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how to get permaculture apples into safeway?  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Yesterday I was giving a tour to the PDC students and we were talking about the apple trees growing here. Somebody asked about getting the apples into the local grocery stores.

I felt that this was a legit level 2 question. How to do business the way that other apple growers are doing business. How to compete with them and possibly outcompete them. How to do so profitably.

I first felt myself get frustrated that the question is sorta loaded to be level 2, and I wished that the question was more level 5.

I directed this guy to watch the broken limbs movie and pointed out how nearly everybody cannot get their apples on the shelf without the middleman. So I picked a student and called him the middleman. I then described how he works with 40 growers, scrapes the natural wax off, applies a petroleum wax, put stickers on the fruit and then sells the fruit to lots of grocery stores. Without all that, the grocery stores generally don't want to talk to you.

We then talked about how a lot of times food shelf life is connected to how fungus and bacteria did not see that as "food". But if you are going to go through the many phases of shipping, you cannot do it with fruit that has a short shelf life. And some of the tastiest and most nutritious food has a short shelf life.

I pointed out how there was one guy in broken limbs that would take his apples to a local organic grocery. They would sell it as-is without the de-waxing, re-waxing, stickering, etc. And they tried to short the guy on price when he rolled up with a fresh load. And the guy said "fuck it, I'll just feed these to my pigs." and the store said "WAIT WAIT WAIT!" and then it turns out that they really can pay the agreed on price. People were asking specifically for his apples.

I think a better question is "how do I make more money selling permaculture apples?" There are then two very important paths to explore:

1) making more money for one person that is growing permaculture apples.

2) how do you feed the world permaculture apples and all of the apple growers get epic coin?


For #1 , we can talk about polyculture apples being better flavor and nutrition - and getting more dollars per pound ... we can also talk about offering them for sale on your property rather that driving them somewhere .... we can talk about people coming to the property for other reasons and eating the apples .... we can talk about what sepp does and how people pay lots to come to his property and they think the food and water there is a bit like "the fountain of youth" ... much more to say in this space

For #2, we can talk about how people keep selling their apples to the warehouses which process the apples and resell them. We can talk about systems where we dramatically reduce the cost growing the apples. We can talk about how all of the other farmers do similar things, and the systems in place get reformed ... I can say more here, but I think this whole conversation takes a back seat to ....

#3, it seems a bit silly that somebody will get in their car, drive four miles to a grocery store and buy apples that came from 400 miles away when there were perfectly ripe apples growing in their own yard. Or the yard next door. And then, some people just don't feel like eating an apple - they want cereal for breakfast, pizza for lunch and mexican for dinner. They might go more than a year without eating an actual apple - many see it as something that poor people or hippies eat. After all, an apple costs about a dollar and a piece of apple pie costs four dollars, and an apple tart served at a fancy restaurant costs twelve dollars.

So we could start to talk about "hyper local permaculture" where people cut their driving to grocery stores and restaurants in half because within two or three blocks ... maybe even right next door ... there is food available at a little produce stand or a teeny tiny restaurant of sorts. Of course the income from that would be small, and the gubmint will be pissy - but's let's use Mr. Roger's land of make believe to forget about the gubmint for a bit.

I think a big slice of the permaculture dream is a reaction to a human need for safety.



When you spend any time understanding the world's problems you get that horrible feeling of "that could happen to me!" followed immediately by "how do I add safety to my life so that won't happen to me?"



The first piece is "if I had a million dollars I could make safety for me." - in time, I think most people start to come to the conclusion that that is a poor type of safety - you would need to buy just the right things, and without knowledge, you could buy the wrong things, or not install the right things correctly. And then as you start to learn all the things to make the million dollars be safe .... I think (and I'm sure a few billion people with have different thoughts) all roads lead to permaculture and homesteading.



So if a person has a head full of homesteading and permaculture, a solid home, their energy needs are itty bitty, and they are growing four times more food than they could ever eat ... and they have $4,000 in the bank and $10,000 hidden under the mattress .... maybe that person now has more safety than the earlier person with a million dollars in hand.



For the luxuries in life, maybe that person wants a few hundred dollars a month.

Due to a previous article I wrote, I typically refer to this now as "the state of Gert". A key part of this "gert-itude" is that if Gert has $10,000 saved, she feels the same as if she has a million dollars saved. Therefore, gert is, in a sense, "a permaculture millionaire."


---


A few ways that a permie can make money with apples

1. sell to the commodity apple sellers. Your expenses will be less because you don't spray. But you should expect to get paid about ten cents a pound and you might have to drive your apples a few hours to the warehouse. Your have to grow very specific varieties. Maybe you can start your trees from antonovka seed and graft the supermarket varieties to that. At least you get the taproot that way. You could attempt to convince the commodity people to carry permaculture stuff for a premium price, but I think you will be told that the market isn't ready for that (in other words, they don't really understand what you are talking about and the consumers that buy apples generally don't take that much time in making apple buying choices, and the grocery store buyers don't either). You could spend a few million dollars in advertising to market to the general public about the advantages of a permaculture apple and then you might get 50 cents per pound for apples that are sold for four dollars a pound in stores.

2. Do like the couple did in the broken limbs movie. Take the apples to a saturday market or farmers market. They drove about three hours and sold their apples for a fraction of the price of the other sellers and sold out quickly. The story was that they were going to sell via the #1 process and even then it looked like they were going to lose their farm to the bank. Then hail destroyed 90% of their crop. They took the remaining beat up apples to seattle and sold them almost instantly and had more money than if they had no hail and did the #1 thing.

3. Just like #2, but tell your customers about the value of permaculture and polyculture. Become the go-to source at that market. As you sell out faster, gradually raise your prices. After all, do these apples cure cancer and save the bees? Is the flavor better? If the apple tree is grown with raspberries, can people taste the raspberries in the apple?

4. The people from the broken limbs movie in #2 moved on to make an "apple of the month" business. A box is shipped once a month to people featuring their apple varieties. They made so much money this way that they paid off their mortgage and bought more land.

5. Improvement ideas on #4: Each apple has a story. What is it good for (eating fresh, baking, sauce, cider, storage ...), what is the tree growing next to, can you taste that? And instructions on how to grow apple trees from seed for this month. A little more information on what would be good polyculture guild plants and why. A permaculture apple gift box might contain a dozen rather perfect apples. Maybe a person is getting $7 per pound and infecting brains with permaculture? Even just one box would be an excellent gift from a permie or to a permie. And a year long subscription would be an even better gift. Even more, a permie could be desiring seeds - and could get those very seeds packed in apples.

6. Another fella in the broken limbs movie has a few trees and takes boxes of apples to a local organic co-op. It sounds like he pops into this town once in a while already, so it isn't really an extra drive. Just a dozen boxes or so. He got a little over a dollar a pound. So the store is probably selling them for $2 or more per pound.

7. The guy from #6 could set up a little honor system food stand in front of his house. Maybe he could get $2 per pound. And he could have a bunch of other stuff sitting out there: veggies, other fruits, crafts, eggs ...

8. Expanding on #7: provide additional information about the foods with an emphasis on permaculture and polyculture. Point out the stuff about how grocery store food is about the long shelf life, so it has hardly any flavor or nutrition. Point out to vegans how many animals are killed in the harvesting of organic monocrops by big machinery and how this food is all hand harvested. Do the thing where people are encouraged to start their own apple trees and other things from the seeds within the fruit sold. And what might be a good polyculture for each. Build demand which leads to raising prices.

9. sepp holzer has talked for so many years about the value of permaculture food, that many people in his area swear that it has cured their illness or made them younger. Sepp charges 95 euros per person to come onto his land and he gets 100 people per day. He gives them a quick tour and asks them to show themselves out. They fill their bags as they exit - each person can only take as much food and seed as they can carry in one load.

10. A permaculture consultant called me one day and told me that he was on the road, driving to see a client. He was really proud of his new design for the client. The land was nearly useless - it had been abused to the point that it was a big gob of flat, broken clay where nothing was growing. He managed to turn it into a weed patch - so the soil was being improved. His design is to grow alfalfa. I was pissed - of course, this is sorta my thing I guess: I want everybody to do things my way which is nearly always different than what they have in mind. Alfalfa would be baled and carried away three times a year - thus depleting the soil again. I asked about this situation. 200 acres of pretty useless/spent desert. One huge house with the owner. Apparently the owner is some sort of guru and people come from all over the world to visit him. My designing-over-the-phone: Do two acres of hugelkultur surrounded by huge berms (to reduce the dessicating wind). Start thinking about some small water features. Each year add another acre. Grow a magnificent permaculture garden. Rent the rooms to the visitors. A cook harvests food and feeds the guests. The income is the rooms. Tell the visitors about the food, the value of permaculture, and the guru's commitment to permaculture. As demand rises, raise the prices of the rooms. I think the real #10 is: set up a permaculture sanctuary of sorts. people pay to visit. The apples are part of the big picture - maybe served as pie, or as a snack ...

11. The state of gert. Maybe your neighbors give you $50 once in a while and they pick a bunch of apples - sometimes for a lot of fresh eating and pies. Sometimes for canning. Sometimes gert picks the apples and sells a dozen boxes for $20 per box - and the neighbors/friends come pick up the boxes. Maybe another neighbor pays a few hundred dollars to run their pigs through once in a while and eat the dropped apples. Or pays in pork! Maybe another person has a little honor system stand like #8 and gert gets $8 per box that the other person picks, and $25 per box that gert takes to the stand herself.

12. Gert is part of a small, closed permaculture community. There is some #11 stuff, but there are also some visitors that come through. Gert sells her apples to some of the hosts that cook some meals, and Gert puts together boxes like #5 for the guests. And she sends out boxes sometimes, but just for a few people that stayed there in the past.


---


Many years ago I had a presentation I created and I presented it several times to large audiences: "how to make the big bucks with permaculture." I think one time it was recorded and it is still available as a podcast. I think all of those things still stand.

All of the things from those presentations will bring in a lot more money than if a person traveled a more conventional approach. And they are a lot of work.

When people first contemplate permaculture, it seems that their income thoughts lead toward working at a farmer's market or running a CSA. Eventually these tend to just not pay enough - and these folks tend to let permaculture go.

Others are determined to feed the world with permaculture. They take a vow of poverty, work incredibly long hours, sell the food for cheap and discover hundreds of barriers making it difficult to feed the masses - barriers that are usually solved with money and/or red tape.

One of the things I have heard from permaculture circles over and over again is "feed yourself first". To me it sounds a bit like the Gert thing - once you have your permaculture system that provides 90% of your food, and you have a home (even a tiny, humble home) and you have no debt and very low monthly expenses ... maybe a little bit in savings .... then it is a lot easier to do a little to feed the world or be part of a CSA or farmer's market booth.

This kind of talk often leads to talk about how did gert get her land, or how did gert get the money to get the land, or how did gert get the money to create her patch of permaculture ... it always strikes me that the gerts of the world just go about being passionate about permaculture and an opportunity presents itself. I have met hundreds of people where they followed their passion and in the end it all worked out. We can call it "magic" and each person stumbled onto a different "magic." And then there are angry people where they cannot bother to learn permaculture, or plant a seed or build any experience and they seem to think that somebody will do it all for them. Those people tend to not stumble onto "magic."

I think this is an excellent conversation for another time ...



---


The question is "how to get permaculture apples into safeway?"

I know my answer will sound batshit crazy to the person asking the question. Because it is a massive response that dodges the question.

The largest part of my official answer is "do the gert thing." And if millions of people do the gert thing, then maybe "random permaculture apples" will someday appear at safeway.

I can wish for an end to the chem-ag subsidies that make chem ag apples to cheap on the market. And I can wish for an end to petroleum subsidies that make that fuel (and fertilizer) so cheap for shipping and petroleum based ag. Maybe local permaculture apples will be cheaper than chem ag apples from china. But this is all just silly wishing.

I would like all apple orchardists all over the world to learn about permaculture and then replace 90% of their apple trees with other fruit trees, nut trees ... lots of different trees, shrubs and other crops. They would then grow 50 different crops in the same space. And they would continue to grow apples. I like the idea that they feed themselves first. And then they sell apples for far more than they are currently getting. If hail hurts their apples, or they don't get enough money for the apples, then it could be a bumper crop year of pork!


If you really want to see permaculture apples in safeway, consumers have to ask for permaculture apples. And the first step for that is to start telling all those people about the value of permaculture.


---

I can think of dozens, maybe hundreds, of answers, each catering to all the nutty followup questions that this same person might ask .... but I'm going to focus on my favorite answer ...


My official answer is 65% "the Gert thing." The remaining 35% is made up of a community of, say, 40 people. Some people bring money to the community and they buy meals from somebody that prepared the meals where the food came from six or seven producers, one of whom was gert.

There is no safeway in this answer. Gert doesn't even make epic cash from apples. Gert does make about $8000 per year from 40 different crops and from other "business arrangements" she has with other people in her community.

All of the stuff about the natural wax being stripped off the natural apples and replaced with petroleum wax is eliminated. There are no stickers on the apples. There are no sprays being used. No grafting or transplanting. There are no huge trucks going to the warehouse, and from the warehouse to the distribution center, then to the grocery. People don't drive to the grocery store to get the apples. There are no deals where the orchardist pulls up to sell the apples and is informed that the price being paid for macintosh apples has dropped 12% this year. If he doesn't like it, he can leave his apples to rot on the tree. The warehouse isn't trying to compete with apples from china, and nobody is asking the gubmint for more subsidies or assistance. The apples are not limited to a half dozen varieties that are best known for their very long shelf life. There is also no need to store the apples in a low oxygen environment to get them to last longer.

In my favorite answer, there are millions of communities all over the world .... maybe we call them "villages" or something .... some have hundreds of people and some have just a dozen. And in each one, there is diversity of people. Some people are bonkers about producing food, some people are bonkers about cooking, some people are bonkers about building .... the list goes on and on .... and some people are just plain old retired - complete with savings and/or residual income streams. They don't really need to leave their community. They have everything they need. Maybe they get some stuff from amazon once in a while. Maybe they make a trip to town once a month. Maybe they go to the big city once a year. Some people might have gone five years without leaving the village.

Gert. And her community. And permaculture. This is my answer to nearly all of the world's problems and nearly all of the questions I am asked.

There are about 20 people at my place today. A lot of food is being grown and planted. Humble homes are being built. And one person asked about getting permaculture apples to safeway when I pointed to a tiny apple tree, about four inches tall, that was growing up from seed.


 
paul wheaton
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I had to leave missoula for a while, but when I came back I saw a painting by the most famous missoula painter, monte dolack. The instant I saw it, it became my favorite painting. It turns out that I totally misinterpreted the painting. But it is only my favorite today because of my alternate interpretation:


http://www.dolack.com/products/witness-to-change

My interpretation is "this will be the first stick of this really epic dam I'm gonna build"
 
David Livingston
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Here in France , there is a chain of shops called the Biocoop , as it's name suggests it's an organic co op . They have a policy of buying local ,any permiculturalist is more than welcome to go and see there local shop to discuss what each can do for the other . for instance I now can buy locally grown quinoa because a local farmer went to his local shop and asked what they would like and one of the suggestions was quinoa .

David
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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paul wheaton wrote:I had to leave missoula for a while, but when I came back I saw a painting by the most famous missoula painter, monte dolack. The instant I saw it, it became my favorite painting. It turns out that I totally misinterpreted the painting. But it is only my favorite today because of my alternate interpretation:


http://www.dolack.com/products/witness-to-change

My interpretation is "this will be the first stick of this really epic dam I'm gonna build"


So, starting with the first stick is sorta like starting with an apple seed (or seedling)?

 
John Weiland
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@Paul W.:"Gert. And her community. And permaculture. This is my answer to nearly all of the world's problems and nearly all of the questions I am asked."

Add a little blood-relationship and reverence for the the wilds and it sounds like a tribe: "Humans living in tribes was as ecologically stable as lions living in prides or baboons living in troops. The tribal life wasn't something humans sat down and figured out. It was the gift of natural selection, a proven success -- not perfection but hard to improve on."--Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization.

With regard to the original question of "....how to get permaculture apples into safeway?", I'm inclined to think that the age and type of the average person visiting wheaton labs is perhaps 'ready' to entertain the possibility that the question may have limited or declining relevance.....that although it's a fair question within the framework of the current socio-economic system, it's worth looking beyond that current framework for where permaculture may take a society.

Again, from Quinn: "It took Khufu twenty-three years to build his Great Pyramid at Giza, where some eleven hundred stone blocks, each weighing about two and a half tons, had to be quarried, moved, and set in place every day during the annual building season, roughly four months long. Few commentators on these facts can resist noting that this achievement is an amazing testimonial to the pharaoh’s iron control over the workers of Egypt. I submit, on the contrary, that pharaoh Khufu needed to exercise no more control over his workers at Giza than pharaoh Bill Gates exercises over his workers at Microsoft. I submit that Egyptian workers, relatively speaking, got as much out of building Khufu’s pyramid as Microsoft workers will get out of building Bill Gates’s pyramid (which will surely dwarf Khufu’s a hundred times over, though it will not, of course, be built of stone).....No special control is needed to make people into pyramid builders—if they see themselves as having no choice but to build pyramids. They’ll build whatever they’re told to build, whether it’s pyramids, parking garages, or computer programs."

..... or Safeways.

Farmer's markets were unheard of when I was growing up and now are quite popular even if not at this point a real challenge to the supermarkets. Add to this the number of movements to (re)educate many in gardening and food preparation and storage.....and then websites like this with connections and workshops to help those getting started. All of it working to slooooowly change the way people see their choices for getting apples the same way that the Gerts slooowly change the way people see choices for making a life. (Hey, title proposal for your next lecture series: "From Pyramids to Permaculture". )
 
S Tonin
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There's a really great supermarket chain in the Northeast, Wegmans, that sources and promotes local/ regional produce (as well as meats, dairy, and some dry goods). It has the image of a yuppie store and is a bit like a Whole Foods, except not as pretentious or expensive (google "cult of Wegmans" to get Huffpo and Buzzfeed's snappy take on them). They have a lot of their own branded items manufactured and packaged by smaller producers as well and, in my opinion, the quality is second to none for their store-brand items (prices being comparable to other chains' generics and quality usually exceeding that of a premium brand). The name of their store brand natural foods is Food You Feel Good About; how's that for marketing?

More to the point: After Wegmans became established in my area, the other supermarkets began copying everything Wegmans, from the way the stores were laid out to how items were grouped, the ready-made foods they offered, expanding the selection of natural/ organic foods, etc. Here's the important thing: these other chains began carrying local (within 100 miles), seasonal foods and giving them prominence in displays (especially produce), with lots of feel-good posters about Xth generation family farms blah blah. Wegmans had already been living by the "know your farmer, know your food" thing, and the other supermarkets followed their example as (presumably) they felt the pinch of lost business.

Solution: Get Wegmans everywhere.

Or try other various means to put enough economic pressure on a supermarket to make selling a permaculture apple a draw for customers, none of which I have any experience with so I can't offer much more than opinion.

Of course, this is one of those things that's highly subjective to the market. Any area more than 100 miles from a coast (with the exception of Denver) probably isn't going to have enough of the "right" kind of consumer to target to make it viable for the big chains to change their model.

Maybe if enough small stores and co-ops could put a big enough dent in the local megamart's business, the megamart might be inclined to make a few token changes in their sourcing (which, while not being very significant on a large scale, could mean a lucrative contract for some lucky permie). Or, if you're a producer that lives in an area with a Wegmans (or Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, etc) and can produce on the scale they require, try approaching them or try pitching to the competition.
 
David Livingston
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Does Wegmans do one shop deals ? For me thats the clincher as it means that small suppliers can compete .
On the subject of Apples Angers Biocoop sell 5kg bags of mixed apples organic for 10€ . Now thats the sort of thing a permie could aim for no problem
 
S Tonin
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David Livingston wrote:Does Wegmans do one shop deals ? For me thats the clincher as it means that small suppliers can compete .


As far as I know, they tend to cluster stores in higher population density areas and keep things relatively consistent between those locations, so a cluster of stores might be supplied by one farm while another cluster 30 miles away might use a different farm. For the fresh produce, a grower or co-op of growers would probably have to be able to supply 4-5 stores in an area with a lot of people (and this an area where I have zero actual knowledge of quantity needed), or maybe just one single store in an area where they only have one location.

It seems like the meat and dairy are a little more spread out and the fresh, seasonal produce is more local. For instance, most of the dairy comes from Upstate NY, which is still within 100 miles of many of their locations; most of the organic pork comes from a farm in southern PA. In that aspect, they're more regional than local. They also try to source dry goods from within their market region, stuff like granola and smaller-run producers of canned goods (condiments, sauces, jams, etc).

Personally, I don't think small-scale growers can ever compete for space in a traditional American chain supermarket (like the example of Safeway). Mainstream supermarkets need a consistent supply to meet customer demand and retain a certain image (no empty shelves/ spaces missing product). Sourcing the same product from multiple producers is a headache at best and a complete cluster at worst, and it would cut into their bottom line to pay someone or multiple someones to coordinate/ oversee that part of the operation and become more complicated the larger the chain. A farm that's big enough to operate their own farmstand with a dedicated building and employees would be able to produce the volume needed, but Jill Homesteader with five baskets of heirloom apples at the farmer's market every week couldn't. Probably the only way (as it stands now, the way things are currently run and probably will continue to run in the foreseeable future) to give small-scale producers a chance is to form a co-op and maintain an internal standard for whichever product they want to get into a grocery chain. No seedling apples or unidentifiable landrace squash; everyone contributes the same Fujis and hubbards. Far from ideal, but potentially at least one step up from conventional ag. That model presents its own challenges and drawbacks and potential for abuse, too. Jill Homesteader is still probably better off at the farmer's market in the present.

I don't really like the lack of diversity in most supermarkets and I'd love for it to change, but I'm also in the minority when it comes to... well, almost everything. I know plenty of women my age (35) and older who won't use an ugly tomato, even if it's free, let alone pay actual money for one. It's unfortunate, but these are the big chains' customers. Small grocers in America are a thing of the past and not likely to return to an appreciable degree anytime soon (and yes, there are lots of movements and co-ops and all that, but most of them are in urban, higher-income areas and not where the majority of the middle class and below can benefit from real food at affordable prices available within a reasonable distance). I really, really wish it were different. I had the great fortune as a kid to work for a real Mom-and-Pop general store/ butcher in my small town; every summer they had fresh tomatoes and cucumbers purchased from a few different backyard gardeners that lived within five miles of the store (this was almost unheard of in the late 90s, but my town was always about 30 years behind the rest of the Eastern Seaboard). It makes me sad to think about it being gone now and sad to realize that most people in my generation only ever had the exhausting megamart shopping experience. /tangent
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I think there are sooo many ways how we get our food is changing and the Internet is a big part of that.

Taking produce to farmers markets does not always pencil out to very decent profits. That's a whole conversation in and of itself, though farmers markets are lovely, sometimes glorious things and, IMHO, definitely better than big box grocery stores.

There are plenty of CSAs (CSA = community supported agriculture, which is when you basically "subscribe" to a farm's growing season and get weekly produce) that deliver to your door. There are even CSAs that are a co-operative or group of many small farms, so I imagine a Gert could throw a box of apples into that mix if the relationship worked.

Then there is this company that Diego profiled in his Permaculture Voices podcast: Primal Pastures. Listen to Starting a Pastured Poultry Business. The Story of a First Time Farmer with Paul Greive (PVP008) (or find it on your favorite app) for how these brothers and their dad started a pre-order pastured poultry business that sold out via Facebook at the very beginning and they've been growing, adding higher quantities, plus lamb and beef, ever since.

Jacqueline Freeman, star of many of Paul's podcasts and videos, (of Friendly Haven Rise Farm and Spirit Bee), especially on the topic of honey bees and biodynamic farming, told us how she and Joseph tried to take their extra produce to the farmers market. When they evaluated it, they made so little per hour that they stopped doing that. Now, if they have extra produce, Jacqueline offers it for sale or trade to a women farmers group she is active with (also on Facebook).

Other startups are trying to get a foot hold in the changing landscape of our food systems, including:
  • 21 Acres - an agriculture sustainability center outside of Seattle that serves as a food hub and market for local small farms
  • Barn2Door - a new start up offering a ready to use farm store both for farmers/producers and customers (either mail order or pick up near your location
  • SPUD - Small Potatoes Urban Delivery - this awesome service used to be in the Seattle area, and I LOVED using it when I lived there and was working a lot as a single mom - I think it's a wonderful model to replicate

  • In some areas there is AmazonFresh or Prime Pantry, though of course those are not so local.

    I've also written on the forums about using Azure which is kind of like shopping from the warehouse or middle man, cutting out the storefront, and it's been a truly excellent food source for us.

    Some of these last options might work for Gert to work with, though for the most part, probably not. To me, they are just examples of how the grocery landscape is changing, which is a good thing.


     
    Tyler Ludens
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    I like the idea that Gert can sell to her neighbors who like her and her apples, and the neighbors who don't like her or her apples can buy apples at Safeway. It would be even better if Gert can gift apples to her neighbors and when she needs something or someone feels generous they can gift her in return, even in cash. Note this is gifting, not barter. This is how our neighborhood shares food. We're not doing it in a huge way yet, but I can imagine if Gert is very friendly and outgoing, a lot more food could be shared.





     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    I love this topic, it is something we are working on getting set up for right now with our Guinea Hogs.

    Our plan is to get our super tasty pork into two restaurants for a start, from there we will add in our Arkansas Black Apples then grapes and other items as we develop.

    Since my wife is a Chef, we have an insider approach to get our pork slowly into the market.
    As we increase the quantity, we will have some extra money for additional land purchases which will allow expansion which will end up bringing in more money.

    Right now we have a friend that owns a small market with a very large client base. He has asked that we grow some items for his market that he doesn't grow and we are gearing up for that income stream now.
    Once our apple trees are all established we have his market as a first buyer.
    We also have markets that specialize in the types of foods we grow so once our personal needs are being met we can simply expand the gardens to accommodate these markets for extra income.

    The pork operation is expected to go along fairly well since we can mention that it is listed on the Slow Food list, we have specialty restaurants available and chefs that have expressed interest in using our pork.
    There are only a few AGHA breeders that are working towards selling hogs for food right now, and in our area we are the only ones with plans to do so.

    The best part of our plan is that even if we decide to only sell pork, we can always use excess produce as supplemental feed for the hogs and gain profits as pork sales.
    We also will not be trying to sell to big chain stores but focus only on the high end specialty shops in our area. This will keep our product in better demand and we can keep quality up much easier too.


     
    Tyler Ludens
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    Bryant, you might have noticed one of my obsessions is closed-loop permaculture systems. Do you intend to keep your pork loop closed or mostly closed? Is there some surplus from one of your clients that you might be able to use to close the loop with the pork you're removing from your system? Restaurant food waste, perhaps? This is the major failing I see in schemes to market permaculture products - the permaculture system is losing surplus which should be returned to the system. If one is marketing, ideally there would be an input from the client - not from the feed store! In my opinion.

     
    Mick Fisch
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    I do a lot of work around a small town an hour from the regional center town where I work. I go into the local grocery store there pretty often to buy something for lunch. I was surprised to find that they did have locally grown apples for sale (in 5 lb bags). They were only in the store for a couple of weeks, during which time they were sold at lower prices than the commercial apples. I bought some. The apples were unwaxed and were very good. Since they weren't waxed they didn't keep as well as the apples I normally buy, but that was ok because they got eaten a lot quicker also. My takeaway from this is that there are small, local businesses you can sell to, although they may take some searching to find.

    So, the lesson here seems to be to focus on the smaller businesses. Our chances of getting into the Walmart or Safeway supply chain are slim to none. A permaculturist simply won't produce enough volume to allow him to supply such a massive market.

    My dad taught me there are two ways to get rich.

    1. Earn more than you spend (This is very hard if this is the only method you use. Most people's spending tracks their income, so that they always think they need about 10% more. The problem is that there is a practical limit to how much most of us (even the high rollers) can earn. If we continue to chase the will-o- the wisp of earning more, we eventually reach the point where we are unable to move up that last step, we can't maintain the current pace but are unwilling to reduce our spending. Kind of like a monkey in a monkey trap. He won't let go of the nut and is caught.

    2. Spend less than you earn. This is the method folks who were adults in the 1930's focused on. "Use it up, Wear it out, make it do or do without" was a phrase I heard growing up way more than my adolescent brain wanted to hear. For most of us, this is doable. It simply requires overlooking the shiny things and figuring out what we really want. It is usually something pretty basic and cheap. We don't need to sell to Wally World or Safeway, we only need to sell to local sources and as we do that the demand will slowly build for Walmart and Safeway to include local sources. Only when the demand is too high to ignore will the big chains jump on board, it's contrary to their business model.

    Years ago I had to do an analysis on the economic viability of reopening a mine that was on the verge of being reopened when the stock market crash of 1929 forced it to remain closed. Included in the old geologic information was standard wages at the time for a mining engineer. Just for fun we looked at the cost of large items (car, real estate, etc) as a percent of the annual salary and were surprised to find that the percentages were the same as 56 years later when we did the analysis. The actual real wages hadn't gone up in the last 56 years. The appearance of higher wages was simply due to inflation. Since I did the analysis, wages have actually gone down when tracked with real inflation. We do however have lots more to spend our money on. To get what we want now we borrow money, enslaving ourselves, and force ourselves and our wives (who often would prefer to stay home with their kids) to work full time at jobs we really don't care about. All the BS about finding fullfillment in your career is mainly a bunch of PR to get folks recruited into the rat race. I have worked with very few people in their 30's - 50's who were truly passionate about their jobs and would keep doing it if they weren't forced to by their personal economic situation. The vast majority are there because they can't see a way to not be there and still have the things they want.

    Humans are a lot like crows or monkeys. We want the shiny thing! We think it will make us happy, but it doesn't. We are tribal animals and in reality your 'fulfillment' comes from being with and working for the benefit of your tribe, whatever your tribe is. For a few rare individuals that may be the whole human race. Realistically, most of us have a tribe of under 200 people, usually about 30. We probably wish everyone else well, but our focus is on our little group.
     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    Our plan is to offer our pork, and pick up their throwaway items. We do not feed our hogs much at all, they are pasture eaters by breed.
    We went with them because 1. they are endangered as a species. 2. not so large as to be hard to handle as we age. 3. pasture eaters by design which also means we can grow their feed.
    The only store bought feed they get is when the sows are pregnant, we buy an all natural, high protein feed to supplement so we know the shoats will be healthy.
    We use DE for parasite control and worming, they get no antibiotics or any chemicals at all, there isn't any need for them.
    We are continually developing extra pastures for rotational grazing, this is currently in a wheel and hub setup so we don't have to have multiple water or housing in every pasture.
    We open a gate, they go feed, coming and going to their centralized bedding area where water, wallow, housing is located. This arrangement is, so far, working out quite well, they have to walk (exercise).

    Our farm is closed loop, the only hogs that come in are extra breeders, they are kept separate for a month before getting to join the "herd".
    We keep our breed stock for at least 10 years, only the offspring are to be sold, we sell registered babies for breeding and finish the ones we butcher as meat hogs.
    We have plans to also render the lard for sale to bakers in our area. One hog produces around 20 quarts of lard plus the meat.
    I am also going to do some charcuterie, dry, salt cured hams and bacon in the future.
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    That sounds super, Bryant! I wonder if there is a high-protein feed you might grow, such as BSF larvae, or fish (might make pork taste like fish?)....

     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    Our pastures test out at 18-20 % protein overall.
    They are planted with an ever increasing number of plants.
    Currently they contain; Alfalfa, brassicas, rape, daikon radish, 3 clovers (red, crimson, Dutch white), barley, oats, peas, beans, squashes and a grass blend of fescues, Bermuda, blue grass plus volunteer "weeds".
    The pastures have White Oaks, Hickory, Slippery Elm, and Beech trees scattered though out.
    This allows us to not need much commercially purchased feed. What we do use comes from our local feed store which carries organic feeds.
    In the winters we use hay that comes from our natural grower, it's very similar to our pasture grass in content and never sprayed or fertilized with chemicals.
    Our long term plan is to not even have to buy those either, our weather here is such that we only have one month a year that our pastures are dormant, even then there are greens growing since we do a fall planting of mixed greens in the pastures.

    Oh, by the way, we only allow a sow to breed once per year so they aren't stressed out.
    We will end up with at least 3 boars from different lines for keeping a low inbreeding coefficient.

    While there are a pretty good number of registered breeders, most are keeping these hogs to sell babies to other breeders.
    According to the AGHA, we are one of 3-5 farms that sell or plan to sell meat.
    The only way to really bring back the AGH is to make it a viable meat hog again.
    Most folks raise them as "homestead hogs" meaning they keep just enough to feed themselves and continue their line.
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    I do hope you'll document the development of your pork raising system, Bryant, and share your findings. I feel it is so important to get really well documented examples of truly permacultural closed loop animal raising systems, especially if those can be shown to be economically viable (aka "profit making").

     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    I have to keep good records, I plan to publish a study along with a sample business plan for heritage hog breeding/selling.

    Once we have it all set up I may even get with Fearless Leader about doing a pod cast or DVD. We could share those profits perhaps, if Paul would be interested that is.
     
    Jacqueline Freeman
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    Thanks for mentioning our "system," Jocelyn. Yep, we tried the farmers market for awhile. We'd pick on Thursday, clean/package and price on Friday, get there early on Saturday to setup and spend the day selling. One day, standing there mid-afternoon with a fistful of dollars, I (foolishly) used the lull time to figure out true costs. I added up the hours we all spent doing prep and the day spent selling, and -- with paying ourselves a whopping $5/hr thereabouts, realized our TRUE PROFIT was about $64.

    That was a stinging realization. For $64 I'd rather have my Thurs-Fri-Sat back. That was the last farmers market we ever did.

    Instead we came up with alternatives and I like these processes better. Here's the new (non-safeway) markets we came up with. These fit with our politics and the entire process is richer in many ways, for us.

    1. A woman who has a small but growing business selling ready-made meals (frozen) to people who have food allergies. [barter & cash]

    2. Another woman who bakes and sells her gluten-free organic hand-pies to stores and at the farmers market. We provide apples, grown organically and biodynamically. [cash & barter, but mostly barter because I can get a delicious year's supply and I know we'll eat them all over the next six months.

    3. Friends and neighbors buy eggs ($5/doz), veggie/herb starts, fresh produce. [mostly cash]

    4. We barter or gift our meat (chicken and beef) for projects. When we hire someone to do a task that involves heavy machinery, we use the meat as a tip. This is a real people-pleaser and it's made a big help in service. If I called my plumber at 3am and I bet he'd be here in 20 minutes. Because we don't have USDA certification, I can't outright sell any meat, so 'gifting' it works.

    5. Referrals -- We don't grow everything, so I refer a LOT to my friends who grow other stuff. Nope, not a nickel of profit here, but I love doing this. [good will]

    6. Outright trades -- I got 50# of something and you have bacon. I want bacon. I don't even measure tit for tat. I figure this kind of stuff done long enough balances out and I have longstanding relationships with friends where both they and we feel we got the best situation. For years we grazed our beef and dairy cows on my neighbors fallow fields. We paid for fencing, installed it ourselves, and all he wanted was to have a year round supply of beef. We just tallied in a half a cow a year and that 'paid' our end. He thought he had the best deal (no work, free beef) and we thought we had the best deal (we didn't have to buy additional land, yahoo!). [trades]

    7. My favorite arrangement [mostly cash & some trade] -- I'm in a buyers' club, a group of about 25 small scale farmers plus about 100 families, all on facebook. Each of us sets up "buys." This is an awesome system. The non-farmers choose something many of us want, like wholesale organic coconut oil, purchased in 5 gallon tubs. She finds out from the company how many gallons she needs to buy to get the wholesale price, posts it to the list and we each sign up for whatever we like. I buy 50# nuts, blueberry bushes, bulk organic chocolate at the wholesale price. Last year I bought 40 various heirloom melon starts for less than I would have paid for a half dozen seed packets and minus the work of starting them (though we do seed buys, too). The buys are all over the map and they work out really great. Non-farmers do the commodities and deal with larger companies or directly to other farmers. We farmers post and sell what we grow and it's FAR FAR easier for me to pick on the perfect day of ripeness and then post that I've got 50# of ripe heirloom tomatoes for sale today. I post it at 10am and they're sold and picked up by noontime. Oh man oh man, that's far easier than farmers market.

    As farmers we pick and sell within this group and nearly everything goes out the door in quick order. I am no longer confined to picking too early or late to match up with the market or store's schedule. I have a guaranteed market for everything I grow. They get a great deal because I would rather charge $30 a bin for our organic/biodynamic apples and have the entire pick-to-sale process be done in under an hour. They get quality and fresh and it's still cheaper than a store.

    As farmers, we also arrange our own sales, like an enormous tractor trailer of organic straw from the east side of WA at a kick-ass price, or bulk sales to each other for garlic bulbs or tree starts. Last year I wanted to buy some fancy cool recycled socks but they cost $20/pair, so I went to the company and asked how many socks do we need to buy to get the wholesale price. Turns out we only needed to order 100 pairs. I posted this to my group the month before Christmas and we ordered over 400 pairs. Everyone gave them as gifts and for $9/pair, they were a steal. No middleman.

    My group is closed at 125 families and we have a wait list to join. I highly recommend you create more of these. I believe they are the wave of the future for farms like us.
    warmly,
    Jacqueline Freeman
    Friendly Haven Rise Farm www.FriendlyHaven.com Spirit Bee (our bee site) www.SpiritBee.com



     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    Great post Jacqueline, thank you.

    We have friends that do the farmer's market scene and after talking to them a few years ago about costs, time and everything else that goes with it, we decided that avenue was not for us. First off it would have been costly to get all the federal and state licenses we would be required to hold to sell meat at the farmer's market.

    The way we are going to do it involves a licensed butcher. We take the slaughter hogs to them and we get back either whole sides or packaged meat and all the fat for rendering out the lard.
    The chefs we have talked with like that they will get their hogs ready to go or as halves. Their input made our decision of paid butchering or on site butchering an easy one.

    So far we have not met many people who like to barter, but I am sure that will change in the future.

    I think it is of utmost importance to always look for alternatives, since that gives the farmer the most options.
     
    Richard Gorny
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    Gert. And her community. And permaculture. This is my answer to nearly all of the world's problems and nearly all of the questions I am asked.

    There are about 20 people at my place today. A lot of food is being grown and planted. Humble homes are being built. And one person asked about getting permaculture apples to safeway when I pointed to a tiny apple tree, about four inches tall, that was growing up from seed.




    Another piece that makes me willing to become Gert. I'm working on it, really hard. To have a community is a problem, but there is plenty of permaculture. There are apple trees growing from seeds ...
    Thanks Paul.
     
    David Livingston
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    Jacqueline
    The buyers club sounds a great idea . How do you make sure that everyone does a share of the buying and sharing out ?
    I did something similar with seeds between three of us we saved about 30% on the costs .

    David
     
    Jacqueline Freeman
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    Not everyone does initiate buys, it just falls to whoever wants to. Someone had a burning need for organic semi-sweet chocolate and geez, we all ordered once we realized we had that need, too. Because we are volume buyers, lots of places listen to us. Though we do try to support other local businesses and farmers first. So if no one in our group is doing organic peaches, off someone goes to research where we can make this happen. That's part of the fun of it, too. I didn't know I needed 50# each of organic hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews and almonds. I went in on the buy and have nuts for a year for a piddling price compared to buying retail nearby or online.

    I wanted to cure my own olives but I'm too far north (WA) to grow them. (We did try with a dozen trees but over a two year span they all died.) So I ordered them from CA and we all salt or whey cured our own and I know I didn't spend $10/lb to do that, which is the going rate at my local store.

    I've sold/bartered our tomatoes, apples, starts and grafts from whatever trees and bushes we grow, herbs, berries, roses and flowers, squash, melons, pears, grapes and vines, eggs, poultry, beef. I've also had some of these friends make cheese and ice cream using our ingredients. It varies each year. One of my favorites is to give a really good cook a box of stuff, including meat, and tell her to cook/freeze up a few casseroles and give us back half. Great deal for both of us.

    Jacqueline
     
    David Livingston
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    Is this buyers club thing common and should we have a separate thread on this ?
    It sounds a great idea i' m wondering about setting one up here in France

    David

     
    S Tonin
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    I'd really like to hear more about the buyer's club, too. Details like how the buyers source and the approach the supplier, who fronts the money, where shipments are received and distributed, how the group handles it when someone pledges to buy in to or supply something and for whatever reason doesn't come through on their end, etc.
     
    Patrick Kniesler
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    I work in a civil engineering office, drawing the electrical connections to all the branded chain stores and ticky tacky houses going up in PG and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. Entire "town centers" have gone up under my watch and some have started ten years before I even arrived only to go dormant during the recession and then pick right back up.

    It is terrible land use. But, why does this matter to the question of how to sell apples to Safeway? I think that a healthy urban plan doesn't include Safeway and a healthy rural plan doesn't include Safeway and there is no such thing as a healthy suburban plan which includes a Safeway. Basically, if a region is well-formed (by the invisible hand or the hand of a literal planner), there shouldn't be and Safeways. The big-box store is improperly qualified for existing outside the ruinous land development practices which revolve around the automobile.

    How does a city get it's food? American cities rely on "food hubs." This is the current term to replace "farmer's markets" and simply "markets" as they were taken over by commercial rebranding efforts (wouldn't want a soccer mom driving up to the industrial warehouse wondering where to find farm-fresh eggs). At food hubs, grocers from the city can inspect and buy goods in bulk. Farmers don't even need to be selling to just grocers, but also to food packers who can then export. Food packers used to be in cities and the cheaper rent was beneficial to both employer and employee. Big cities like Chicago and small cities like Hanover, PA both had food packing plants. This preserves the export market, which can be important if permaculture is unevenly applied in the world - although also preserves the ability for food brands to survive. These relationships to grocers and packers do not need to be based on haggling, like exposed in the broken limbs movie, but could be contracted similarly to now to lend insurance for both parties. Another option is farmers alliances and co-ops helping to transport food and partnering with grocers and packers. There will always be people willing to spend a premium for out-of-season foods or industrially preserved foods. I do not think this precludes seasonal eating to come to the forefront.

    To sum up that paragraph: Every city in America can be fed from the existing farmland within 30mi. The cities can eat fresh food, but may be seasonally restricted like Americans have not seen in a half-century. More stable food markets can result from more stable/ traditional development practices (such as slow perimeter growth instead of breaking new ground at breakneck speed) and locally-focused purchase networks. Export markets are good for global stability but each city shouldn't subsist on internationally received food goods.

    The return of the small grocer, baker, and butcher will probably occur in towns and cities within decades. The notion that this auto-oriented experiment has gone on long enough is rising.

    Here is a great talk by Andres Duany, of the Congress for New Urbanism (another group to look up is Strong Towns). About halfway through he starts discussing the transect. He gives six basic levels descending from the urban core to rangeland. I think it is more apt to discuss the transect in a holistic manner... human involvement is descending but natural qualities are ascending. My addition is the "seventh transect" of climax vegetation. It is usually mature and somewhat sterile, like the Black forest, where the canopy of old-growth trees is so dense it eliminates diversity. It is a balanced addition because the same can be said for humans in the urban core and there are solid reasons trees and financial office buildings often dominate these extremes.



    As is probably very common in permies forums... my answer to the question is to eliminate the question, change the perception, or make a prediction.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Patrick Kniesler wrote:Here is a great talk by Andres Duany, of the Congress for New Urbanism (another group to look up is Strong Towns). About halfway through he starts discussing the transect. He gives six basic levels descending from the urban core to rangeland. I think it is more apt to discuss the transect in a holistic manner... human involvement is descending but natural qualities are ascending. My addition is the "seventh transect" of climax vegetation. It is usually mature and somewhat sterile, like the Black forest, where the canopy of old-growth trees is so dense it eliminates diversity. It is a balanced addition because the same can be said for humans in the urban core and there are solid reasons trees and financial office buildings often dominate these extremes.


    I grew up in the suburbs, which I always thought were stupid due to their lack of, or slipshod, auto-travel-based design. Then later, I worked at an 'Urban Village' design development, and served on the board for directors for its mega homeowners association. Wow (!), did I learn quite a bit about what it takes to make a community walkable, less walled off from your neighbors, economically sustainable (truly a live-work community), and on and on! So I do have a soft spot for New Urbanism. And now we have the trendy agrihoods which probably don't go far enough in terms of New Urbanism or permaculture design.

    Paul is not really a fan of urban (or suburban) design or urban permaculture. The Gert scenario, and the wheaton labs example we're trying to build, include acreage - for proper integration of livestock with growies and with people, as well as distance from toxins, etc. With acreage like that it's bound to be a more rural location - at least where we are at here in Montana. So our design and thinking is far less urban, though we still value the amenities a well-designed urban hub can provide, to be sure! (Paul specifically searched for property within an hour of Missoula due to the community, farmers market and airport there.) We're envisioning wheaton labs growing and maturing to an extent that it has some of the designs of a village (or an empire/fiefdom ) that serves all manner of facets of the community we're building, too. Just more rural.

    Patrick Kniesler wrote:As is probably very common in permies forums... my answer to the question is to eliminate the question, change the perception, or make a prediction.

    Exactly! This is largely the point Paul is making, too. Changing our community design so that Safeways/big box grocers are not the best or only food source.


     
    Tyler Ludens
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    Patrick Kniesler wrote:
    Every city in America can be fed from the existing farmland within 30mi.


    This will be a challenge in my county which is adjacent to the county which contains the large city. There is almost no actual farmland in my county, and almost no farmers. What little farming there is, mostly grows oats and sorghum. Now that is a restricted diet!
     
    Terrel Shumway
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    Tyler Ludens wrote:
    Patrick Kniesler wrote:
    Every city in America can be fed from the existing farmland within 30mi.


    This will be a challenge in my county which is adjacent to the county which contains the large city. There is almost no actual farmland in my county, and almost no farmers. What little farming there is, mostly grows oats and sorghum. Now that is a restricted diet!



    I immediately thought of Urban Farmer Curtis Stone. Curtis's farms are most definitely not permaculture, but they are farms, and they are urban. However, just about anything is better than the pesticide-ridden monoculture that defines the suburban lawn. The point is that there is often more land available than you would think.
     
    Hans Quistorff
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    I just listed my produce here Fresh Food Revolution My berry production is just getting started So I only have $20 worth to list but it will only take me 1/2 hour to pick and 1/2 hour to deliver and come home so it is reasonable. My product has high enough demand that if more are ripe they usually sell out as day of sale items.
    I understand the online storefront is licenced from a Portland OR. co-op. It has worked very well for our isolated group of small producers. The organizers fill out items not listed by saturday by ordering from neighboring co-ops.
    We probably have an ideal land use pattern for this arrangement. The inland portion of the peninsula is limited to 5 acre or larger parcels with denser population around the lakes and wealthy shoreline mega mansion commuters. The on line co-op serves as a time saving bridge for both of us. Appropriate metaphor, Most of the commuters cross at least one but most 2 bridges to get home.
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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    Terrel Shumway wrote:The point is that there is often more land available than you would think.


    I completely agree. When most people use the word "farmland" they mean arable land, which means plowable land which means annual crops. There is little arable land in my county and some of the best of it has been paved over in the past two decades. The largest challenge is probably a desperate shortage of people growing food. Not necessarily "farmers" but people growing food for people. I've looked for listings of farms in my county, which sell food to people, and I have only been able to find one. This region would especially benefit from permaculture, I think, because it is so ill-suited to plow agriculture. But land is too expensive for most people looking to start a commercial food-growing system. We bought our place before prices got really stupid, but even then it only seemed cheap compared to California. When the cities have become surrounded by suburban and ex-urban land which has become stupidly expensive, it will be difficult to transition to cites being supported by surrounding farmland, which, as I indicate, does not always exist, in spite of the pronouncement that "Every city in America can be fed from the existing farmland within 30mi." I think, as you suggest, that we'll need to look elsewhere than "farmland" for where to grow food. And many more of us probably need to be growing food. Of course I don't need to convince anyone on permies of that! Every neighborhood will probably need a few Gerts growing food for the neighborhood. I wish I could be the Gert for my neighborhood, but I have a black thumb....:p

     
    Hans Quistorff
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    Tyler Ludens wrote:There is little arable land in my county and some of the best of it has been paved over in the past two decades.

    And many more of us probably need to be growing food. Of course I don't need to convince anyone on permies of that! Every neighborhood will probably need a few Gerts growing food for the neighborhood. I wish I could be the Gert for my neighborhood, but I have a black thumb....:p

    Washington and Oregon states have been progressive in urban boundaries. To the real estate developer The highest and best use is the one that gives the most profit with the least input. i.e. the farm field requires the lest preparation to pave an build upon. The people have said no. The best use is the one that benefits the most people. Therefore some of that plowable land is being preserved outside the urban boundary.
    On the other hand the restriction in my portion of the county is based on the limited underground aquifer although it is probably better than most arias But hey we are progressive here. The average 5 acres probably has one that is plowable. Of course some are all plowable and some are none. [It doesn't pay to plow 20 acres of gravel but we are watching someone do it.]
    Back to my previous post most of our co-op is made up of Paul's "Girts" selling our surplus just because this is what we like to do. Living is easy here if you don't try to hard. The indigenous population was not lazy, They had just figured out that you did not have to work so hard to live here.
     
    Cj Sloane
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    11.  The state of gert.  Maybe your neighbors give you $50 once in a while and they pick a bunch of apples - sometimes for a lot of fresh eating and pies.  Sometimes for canning.  Sometimes gert picks the apples and sells a dozen boxes for $20 per box - and the neighbors/friends come pick up the boxes.  Maybe another neighbor pays a few hundred dollars to run their pigs through once in a while and eat the dropped apples.   Or pays in pork!    Maybe another person has a little honor system stand like #8 and gert gets $8 per box that the other person picks, and $25 per box that gert takes to the stand herself.


    Instead of the state of gert, I do quite a bit of the state of gleaning. Last year I got about 300 lbs of apples from a friend with an abandoned orchard. She didn't want any money for her pesticide free apples because they only ate a few and 95% of them would fall and start rotting and her husband would have to clean them up and throw them into the compost pile. Or they'd just let the deer eat them.

    So I came every other week or so and filled a few 5 gallon buckets. I promised a few bottles of hard cider made from her apples, plus a pound of fresh shiitakes I grew.

    2015 was an insanely good year for gleaning as there were apples everywhere. I picked up 900 lbs from a few abandoned trees on my driveway. I placed an ad on the local electronic bulletin board offering to pick up apple drops.

    Not the cash economy, not barter, and not even really gift. Just gleaning.
     
    Chrissy Star
    Posts: 26
    Location: Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
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    In Australia, IGA stores are independently owned and have claims of being "local"....I believe that this claim can also represent the products sold (locally sourced).  And that using this as a starting point - is a "way in" to your local IGA store.  As the store (& store owner) may not have done something like this before, it may take a strong mind to bear the brunt of the disbelief and denial of success (anything "new" can be scary or overwhelming)...however - with patience and committment to finding solutions - it certainly may be worth giving a go!!! 
     
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