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We have our land... now what? (LONG)  RSS feed

 
                  
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So, my wife and I have been reading everything we can on these boards about permaculture and earth-bermed/underground (wofati homes). We have read mike oehler's material and are not 100% convinced that underground/earth-bermed is the way to go for us, but still feel we are in the right place

The property I am talking about is in the attached picture. It is 40 acres +/-. Has a 1 acre spring fed pond in the west corner of the property, you can see it in the picture. The elevation goes from 1100' along the road on the right side of the image, which is the east side to 860' in the west corner by the pond. so it can be steep in places. There are LOTS of old oaks and poplars. about 10 acres of what could be pasture along the road on the east side. A small stable and outbuilding in good condition in the north corner close to the road. A small 12x12 'cabin' that needs a little work down on the south side of the pond. Could be made into an office or work/study room.

We will begin homeschooling our 3 children, ages 6,9 and 11 at the end of this school year in June. It is our goal to move to this property from the suburbs, within the next 3-4 months and use this land to feed us and provide an income for us. I read something somewhere about Paul Wheaton being available for consultation, but that most people that wanted consulting didn't really want to hear what he had to say, which was a big picture consultation about how to work your land into providing an adequate income for you. That is exactly what we are looking for but it also said that any questions could be answered by him and the 'Permies' in his forums.

Once we sell our current house, we will move to the property and stay in our camper for the summer.

So here we go with the questions:
Where do we start making an income with this property?
I have a pretty good idea that there are enough trees that some could and should be selectively removed so the rest of the forest can thrive. We will be meeting with a state forestry engineer to develop a forestry plan for us. Probably will use Amish so as to have minimal impact on the land. Any other suggestions for income?

I know this is a long first post and I thank you all in advance for any and all responses!

Mike

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pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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Where do we start making an income with this property?



what can you wildharvest from the property to give yourself some money to buy useful trees and plants? what useful plants grow there now?

 
                  
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That's a great question! We will hopefully be going through the property soon with an authority from the area, its about 2 hours from where we currently live, to identify the flora we already have growing there. Once we have that info I will post it here. I presume by "useful trees and plants" you mean fruit/nut trees, and vegetables. I was maybe thinking gourmet mushrooms of some sort that would have a value to local restaurants/markets. Maybe some vegetables as well. All input is welcome here! We will probably have to terrace some of the hillside to expand our growing space.

Once there we will keep an eye on the springs on the property and see how they do during the summer to determine whether or not we should tap into them for our household/drinking water.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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presume by "useful trees and plants" you mean fruit/nut trees, and vegetables.



no not at all. i highly doubt youll find wild veggies and fruit trees growing. slight chance of nuts depending on where you live. im talking just plain ol useful plants. from the lowest weed to the tallest tree. if you have a camera bring it and take photos of as many different plants as you can see. then go home and identify them. from there it will be pretty easy to sort through and find the useful ones with google.

I was maybe thinking gourmet mushrooms of some sort that would have a value to local restaurants/markets.



if you really know what your picking that's a good outlet for forests. shiitake mushrooms grow on oak logs once inoculated.
 
            
Posts: 77
Location: Northport, Wash.
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Most people go for a market farm type affair or similar operation where you grow foodstuffs or other plants for some sort of market.
It takes time to get this sort of thing established so be aware that you probably won't produce much income for a while.  The logging idea is a good one, depending on what you have for timber, and what the market is.  The money from that is a one time shot, though, as once the timber is gone, it takes decades before you have merchantable timber again, so whatever you replant will not be available to you, maybe to your children.
Soil makes a good point in that you should make yourself aware of what you have growing there already, and maybe you can take advantage of that.

A word of caution, though.  Many people move to a piece of property thinking that some form of income will be forthcoming that will sustain them,  what they may or may not know is that developing farm type income takes time, whether it is from raising crops or animals, both of which take a fair amount of time to develop.  Farm income can be sporadic, and income from crops only comes in after it is sold, so a paycheck may only come once or twice a year, depending on what the activity is, or the income may be small, as in a 50.00 here, and 25.00 there. It is difficult to go from a lifestyle of living in a city and making income from a "job", and going to a rural lifestyle and trying to make a living off a piece of ground.  You can do it with minimal inputs using permaculture principles, but, again, it takes time.  You may be able to produce some sort of product using plants or timber, like furniture or something from what you have growing there, but that takes research to determine what that may be. 

The best advice I think is to make sure you have some sort of income that will sustain you while you get going, use your land to start growing plants and animal products for your family while getting a paying operation established.  This will of course take a fair amount of work and knowledge, education is always the key in any endeavor and it takes time to acquire it.  You will need to decide which markets you want to enter into to decide what products you want to produce before you even consider what you want to plant, are there farmers markets in your area? If so, then go to them and see what is selling, talk to the people shopping there, is there something that they want that no one is selling, that sort of thing.


 
Posts: 243
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
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forest garden trees woodworking
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Social enterprise might be an option to consider. I seem to recall a family turning over £400k a year from a 19 acre woodland through social enterprise here in the UK although I think they were pretty close to a sizable urban area.

I'll try and remember where I read about it (think it was a book called 'How To Live Off Grid' by Nick Rosen) and supply more info if anyone wants it.
 
            
Posts: 77
Location: Northport, Wash.
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Hi Sam, if you remember that info I would be interested in it.  I'll look up that book you mentioned too.
Thanks.
Kurt
 
Sam White
Posts: 243
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
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KurtW wrote:
Hi Sam, if you remember that info I would be interested in it.  I'll look up that book you mentioned too.
Thanks.
Kurt



Hi, it was in the book I mentioned. The enterprise is called Hill Holt Wood, 14.2 hectares (slightly larger than I remembered...). I did find their website and I also found a short case study on them too.

Oh, How to Live Off Grid primarily deals with the UK, especially with discussion on planning laws, although I imagine much of the info about energy generation and the like would be interesting to you.  Nick Rosen also has a new book out that is focused on off gridding in the USA.
 
            
Posts: 77
Location: Northport, Wash.
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Great! Thanks for the info.
 
                                  
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Congrats on your land purchase, I am sure you will enjoy it. Over the years I have bought and sold a few tracts of small acreage (50 acres and less) and I can honestly say I never made a dime off them. That is during ownership, always did well when I sold the acreage. My approach was to be a good steward to the land and always improve the land during my ownership. This took a commitment and money to do, but it always paid off in the end. I think the fun part of owning land is being able to improve it, but it takes time, effort and money.

Good luck with your acreage and I am sure you and your family will enjoy the "country lifestyle".
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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if you are able to enjoy greens you should pick up an edible wild plant book and start identifying plants on your property that you can eat, cornucopia is a good written text but not photos..edible wild plants of North american is a good photo book..nearly everything can be eaten as salad greens or potherbs or soup, but  there are some deadly poison plants so it be best to identify.

If it be me my first plantings would be my fruit trees and shrubs that bear fruits, or nuts.

they take the longest to grow, think out your land and put them in the best place..North side of the pond might be the most likely for fruit trees.

also have an idea of paths, housing, shelters for animals before placing in any permanent plants..

i suggest you take a week and read a good book like Gaia's Garden by toby hemenway before starting or you might place things where you'll later want to pull them out.

think "perennial"..when you plan..put in as many perennnial edibles as you can as they will be the foundation plants year after year to glean food from..and then think self seeding heirmloom plants second..and plant vegetables that will self seed and regrow or that you can save seeds from to save expenses of buying seeds every year.. and put in a few plants that will provide annual crops early on to give you some food for this year.

get in your perennials first, self seeders second, annuals third..and your shelters as soon as you can..

avoid hybrids as much as possible..although sometimes that is all you can get some years.

make sure you plant things that are right for your zones and in eareas that are right for them to grow..think sun, shade, wind, etc..
 
                                              
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Brenda Groth wrote:
avoid hybrids as much as possible..although sometimes that is all you can get some years.



Why avoid hybrids? a hybrid is simply a cross of two stable varieties. they can have their benefits. one is hybrid vigor which can increase yield, drought tolerance, health and other factors in addition to lining up traits of both parents in desirable ways. In breeding terms this is the F1 generation. crossing the same two parents, with the same one as the mother and the same one as the pollen donor will result in the same hybrid. When you grow out saved seed from a hybrid this is the F2 generation.  When growing it out all the recessive traits of both parents will surface, and often from simply saving seeds from the best plants year over year (some plants youd want to re cross the good ones but it isnt mandatory) youd get a variety that WOULD breed true, that is adapted to your area.

So lets say you simply are having trouble finding local varieties, in those cases a hybrid might be the exact choice, because then without much effort you can effectively breed your own, although theres better ways to do that, anyone of any skill level could do this with desirable results.

  also with trees, most rootstocks are hybrids, and many types of cultivated fruits are as well basically. All the ones that do not breed true from seed.

  I think looking towards breeding hybrids for ORGANIC conditions would be a very worthwhile task for crops like corn especially. which has a very high rate of hybrid vigor. It is an easy crop to make a hybrid of to, once you find which are the ideal mother parents, you just grow them interspaced, and pull the tassles off of the mother plant variety (pollen receivers) then it get pollinated from the other varieties tassles. you can eat the corn from the father plants, and have years of seed from the mother plants...;

    trust me Im all for seeds the breed true and ESPECIALLY seed saving in general, but theres nothing at all wrong with hybrids, and lots good about them.

  sorry if this is off topic.

 
            
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Location: Northport, Wash.
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I have to agree with Silverseeds, any hybrid that breeds true is ok by me, it is just the GMO ones and the ones that won't breed true to itself that I avoid.  We consider any plant that breeds true to itself to be an heirloom.
 
                                              
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well hybrids wont breed true, but you can save seeds and select out adapted varieties.... Or in cases of trees graft them and spread them that way.

Its nothing like GMOs. hybrids are simply two stable varieties crossed together. It gives a "vigor" and can line up the traits in ideal ways, is why people breed them. with tings like corn it makes a huge difference...

they have other uses to, because through saving seeds from you, you can end up with a better adapted varieties. this is especially useful for those who cant find ideal varieties to start with.

Heirloom just means it was from long ago, and is open pollinated. different people define the world differently.

Open pollinated is the term for seeds that will breed true.

getting the RIGHT varieties will make all the difference in the world. If you cant do that, using a land race method, doing some breeding or starting with hybrids can offer you ways to have much more ideal crops then most folks end up with when they buy seeds for themselves...

there is nothing unnatural about hybrids at all. In fact many plants work very hard to cross themselves with other plants, and that is all a hybrid is. Heres another secret, many things labelled hybrids are not, they just say that to discourage people saving seeds.
 
Posts: 505
Location: Eastern Kansas
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I live on a 1 acre hobby farm.

Making money has been easy, but making a living would be TOUGH!

A few thoughts: I read about one lady who cut some hardwoods a little at a time. She sold the cut up wood in the fall by the cord, burned the ugly wood herself for heat, and in the spring she grew vegetables on the land that she had opened up. At first this was a side income to her job, but she did this EVERY year and so her vegetable land grew. She used unsold vegetables herself.

I have sold at the Farmers Markets. Again, I made money but there was a limit to how much the people would buy. Still it was excellent! I saved even more by using the unsold merchandise: up to a point $1 saved is $1.25 earned because there are no taxes on $1 saved.

Look up Shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms: both like hardwood logs. Consider selling vegetables and/or flowers and/or seedlings. If corn mazes are popular in your area, consider one.

What markets are in your area? Farmers market? livestock auction? etc. Can you raise something to sell at them? Perhaps blackberries asparagus and some bee hives?
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Hmm.  Small cabin on the lake.  You might be surprised what some hunters will pay for such a set up.  Or weekly rental for Honeymoon suite?
 
                  
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Thanks for all the input! Definitely like the ideas! I think the produce is definitely possible. The terrain is quite hilly and there seems to be alot of water on the property. We found two springs bubbling up out of the ground this past weekend and the local sanitation engineer seems to think that a well is definitely doable.

The land is surrounded by around 15,000 acres of state forest. We plan on getting a friend from the forestry service to develop a timber plan for us. We would definitely select cut, NO clear cutting. It will be interesting to see how much we will be able to bring in from the first select cut. Any advice on timber sales?

The 'cabin' by the lake would take quite a bit of work to be a 'honeymoon suite' but we were considering a couple of rustic hunting/hiking/horseman's cabins at the top of the property at some point.
Anything else?

Thank you!
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 505
Location: Eastern Kansas
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WhatNext wrote: It will be interesting to see how much we will be able to bring in from the first select cut. Any advice on timber sales?

Thank you!

Only that where I live seasoned hardwood brings in $60-$80 a cord, with the customer providing the loading and transportation.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Hopefully, the timber is lumber quality.  All of the branches/trimmings saved for firewood.  It works as well as big logs, but doesn't need splitting!  Oak burns long and hot.  If you have lots of oaks, the acorns are great for finishing hogs...better them than the squirrels!

When you talk to the lumber buyer, be very open minded about clearing in a manner which provides trails/roads through the property.  It will make his job easier/faster, and will provide you with easier access.  He may pay a little better if his men/equip have easier access than if he is hopping all over the place cutting trees YOU chose to have cut.
 
pollinator
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Small clearcuts are actually beneficial to diversity. 

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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i was referring to self seeding and annuals when I suggested avoiding hybrids if you can, as they will not come true from seed, so unless you want to buy seed every year it can be a poor choice..however, sometimes they will make a decent plant from their own seeds as well, as I have had self seeded tomatos come up and grow lovely tomatos..
 
                  
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Location: South Carolina Zone 8
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Lots of good info here but one thing in your description of the property caught my attention as a potential money maker. You said you have a 1 acre spring fed pond. The first question is are there native fish in it or is is stocked. Second question if it is not a sanctuary for native threatened species is could you stock a commercially viable species in the pond such as catfish, tilapia, crayfish or rainbow trout? You could sell fish or operate a small pay to fish pond. Just a small operation providing a little income to go along with other things is what I am thinking. I did not see this specifically said but having a little diversity versus specialization keeps you from going total bust if say you have a bad year for a certain crop. BTW along the lines of crops you might want to think a little outside the box depending on what you can do and what is growable as well as marketable in your area. I know this kind of goes against the grain of planting only edibles but I know someone who makes more selling flower bulbs than veggies. He does both but in spring he takes bulbs to the market and they sell out fast.
 
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I would consider growing some medicinal plants.Depending on where you are located, ginseng, black cohosh etc. could grow in the shade of your existing trees and provide more sustainable income that a one-time timber sale. The markets for these things can be volatile, but they can often be left in the ground if the market is weak that season, and can increase in both quantity and value. Many can be very low input crops after establishment. I would be surprised if there were not some medicinal species already on the land.

 
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