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How to Start a Permaculture Farm From Scratch – a Case Study With Grant Schultz

Posts: 31
Location: Melbourne
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Hey guys,

I really admire Grant and what he did with Verasland. In short Versaland is a 145-acre farm, laboratory and homestead in Iowa City, Mid-West USA.

He started mid-April 2013 – that’s just 2.5 years ago and bootstrapped his venture from nothing - no infrastructure, just bare land, yet today he has a thriving business.

I took the time to compile all the data from this forum, podcasts and other websites into a case study post.

In short the Versaland model is:

1. Location and Size - 145-acre farm located in Iowa City, Midwest USA. It’s in the USDA Plant Hardiness zone 5, and in a cool temperate climate.
2. Agroforestry system – silvopasture with a keyline layout - trees and livestock, producing high-value fruit crops for direct marketing and U-pick while grazing livestock in alleys.
3. Basic infrastructure and low housing cost - No big water earthworks yet, as vocal proponent of mobile infrastructure Grant lives in FEMA mobile classroom of under 250 square feet
4. On-site Permaculture Nursery - The nursery provides 30,000+ trees annually and, from what I saw, can pass on wholesale prices to potential buyers.
5. Using government grants and low interest loans
6. Polyculture of incomes - The farm itself is a major income stream, with several on-farm enterprises.
7. Entrepreneurial mindset and continuous innovation - He is building farm hack inventions, inventing new tools and constantly devising more productive ways of doing things that offer better ROI.

Read the full post here.

Posts: 11802
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
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William Horvath wrote:
5. Using government grants and low interest loans

I hate to be a negative nellie, but to me, a "thriving business" supports itself, it does not rely on debt and government money.

A start-up business might rely on those things, but a thriving business does not need them, in my opinion.

Posts: 5
Location: Central Illinois zone5b
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This sounds great! Iowa City will be a great place to showcase the food forest/permaculture/perrenial woody crop practices since the majority of the surrounding area is either urban sprawl or monocrops.

As much as I agree with Tyler that a thriving business shouldn't "need" government grants I will have to ultimately support William's post. When used cautiously government grants can be very useful. I believe that as long as the business uses grants as a cherry on top rather than a wheelchair I think the system has the potential to still thrive even with government grants.

Safe uses for grants could include onetime expenses such as equipment, or an intern paid with a stipend.
However things to avoid would be seed purchases for future seasons or salary for full time staff that could really have negative consequences down the road if the funding runs dry.
permaculture is a more symbiotic relationship with nature so I can be even lazier. Read tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
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