My husband and I are in our 30's and people often assume we had some lucky windfall and retired early when we quit our jobs and move to an off grid homestead in Vermont. Far from it.
We love our budding permaculture paradise, but we still have to make a solid income and support ourselves (and a mortgage unfortunately...). Some of our income comes from permaculture products, but for the most part those are better served feeding our family and keeping our costs down.
I wrote up how we work to diversify our income streams, and how that's allowed us to get by while avoiding punching a time clock for the past 5 years. By focusing on forest crops with a high return on investment (foraged crops, medicinal herbs, mushrooms, maple, etc), doing a good bit of online freelance work (writing, software, etc) and then adding in some ecotourism type income (campers, hosting classes, AirBNB, leasing portions of our land, etc), we don't put all our eggs in one basket.
Though someday we hope to have a year round permaculture products CSA, with deliveries every month of the year, we're at least 5 years out from that reality. Trees take time to mature, and it takes a while to scale up processes beyond just feeding yourself.
Some of the income streams I talk about are in the planning stages (like hosting permaculture classes) and others we've been generating income from for years. I would love to hear your ideas and feedback. How do you support yourself, either using permaculture products, or some other way that allows you time and freedom to feed yourself with permaculture?
If you're not on land yet, but you wish to be, what are your plans for income?
Sorry for a question rather than a true reply, how much land are you figuring per box? Once everything is up and running in 5 years say? And what type of products would you be looking to include in that? I sell vegetable boxes, but they are intensively grown in wide beds, I also do some freelance internet work and occasional paid work on an conventional organic farm (horrible word twisting but I'm sure you all understand) We are also in our 30's but bought a property so cheap we luckily do not have a mortgage on it, that helps of course
The main problems we face here for products that I could certainly sell like edible flowers is delivery costs it's a huge chunk of the money just driving around, especially as most orders are small. We do not have a town over 12k within 1.5-2 hours drive.
That is a darn good question. We go back and forth on this a lot. For vegetable CSA's around these parts, they're almost all run weekly over a 20 week period, but the prices vary from $300 to $800. That's a huge spread. The lower priced ones focus on easy to grow staple veggies, and the higher priced ones have fancy greens, berries and such. They all advertise that it's "a week's worth of vegetables." But what exactly is a months worth of mushrooms, syrup, apples and herbs?
We're trying to figure out how we can keep costs relatively low, and are aiming for around $50 a month every month year-round, largely because that's what we think the market can bare. We need to have a better handle on our costs in order to figure out how to provide a compelling value per box.
We're also very rural, and we're about 10 miles outside of the only real town in this area, population 8,000. None the less, there's huge support for local food here, and quite a few niche CSA's have been doing well. There are a number of medicinal herb and tea CSA's and I think they have better margins than the veggie CSAs and lots of customers.
For us, we're planning on pickup, not delivery, so that cuts a huge chunk out. Most farms around here have a pickup night once a week, partnering with a local restaurant, coffee shop, etc. People buy stuff in town at the shop when they pick up their CSA, so it's a win-win.
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