dominic McCoy

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since Mar 17, 2011
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Recent posts by dominic McCoy

H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Eliot Coleman, who has farmed and still has a farm, advises that about 2 acres of intensive organic vegetables is about the most one person can manage.  Keep in mind Eliot Coleman was always (and probably still is for his age) a very energetic, fit person! 

http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/about/index.html



i think i stated this earlier in this topic. it was part of my argument. in most organic farm business books that share other farms financial info, show that farms that stay small enough that the family can operate it without outside help make the most $$$ per acre.
7 years ago
here is my view in a nutshell.

its all about diminishing returns. just for the sake of argument, imagine it takes 100 acres to make the $$ you expect. also assume you cant make $4000 for a ham, or any other astronomical amount for your produce (at least for the first 5-10 years). the vast amount of work and people you'd have to hire to get the rest of the work done would be astronomical (reducing your profit). if youre growing  "500 boxes of apples. 500 peaches, 500 plums, 500 mixed, 500 pears, 500 apricots, 500 kiwi, and so on..." in tree guilds, the harvesting time alone would be incredible assuming you dont hire a small army of people to pick for you (reducing your profit). selling this volume of produce at what passes as a state farmers market here would be laughable. so now youd be hiring additional people to attend other farmers markets for you..... further reducing your profit. these examples of costs you dont seem to be considering could go on and on. consider the amount of time and money to set up the initial plantings on 100 acres, farm buildings, landscape manipulations, marketing supplies and costs, managers, losses due to inexperience and experiments, processing, etc etc. unless youre going to sell wholesale (which wont get you anywhere near 40/lb for pork) to walmart or whole foods or other groceries, youre going to have a challenge to move enough stuff to make the $$ you want before it goes bad.


i never intended to come across as anti permiculture. i think it is a viable option, and intend to incorporate it into my farms business plan (i do have land, and am already developing my farm) along with other viable ideas based on works by elliot coleman, allan savory, grubinger, and others. i will have organic row crops AND edible forest gardens AND free foraging chickens and goats and pigs AND aquiculture. i dont discriminate against other ideologies.


that said, what do i know? the number of people on this forum that ACTUALLY farm could be counted on one hand. who knows if any are really profitable. there arent many permaculture farms to begin with, and most seem geared to feeding the inhabitants around them not with profit. most profitable permaculturists seem to be lecturers and designers, not farmers. most of the famous ones that ive read about either have little experience farming, or never farmed at all. some started farms, then handed them off to someone else and began writing and teaching (for $$$). but once again, im no expert, i dont have all the answers. youll be hard pressed to find any hard facts on what you can make and what your real net income will be. there is just no good info or answers. i dont recommend you take the word of someone who happens to have a website on permiculture...... i suggest you do REAL research on what it takes to have a profitable farm, permaculture or otherwise. that would do you much more good than just taking a six figure # from someone and basing your future on it. but youve read a book, and listen to some podcasts, how can i compare to that??
7 years ago
i would reply, but it would just get deleted. good luck making your fortune
7 years ago
i think the OP's goals are too high. if he needs to make 120k net, then he should continue at whatever hes doing now, and just have a weekend hobby farm. that way he makes the money he needs to make, and he can give away some produce to his friends and family to make himself feel good about it. farmers arent stupid people. if any one could make $142/ hr and bring in 120000 a year with little work, the farmers would be rolling in dough, and kids everywhere would want to be farmers when they grow up. most info you find on big farms show that they make big $$$, but by the time they pay all their farm expenses, they dont bring home much of anything. the guys (and gals) who make good money, usually have small plots that cant change quickly with the trends, an explotable niche, little overhead (no/little hired help), and reasonable expectations. when you read in a eco mini farm book that someone makes 45000 off 1/4 acre it sounds great. like everyone can just hit there backyard and make a fortune. in reality, you cant just scale that model up to 10 acres and become rich. first off, if the market is fufilled at 1/4 acre micro greens, it will be overly saturated at 10 acres micro greens...... then theres the extra labor hired, extra expenses, etc... not to mention that the price you get will fall dramatically.

on the raised beef/pork/chicken idea....... in my state, you cant just sell someone processed meat. it has to be processed professionally. this will cut significantly into your 142/ hr profit. when you just add up all the money youre going to make and dont bother to come up with your expenses and where youll be able to market all this product, and what restrictions and legalities your going to face youre setting yourself up to fail.

most businesses take 2-5 years to see any real profits. unless you work your full time job and the farm until the farm makes money,  then youre going in the red significantly. i would suggest that the OP pay off all his bills and learn to live simply first. cut his profit expectations, and work on a farm for a while to undestand the amount of work he will be facing next. then begin work on his farm. even with setting up a successfull permie model, a farm will require lots of work on his behalf. most likely, with a much smaller realised profit.
7 years ago
i am not an expert, so take all this with a grain of salt.....

we have our land and are in process of designing and implementing. this takes LOTS of time. you will probably need more than vacations and long weekends to prepare any decent sized acreage for farming. you will also need access to heavy equipment, which is expensive to rent...... and more expensive to pay some to do for you.

that being said, once you've overcome all the hurdles of starting a successful rural business, youre biggest priority will be marketing. whats the use of growing things you cant sell. most larger market farmers here attend multiple farmers markets,  have csa's, and sell some wholesale. this is also LOTS of work. every person experienced in market farming has been quick to give an amount of acreage that one person can plan, farm, and market successfully. this number is usually around 2 acres per person, so when you start planning to make big $$, make sure you account for hired labor. there are lots of other variables i dont have time to explore, but you get the idea. most people who become farmers dont do to become rich, most eek out the $$ they need to survive plus a little extra to save.

there are alot of things to consider. permaculturing your suburban back yard to have some perennial veggies and fruit trees is one thing, making a living as a farmer with it is another. successful permiculture business are hard to come by. i would suggest you steer your reading to organic farming business and try to incorporate into a model that is already successful. thats the plan for our 43 acres. talk to as many farmers as possible and read as many books as possible. attend any "beginning  farming" classes offered locally. in short, learn as much as possible and adjust your numbers according to what you learn, because there are few business plans to mimic for permaculture success.


an aside..... i took a class at a local urban farm that was run by an "engineer type" (actually he was an architect), and it looks to be a miserable failure. the farm wont last another 2 years without major change. if it wasnt for his father investing his nest egg in it, it would have never got off the ground. he likes to plan and draw and talk to people on the phone, but his plans never become successful. the farm grows a limited production, and depends on it "urban" status to impress local "well-to-do's" than dont realize its built on an old airfield gas station lot that contaminated the land. hes hired too many "managers" and depends too much on volunteers. in short, hes too much engineer, and too little farmer. sometimes its better to do and fail and adjust than to do tons of complicated math, draw pretty pictures, fail then spend even more $$ to prop up you original plan.

this is a big step, and lots of people fail. dont bite off more than you can chew, and learn as much as you can.
7 years ago
goldfish are probably one of your best choices for that size tank, but dont get too many as they get pretty big........ maybe 3-7". they're messy and produce a considerable nitrate load.
7 years ago

mnewby wrote:
Anyone here read it? 

I have to say that I love the book.  It's written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle and I would have to recommend it to people here.  Besides a comet being the reason for the collapse of civilization, the book does a good job of exploring how we would react as a populace.  It's a fun read, total fiction but good fiction.  If anyone reads it, let me know what you think.



ive read this book and agree its a great classic book. check out "earth abides", "on the beach", and similar but different "atlas shrugged". all touch on various extinction/ collapse scenarios and our reaction to them. most of my non permiculture/small farm reading trends in this direction, and includes similar non fiction subjects such as population overshoot/collapse, peak oil, anarcho-primitivism, society collapse, and luddite/anti-technology.

my personal opinion is that climate change and overpopulation/collapse would be the most sensational thing we would probably see in our future (not so much a sudden catastrophe like comet), but more likely a slower decent into a "dark age" due to energy/oil shortages. very few people in american mainstream can live a slow life with no or little electricity and super expensive gas. unfortunately, this would probably lead to famines and disease due to reduced food production, and eventually to a large population collapse. unless you subscribe to the idea that we will come up with some new technology to get us out of this mess while sustaining our current energy hungry lifestyle, and the ever increasing human bioload.

of course non of this matters....... everyone is to busy being caught up in american idol, and charging up their credit cards chasing the american dream to notice the crumbling empire around them
7 years ago
good luck with the natural building and composting toilet stuff. being from sc myself, and closing in on your dream myself, ill tell you that sc isnt very friendly toward eco friendly building. there is no county in sc where you wont need a perk test and therefore a septic system to get a building permit or financing. also, according to the dhec dude who does the perk tests in richland county, grey water recycling is still frowned apon here...... atleast for now. for us, when we get around to building in a couple years (doing most the work ourselves, and out of pocket), we plan to have the plumbing system all connected to the septic until its passed code, then redo it for grey water recycling later. also, look in to dry stack concrete block with structural concrete stucco home building....... makes good solar collection, and shouldnt have any trouble passing code or getting financing here. you may not be into financing yourself, but make sure you can sell it if you need to at a later date. check out the link below, it'll give you some ideas.

http://www.thenaturalhome.com/

on a side note, if you can find any plant guild info in the clemson library, please forward it to me. it is a little hard to find.
7 years ago