Joel Salatin has many excellent ideas about making one's farm into a viable business. See: You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise and Pastured Poultry Profits. These are his 2 books on the subject, classics in the field.
Currently, Joel Salatin says he gets 25% of his income from on-farm sales, 30% from chefs in restaurants and 45% from buyers' clubs. The buyers' clubs establishment story was quite interesting. The contrast with farmers' market trading was clear. Azure Standard and SPUD facilitate buyers' club type of marketing. This model cuts out the middle man and could be part of the future of farming.
If someone has done it, it can be done: Modifying and innovating using the design principles of permaculture include challenges. Weaning oneself off the desire for a road map or recipe book is among the first of these. See Permaculture: A Designers' Manual by Bill Mollison. Owen Hablutzel is one of the lead instructors on a rigorous PDC in Utah, July 14 - 27, 2013 at True Nature Farm. The material states that their certification does not include woo-woo. Paul reiterated that purple (more spiritual) PDCs have value for the people who will enjoy that and he is glad that there also exist 'brown' (more practical) PDCs. Garrett said that as he continues his permaculture education he intends to go on a 'purple' PDC to increase his education. Paul, 'brown' in approach as if you didn't know, reminded us that the PDC he took was rather 'purple' and that he had a very good time.
Assets are liabilities: According to Joel Salatin when going into farming one has to know or at least have a plan for what one is going to do + a business plan. Multi-function and earning-its- keep are important principles. Ratio of infrastructure to income illustrate how seriously in-debt it's possible to be as a farmer. Joel Salatin's model offers alternatives.
Knowing when to say 'No': Speaks for itself.
Joel Salatin's internship process was discussed in some detail.
Aligning with local nature: For example, calving should occur when the deer in one's area are having fawns.
White collar salary: Make proper money being a farmer.
One + One = Three: Work with people who like doing what you don't. No one can do everything so find people, or encourage family members, who compliment you and encourage them to develop their area(s) of expertise. This multiplies diversity.
Unfair advantage: Create your own. It's easy to get hung up when comparing one's situation with others', don't fall for that. Figure out what your advantage is and use that or those, 'cause once one starts thinking this way the opportunities start becoming more obvious.
Breeding: Breed for strong stock. Do not medicate. Get pre-1940 publications for information on causes and solutions rather than falling for currently prevailing Big Ag. solutions which are largely pharmaceutical.
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly: When you innovate or when doing something for the first time the result will not be perfect.
Pigs: Listen for yourself. Paul concludes this by saying decide what you seek in what you let pigs disturb.
Economies of scale: Work out how much time it takes to look after say, 10 laying chickens versus 100. It's about the same (especially with floorless, moveable coops which Salatin is known for). Figure out the market for 10 times more eggs.
Bio-mass accumulation: In grass v. trees, Salatin says grass.
No straight fences: Joel puts his permanent fences on contour, cows help make terraces.
Idiosyncrasies of your property: Garrett said that, for example, different parts of land are grazed at different times. Optimize strategies to decide when and where to graze cattle.
Delivery fees: Salatin follows U.P.S. model.
Buyers' clubs v C.S.A.: Joel Salatin prefers buyers' clubs, details are quite interesting.
This podcast is Paul and Garretts' condensation of a 10 hour presentation by Joel Salatin, so there was a lot of filtering.
Garrett describes how he started his Permaculture experience a couple of years ago with reading and listening to Paul's podcasts and then going to a PDC He said that the past week at the lectures and workshops + the time he spent with Paul and Joel. had been an example of how open the community is and how abundant the opportunities are.
This was Paul's last speaking engagement till winter 2013/2014 because he's getting on with working at his land in Montana.
PermacultureVoices is coming up in March 2014. Paul Wheaton, Joel Salatin, Dr Elaine Ingham, Michael Pollin, Allan Savory, Toby Hemenway and Geof Lawton are already booked. Sepp Holzer and Willie Smits are waiting to know about ticket sales. Buying one's ticket now will help get more speakers. Garret opined that it will be a high quality conference.
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Deeply appreciate these reviews- and all the material you make available, Mr. Wheaton. (Or should we just refer to you as 'Duke'? )
A couple thoughts on some of the topics mentioned:
- Re the level of disturbance Salatin aims for with his pigs/hogs, my understanding is that he is working to move the succession from underbrush toward more of a savanah, with grass under the trees, and apparantly he feels he gets the results he wants the way he has been doing it for many years, now. ('Grass' is a loosely applied term, here of course. As with 'grassfed' or 'grassfinished' beef, it does not literally mean just grasses - (since a number of species sprout behind the pigs, is that still a monculture?), but also forbs (various broadleafed plants that are also useful forage, known to many as 'weeds') which to me seems even less like a monoculture, especially with the intact overstory of trees.
- Re the closer grazing of the pastures with his beef cattle than one might expect, we had the same response, and felt that more residue would be better. Not necessarily standing, as standing grasses that mature and die at some point begin to oxidize, returning carbon to the air (I'm told), but trampling and manuring of the residue uneaten would seem to be very beneficial. That said, there is a big difference between the soils and rainfall at Polyface and many other parts of the country, especially areas west of the Mississippi.
- On cattle generating greenhouse gasses, the majority of these 'produced' by cattle are generated by microbes in the rumen, and are released via eructation (belching), not via flatulance. Herbavors have been targeted for the production of these gasses, but not wetlands? Now why is that???
To those interested in permaculture and eco-agriculture ("...a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet") understand that plants and animals evolved together, and that systems combining both are more productive, more resiliant, healthier, etc than either production systems which only include either plants OR animals; or eco-systems where the animals have been removed. But many do not understand this, and as Allan Savory points out, not only livestock but also wildlife herbavores have been blamed for land degredation, when they are actually key to healthy, vibrant landscapes.
But making this kind of information available is one function of this forum, eh?!
- Salatin does not have all the answers for everybody, of course. Heck, I can't think of anyone with whom I agree on everything (come to think of it, not even myself, as I look back over time...). BUT Salatin has likely encouraged more people to try their hand at some level of 'farming' or food production than anyone else in the US. As you pointed out, he encourages innovation and experimentation ("if it's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly first") so each person can figure out what works for them, and on their piece of land.
The overarching design principles behind permaculture are more versatile than any 'recipe', but are overwhelming to many. Salatin's books have helped a lot of people with zero knowledge to get started- in a style of farming that does not involve plowing each year, or CAFOs, or supporing chem-ag, etc. No doubt a good many of those people will expand their thinking and methods over time.
I really like what Paul highlighted from Joel about how good enough is just perfect and making your own unfair advantage! I think those really key in how important it is to just be practical and pragmatic with what you’re doing.