One of the things that drew me to permiculture is the brilliance of reducing inputs and expanding outputs(profit, abundance, freedom).
Things like saving seeds, growing perennial food plants/trees, simplifying systems to self sustain, etc all make too much sense to me.
The snowball effect of supplementing your diet, housing, energy requirements should eventually make profit almost inevitable right?
If you start with $1000 of overhead, with 0 profit, then add permiculture ideas to reduce overhead(input) by half you're GOING to make $500.
The philosophical issue of profiting from these is a personal one, but making money from permiculture means you're giving yourself more flexibility for experimenting with even more permiculture ideas and strategies which i think everyone can get on board with.
Paul, I totally agree with you there that we should not force this on anyone and that it is a great option four some people. All I'm saying is that you can be as happy as a clam on your 300 a month thanking God that you got out of your 40 bucks actual income in city, but then a bear spooks a horse you're kid is shoeing and it kicks her head in, it's gonna cost a helluva lot more than $300x even 100 months, you know? Luckily I'm a teacher and my wife's is a nurse and loves her job so we're set and David you're lucky too but Paul and I live in America where life's not as sweet in the healthcare game. I just don't know what I'd do if my daughter got her head kicked in and I didn't have health insurance. Or what if I, who does most of the work, gets some disability? You bet I'd have to sell my 300$/ mo farm. That's one of the main reasons I feel trapped in my job (I'd quit tomorrow for 300 bucks a month on a farm) and that's really the only flaw I see for living as permies. Pretty darn good considering all the pros of it and all the cons of living in a city though!
I've been thinking a lot lately about what would be an optimal strategy if one had a lot of time but little to excruciatingly little money.
I think the answer has to do with obtaining the right to be on a piece of land legally, even through a verbal/written agreement. Then you would want to access what is available to you on the site -- as is. The more you have on the site in terms of biology, the better, even if you have to dig it out of the weeds. Then you would set about selling, probably online but also to people near you. Apart from the money you didn't pay yourself for the time spent "working," everything would be profit.
It would help that person develop crucial but often overlooked skills like selling, creating and maintaining a client or clients. This strategy could also involve crafts or the teaching of crafts, if one was able to do that.
As the money came in, you would earmark a certain percentage toward site development to get that tree or perennial herb that would help you sell. You could also source local plant material for free. The point is that little to no money should be spent for builing the biology of the site. If you were lucky, that biology was already there. If not it can be pieced together for free as the years go by.
I think that many people starting out in permaculture, myself included, go all out, making investments everywhere they can think of with what little money they can muster or what income they can scrape together doing their other job. As a year or two of investments come to nill or less than zero, the above plan looks so much more full of potential profit from year one.
If we are serious about changing the world through permaculture, we need permaculture to be profitable.
First, a farm that can't sustain the creatures living on it (including human creatures) is not a sustainable farm. Humans can do a lot to diminish our needs through self-suffiency and barter, but almost all of us will need some profit to pay for things.
Second, profit allows us to purchase/lease more land. There are over 900 million acres of farmland in the U.S. alone, and almost none is farmed sustainably. Acquiring even 1% of that (9 million acres) will require a tremendous amount of money. That money could come from many different sources, but I'd like to see as much as possible come from sustainable sources, like permaculture.
Finally, profit is needed to show conventional farmers that they should be doing permaculture. Most farmers don't love corn & soybeans, but that's where the subsidies are, so that's where the money is, so that's what farmers grow. If conventional farmers see that permaculture is consistently more profitable than subsidized corn & soy, they'll be interested in learning more about it. By changing the mindset of farmers, we can convert millions more acres to permaculture without having to buy or lease it.
For my next feat, I will require a volunteer from the audience! Perhaps this tiny ad?
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