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How have any of you integrated market-gardening or veg/meat sales into your place?

 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 202
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I'm still pretty new to the Permies site here. I know that many members are getting their income off-farm, and that some are aiming strictly at a self-sufficient homestead. I do wonder about how those members who have integrated market-oriented production with permaculture have been acheiving this goal.

I'd love to hear.

(Though not necessary, along with discussion, pics or diagrams of your homestead/farm would be welcome.)
 
Ben Stallings
Posts: 156
Location: Emporia, KS
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On our 1/10 acre "urban farm," we grow most of our produce for market, for three reasons: 1) selling our excess to others and buying theirs is way easier than predicting what we will want to eat in the future and preserving it for our own use; 2) Our understanding of the third ethic of permaculture [not trying to start a debate here, just stating our interpretation!] is that sharing with / selling to others helps to create an interdependent and resilient human ecosystem; and 3) the modest income just barely covers our expenses so we can call our gardening habit a business for tax purposes.

That said, selling at the farmer's market is not lucrative. Our market takes 20% off the top to cover sales taxes (which we then don't have to pay) as well as rent, advertising, etc. I don't begrudge them the money (and in fact I'm on the board), but 20% is a lot. When we've had the opportunity to sell in other venues, we invariably net more money. Plus, sitting at a market table is not the best use of our time. I've thought about hiring a college student to work part-time, minimum wage so I can spend my time on other things, but I haven't quite got there yet.

A more lucrative option we have is to sell our produce to a local CSA. They currently aggregate produce from 16 local farms and distribute shares to something like 200 customers. They pay more up front, and they will buy all the produce that meets their standards. Anything they don't buy, we could still try to sell at market or eat ourselves, or give to the local food shelf. But selling at market has the additional benefit of getting our name out there and letting us interact with customers; all of the permaculture design clients I've had have come from the market.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 202
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Thanks, Ben. Curious also about whether you've used interplanting, "guilds", or some of the permaculture physical/biological methods in your planting.
 
Ben Stallings
Posts: 156
Location: Emporia, KS
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You bet! Here's our most recent video tour, from last year: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7TLfy2vmpNCgksIzpegDN7e_Gkspco5a
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 202
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Ben, I logged-on for your videos a couple days ago. Thanks.


I take it that the silence of other Permies members in relation to the thread subject probably means that: people are bringing in their needed income from off-farm sources, and that perhaps many people are in the design, organizing, building stages of their permaculture homestead or farm, and that things are often in an experimental phase.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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We raise, forage, or trade for most of our food. And much of the excess gets traded for those items we don't produce for ourselves. A small amount is given away to those in need. Another portion gets sold for income . Some of the retail stuff goes via the local farmers market. Some gets sold regular customers. Some goes to a local restaurant.
 
Ben Stallings
Posts: 156
Location: Emporia, KS
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Joel, there's another possible reason for the silence on this thread, which is that people are tired of answering the same question over and over. I've seen a dozen or more questions along the same lines go by in the past few years. I don't know if they're still available to read, but people may be tired of answering. You might want to check out a site like http://permacultureglobal.com/ where people describe what they're doing.
 
Irene Kightley
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Location: South West France
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You're right Ben but I guess a lot of people new to permaculture want to know how you can tie in a way of life with earning enough to pay the bills.

Joel, for the past 20+ years, we've sold fleeces, wool and fibre products from our Angora goats, lambs and more recently, we now have a training park for hunters and their dogs. Along the way we've also done a lot of other things. I taught for five years part-time in an agricultural college, we take horses in on pension, we've sold wood, we've run courses, sold stuff...

"Obtain a yield" doesn't necessarily mean that you have to use that yield to "live off the land". In some cases, it's just daft for someone who has a useful skill not to use that skill to earn some or all of their living.







 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Joel, Irene has brought up a good point. Most of us have to diversify in order to make income off a small farm. Just relying upon just garden excess surely won't do it. On my homestead, there are numerous lines of income. At little coming in here, a little there. With a homestead like mine I could sell eggs, chickens, chicks, ducks, ducklings, sheep, lamb, lamb meat, piglets, pigs, pork, rabbits, rabbit meat, rabbit manure, chicken manure, horse manure, pig manure. The various gardens and orchards produce fruits : bananas, limes, oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, guavas, pineapples, loquat, strawberries, and lilokoi. The veggie gardens produce all sorts of excess that could be retailed....veggies, herbs, and grains. My wooded area produces not only firewood but also woods that woodworkers would buy, like Norfolk pine, koa, mango. Other gardeners would be interested in the guava saplings and bamboo poles. I'm also always propagating tree ferns which are popular with homeowners here. The homestead has the potential to erect four small houses in private spots which could be rented out or used for wood trade or woofers. Or if done up nicely, as affordable vacation rentals. Presently I don't charge for garden/homesteading classes but that could morph into an income project if I had to rely upon the money. I currently produce much of my own seed and with a bit more effort that could develop into a small seed business. I grow my own seedlings so i could grow lots extra for resale. And it could be expanded to include not just veggies but also bedding flowers and young trees. My bees hives earn there keep with their honey but I could expand that aspect if the homestead into creating additional hives for resale. Or give beekeeping classes. I make many of my own items around the farm, some which could be developed into income -- trellises, garden fencing, hydroponic set ups, aquaculture units, garden growing boxes, worm boxes, rabbit hutches, chicken pens, chicken automatic waterers, etc. I create compost, nutrient teas, fish emulsions, and a fertile soil/compost mix. All used on my own farm but I could expand that into resale. I've considered doing work for others, such as building their raised gardens for them, their compost boxes, mowing their lawns and fields, repairing fencing, etc. I'm pretty good at painting cute garden signs which I could offer for sale along with my other stuff. I have lots of rock piles that I've created and could sell them, although I'm reserving them for right now for building my own rock walls. Right now I'm not interested, but I could offer my services to "house sit" others' farms when they went away. A flexible, reliable, honest caretaker is in demand around here. I have learned plenty of little skills that I could use to bring a bit of income in, such as castrating lambs & piglets, trimming hooves, shearing, treating minor vet problems, deworming,etc. Plus I can repair a broken window, fix a faucet, install a woodstove, set up solar panels, do maintenance of a catchment take, install drip irrigation, etc. lots of little stuff.

What I'm getting at is .....diversify! A little money here and there can add up. Throw one's ego in a trashcan and do whatever comes along, be it cleaning out dog kennels or picking up & delivering a truckload of hay to a neighbor. A lot of small business ventures fail around here because of egos. People feel that certain things are beneath them, or they mark their price tags too high. I've turned potential workers away because they thought $20 per hour was acceptable for mediocre slow work. And they can't understand why they can't get jobs.

Can I survive on a small homestead? Sure, but I won't be living a high life, I won't be rich. If I lower my expectations to simply having a happy, comfortable, simple life, I can live a grand one on a homestead. My "job" will be nothing like what others think as a job, no boss, no 9 to 5, no doing just one narrow thing. But it will be interesting and different every day.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 202
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Thanks, Irene and Su Ba. You both sound very experienced.

Where I'm coming from is trying to understand how cash income fits into a permaculture homestead. How it (cash) is part of the concept and the practical, physical design. Because I've gotten the idea that the permaculture has to do with homestead layout, technologies, interplanting, guilds, minimal off-farm inputs, etc.

I do now what you're talking about, SuBa, when it comes to diversification of activities and involvements on one's land - and when you, Irene, talk about making use of a specific skill off-land for earning income. I live on an organic homestead, with fruit trees, berry bushes, grape vines, large vegetable gardens, a greenhouse. Have kept chickens and bees. I've sold eggs. Off the place (for cash) I've worked as a carpenter, mason's assistant, truck-dock stevedor, retail clerk, vanilla bottler, and even a ditch digger. I've been a freelance writer, a regional business-association manager, a publication editor (all of these from a home office while living on my place).

My question isn't so much about the general "hows" of earning money while living rurally. I think I understand that. It's more about whether planting without off-farm inputs and using hugelkultur and planting in guilds and so forth - the distinctive features of permaculture - result in a surplus you can sell. Or do you wind up subsidizing, through off-farm work, these beautiful designed ecosystems?

So my question relates a lot to techniques, design, and methods.

If you want to earn from veggies, do you grow them in a guild? or use more conventional organic veggie-patch methods? (Not to confine it to that particular question, but this is the sort of thing I'm actually asking about.)

 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I'm near the city. I sold a few hundred dollars worth of production this year. Nothing spectacular. In the future, I expect much of my income to come from rent. By making my place beautiful and self sufficient, I will be able to attract tenants who are willing to pay a premium, in order to live in a park like setting. Most building materials are from the land. Heat and electricity come from the land. I'm my own builder and maintenance man. My garden and orchard are meant to support the other income streams.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 202
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Any way to tell me how any of you have approached this - not so much in terms of general descriptions and mention of your habits, but more in terms of how it works for you on the ground, in the pasture, in the chicken yard, among the trees in the orchard? Guilds, hugelkultur, integrated systems, etc?? How do your pemaculture practices integrate the various life forms, and to yield enough surplus to sell?

And pictures could be great. or sketches (ground plans, etc) of your place.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1267
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Does it count if the animals were there before the permie stuff? I was doing poultry long before I did anything permaculturey.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 202
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Danielle Venegas wrote:Does it count if the animals were there before the permie stuff? I was doing poultry long before I did anything permaculturey.

Yes, I believe it should count. For many people, it can't be a situation of developing the homestead or farm site from scratch with permaculture principles. For many (not all), they're either acquiring an old homesite with thoughts of re-designing it and using the new methods, or they're starting from their own place with set-ups and procedures that they've established before they learned of permaculture ideas, and changing these.

I'm just asking about how people make use of permaculture methods and designs and yield surpluses to sell in order to make some substantial portion of their income.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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I am not yet in a position to speak to the question of how we generate sufficient income from our homestead, because we just are not there yet.

But I see something in this question that I want to address. Permaculture is not a set of gardening techniques. Permaculture is a design framework. The design framework is applicable to any area of activity.

Concepts like stacking functions and getting yields are applicable everywhere. Thinking in terms of ergonomics, applying the laws of thermodynamics, these are very permaculture concepts. Pattern recognition and analysis can lead to efficient transportation networks, on scales running from how you set up your home butchering station to how Wal-Mart routes their trucks making deliveries from warehouses to stores.

The design process starts at the highest levels, with goals, and works its way down into zones,then patterns and finally to the details of technique.

In other words, I think Su Ba really described a permaculture approach to making a living off of a farm/homestead. It is not the techniques by which all those streams are created that make permaculture, but in a permaculture system you will find that all of those streams exist, are recognized and, in one way or another, utilized.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 202
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I think that's a good answer, Peter.

Coming here, I do notice a number of methods or techniques that people are quite enthused about. These are things I mentioned in my previous posts on this thread.

In my 'conventional organic homestead' way, I think I've worked toward my goals (we've worked toward our goals - my wife's and mine).

I'm certainly well aware that people are located in varied localities, with differing climate, topography, soils, etc and with differing personal needs goals, when it gets down to details.
 
Mountain Krauss
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Location: Northern California
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So far, only our chickens are generating surplus income for the farm. We are producing $2000-3000 of eggs per acre with zero feed costs. We eat a lot of that, and sell the rest of that CSA-style. Our volume isn't high enough to justify the time cost of getting a stall at the farmer's market, at least not yet.

In addition to producing eggs, the chickens also generate enough compost to create an additional ~1000 square feet of raised beds and terraces each year. When we got the land, there was essentially zero gardenable space, and now there are a few thousand square feet of space. Not enough to bring produce to the farmer's market, but each year we're growing more of our own food. This year I'm hoping that between hugelbeds, brush dams, and planting clover, vetch, and alfalfa, we can open up a bunch of new space for gardening-- enough to make it worthwhile to bring surplus produce to the farmer's market. We already have surplus greens and peppers; I hope that in 2015, we can add surplus tomatoes, sunflowers, and lavender to the mix.

We're continuing to add fruit trees, too, but that'll be years before we see any surplus from that.
 
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