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Making Small Farms Work by Richard Perkins kickstarter campaign  RSS feed

 
Lorenzo Costa
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Making Small Farms Work by Richard Perkins

The Kickstarter campaign to buy a copy of this book is now active

Lets go and see what it's about...


Source: Ridgedale Permaculture

A pragmatic whole systems approach to profitable regenerative agriculture
an experience-based handbook for the holistic design, installation and management of farm scale permaculture

From the campaigns offical page:

Making Small Farms Work brings a fresh perspective to the Regenerative Agriculture & Permaculture space, offering a deeply pragmatic and profitable approach to a farming life worth living. This is a visually rich and down-to-earth 'how-to' approach to designing, installing and managing small farms. Presented in our no-nonsense style, this book is short on theory; it’s a book about getting things done, and going about it in a well planned, holistic and effective manner. This book is written for anyone wanting to farm in a way that restores the soil, reinvigorates local economy and food systems whilst maintaining a good livelihood for the farmer.

If this is what you're looking for back the project: Kickstarter page


Have you seen what Richard has achieved at Ridgedale Permaculture the farm he and Yohanna setup in Sweden (at 59°N)?

This is from 2014



And this is from 2015


Results like this come from integrating three different foundational systems of design and management. These three are what he calls “the three legs to the stool we use in our work”: Permaculture, Holistic Management and Keyline design. Permaculture helps design whole systems that regenerate, Holistic management gives a decision making matrix and Keyline design offers an organising pattern for Permaculture at a farm scale. Richard suggests Permaculture is best integrated with other approaches to deal with the complexity of farm scale projects that want to be profitable, as he aims to “meet all our human needs whilst restoring soils, ecosystems & communities”. The complexity lies in the fact we don’t have to deal only with design but also installation and management, to reach regeneration and permanence.

This is what you'll learn reading the book! So grab a copy!


Richard and Yohanna at Ridgedale Permaculture

This book focuses on finding solutions, not applying recipes. There are no shortcuts, you can’t read this book and find the recipe for setting up a farm, but you can understand the approach and use the given toolset to develop your own specific context and breakdown complexity

Check the Kickstarter page out: Making Small Farms Work

 
Lorenzo Costa
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Wow

After little more than 24 hours more than half the pledged sum has been backed!

I'm curious to know if fellow permies have backed this project and why.

I have had the opportunity to read a draft copy of the book and will be posting a review of it here soon
 
hunter holman
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I just loved the thought of your project
 
Lorenzo Costa
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This is a project I have followed a lot, it started well before the news of the publishing of a book came out on social media.
Who has ecnountered Richard's work at Ridgedale knows that he has pointed so much on communicating the achievements reached at Ridgedale farm. The farm work has been directly linked to the education programs they have started immediately from the first year.
Richard and Yohanna arrived at the end of 2013 in Sweden and found their site, that would have become Ridgedale, in the book Richard shares the anecdote of how the purchase went.
What really always struck me was the use of drones to document every month what had been done on the farm. The photo's from the air really give the sense of evolution and design.
I'm very happy that Richard asked me to read a draft copy of his book and share my thoughts on it.

What has struck you of this project?
 
Lorenzo Costa
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This is my review of the book it will go under the actual summary once it will be published but I feel it is important to share it here and now

Making small farms work by Richard Perkins

I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns

This book is a milestone for farm scale permaculture. Richard Perkins is a well-known teacher that has worked in many different countries and projects, building a wide personal experience over the last 15 years. Now that he has settled to set up his own farm, Ridgedale Permaculture, in Sweden (at 59°N), the moment has come for him to share his knowledge not only with his students that take his courses up at Ridgedale but with a larger community.

He has achieved this objective writing a book that is one of a kind. In more than 300 pages he helps the reader deal with the complexity of designing, installing and managing a regenerative agriculture farm. To do this he shares a toolset that integrates three different foundational systems of design and management. These three are what he calls “the three legs to the stool we use in our work”: Permaculture, Holistic Management and Keyline design.

Richard suggests Permaculture is best integrated with other approaches to deal with the complexity of farm scale projects that want to be profitable, as he aims to “meet all our human needs whilst restoring soils, ecosystems & communities”. The complexity lies in the fact we don’t have to deal only with design but also installation and management, to reach regeneration and permanence. Permaculture helps design whole systems that regenerate, Holistic management gives a decision making matrix and Keyline design offers an organising pattern for Permaculture at a farm scale.

I believe this book is the result of the author’s capacity to take his skill in teaching from class to written word. But the book is not only text, maybe half of it is made up of photo’s, images, charts and excerpts of spreadsheets. This is the actual strength of the book, because it communicates visually what the author has put in word on page. Richard Perkins has been able to do all this because he has worked so much in the past years on visual communication.

Step by step, through the story of the first two years of Ridgedale Permaculture, the reader is capable of actually seeing how we go from theory to practice, from the first survey of a site to its management and product marketing. Ridgedale is the case study, yet this book shares the story of the farm not in a biographical way but as a practical example of how one applies design.

This book focuses on finding solutions, not applying recipes. There are no shortcuts, you can’t read this book and find the recipe for setting up a farm, but you can understand the approach and use the given toolset to develop your own specific context and breakdown complexity. There is no easy way, instead there is a very well-known risk that farms without adequate planning become wells without an end in which money just disappears. Turning this around is possible only through design and holistic management and Richard shows the reader how to do this.

One of the finest examples on how to design, shared in this book, is the use of Keyline’s Scale of Permamence, the true legacy of Yeomans’ work, that actually sets the pattern for the chapters of the book. Keyline is much more than only ploughing around offset to contours, and this is well explained in the pages Richard has written.

The power of the images is seen when the author shares step-by-step what has to be done to build an Eggmobile or building one of the cheapest small scale licensed slaughter facilities in Europe, from setting up agroforestry assemblies, to installing the beds of the vegetable garden, or water management systems. The photos don’t only document some achievements but are part of the process of sharing the knowledge.

Design is mostly about collecting data, and putting it together. Let’s take the example of observing and analyzing the quality of pasture on farm, central to being capable of having pastured animals as is at Ridgedale. One can’t improvise, it counts for responsibility towards the animals wellbeing and clients of the farm.

Having pastured animals requires we have a clear knowledge of the quality of the pasture and how this can be improved if needed. Observation in time is necessary, but we have to know what to look for and how to collect the data. The field surveys done in the first two years at Ridgedale on the field pasture assessment and field pasture diversity printed in the book are really interesting.

Working on the farm financials means every enterprise needs to have a clear knowledge of investments, running costs, and income. This is explained in the book in a very clear way from broiler management, to tree assembly in the field, or setting up a vegetable C.S.A box scheme. Having a clear idea of the cost of the investment, means we don’t take any chances. This is heavily emphasized and indeed central to building sustainable and profitable farms.

This is when the spreadsheets or charts become central to understanding how to take only the steps we can. The subtitle of the book sums it up: “A pragmatic whole systems approach to profitable regenerative agriculture” and “an experience-based handbook for the holistic design, installation and management of farm scale permaculture”.

Reading this book has been a pleasure as it is well written. But it is hard work; every page is fact-filled, and shares heavyweight information.

Information is only beneficial if it leads people to carefully considered action. I sincerely hope this book contributes in some small way.” I think this book will, and in a very meaningful way, and I see many more people will be inspired to get involved in regenerative agriculture. I guess that a farmer or wannabe farmer will be more attracted to tackle a mind opening book like Making Small Farms Work, rather than one that makes farming seem like a stroll in the field.

But to finish always with Richards words: “if, when you have read it, you decide it does not [reach your expectations], I suggest you soak it in good clean water, inoculate it with choice oyster mushroom sawdust spawn and post me the dried mushrooms that I might eat my words.

I am setting up my own farm too at present, and this book has arrived at the right moment. It has already helped me think about my design, about my whole project in a new light. For sure I’m not going to make mushrooms of its pages.

This is why I couldn't miss out on all this and backed the project



 
Richard Perkins
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Hi Folks,

Thought I'd let people know I have added 5 & 10 book bundles to the campaign to lower shipping costs. Unfortunately Sweden is up there in the most expensive countries to live and run a business in, and we know it can be quite shocking if you are not familiar with it!

Now 5 books posted anywhere in Europe will cost 436 Kr each including delivery
10 books anywhere in Europe will cost around 405 Kr each with delivery

5 books anywhere outside Europe will come in at 500 Kr each delivered
10 books anywhere outside Europe will come in at around 458 Kr each delivered

I hope that can help some folks. By not backing big corporations and selling direct from the farm you end up paying the 'true cost', as it were, but we think it is still very much worth it.

If anyone has questions, etc, I'm happy to check in here to address them. I'm at the beautiful Rancho San Ricardo in Veracruz running a farm scale Permaculture & regenerative ag training at the moment so I may only be around in my evening times.

Here's the contents of Making Small Farms Work for anyone who has not seen it;


And here's a shot of the Keyline Silvopasture & agroforestry systems where I am working for the next couple of weeks;


If you like, you can read some notes from my last trip here; http://www.ridgedalepermaculture.com/blog/keyline-agroforestry-in-mexico

Richard
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Richard Perkins wrote:Hi Folks,

Thought I'd let people know I have added 5 & 10 book bundles to the campaign to lower shipping costs. Unfortunately Sweden is up there in the most expensive countries to live and run a business in, and we know it can be quite shocking if you are not familiar with it!

Now 5 books posted anywhere in Europe will cost 436 Kr each including delivery
10 books anywhere in Europe will cost around 405 Kr each with delivery

5 books anywhere outside Europe will come in at 500 Kr each delivered
10 books anywhere outside Europe will come in at around 458 Kr each delivered

I hope that can help some folks. By not backing big corporations and selling direct from the farm you end up paying the 'true cost', as it were, but we think it is still very much worth it.



That is really nice news, hope people will want to team up and follow this possibility. The value of the book is already clear from the contents of the book that you shared.
As I wrote in the review the photo's and images you are sharing are really important, they add a lot to the message you're sharing, visual clarity that takes theory to practice.
Nearly 80% backed!
 
Gabriel Grace
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Hey Richard and Lorenzo,
I am greatly intrigued by this book. However, through the two photo slides, there is obviously a tremendous amount of work and capitol taken to complete these systems. I do not doubt the that this book has extremely valuable knowledge to it, but does every solution presented require an incredible amount of capitol and labor? Is it applicable to a small farmer started by a few people with limited funds?

 
Destiny Hagest
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I'm glad this Kickstarter is running into next month, so I can back it when my budget resets

Seriously, there just looks like there is going to be a TON of practical information in this book. I love homesteading books, but I feel like so many of them focus on philosophy, which is lovely, but I just do not have time for. I need to know how to do the things I want to do, and this book is so well organized and to the point.

I don't even operate my little homestead here as a business, but I'm going to buy this book just because it looks like it covers damned near everything I could need to know about - what an incredible reference.

Great job Mr. Perkins! I am really looking forward to reading this and putting it to work around my home!
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Gabriel Grace wrote:Hey Richard and Lorenzo,
I am greatly intrigued by this book. However, through the two photo slides, there is obviously a tremendous amount of work and capitol taken to complete these systems. I do not doubt the that this book has extremely valuable knowledge to it, but does every solution presented require an incredible amount of capitol and labor? Is it applicable to a small farmer started by a few people with limited funds?



Gabriel, Richard will be able to answer better, but really this book is about achieving a lot spendig less, it is about making the right decisions knowing what your budget is.
 
Richard Perkins
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Hi Gabriel,

Thanks for your comments. Good questions and relevant to many I would guess. I’d like to address this here briefly and to clarify some points, as they might be surprising. I would also take this opportunity to expand on the objectives of this book and exactly how it is aimed at supporting those within the constraints of limited resources you mention. That’s exactly what I do in my educational and design work.

It has been a lot of hard work to create our farm in the timeframe we have, that is true. I have visited a lot of places and met a lot of people running farms and projects in different parts of the world and the general limitations I encounter are lack of planning, lack of time for planning and lack of a clarified context within which decisions are made. This is of utmost importance, as I see the rapid and efficient implementation at our farm is mostly due to the clarity of our context and planning diligence, and the efficient decision-making that naturally follows. The book places a lot of emphasis on all these aspects, as they are precisely what makes it work. We specifically wanted to share our design approach through the lens of what we actually use in our design work and what we have actually done in the establishment of our farm. Cut out the theory and idealism and get straight to it.

We are a demonstration and education site as well as a farm, and this comes with a lot of added responsibility; ie, we feel we have to actually demonstrate things, which a private family farm does not. There is a lot of added cost, risk and work with this and it has meant we have prioritized things that we simply would not have if it was only a family farm. I make a point of pointing this out in the book to make it clearer for most readers who will not share this aspect of our context.

We track time carefully with all of our enterprises and 2 full time workers could run the commercial enterprises we run currently (and we do currently for half the year). This is detailed along with the financials in the book. We also talk about exactly these questions, and what we would have focused on if it was simply a private family farm. Really it always comes down to our unique context; what are we trying to do, what are we prepared to do to get there, with what resources, etc.
It’s a book about design, but cutting out all the fluff and focusing in on what actually works for me as a professional designer and farmer. That is why we draw from other ecological and holistic design approaches. We place the highest importance on really thoroughly defining context, diligent planning, and constant ongoing analysis. A large part of the book is devoted to this, and indeed the whole book is framed around the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects so valuable to our training participants and so lacking in the wider movement.

You will likely be surprised by the economic factors. We have been doing this all at relatively very low cost by actively intercepting waste streams and creatively using resources. We specifically do not take subsidies to make a point. This extends to direct marketing of premium products and pre- selling everything from vegetable boxes to eggs and broilers. We build up infrastructure at very low cost, from human spaces to animal infrastructure, building one of Europe’s lowest cost approved slaughter facilities, etc. The enterprises we run are specifically designed to be things that can be replicated and scaled up or down and run at high net %’s in agricultural terms. All out enterprises are specifically based on low initial investment and profitable in 1 or 2 seasons. I would really like to emphasize that this book is very much written for people wanting to do this without huge fiscal resources, just like we have been doing. Not only is farming one of, if not THE highest risk businesses, young folks especially face huge difficulties to get into farming. We meet and work with a lot of folks in different parts of the world burning up for an agrarian lifestyle. Rented land, mobile and modular infrastructure, low investment/ high return enterprises that positively drive ecosystem processes is precisely what this is all about….

I think 5 years down the line when all systems are fully operational the farm will be run by 4 or 5 people being paid a good (Swedish) wage and maintaining a very high quality of life in meaningful work and learning. I think you will find yourself pleasantly surprised by the fiscal/ labour inputs of the enterprises shared. There is no magic solutions, no way to make farming low risk and easy, but we can work smoothly within complexity, and we can certainly make it work. We have specifically aimed this book to address what we see as huge holes in the literature regarding scaling up Permaculture to the farm and sharing of design processes we use in our professional work focused on profitable regenerative agriculture (not to mention a European cold climate perspective).

I hope this speaks to your points. You are very welcome to ask about any aspect of this in this space…

Greetings from sweltering Mexico, where we are deep into applying Keyline design to small and huge properties at our PDC at Rancho San Ricardo

Richard
 
Gabriel Grace
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Thanks for the well thought out reply Richard. You answered my questions and more. Now I wish I could get the book sooner than August.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Richard Perkins wrote:

If anyone has questions, etc, I'm happy to check in here to address them.

Do you mind if I inquire *why* you aren't offering this in a digital form? Beyond ethical questions regarding the use of paper and shipping fuel, shipping costs are massive, especially for those of us outside of Europe.

I know I'd be happy to pay full price for a digital copy that doesn't require I purchase shipping.
 
Richard Perkins
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Hi Kyrt,

Thank you for your question. Other people ask this, and we understand many may not choose to read the book because of our decision to only make it available directly from the farm in hard copy.

A few people have mentioned environment, and to be honest this is too complex a notion to address here. Personally I cannot see digital media as being more 'environmentally friendly' in terms of the whole. To be frank, far more fossil fuel and resources go into creating computers, internet systems, digital infrastructure and propping it all up than to traditional publishing processes. Removed health and safety concerns you might say. I'm not interested in a discussion about this, I just point that out because for me it has nothing to do with 'ethics' other than perhaps contrived ones that I do not share, and so it is not so relevant to my decision making.

It comes down to a personal choice. We value quality made books. We go to a lot of trouble to create premium farm products and sell them direct from the farm to our customers. We want the same with this book. It is an interesting approach, and one that fulfills our context better than by going with a publisher. We are interested in innovation at different levels, and it is my feeling that publishing needs some innovation to 'get with the program.' It's a personal experiment in that way perhaps...

We have done what we can with postage costs by offering multiple book packages. What you are seeing is a reflection of the cost of living and working in Sweden I'm afraid. That's part of the success of this farm, in that we are making it work in such conditions paying Swedish taxes. The book & shipping represents the actual cost, something perhaps easy to forget when things are available via corporate structures like Amazon, etc.

I totally understand this will not work for everyone, but it is a choice we have consciously made and are happy with. I apologize if this will not work for you, but hopefully you will happen upon a copy with someone else down the road...
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Richard Perkins wrote:Hi Kyrt,

Thank you for your question. Other people ask this, and we understand many may not choose to read the book because of our decision to only make it available directly from the farm in hard copy.

Thank you for the prompt and thorough reply Richard, much appreciated.

A few people have mentioned environment, and to be honest this is too complex a notion to address here. Personally I cannot see digital media as being more 'environmentally friendly' in terms of the whole. To be frank, far more fossil fuel and resources go into creating computers, internet systems, digital infrastructure and propping it all up than to traditional publishing processes. Removed health and safety concerns you might say. I'm not interested in a discussion about this, I just point that out because for me it has nothing to do with 'ethics' other than perhaps contrived ones that I do not share, and so it is not so relevant to my decision making.

I included the ethical point more as one I assumed other readers might find compelling, for me it's primarily the shipping rather than fuzzy ethics.

It comes down to a personal choice. We value quality made books. We go to a lot of trouble to create premium farm products and sell them direct from the farm to our customers. We want the same with this book. It is an interesting approach, and one that fulfills our context better than by going with a publisher. We are interested in innovation at different levels, and it is my feeling that publishing needs some innovation to 'get with the program.' It's a personal experiment in that way perhaps...

I don't recall disagreeing at all with the principle of self-publishing? There was a time I wished to do so myself back when I was pursuing a writing career. It's awesome you guys are handling the whole process yourselves.

We have done what we can with postage costs by offering multiple book packages. What you are seeing is a reflection of the cost of living and working in Sweden I'm afraid. That's part of the success of this farm, in that we are making it work in such conditions paying Swedish taxes. The book & shipping represents the actual cost, something perhaps easy to forget when things are available via corporate structures like Amazon, etc.
Does that mean that you've padded the 'price' with 'shipping' rather than listing a clean price based directly on what it costs to produce the work [including the cost/value you've ascribed to your efforts]? I was under the impression the shipping cost was just the price to ship the book to your customers.

I totally understand this will not work for everyone, but it is a choice we have consciously made and are happy with. I apologize if this will not work for you, but hopefully you will happen upon a copy with someone else down the road...
If I can scratch together the cash I certainly want to, I'm in the middle of bootstrapping a farm myself and it seems like quite an asset.

Is the problem more one of lacking the technical skills to produce a quality pdf of the product and not wanting to outsource such a task?
 
Richard Perkins
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Hi Kyrt,

The postage cost is the direct quote from the postal service. All postage costs go straight there. Packaging, handling, etc all comes out of the book cost.

No lack of technical skills to make a .pdf, just no desire to make one. To me it would feel like offering dehydrated pastured broilers. I'm not going to do it.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Fair enough Richard. I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on the value of a PDF as a medium for information.

Good luck with your Kickstarter, I still want your book and will contribute if I can pull it off.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Just past a 100% regenerative agriculture is growing, this book will be foundational!!
 
Lorenzo Costa
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6 days left to buy Making Small Farms Work, get 10% off and become co-publishers of this heavywheight book!

Go directly to the kickstarter campaign page: Click Here

Back the campaign!!!

 
Zenais Buck
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Lorenzo ~ Joined the kickstarter strictly on your review! Thank you so much for the detail you put into the review, as it clarified my decision. I have been a bit busy lately, and had to set my homestead's mainframe design aside. Now I am glad it is not done; I can't wait to get this resource in hand! ~ Thanks again~
 
Zenais Buck
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Richard Perkins wrote:Hi Gabriel,

Thanks for your comments. Good questions and relevant to many I would guess. I’d like to address this here briefly and to clarify some points, as they might be surprising. I would also take this opportunity to expand on the objectives of this book and exactly how it is aimed at supporting those within the constraints of limited resources you mention. That’s exactly what I do in my educational and design work.


Richard


Thank you so much for the detailed reply. I can easily see that this text is just what I need for my own homestead. I am grateful you took the time to share your knowledge!
 
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