, are automatically dissolved. It makes sense, how can a business be functioning if it is not making money? Yet farming is the only business that does not have this stipulation, which begs the question how can a farm be functioning without profit well after 5 years? The answer is, quite easily.
We operate under a very strange inverted business model; we buy almost everything at retail prices, and then sell our commodities at whole sale prices…that makes many true businessman shake their heads. We are also the most regulated industry in the USA…for good reason; we produce food, but highly regulated nonetheless. Yep we are VERY different as a business model.
Now I say “we” because I am a full-time farmer and try and make a profit. I do that through careful management, meticulous recordkeeping, and getting in the dirt. I do not consider myself a Permiculture type of farm, though I do use swales, hugelkutures, rotational grazing, crop rotation, keyline farming and other aspects of permiculture to get by. Now I use that term because I consider myself successful because at the end of the month my bills are paid entirely through farm proceeds (my wife is a stay at home mom and does not work in town). Profitable though? I tell people “I haven’t made any money farming, but I haven’t lost any either.”
What I have found is that it is impossible in keeping personal stuff separate from farming because honestly I tried. Slowly, and with every passing year, I found my record keeping dovetailed the two more and more until now I have merged into what the USDA calls “household withdrawal”. I have to do that because farming permeates all aspect of life; I don’t have a farm business and a personal life; I am a farmer…the two are one and the same. It would be like a health care worker trying to treat a pregnant woman as being separated from the baby. Why are so many medications and procedures not okay for a pregnant woman? Because of so many interactions between the baby and mother. So it is with farming; inseparable. Treat both farming and personal life separate, and one will thrive and the other perish, or vice versa. Neither will thrive however.
Statistics do not place failure of businesses as a whole on management, but rather more specifically on cash flow. In farming, some types like dairy farming are 1) High Tech, High Cash Flow, where as Sheep Farming is 2) Low Tech, Low Cash Flow. Knowing that, mixing and matching, and creating a farm plan that acknowledges those cash flow aspects are what is going to increase the chances of success. I once opted out of a grant and assured financing when a group set me up with a team that wanted to make my operation a high tech sheep farm. I could see that it was an exercise in futility because it went against the grain of sheep farming as a whole…that is, it is low tech.
A case in point on cash flow is the idea of shedding product lines that are labor intensive and yet yield low return income. Honestly it is different in farming, vastly different and if anyone follows this model they won’t perish a slow farm death, it will be extremely fast! Take for example my farm, we produce what we call “House Goods” which is the barn board stuff that is trendy right now. It is true that it takes me a few days to build…say…build a kitchen farm table and sell it for $650. In that same amount of time I could cut forest products and sell them and make $750. Or call up my livestock dealer and sell a few sheep top make just as much money. The point is, that latter stuff uses up resources of the farm. Yes trees do not live forever and must be harvested at some point, and lambs ultimately convert to almost valueless mutton, but house goods…while not the mainstay of the farm, are time consuming to build… but bring in oh so critical cash flow. It is called value-added products, and something farm bankers and the USDA are aggressively pursing, encouraging and funding because it makes so much sense. Simply put, do you want to use up thousands of feet of your trees to sell to a sawmill, or do you want to sell just 100 feet? Both take just as much in time…maybe even longer for the table…and both net you the same income…the difference is resources removed from the farm.
This is where Gert comes into play. Farming is long term business. With the exception of a few products, much of a farms value is locked up in intermediate and long term assets. Sell too many of these off and it becomes worthless, but show some restraint and the same farm is worth millions.
The other aspect of this is, for a farmer time gets kind of fuzzy. Much of what I do has no real economic benefit that I can simply put down into a category. For instance mending broken fence. It has to be done, but it does not directly pay me. And so to is fixing my bulldozer, if I neglect that I definitely will not get make a profit. In fact so much of what I do here does not net me direct money, yet it all has to be done. It is indeed very fuzzy in the time/money spectrum, but overall adds to the profitability of the farm. But, like everyone else, I have 24 hours in my day. I love farming and so even when it is 20 below and blowing 20 mph and I have to feed the sheep, or mend fence in a hurricane, I try and remember that this is my life and find happiness in it. That is where occupation, hobbies, interests and personal life all get VERY fuzzy time wise.
The point of all these examples is; if a farm does not recognize that it is different, and the owners don't operate the farm much differently then a typical business, it will fail. Again I do not have all the answers, but I am living out what I say.
Farming is not a brick and mortar type or style business. My hours of work, like yours I imagine, are not regulated by "shop hours" but more by daylight and dark.
Most of my days work lasts somewhere around 14 hours and maybe longer, I don't know really, it all just moves at the farms pace for me.
I keep careful track of my farm labor hours and put a value on it, but it is nowhere near accurate. I say that because there are so many aspects to farming. Like today...I get up at 3 AM daily and am currently doing the math on increasing my sheep farm by 250 sheep. There is a lot to figure out on that, but the point is, that is Chief Executive Officer stuff...CEO stuff and really worth $250 an hour or whatever it is they get paid. Then there is the times you are working as a diesel mechanic...again the alternative is to pay the local equipment shop or mobile diesel mechanic $60 and hour, and the same for vet care, and to the other extreme, $8.50 and hour as a laborer when I am shoveling out a lambing pen. The point is, farming is so varied that it would be hard to allocate a pay scale to a given amount of work.
I semi-average it by putting a value of $12.50 and hour. This is based on annual published rates paid by the Maine Department of Transportation for skilled equipment operators. Since the majority of my farm work consists of me on a tractor of some sort, that is where I base my labor value. Last year it was about 1550 hours.
In this case the lower the number the better because it means less working hours. Since my family needs the same household withdrawl whether I am working at my previous job at a shipyard, or farming, I made about the same money I did farming as I did at building battleships...I just spent less hours doing it. (About 500 less hours)
When comparing shipbuilding to farming, farming equates to about $45 an hour instead of only the $31 an hour I made building ships.
Obviously there are a host of other factors that go into this beyond just finances; we eat better, have far more family time, and feel I am making the farm progress, but it is a lot more stressful...and physically a lot more rigorous then welding ships too.
Of course now the next big question; what will 250 more sheep do for my family and the farm? There is the economy of scale aspect for sure on the plus side, but it also means more to keep in balance without absorbing too much of the farm's resources. With farming you always need a very sharp pencil!
Indeed, if we could get paid by type of work done, we could all be fairly well off for sure.
We don't have sheep, but I have some friends in both Australia and NZ that have sheep stations (ranches down there), the small one runs 2,000 head and it takes a week at sheering time to get them all done.
His station is 10,000 hectares, which I'm told is rather small for Aussie land.
My friend in NZ runs somewhere around 3k head on two stations, he sells shearling skins as well as wool and meat.
Both told me the big thing is just like all grazing animals, have the space for pasture then get the animals.
I know for our hogs you want around 1 acre per pair and you want to be able to move them from paddock to paddock for grazing them.
Our farm operates at a small loss at the moment, since we are still building infrastructure to be ready for the full time working in two years.
I still have some earth works to do on the west side and we may be acquiring another 6.5 acres to the east side of our place.
Well, I have finally had some time to devote to this thread, it has been a while.
I have gone over some of the methods that can be used for better farming, this installment is actually a bit of the book that is coming out of this thread's work and information.
I hope this will be inspirational.
" The Future and what is Happening to the World Today "
It seems that every day, those who derive their living by reporting what goes on, to those of us who simply struggle to live the life we have envisioned as what we want, bring only disturbing news.
Perhaps it is fortunate that we, the populace, are being kept from having easy access to the dire situations that are more likely to affect us than those events we see on TV and other media.
We do not hear about how jobs that go away never seem to come back or that cost of living is actually going up on nearly a weekly basis. The only time we seem to get some inkling of this is at the grocery store, where product prices are on the rise, and have been for many years now.
One of the telling indications today is the mass migration occurring from the Middle East countries to Europe and the United States. In the U.S. this is in addition to the thousands coming from the countries south of the U.S. Border with Mexico. If conditions were good in the countries where these immigrants are leaving from, they most likely would not be leaving. While it is humane to take all these people in, one should consider the burden upon the country where they end up living along with the need for safe harbor. It is a complex issue for those countries where these new immigrants land and setup homemaking. Jobs are getting scarce and even though we hear about good news in the job market, little evidence can be seen on the local levels that what we hear is truthful reporting.
Much if not all of the current migrations are the result of internal strife, which is a type of civil war that is making use of terroristic acts against non-combatant people that are simply victims of the dissidents going against their current government. In some countries this takes the form of religious fundamentalist against everyone else. In other countries it is one religion against another religion. The end result is that those peaceful people are caught in a cross fire and so flee for their lives. This is an understandable reaction, after all what else can you do when bullets and bombs are being used all around you? The problem is that currently, there are precious few countries in a financial situation where they are capable of adsorbing the massive influx of human beings. Even though these countries would normally be receptive, the state of economic strife or uncertainty create a situation of denial of entry at best. Those with huge hearts but little understanding of the world’s pending economic collapse, feel their country should have open arms. Those who do have an understanding of the pending situation along with the probability of terrorists infiltrating along with the true refugees cause either hesitation or outright denial of entry. It is a crisis situation and there are sadly no clear cut answers for any of the countries these refugees want to enter.
The world economy, based upon the false idea that credit based economies can grow forever, is starting to fall apart. The Banking world was based in falsehood, designed so that just a few would prosper and then they decided that precious metals should not be used to back up the printed money used by everyone, everywhere. This system is on the brink of collapse, already we have felt the sting of what will soon happen through the 2008 collapse, where markets fell 50 % in one day. Countries like Greece have gone bankrupt at least once and others will surely follow since everything is credit based in a shrinking GNP scenario all over the globe. Imagine what will happen when everyone who lives by the credit system (which is everyone in the U.S., Japan, China and Europe) finds that their credit cards and debit cards don’t work anymore.
The other part of this economic problem is the transference of jobs to countries that have a lower wage base. Many jobs left the U.S. and those jobs are now in places like China, Mexico, Korea and India. If a company can make their products for less wage money but still sell them without huge tariffs in their home country, why wouldn’t they? In the U.S. more jobs have gone overseas than new, replacement jobs have been created. If the job hasn’t gone to some other nation, then it has been robotized which ends in the same result of job lost never to return. New jobs, the ones that we hear about being created require technical knowledge that most people don’t have. These jobs actually are more dependent on commerce as usual and that makes those workers vulnerable to job loss far more so than the people who work in the trades such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters. But these jobs are dependent upon people needing housing and that has been in decline since the 2008 collapse.
Those countries that have taken so many of the work force jobs out of the western countries have had to build quickly all the infrastructure needed for the growth boom they are experiencing. This has led to more global pollution and increased greenhouse gasses being released, which help along the current climatic change event the planet is going through. We have the industrial age to thank for the situation we are currently in. Make no mistake though, it has been happening since humans started using agriculture to feed themselves. Since ancient times we have used land until it was unable to grow anything because of erosion and salinization of the soil. Then once we used up that piece of land, we moved on to fresh land which we once again did the work of destroying ability of the soil to sustain life. The coming of the industrial age only gave us the tools to speed up the process. What we added to the model was fertilizers and herbicides which leach out, run to the rivers and end up in the oceans and create dead zones around the river mouths. These same chemicals cause algae blooms, depleting dissolved oxygen which ends with mass fish kills that stink up the air around those rotting carcasses.
Earth is in tough times, and we have precious little time to make as much correction as possible, before humans loose from the inability to take proper action. Several experts think we have perhaps until 2050 to correct the situation. After that the human race might just become extinct, or at least in rapid decline, headed towards extinction. This dire situation is not only happening to the world through economic fall but also the lack of carbon the planet can currently sequester. Some of the problem is from deforestation, some is from current energy production practices, some from the current dominant model being used in agriculture. Most however is from the fact that our home, planet earth, is always in flux, that is to say it is always in the state of change. Currently anyone with any idea of how the planet works and breathes understands that humans have helped this currently experienced climatic change cycle along.
We stuffed the atmosphere full of sulfur by burning high sulfur coal, this results in acid rains. We stuffed the atmosphere full of CO2, this results in an overall temperature rise, which causes the polar ice caps and the glaciers to begin to melt, which causes the ocean currents to experience a cooling down, which slows the warm currents that help to spread heat all around the globe. All this has an effect upon those high atmosphere wind currents termed the jet streams, causing them to vary a wider distance and with a higher frequency of variance which moves cold and warm air differently than before. Since everything that occurs within the boundaries of planet earth is inter-related, we get to have experiences in weather change. Add to that the flux of the internal magnetic fields of earth and we can see activity increases from new and or long sleeping core vents (volcanoes), earthquakes increase in number and intensity as well as stronger storms. All these natural events are interlaced. Our new job is to try quickly to bring these changes back to the center we are accustomed to calling normal.
Many of the proponents of the permanent agriculture and restorative agriculture movements have talked about how little time we have to act. Since recovery takes some time to accomplish, we have precious little time to change many of the ways we currently farm, create energy and how we use that energy. The more we humans reduce our own polluting ways, the more earth can self-correct and slow the current climatic change we are experiencing. By moving away from some of the current food production methods, that is, moving away from “factory” style production, such as feed lots for cattle, pigs and chickens being raising by slaughter operations. We can reduce or at least spread out the amount of greenhouse gasses these operations create and release into the atmosphere by changing from an all corn feed model to natural grasses and hay for cattle and pigs and wide variety bug amended foods for chickens. This will change the amount of time it takes to grow one of these animals large enough for food but that too is better for us the consumer. This model allows for better flavor and nutrient value, important things that have been proven to be missing currently from the human diets in the western countries. It also would reduce the manure concentrations found in feed lots since it would be spread out over fields instead of ending up as a manure pond that can leak creating a contamination problem.
By moving away from the industrial method, monoculture based agriculture we can sequester carbon from the CO2 floating around for longer periods of time, thus scrubbing this pollutant from the atmosphere more efficiently. By replanting the 100 million acres we humans have made barren by deforestation, we can remove CO2. Planting in a sustainable agricultural methodology and we then provide sustainable food supplies that don’t require much attention by humans. The sustainable methodology also doesn’t reduce soil richness along with raising salinity, but instead increase soil richness while allowing salinity to remain stable. Rich soil equates to more plant growth which equates more carbon sequestering and more food production. Sustainable agricultural methodology requires less manipulation of the soil than current methods deem necessary. Incorporate better methods to keep rainfall in the soil rather than it running off with the soil, fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides, to the rivers and eventually to the oceans. There are several designs that will soak the rain into the soil rather than allowing it to erode that soil. Soil that has the opportunity to collect and store water requires less irrigation, which saves water for other uses than growing food.
No longer do we humans have the luxury of trying to place blame on others or to deny wrong doing. Now it is time for everyone to realize that there is only one planet and that it is occupied by one race, humans, who can repair the natural systems that we humans have helped along to their current broken state. We either come together and address the situation and act appropriately or we decided to continue as we have for the last 100 years and end up a vanished people who caused their own demise by failing to act. The knowledge is available, the methods tested and proven. Since there are multiple methods available each with a different preferential end goal, it is easier to find a best fit methodology for what you want to accomplish. There is no longer a real need for the multi-tilling of soil prior to planting that the current monoculture agriculture model recommends, it has been shown to be non-sustainable, environment detrimental and cost intensive as well as creating the exact opposite of what is needed to stem the climatic changes everyone on the planet is experiencing.
We have to re-green the millions of acres rendered unusable by the current agriculture paradigm of till, apply fertilize, plant, apply herbicide, harvest. It is easy to use the same machines for harvesting within the methodology of permaculture. Farmers don’t have to till, don’t have to apply fertilizer, don’t have to apply herbicide, which adds up to huge savings in machine repair and fuel used. The focus is turned to soil health and once you have healthy soil, rain water soaks down and stays, nutrients are always available to plant roots, everything grows better, weeds are fewer and it is easy to repeat, year after year. This is sustainable agriculture instead of the current destructive agriculture. The main problem we have right now is that those huge corporations that manufacture the deadly chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides have millions of dollars invested and have convinced the governments that they are the future. They tout that the few farmers we have left need to be able to feed the world. What happened to the idea that people need to feed themselves and only those around them instead of the world being dependent on only one or two countries providing all the food? That idea was killed by those huge corporations of course, they are not about to champion an idea that doesn’t line their corporate pockets.
Even though most think permaculture is about being tree based (permanent agriculture is perfect for a mix of forest and field crops grown in alternating spaces), it is also adaptable to annual crop production and multiple crops growing at the same time, with differing harvest dates. It also provides the soil with replenishment of nutrients by the harvesting of the crop and subsequent rotting of the remnants of that harvest while the next crop is developing. When you add in animal foraging you automatically introduce natural fertilizer nutrients as part of your rotation thus you create a full circle structure for agriculture that becomes fully sustainable without expenses currently incurred. Where farms today are focused on growing one or two crops every year, farms should be growing fruits and or nuts along with those crops they now grow exclusively. In Ireland, farmers concentrated on potatoes until the potato blight wiped out the entire crop and the great hunger started. Farmers who follow that idea of only planting one or perhaps two crops are putting their lively hood in that same jeopardy, we just haven’t had the blight event so far, when it does come, and it will come, the farmer of today will be wiped out. With his farm land used up, where will the crops be planted? It is well proven that the use of chemicals today has produced barren lands where farmers ply their trade. Their soil has no biology to speak of, crops only grow because of chemicals being poured on to provide bare subsistence nutrients and so the products these farms grow are poor in nutritional value. The lack of nutritional value of food in the grocery stores has created a plethora of health problems for the humans that consume that food. Cancer rates and types of cancer are at all-time highs. Diabetes is rampant in all age groups, far exceeding the total numbers of just 20 years ago. It is time to make drastic changes in methods and thinking if humans want to be around much longer. Our current food production methods are making us sick and killing us. Add this to the climatic change and the coming financial collapse and we have a nearly perfect recipe for the destruction of the human race.
I'd love to learn more about the Main Line method, but I'm not finding it on Google.
It might help to know exactly how to spell Mark Sheppard's name... Sheppard like the actor, Shepherd like the word, Shepard, and Shepperd have not gotten me there yet.
Would anyone who has studied this main line water management be able to point me toward a book, or a link, or a YouTube video that shows the particulars?
Thanks for this insightful series and the discussion.
One of my first questions upon learning about permaculture was, "If it's so great for production, where are the old farms being converted? Where are the orchards with trees over 10 years old?"
I learned a lot from a survey of my grandma's backyard (turns out that when a couple of former farm kids plant a retirement garden, the results tick most of the boxes in Toby Hemenway's book...)
RedHawk, I am delighted to hear about your efforts with the larger-scale farms, incorporating access for mechanized farm equipment, feasible harvest methods for polycrop planting, and other problems encountered and solved.
I'm currently mulling over some advice, that might be a good element to discuss in this thread:
I have an uncle who's spent a good part of his lifetime working with business development - contract law, sustainable investment.
He recently sat down with me and Ernie.
Part of what he had to say went something like this:
"Being raised in a liberal, West Coast family, you will have internalized the myth that Profit is Evil. And you may have begun to recognize what a crippling falsehood this is, if you want to make things happen in the world.
"You may also be aware that many parts of the world have written into law that the primary obligation of business is to make money - that corporations must consider their shareholders' profits above other factors.
They have it almost exactly backwards. I find those laws reprehensible."
(People are working to change them, or at least to create alternative models that allow businesses to legally define their values and include social impacts, environmental impacts, or other values as legally-protected priorities for board decisions.)
"Money is a tool for bringing the benefits of business - of trade, and working together - to communities. Many benefits we enjoy would not be possible, or would not work nearly so well, without money or something a lot like it.
"In order to move forward with your vision, your mission in life, you need to profit from your work. The money you make at any given stage is what you can draw on to move into the next stage.
If doing your work in the world does not bring you money, you will end up stuck - unable to continue, unable to progress, or worse, losing ground and having to start over."
"However, don't get stuck in the trap of working just for money. Don't give yourself permission to work at anything less than the most powerful work you can do, toward those most important results you want to see in the world."
There was more, but I think that's enough to chew on for now.
Working the numbers is a powerful, essential skill for surviving in the modern era. It's hard to keep your rights or influence others without money or statistics to back your claims.
Kind of like literacy is an essential skill - both of those, plus an instinct for when people are not planning to honor their word, are essential for anything involving contracts (which is almost everything, these days).
Not everyone needs to be a certified accountant or licensed contract lawyer. But we do need the basic skills to check over their work, and hopefully to spot something fishy before it has a chance to really stink up our lives.
My first exposure to permaculture was via a guest speaker who was helping build aquaculture ponds in the Amazon, to help Secoya tribal people raise some edible fish despite the poisoning of the main rivers by oil industry. (the consultant's goals involved preserving native food fish; the recipients often stocked tilapia once they found out where to get it, as protein and profit were more immediately interesting.)
This guy arranged for a tribal spokesman to speak at our school, and one of his points was:
"We don't need more willing hands or strong backs. If you really want to help us, stick with your education, get a degree in law or engineering, and bring those skills to our aid."
Implication: We are fighting oil companies, this is a battle we need to win in the courts, not just in the jungle.
We are fighting the effects of industrialization, overpopulation, and ... something I want to call de-humanization, or even demonization, of human life experience.
We need to win this fight not just in the backyard, but also in the supermarket, and in the electronics store, and in the factories that supply our tools and farm equipment, and in the education and parenting systems that teach us it's OK to isolate people from their parents, grandparents, and community members in order to make the economic wheels spin faster.
Plenty of people connect with Mother Nature on Saturdays, go to church on Sundays, and spend the rest of the week commuting, shopping, and working a job that they are pretty sure is not good for them or the rest of life on Earth.
People must have ways to make their living, raise their children, and save the farm by doing business - that makes a profit, and that is compatible with life on Earth.
Even if you grow 100% of your own food, you still need to interact with the tax man, and have some reserves in case of emergency (medical, legal, or otherwise).
Being independent of the system is a good training ground, and a good backup plan, but it does not protect you from damage in case of regional or global systemic collapse.
The rain, the bombs, the North Atlantic Current won't distinguish between 'deserving' permaculture sites or smug suburban ChemLawns.
A farm that costs $150 for every $100 its produce earns, or that puts in 10 calories of fuel and fertilizer for every calorie of food produced, make "commercial" farming look like a national-scale version of hobby farming.
More sustainable methods, both financially and nutritionally, are essential for food security let alone ethics and pride.
This work is critically important, so thank you to everyone who is contributing to it.
Totally agree with Mike. I can see myself coming back to this one many times since it's so jam-packed with useful information! I wonder how far along you are with your book since your original post over 2 years ago...
Besides this amazing thread, are there any resources out there that you could recommend for transitioning from a "hobby farm" to an economically viable one? I always imagined it as a sliding scale, based on how much time, money and energy you put into it. I imagine those with massive startup funds, or wealthy investors to back them, are rare. Most people probably start off small and grow over time. But it's a BIG jump from feeding your family, to say, providing food regularly to local restaurants, to beyond that.
By the way, I enjoyed your views on Food Forests (or Food Savannahs) and found them quite refreshing. You have an interesting take on things. I look forward to reading more.
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Very interesting thread and I will simply add my 2 sense.
I was introduced to Permaculture at 50 and prior to that, spent decades in the business world. I have a working profitable Permaculture farm & have always wrapped my planning around being profitable aka a sustainable farmer. Just as noted in the first entry, I did infrastructures, hardscape, water scape and trees, layering from there.
As a business, when layering additions and guilds, I approached much of it from a “profit per square foot” scenario. I too spread tonage of barley seeds (to also attract birds and pollinators) and chipped loads of hardwood branches to creat pathways which I inoculated with wine cap mushroom spores. At this point, and it takes a few years, my only expense is packaging and maybe $100 in purchased seeds. We have a variety of layers, not only in the farm but from a variety of income streams. We held monthly workshops, started as many seedlings for sale as we did for planting, infused honey for sale, dried herbs for winter sale.....
We never planted (for sale) things like broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower since they take up so much valuable space and bring in far less then leafy greens planted in the same area. We had weekly foodie emails for preorders so when we went to a farmers market we already had hundreds of dollars of presales & only harvested just a bit extra for walk ins and when we were sold out- we invited interested folks to get in our email list so we could have exactly what they wanted waiting for them. It also stopped wasting harvested food that didn’t sell (yes we dried and canned plenty ) and once sold out, our time at the market done. It is doable and I was able to continue what I love because it sustained us physically and fiscally.