As my first foray into the permies.com forums I wanted to as around if anyone has experience with getting funding(or not) for any permaculture practices from the USDA or NRCS. I was thumbing through a 2014 guide to "Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches, and Communities" booklet and although the descriptions of what qualifies are broad, it sounded like a good way to reach into Big Brothers pockets with the aim of healing some land. What they describe( shelterbelts, water capture/conservation, riparian buffers, woodland planting) sounds like it would fit well into any site plan.
So im wondering:
Has anyone tried to utilize goverment funding to work on their PermaProjects?
Any full site Permaculture plans get funded?
Anyone get laughed at and rejected outright?
OR are we all trying to do land conservation out of pocket?
PS. I looked around the forums and couldnt find much talk on the subject. Also wasn't sure where exactly to post this inquiry so it will likely show up in a few places.
Now that you included all the keywords in your description, look at the "Similar Threads" section at the very bottom for more talk on the subject
Location: Niles, MI
posted 5 years ago
Thanks Eric! didnt see that at first. Looks like us permies are a little wary of government funding and havent explored this too much... or maybe most of us aren't running actual farm businesses and therefore not eligible?
I have a small contract going through NRCS under the EQIP program. It turns out to be a pretty good cost share if you already want to make some land improvements. How strict things are with planning details is up to your local agent.
Overall if I can get this cost share for putting in windbreaks hedgerows and trees, I'm all for it, even with a little extra paperwork..
There are a lot of awesome programs you can take advantage of through the NRCS! On our ranch my dad has received cost-share benefits for planting shelter belts, installing new water tanks, cross fencing many of our pastures, building a waste-containment system for the winter feeding area, and just recently installing a 100 ft long hoop house for vegetable production. We also receive benefits for following a rotational grazing program and conducting periodic burning of certain paddocks.
THIS NEXT BIT OF ADVICE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. When going to your local extension/NRCS office you need to make sure to NEVER utter the word 'permaculture'. No matter how close these programs resemble permaculture never, ever, ever, EVER mention it. No matter how 'cool' the guy/gal you are talking to seems, do NOT say permaculture. If you do, it will result in your projects never getting funded and more than likely you will be asked to leave. Did I mention never to say the word permaculture in front of your local NRCS agent? I know I'm beating a dead horse dead but I cannot stress enough how important this is.
When going to your local NRCS office, use terms like 'agroforestry' or 'holistic grazing management' or 'silvopasture' or 'alley cropping'. These are the terms they will be familiar with and won't associate with hippies rolling around in the mud (this advice is coming from a hippie btw).
I know there are many other programs that are great land management practices, the ones mentioned above are just the ones I'm familiar with. Grant Schultz from Iowa has a lot of great insight and information on this topic, as well. He has had some podcasts on Permaculture Voices where he talks about some of the things he has done through the NRCS. Here is Grant's website: http://www.versaland.com/ and another one of his websites: http://www.freemoneyforfarmers.com
EDIT: Keep in mind that many of these programs come with restrictions and strings attached. For instance when we received cost-sharing for installing new cross fencing in our pastures we had to follow a rotational grazing plan for a certain number of years. As far as I'm aware, many of these restrictions only last for around 5 years or so. Most of the restrictions are things most permaculturists wouldn't be doing anyway. However, say for instance you plan to do some tillage as a short-term plan to help cash-flow your business before you transition to more sustainable methods (i.e. - planting an annual cash crop). Some of the programs won't allow you to do any tillage on your property, even in the areas where the certain programs aren't influencing. IMO, the restrictions are definitely worth the monetary gain received from the NRCS but it's just something to keep in mind.
Rocket Mass Heater Plans: Annex 6" L-shaped Bench by Ernie and Erica