Though it would take quite a bit of pre-planning, funds, and infrastructure, what about small innkeeping the permaculture way. I know it depends on resources, space, and location-But depending on those factors, I considered it when looking at properties, as I moved to a pretty "picturesque", and at certain parts of the year, very tourist filled place (Northern New Mexico), so, I think in my mind's eye looking down the road, I considered the idea of installing tiny house/or yurts/tipis, the whole "glamping route" /B&B/but, the goal would be to offer something in that vein with a permaculture slant-to even someone who had no idea about the movement, but was progressive enough to want to stay in a B&B/glamping situation with an independent on their vacation/etc.... to provide a positive and pleasant example of permaculture in action, as it was happening, not even a demonstration or education, but they'd be on a working or developing site- I'm naming the consumer, who may be a more casual "consumer" of some things that are second nature to many of us folks. A person who, likes organic foods/is curious about other sustainable
practice, but isn't necessarily someone who is involved with it on a daily basis.
my feelings of this being a good income stream (though it would require significant investment/time/energy) as I've come to know that many organic farms/craftsmen/artists in my area, have jumped on the airBNB
train-partially due our location, maybe they have the "casitas" (some have airstreams, some have yurts), but for those who have even a nicer tent-it seems to be a godsend financially.
I myself, stayed with a legendary NM farmer/activist in Dixon, NM while I was looking for my own land (for almost a month)- it was a mighty cool experience
waking up steps from the fields, (and being allowed to forage greens and veggies nearby as much as I wanted) (concerning that-on the part of the property owners, I noticed a true, almost blind, sense of confidence in the behavior of the guests-but I was told there had never been any sort of problem with a guest, and I saw the guestbook in the casita-there were hundreds of guests, all really inspired by what they saw, and they were really glad they stayed there-versus a comparable $89 chain hotel/motel on the highway. It's something to think about, as most folks seemed to stay a few days, and if you have that Yurt, or glamp-ing tent, or RV, marketed correctly and reaching to folks who have similar ideals (or in the ballpark) it seemed like a great way to make $500 or more a month (while you did your other stuff)
It is important to note, that, I think the place I was staying in, was some kind of temporary rammed earth cottage that was set up as a small studio space for the owner years ago-Since many folks are in the process of setting up their properties, maybe they have this space, or that yurt, or the RV, and now have moved into the permanent structure on their land. I think, depending on where you are located, even something rather humble could be a resource for you that you didn't imagine. The farmer I stayed with was quite open about how much the 75-120 a night they were getting in this small rammed earth guesthouse (which had all you needed, toilet, etc- but wasn't "luxury" by any means) helped his overall income stream in keeping his farm going and moving forward other projects on the land.
Also concerning "cottage industries" - Consequently, I was staying at this farm during the "Dixon Studio Tour" which is a internationally/nationally known "event" that occurs at the end of the farming "season" (in November) and a group of about 45 farms/cottage industries/artists (like many things mentioned in this thread
, there were vineyards, dairy farms, herbalists, individuals who did woodworking etc) had this small "tour"in the area, and hosted folks for a few hours during the day, as they drove from farm to farm, studio to studio.... of the farms being a significant distance from each other) they published a free
little map (nothing fancy), and other than that-the farms/artist studios had signs on the highways (or on their little rural, dirt roads-sometimes miles from their actual farms) that helped guide people who weren't familiar with the areas-
Despite all these things, that one might think would not "work" or lessen the flow of interested parties-it was pleasantly busy and bustling almost the entire 8 hours the two days the events took place.....
these individuals were able to summon every forum of 'cottage industry' they could muster, (from farm produce, to selling eggs (even if they don't normally do that) to dried flowers, or books/music they created, etc) and people were enthusiastic and buying-it all. Even if the little fruit
pies or beeswax candles they sold in tandem to their produce was something they just did at home, and didn't sell usually....it all seemed to do very well, and I could tell, just from watching as a spectator, and visiting several of the participants' properties myself-everyone was getting a nice little injection of funds, as well as positive vibes-mostly from people who were not from their area-so they were reaching a new customer base too for their CSAs or products.
Note: There wasn't one "permaculture" farm on the tour (as far as I know) -which is a shame! although I am very new to Northern New Mexico- I know there are several sites/organizations/individuals who have property in the area that could have participated-and they should
I'm just kind of getting my journey going, but I wholeheartedly recommend anyone who has a property (or has a congenial, loose organization of like minds in their 50 mile radius) to explore coordinating something like this- especially in the fall when people, (even people who don't know what "permaculture" is, and don't always eat organic, I mean, pretty much everyone-with the only caveat being they are open) has gifts to buy and holiday parties on their minds. (think honey, handmade goods, woolen items, native
cloth, nuts, gift
baskets of some sort, gift certificates to a CSA share etc)
Also-it did not seem other than for a few meetings with the fellow people on "the tour" (and I think those were a matter of a couple hours, a couple times before the event, and there's no reason why those couldn't be done virtually too) and sharing the cost of printing the little map, and running an ad or two in the local paper/green fire times expense shared by all)- What the participants gained monetarily for this time/money investment, seemed to far outweigh those few hours, or the fee.
The nice part about, perhaps having this sort of "festival"/event surrounding the cottage industrie(s), it seemed to allow folks a small intro effort into seeing if the buying public in their area was interested (i.e. would buy) their dried flowers, or berry pies (made from their berries), and that works well if you don't have tons of money to invest. I visited a small organic vineyard who has made some food items with produce they also grew on the farm, and a few items sold so well, the owner was planning on bringing them to the local farmers market for the season, as a new value added product to offer and diversify. I say bring on the streams! I guess the reason why I am encouraging the communal effort, is that, I did glean and could kind of gather, that all of the folks I met, were in the same boat as many here- they are putting in 14 hour days trying to carve out their little piece of the pie, and don't have the time, or in some cases the savvy-the photoshop skills (to make a little map), or even the mojo (or perhaps they aren't terribly social, or find the idea of placing an ad in the greenfiretimes and coming up with networking ideas intimidating- but maybe that person is a whiz at making goat cheese. combine their talent, with someone 10 miles away who makes herbal tinctures, and just so happened to do some graphic design prior to "goin permie
full time" and you have the makings of an interesting offering to the public-that will help everyone.
I suppose my post kind of combines ALL of the proposed cottage industries one could have- and I hope it isn't too broad....at a very small, humble homestead, with just the produce they sell, and a few "cottage" items-I witnessed five figure sales for two days.. and I know that financial boost
was helpful, if not crucial for some(especially at the 'end' of the growing season) was stabilizing as people prepared their properties for the winter.
I realize that some folks might think their properties are too far apart, but from what I could gather, there was at times, at least 20 miles in some cases in between properties, and it seemed like those who took the map, and did the rounds, enjoyed the scenery and their own little adventure "over the river and through the woods"-
I am admittedly super enthusiastic about people making things from what they grow, and homesteading, etc but as some people say "show me the money", and simply by being in the place, during the time, I saw lots of money and lots of people buying this and that, and smiles.
though seeing this cottage industry sell-a-thon success when I was in NM looking at land- was a complete coincidence, from living a decade in the lower Hudson Valley in NY, I knew already, that a lot of people like to take "weekends away" from the city
, and that is a market that could greatly help the permaculture folk- even if this "customer base" is just dabbling in organic or permaculture "stuff" for the weekend (apologies for the broadness) this demographic has money to spend, are usually genuinely interested and curious, and though I could be speaking as person who spent the majority of their life on "the coasts", and I understand if someone who has spent their life elsewhere disagrees, or has not seen such curiosity, and often support, of organic, sustainable practice, products, and people- I personally find most people in my age demographic (20s-40s) WILL buy something homemade, organic, sustainable, etc-if it is accessible, understandable even slightly (to them), and even more so- if it is wrapped in a hemp ribbon and they can give it as a housewarming gift when they get back to their urban jungle....
I have followed the posts by Paul on getting cabins done/"the glamping" etc, and income streams
etc to help others get where they want to go....etc. and seeing this, stimulated my former life. Prior to becoming a permaculture goofball (in the 5 years or less stages) I worked in areas of business where this type of marketing
and finding the "right" consumer/audience was key to success (especially independent, ::insert your passion/project/product/ideology here:: ) I think that not only offering experiences for those already "into it"- (which rules, and I am currently coordinating a "dog babysitter" so I can come to the PDC
in may/june and rent the tipi) but from my past career/consulting work,
I cannot stress enough the power to infuse the stability/nice bonus, or in some cases, the survival of projects/farms/artisans, is to reach further into the "mainstream"- with your cottage industrie(s), glamping, wool, honey, etc etc. I was involved in, and very active in artisans markets throughout the NYC area for the past 10 years. A small artist collective, (of a bunch of neat people doing al sorts of DIY things-including urban farming) that I was involved in was the first to do small collaborating weekend "markets" with a little known company (at the time) called..... Etsy, who back in the mid aughts, had a zany thought people might really want to buy homemade goods from passionate people doing their own thing, and maybe embrace that passion they had full time, and well you know, ... the rest is history)
I think the same thing could be done with people doing Permaculture (and other sustainable concepts) and it is much easier than people think. As this forum is doing for the community
, bringing people together-I think, even in respects to these income streams for people on their permaculture properties (at varying degrees of development) a key to success would be the coordination/unified front in the real world, at some scale. It works. Especially if people are willing to promote a group concept (even loosely aligned) and are on a similar wavelength. I saw it work firsthand with that little aforementioned craftsy company (now a behemoth,) and there is NO reason why any person who does something cool on their permie property couldn't enjoy some of that extra income...all the time. But I guess where I have seen it work the best, is if those offering their product, found a few folks who also did something, and especially with reaching those outside of your regular social/interest scheme/universe, it is better to have a few folks who do something, and give those people some extra motivation to visit your farmstead. I suppose this is in essence part of the success of a farmers market-more stuff, there is a hub- but I cannot stress enough, if you already have an "honor system" produce system, and do have some type of value added product that is the fruit of lots of labors- you may think that your humble abode/property isn't "exciting" enough-but I saw myself, folks are really interested in seeing someone living their dream, (even if it is in progress), and even better, if they can see the sheep that you make that amazing soap
Ending my rant, even if you do "totally out in the middle of nowhere" (like I know many folks do on here) if there was even sense of collaboration (and a sharing of some resources) in which you could coordinate your collective cottage talents in some respect- it might be a great way to share yourself, and your progress, promote your lifestyle, etc. Doing a small 4 times a year little tour, or event, what have you, might be a nice little boost financially, and not take you away every weekend from where you are, or the labor that might keep you from trying to make a go of such a task, on top of all the other farm chores and sweating you do every day.
I'm still designing my zones, and have been less than 2 months on my land, but I do believe in putting my money with people who have like minds, and I would certainly patronize all sorts of cool folks with products to offer from their land- I just need to know they exist, and even better if it is a road trip-it would be cool to visit a few places to get more goodies/inspiration. Perhaps, (and I apologize if I missed some sort of master listing here or elsewhere) it would be cool to have a listing of individuals and their respective cottage industries-by region. I will hedge a bet that there are more people like me, and even though you can search forums, and there is always "the google", it would be cool, and convenient to have some sort of master listing in one place. If there isn't anything like this, maybe I should it. I guess until I start my fantasy honeycomb candle company (when I get the bees
, which looks like next spring)-this could be my contribution to this forum.