We will describe and show at our farm how you can start your own 1 acre permaculture farm for less than $3,000 that will yield you $15,000 (net) the first year. The $3,000 figure includes all the tools, watering devices, seeds, and things you need to feed the soil. If you scrounge, it could be done for $500. The workshop is taught by permaculturist Charlotte Anthony with 50 years experience.
Interested students can participate in 4 additional on-farm sessions with fellow students. These sessions will be work parties at your and other students’ properties, so that you can learn from multiple different sites – and get help starting your own site! The first whole day workshop is free on May 27th, 2017.
1) This method involves no till and microbe inoculations. these methods assure that the plants will grow productively without off site inputs. Tilling for the first year to open the ground is included in the estimates of the startup cost.
2) Underlying these methods: Charlotte saw in India microbe inoculations that have allowed soil to be very productive without irrigation or soil amendments for thousands of years. Biological scientist Elaine Ingham has taken soil samples from thousands of site around the world including Saudi Arabia where her samples showed everything the plants need to grow is contained in the soil. What most soil testing shows is only what is water soluble, while much more can be locked up in the soil. What makes everything in the soil available is the microbe partners of the plants. So these techniques are both very old and based on good science.
3) What crops you will grow depends on what you choose to grow. There will be lists of how much certain plants earn and some sort of labor figures for those earnings and you can figure out how much you want to make and what you want to grow. Monocropping does not work. so you need to choose 10 plants to grow to sell and then have cover crops which up the number of plants for diversity to 30 plants including 1/2 nitrogen fixing.
4) The long term project involves perennial plants – see this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GJFL0MD9fc. This video describes the attitude of cooperation with nature that is necessary to get these yields with minimal labor. Also it begins to describe the kind of natural rhythms that go along with what we call a horticultural life style (from Toby Hemenway’s video why agriculture cannot be sustainable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0nzIMJGuEY. We ask you to look at this video before the workshop.
5) Short term involves annual vegetables and fruits and annual and perennial herbs in the alley ways of trees, nuts and bushes. Many berry bushes yield on the 2nd year. You can start the first year without the trees and plant the trees from seeds for minimum input. You may have to do some grafting of the trees to get consumer type fruit. There is also a good market for apples and pears with strong taste for cider operations.
6) We will start a cooperative marketing group for interested farmers. this will allow us to do value added products as the cooperative grows.
7) On this farm we are doing a farm stand, beginning one evening a week when our first products are ready. We will do micro-greens which take 2 weeks to grow. We will also wild craft for our farm stand. Washington law allows the farm stand to sell 50% of its produce from other farms (or wildcrafting) in Washington, so people who do not have property suited for a farm stand can market through their farm partners.
Many farmers sell large amounts of tomatoes, winter squash, carrots, fruits etc directly to the public without a farm stand. They put out ads for when the crop is ready and do a day or two staying home to make the sales (and meet their community — stacking functions).
8) The number of hours of labor we can only gestimate as figuring out how to do things in less time is the essence of what we are teaching. So one acre might take 200 hours. Different people work at different speeds. One thing that we are discouraging is perfectionism or analysis/paralysis as it does not get the job done.
9) People in the west think that farming is an immense amount of lowly grueling work. This is because of the way that we in the west have learned to farm by tilling the soil, removing the microbes causing soil destruction of soil tilth and huge numbers of weeds, straight lines, and generally working outside nature’s ways.
10) Weeds come with certain pH and lack of soil biology. Insects come with lack of soil biology. Studies have shown that insects see an infrared pattern and when the lipid layer of the plant is fully developed, this infrared pattern is not seen and thus the plants are not attacked. We will show you many ways to do things effectively and we will all become experts on our farms of learning new strategies to do this. Also strategies for appropriate technology, tools to help us get the job done without mechanization.
11) Most important of all plants have their digestive system in their microbe partners in the soil. In animals including humans our microbes grow in our bodies. Plants grown with microbes means that they carry much more nutritional value for us. The Bionutrient Food Association’s page about health says that:
We suggest that underlying nutrient deficiency in our food supply is a causal force in physiological degeneration, and that what is in each of our own self interest as far as a healthy functioning body should and could be an organizing principle around food, the food supply, and more largely ecological and cultural revival.
The quality of the food you eat not only has an effect on your health, but the health of the land it was grown on and your effect on the people you interact with. Let food quality be an organizing principle as we work to build the reality we want to see.”