• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Woah now! ANOTHER EMPIRE?!?  RSS feed

 
Waldo Schafli
Posts: 28
Location: Western Cape - South Africa
1
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello World,

My name is Waldo, my wife's name is Tilani and our cat's name is Moon.

We feel like we've been permies since birth but we're only in our teething stage now, three going on four. Our amazing permaculture experiences started in the Kalahari Desert which got us to Guatemala in Central America, that lead to a few Caribbean islands and finally back to the Kalahari Desert. We felt that we needed to apply our knowledge and accepted a job as farmer & chef on an organic farm with an organic vineyard, free range layers and grass fed beef. It was a great learning experience, the curve was steep and the squeeze was worth the juice. All of this preamble brings us to the topic at hand

Our not-yet but in the pipeline Permaculture Nursery - lifegrow.

Lifegrow will be the focus of this thread and the first endeavor of our Empire (wouldn't mind anyone suggesting a different name).
Elaboration on the Empire and the functions of the Nursery to follow in other posts.

The Nursery is located in South-Africa on a south facing mountain foothill with the 40ha farm spread across an elevation of 330m - 450m. It's a Super Temperate climate and there is water EVERYWHERE!
The available infrastructure is enough to make any permie giddy. 1 x 2000 square meter (half an acre) - 5m tall shadehouse. 1 x Greenhouse with a capacity for 405 seed flats (200 hole) which comes down to 81 000 little plants nestled together, and if they get cold there is always the under-bed heating and if that gets too much we can cool them off with the fully automatic misting system (gravity & active catchment driven) which is in both structures. Planters, trays, tools, compost, wood chipper and wood are all readily available on site. With plans to drastically expand the existing worm farm and introduce chickens to the system we should be self-sufficient on the material side of things for at least a year.

No one has tended to the nursery for about 2 years so it is a little overrun with weeds/half grown trees. The remnants of the old tenants amount to a few hundred indigenous trees, all of them are root bound in confining plastic bags with a few sending tap roots Through the bag then Through the artificial plastic mulch (which will promptly be removed an used elsewhere, never again to be mulch).

This leaves us with sufficient growing space, mature trees and shrubs to propagate from, water to grow them with, soil to grow them in and pots to sell them in.
We are kittens who have fallen squarely in the butter bath.

We have done the math and everything looks great going forward, our capital on the other hand - not so much.
We're aiming to utilise 30% of the infrastructure, to minimize risk and aid in our learning process and to generate $31,000 in the first 12 months of operation.
We plan to survive and put money into the business for 6 months as a viability study. Our own capital won't cut it but a loan at the bank would make it very tight but not insure success. IF the land owner decides to go 50-50 into the business with us it would still not ensure success as we don't see a positive cash flow before the 6th month.

So as far as we can see our only recourse is outside financing/funding. To ensure the success of the nursery and the empire we need an additional $10,000.

So the question I put to the permieverse is this - how would You secure funding if you were the kitten in the butter?

(Our later posts will elaborate on how we aim on making this an intentional, global and local nursery which will provide essential permaculture services to the surrounding community as well as actively promoting self-sufficiency on all fronts)

Thank you for your time and we look forward to a long and happy relationship with the permieverse.
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1183
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
199
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You might check out "crowdfunding" - maybe not a Kickstarter until you have products for sale, but an IndieGoGo or GoFundMe could let you ask friends, family, and far-flung acquaintances to take a chance on your project.

You could combine a CSA-style offer on future produce (for longer-distance supporters, that might include seeds, craft materials such as wood or fiber, hand-crafted planting stakes, full garden plans from your first 2 years, or whatever)
and good-vibe stuff like a farm journal, name a tree for you, etc.


Our own history has been very conservative about debt, promises, etc. We've passed up land we liked but could not afford several times. Instead, we have lived in places where the landlord who was essentially family or near-family. Even so, misunderstandings can come up, and then you are sad (and if the relationship was close, your family may be mad about it too.) Our current arrangement is sort of informal rent-to-own, not a great farm site, but adequate for our needs. We don't know how that will turn out. But Ernie is definitely not a farmer, and I am a sporadic gardener at best. We are not you.


What are the options for making a deal that falls within what you can afford, and taking smaller bites at a time?
Would the landlord let you have a right of first refusal, and a few months to clean up the nursery and get started? It would not be your main cash plan, but it would be a chance to test out your ideas, while looking for funds from elsewhere so you could make deals based on cash in hand, and progress. Bootstrap your way to paying for, and using, the full infrastructure.


What's your work experience, to this point? The easiest way to make money depends on what you can offer.

If your experience is in business, is there a local business you could work for part-time and establish a steady income?
Can you moonlight from the farm with an online businesses, consult or help fund-raise for other start-up businesses? (There's a residual income forum here, for more ideas.)

Are you connected with former business partners or colleagues who are still employed in successful businesses, and might become small-scale backers for your new venture? Borrowing from a colleague instead of a bank might improve your chances to re-negotiate if something unexpected comes up, or reduce the interest payments, or allow paying interest in guava nectar instead of cash. But it might also lose you friends.

If your experience is in farming, are there local farmers who might hire you for seasonal help in harvest time, while you are not yet at full harvest potential on the new farm?
Or do you have special farm skills you can use to earn money? (One of our friends does a lot of grafting work for other farmers, and helps build stuff. Another friend does diesel repair. All kinds of farm skills can become part-time income.)


If you have neither business nor farm experience, then I would hesitate to indebt yourself in any way on projections of farm income that might not have a solid basis.
Instead, I might ask the land owner for a 6-month right of first refusal, put down any available pocket money as "earnest money" to seal the intent, and go make money doing your other skill set(s) as fast as you can.

The kitten in the butter sometimes ends up with a fat belly, good memories, and out on his butt in the cold.
Maybe there is a way to share the butter.
Or someone who already likes you / owes you a favor, who thinks the kitten in the butter is just too cute to throw out.
 
Waldo Schafli
Posts: 28
Location: Western Cape - South Africa
1
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Erica,

Thank you for a wonderful, information-rich and coherent reply.

I know its possible that your were just riffing and don't seek answers to all your questions, for the sake of posterity however I'd like to answer all of them.

The crowdfunding option (indiegogo, personal paypal website, credit unions) will be our second attempt at raising funds, after negotiations with the landowner.

You could combine a CSA-style offer on future produce


This is a great idea, I've heard of it done with a restaurant in the States. They sold future meals with a choice of breakfast, lunch, dinner (I would add a picnic basket) for $10. The amount of future meals sold vs the amount claimed was something ridiculous like 80/20.
So 1000 tickets @ $10 = $10,000 for which you only have to supply $2,000 worth of produce. If you feel that it isn't fair to renege on promises sold, you can donate the unclaimed produce to benefactors of your or the original buyers (always keep and ask for emails) choice. Thank you for the reminder.

landlord who was essentially family or near-family


After our travels in Guatemala, we realised that acquiring land to work with is much easier than acquiring land to own. Keep your side neat and if it still doesn't work, leave. There's a lot of land out there.
We believe this to be one of the best methods for diving into the your own permieverse - experimenting, having fun and creating abundance. Ask your parents, extended family, friends, friend's extended family, colleagues, colleague's extended family & The Internet if they know about a tiny piece of land someone isn't actively developing. Draw a plan of what it is you want to do, how you'll finance the venture and for how long you want to be involved. Shake hands and start creating your first Permaculture Paradise with plans in hand.


What are the options for making a deal that falls within what you can afford, and taking smaller bites at a time?


We've structured our first year finances in a way that we only, not solely, utilise 30% of the infrastructure. This minimizes our risk and leaves enough time and space for learning. Amazingly , not surprisingly, it is also a very comfortable income. At 100% production & 60% sales we will be able to be independent investors. Giving other young permies/farmers a financial leg-up and also earning passive income from their endeavors until they decide to go it on their own. We could also part with 5% of our nursery sales for a permanent, permaculture-endeavor fund.

A question I've had for a long time - is whether we should focus on the start-ups or the under-funded runners. Splitting it 50/50 seems rational, however - concentrating on the start-ups and ensuring their success would result in more local produce and in the long-long-long run more explorable wilderness/less big farms. Concentrating on the established yet struggling producers might in the short run fill a need and possibly in the long run create more large farms rather than small-holdings. This train of thought might be faulty.

What's your work experience, to this point? The easiest way to make money depends on what you can offer.


Waldo - Photographer, writer, copywriter, amateur vegetable and small livestock farmer, amateur carpenter.
Tilani - Teacher, Chef, artist, amateur vegetable and small livestock farmer, amateur carpenter.

We know we have many streams from which we can draw and how we can build it into the nursery. We don't know all the options these skills can provide so please feel free to enumerate the possibilities. We feel that we should first focus on becoming great nursery owners before we gradually integrate the different components.

If your experience is in farming, are there local farmers who might hire you for seasonal help in harvest time, while you are not yet at full harvest potential on the new farm?


The thought never crossed my mind. We can gain money, experience and possibly a connection for our own harvesting needs. Brilliant.

As we want our Empire to be built, maintained and run by its constituents we will always ask and encourage the permieverse for any input regarding the running of the Empire.
Like we did here. permies.com


Maybe there is a way to share the butter.


Butter Butts for Everyone!
 
Waldo Schafli
Posts: 28
Location: Western Cape - South Africa
1
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have the Nursery! Yay!

I would like to create a master post for the Nursery. Can any of the moderators tell me which forum would be the best for such a thread?

WE ARE SUPER EXCITED TO SHARE THIS JOURNEY WITH ALL PERMIES!
 
Waldo Schafli
Posts: 28
Location: Western Cape - South Africa
1
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Figured it out.

The Master Post is here http://www.permies.com/t/56205/projects/South-African-Permaculture-Nursery

Our Plant list will be going here http://www.permies.com/t/54936/plants/Empire-Warehouse-Temperate-Nursery-Plant
 
A teeny tiny vulgar attempt to get you to buy our stuff
Video of all the PDC and ATC (~177 hours) - HD instant view
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!