First, the questions: How much of your startup capital should go to buying the land? I will be able to earn money in the startup phase by working in the city, but I'm sure I would need a nest egg for unforeseen expenses, perhaps building a structure that would pass inspection.
Hey, I'm Connor. This post has really gotten away from me, so if you can manage to get through the whole thing I will thank you in advance. Even if you can't, any feedback would be super cool.
I'm originally from Washington DC and I have decided to buy some land to practice permaculture. I am 28 years old, and I have two friends who want to get in on it. One is a horticulture major and the other is in law school. I have a lot of questions, I have been reading a lot, I have Sepp's book and Gaia's Garden, and I've watched a lot of interviews on youtube, and been trolling around here for a while too.
I want to buy some land, I have about 7,000 USD in gold and silver bullion. Land is too expensive and neighbors are too meddlesome where I'm from, so I'm looking at a total relocation and hopefully 2-6 acres. I love mountains, personally, I was thinking of going to the hills of north alabama, arizona, or new mexico. I hope to buy the dirt in DECEMBER of this year, or sometime around then, so I can get started while I'm still young enough to use a shovel. I have many many questions that will come out over the coming weeks.
So anway, on to my plan! I am trying not to plan too far ahead, since I will learn so much in the first year. But basically I plant to operate as a dump site for the first several years, getting paid a small amount per ton to get food waste from restaurants and yard waste, to make lots of compost heaps and raised beds. In the first year I will plant fruittrees and support plants, inoculate logs with mycelium (if my climate permits) After a few years like that I can sell some compost, mushroom logs, maybe produce worm castings too. I can do soil work in this time in the places where theres some soil to get me started.
There seems to be almost a rule that all the money in your bank account will be sucked away once you buy land and start developing it, especially if you have to hire other people to do the work for you.
I think you may find that larger parcels may be less expensive than smaller ones, if you're willing to be a ways out from cities or large towns. Initially we were going to buy 5 acres but could not find any that weren't crowded by neighbors, and found that 20 acres wasn't much more expensive than 5, depending on location. So we bought 20, which I now think is the minimum for privacy but too much for us to properly manage. So much depends on the kind of land and how much work it needs, or if some can be left as is.
Think about the climate you want, as well as the topography. Nothing could be much more different climate-wise than Alabama and New Mexico! You might want to check out the areas in the least pleasant time of year - deep summer or the dead of winter.
Sounds awesome bro, and welcome to the site. I might suggest looking in northern GA too! I just moved to Sunset,SC from Athens,Ga (Univ of GA) and there are a lot of vacant lots, or lots for sale where I was located. I'd try Dalonega area as well in northern Ga. The Blue Ridge Foothills have nice contours, and natural swales to work with often times. The foothills fall right into the "7b" microclimate which provides an interesting template to work with.. It's truly beautiful up there, man.
I might add, rural property in SC, near where I live is very very affordable. A lot of rolling hills and terracing on many tracts (either natural or done many years ago by farmers).
I'm actually doing what you're envisioning now. I collect all the food scraps from a cottage resturant down the way from me, which is hundreds and hundreds of pounds a week (there's like 100 person seating capacity and they often do gourmet buffets).
2-3 acres sounds perfect for ya honestly. You can do all the mushroom logs you want and yards and yards of zigzagged raised beds built up with lbs of organic matter, and hugelkultur...
You might look at northern Alabama/ Southern Tennessee around Huntsville, Alabama. There is good disposable in come in Huntville so you would have a "yuppie" market for your goods. Also, land is fairly in expensive and the mountains are beautiful. Try the Tennessee side of the boarder, perhaps.
My brother lives in Huntsville, I love visiting and we always wind down through the mountains of Tennessee instead of taking the main highways.
Also, be careful to check on zoning/enviro requirements if you intend to compost "packaged/prepared" foods. If you get a lot in, you're going to have to manage the nutrients according to regulatory standards. Just a heads-up.
Hi Connor. The idea of building your soil with compost is great. The use of the term "dumpsite"can only hurt your chances with your new neighbors and in marketing your business. No matter what part of the world you go to this is the wrong terminology to use. I'm in the demolition/salvage business and always find ways to get paid to take away the resources that I need. So I get your concept. If you're marketing yourself through a website or other means you might want to use terms like resource recovery, salvage, recycling and waste prevention. Luckily you haven't met any of your new neighbors yet so you haven't damaged your position in the community. You mentioned charging a small amount. There is no logical reason why you wouldn't charge whatever the going rate is in your new community. Sometimes people will pay a little more because you're doing the right thing with the resource. Working for nothing is no way to start a business.
You'll need to familiarize yourself with the invasive plants in your area so that you don't contaminate an otherwise pristine site. Where I live on Vancouver Island English ivy spreads quickly and becomes the dominant groundcover and also climbs up and chokes out the trees. So naturally I don't bring that to my property. It would not be advisable to allow the public to just show up any time to drop stuff off as this would lead to people dumping all manner of unwanted goods. Better if you run a route yourself and connect with a few trustworthy landscapers and tree pruners. Professional landscapers will be aware of dangerous invasiveness and because they deal with tons of waste you won't have to have hundreds of people showing up at your property. If you end up running a route where you meet lots of people you could give them all a list of other resources you're looking for. When I have my demolition sales I make it known that I'm willing to take unwanted building materials, bicycles, clothing,tools and any other valuable item that people want to get rid of. This stuff has earned me probably $175 000 over the past 15 years. Not a bad sideline. With some advertising and planning you could easily gather everything that you require to build your house, barn and other structures and make money in the process. Good luck.
Man thank you so much for reading and responding, everyone.
I am currently working on my methodology, not laying down specific plans. I saw an interview with Salatan where he said that any plans you make before you are on the property will probably be for nought, that you learn so much so quickly that plans change. So my next step, a little later this year, is to send one my the partners (the horticulture major) on an extended camping vacation along the appalacians. I'll finance the trip and he scouts a good plot.
Since this thread seems pretty active. It seems like this forum doesn't have a lot of stickied threads. I have perused forums in the past where they had 10-20 stickied threads of infinite wisdom. But I don't know, are those around? I hate to commit the faux pas of asking dumb questions.
Regarding land selection, I do like alabama but I want to consider all the states in the American south. I am thinking about things like water rights and zoning rights, most importantly, FACTORS THAT LOWER LAND PRICE which aren't detrimental to working the land manually. could there be a rule of thumb to help me narrow down my search? For example ...
Water rights are limited on high ground above a valley that is used heavily for agriculture... Municipal authorities are meddlesome within 5 miles of a town ...
Hey Connor, It makes me proud to hear about people taking initiative to DO something. I like to stay positive, can you sense a "but" coming? I know you don't want to think too far ahead but, who are you, what do you like, where do you see yourself in years to come? What are you really interested in doing? It is important to have a vision in business. I think it could help others help you as well. What do you want to see your business achieving in years to come? It's okay to dream a little, get lifted off your feet. Most great businesses start with a dreamer who inspires others who surround them. But running a great business requires an unrelenting comittment that must last a lifetime. This is a hard field to enter, the people that help are more helpful than you can imagine, but there are many obstacles and an entire nation living a way of life that people like us are endangering. So that is my advice: dream, inspire, share, be inspired, follow your instincts and you will be led to where you are meant to be. There is no rulebook. I hope that I may have inspired you!