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What Everybody Should Know About Profitable Permaculture Farms  RSS feed

 
Posts: 31
Location: Melbourne
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Hey guys, I just started a blog and I've made an effort to write about what I think are some burning issues.

One of them is a lack of models people could follow when it comes to successfully running a profitable permaculture farm.

Here is the link http://permacultureapprentice.com/successful-permaculture-farms/

Let me know what you think.
 
Posts: 15
Location: Victoria, Australia
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Hi Willam,

That is a fantastic blog post. Very interesting read and very helpful info. Thanks for taking the time to put it together!

I see you are also in the worlds most livable City
 
Posts: 669
Location: Porter, Indiana
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Interesting stuff there with generally 1/3 to 2/3rds of their incomes coming from consultations or media products, and the rest coming from food products. With media products being such an important aspect to profitable farms that makes me wonder just how big the market is for those types of media products. The market for food products is huge and it seems that the number of small scale farms could increase by a factor of 100 without too much increase in competition between the farms, but if there were three times as many people selling permaculture related media products that might seriously cut into the existing farms' sales.
 
pollinator
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Nice blog post
I must admit that is one of the things that puts me off is the amount of income from being a consultant etc . It makes the whole thing seem like a pyramid scheme . I wonder what the figures for Gabe Smith or Zaytuna are ?

David
 
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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William Horvath wrote:Hey guys, I just started a blog and I've made an effort to write about what I think are some burning issues.

One of them is a lack of models people could follow when it comes to successfully running a profitable permaculture farm.

Here is the link http://permacultureapprentice.com/successful-permaculture-farms/

Let me know what you think.



I got your post from Miracle Farms facebook page and I'm loving it. I just sent it to my husband. Great job!
 
elle sagenev
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John Wolfram wrote:Interesting stuff there with generally 1/3 to 2/3rds of their incomes coming from consultations or media products, and the rest coming from food products. With media products being such an important aspect to profitable farms that makes me wonder just how big the market is for those types of media products. The market for food products is huge and it seems that the number of small scale farms could increase by a factor of 100 without too much increase in competition between the farms, but if there were three times as many people selling permaculture related media products that might seriously cut into the existing farms' sales.



I do agree with you on that and I don't believe everyone could do it. These people have made names for themselves so people want them to come consult. I'd never, ever want to be a consultant but I am opening a U-Pick. So 100% of my income will have to come from the land. I'm sure I can do it because of the area I am in and my business model. So, I think it can be done if that is what the person wants. Ben Falk just grows enough food for himself and such. I'm sure if he decided to do commercial food production he could make money doing it.
 
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Two words : Mark Shepard.
 
Posts: 277
Location: Nauvoo, AL
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Anyone else notice the Paul Wheaton hater in the comments of that link?

 
Peter Ellis
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One thing that bothers me here is that all of the examples are permaculture enterprises. I think Shepard comes closest to being primarily a farm, while Toensmeier is not operating a farm at all. No value judgment, but terminology matters to the discussion.

Multiple income streams are good. Building on experience and leveraging it into more opportunities is great. From my perspective, I am interested in seeing people doing permaculture horticulture (I kind of agree with Toby that agriculture does not fit with permaculture) as their primary operation. Not "demonstration sites", just working farms that apply permaculture and make a living at it. From their farm operation, not from consulting fees or teaching courses, or writing books and so on.

And I am fine with people doing all of that. Heck, I hope to be one if them in a few years. But I do not want a "portfolio" farm that I can use to sell my other services. I want a successful farm operation that succeeds without my needing to generate a bunch of income from off the farm.

I would like to see some more examples of operations where they do not need to be doing the consulting and the teaching and so on in order to make ends meet.

Those are the real "demonstrations" of the potential of permaculture
 
John Wolfram
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Peter Ellis wrote:Multiple income streams are good. Building on experience and leveraging it into more opportunities is great. From my perspective, I am interested in seeing people doing permaculture horticulture (I kind of agree with Toby that agriculture does not fit with permaculture) as their primary operation. Not "demonstration sites", just working farms that apply permaculture and make a living at it. From their farm operation, not from consulting fees or teaching courses, or writing books and so on.


From what I can tell, it seems that the pasture/grazing permaculture systems have an easier time becoming profitable strictly as farm operation (without a media component) compared to the food forest systems. My guess is that this has something to do with increased labor costs of a permaculture grazing system being relatively modest compared to the increase in labor costs for transitioning mono-crop fruits/vegetables over to a food forest.
 
John Wolfram
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Jay Grace wrote:Anyone else notice the Paul Wheaton hater in the comments of that link?


Yup, I tried reading his post but started laughing and couldn't get past the part where he describes someone, who lives in a small modular house with 10+ other people, as obsessed with money and profit.
 
Jay Grace
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I took a class last year with a man that logs, plows his own fields, and cuts his own hay with horses.

He had made the statement (this isnt word for word) he could fully equip 20 people with chainsaws, a trained 2 horse team, and all the equipment to log and feed their own horses cheaper than the cost of ONE new timber buncher.
While selectively harvesting prime trees with minimal impact to the land.

This is a link to a video with Andy Bennett

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8P635XYb4_k


Also I'm sure there are more than a few people around the world that meet every one of there basic needs from living with and off of the land.
If you're running in the green by the end of the year and all your needs are met I'd consider that a success.

 
steward
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great post, thanks for sharing, it's an interesting aspect
Well from the list I would say that only Shepard and Sobkowiak really are leading farms in a classic vision, I mean they get far more than 50% percent of their income from the farm (Mark is on 70 % if we sum up the nuersery and the produce from the trees).
Ben Falk instead lives on a real homestead in the sense that his primary idea is to live off his land and, as you rightly wrote, he looks more to lowering his expenses than selling.
The other examples have diversified the yields not only form the land but also with other, related to land, incomes. Its not a deviation from the idea of farming it's a natural way of intending the output of a permaculture design I think.
My idea is permaculture designed farms should be open to visits to show what one can achieve, and could be sites where PDC's can be organised.
I think there are many more examples around the world and that we should look for, I have passed a lot of time thinking about the fact that we don't get news about the examples that give you a living or profitable, and this is disturbing.
We could look into even examples of farms that may have a more based income on animals as Justin Rhodes farm, the permaculture chicken guy he's in his kickstarter now.
Or of course Joel Salatin could be an example in this sense.
Another is the farm of Grant Gibbs, http://www.gibbsorganic.com/ , Paul speaks of him in a podcast, number 030 review of the film broken limbs, he was transitioning to a permaculture based design being a traditional organic farm before, don't know if he actually has though.
And there was another example on a Geoff Lawton video one month ago one of his ex students Warren Brush, Casitas valley farm, http://www.casitasvalley.com/
you could look them up.
 
gardener
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I think some people who have successful permaculture farms aren't spending time online, or publicising themselves or giving lessons so we haven't heard of them. For example, I've been enjoying the waldeneffect.org blog recently, by a couple who seem to be living a good homesteading life supplemented by selling a product they devised, and writing an informative blog with great photos. I guess their internet service is much better than their road, electric or water services.
 
Posts: 228
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Rebecca Norman wrote:I think some people who have successful permaculture farms aren't spending time online, or publicising themselves or giving lessons so we haven't heard of them. For example, I've been enjoying the waldeneffect.org blog recently, by a couple who seem to be living a good homesteading life supplemented by selling a product they devised, and writing an informative blog with great photos. I guess their internet service is much better than their road, electric or water services.



While my work experience isn't farm based I have spent over 20 years working for very small businesses. Out of the 9 companies 7 have had between 2 and 50 employees. Working for very small businesses are very different than larger companies with deeper pockets. One in 5 small businesses make it and permaculture based farms are not any different from other small business.

Permaculture doesn't equal a successful small business or entrepreneur. If a successful small business is going to be asked to how they do what they do, they are going to monetize that information or not share the info. They often don't have the time to spare and if they do they would rather spend time with their family that had put up with the long work hours for years.

Permaculture based food production is still cutting edge and experimental in terms of a modern business model. This gives the early adopters an advantage but it does mean that it isn't plug and play. Starting a small business is hard, starting a farm is hard, and doing it with permaculture is experimental. Many more farms will need to try before we have a large pool of examples of what has an hasn't worked. It is like planting apple trees from seeds. They will all be different, some will die before they produce, others will only be good for root stock, most will work just fine, and very few will be an amazing super star that can be found in every super market in America.

It may be many years before we have bunch of successful farms to look at and that shouldn't stop us from starting these types of businesses.

 
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