Why are there so few profitable Permaculture Farms

Episode 0004 Show Notes

Paul Wheaton and Josiah Wallingford discuss Ridgedale Permaculture Richard Perkins excellent new video "Why are there so few profitable Permaculture Farms?".

Paul Wheaton and Josiah Wallingford discuss Ridgedale Permaculture Richard Perkins excellent new video "Why are there so few profitable Permaculture Farms?".

Round 1: Examples of Wealthy Permaculture Farms


Essay: Gert and Ferd essay by Paul Wheaton - https://permies.com/t/55918/millions-permaculture-millionaires-story-Gert

Sepp Holzer: books, Richard Perkins visit, and Tour

Paul gives the example of Sepp Holzer being one of the farms that are making a million+ dollars a year.

Masanobu Fukuoka: another great example of someone wealthy in Permaculture

The wrong question to ask is where is the proof of making a million dollars and does it exist.

Round 2: Self-Limiting Beliefs


This falls right in line with the “prove it to me mentality”.

Yeah, but… the most annoying thing to hear.

Unfair advantages… boo hoo. If Paul Wheaton can do it, anybody can.

Paul has created ways to get started in permaculture: Boot Camp Program - Work for 18 months or pay $21,000 for an acre of land at Wheaton Labs. http://richsoil.com

Using other people's land to gain profit:

Curtis Stone - http://www.greencityacres.com/

Fleet Farming - http://fleetfarming.org/

Change Your Perspective Books

Mortgage Free by Rob Roy : https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006K40RHG/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker : https://www.amazon.com/Early-Retirement-Extreme-Philosophical-Independence/dp/145360121X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489324686&sr=8-1&keywords=Early+Retirement+Extreme

Stop complaining and start innovating. The money is in doing something new not doing what others have done.

Round 3: Don’t have the skills to get into farming


It’s all about your attitude.

Do whatever needs to be done when it needs to be done. The reality check.

Don’t have the skills to get into the field, bullshit. There are a ton of new ways to get the needed skills to start practicing permaculture with online learning, work at a local farm, wwoof, books (not needed), PDC’s (not needed).

Permaculture Boot Camp : https://permies.com/t/59706/permaculture-bootcamp-learn-permaculture-hard

Look up the curriculum of a PDC and start researching those topics.

Round 4: Idealism over Pragmatism


Idealism needs to be switched over to pragmatism if you want to have a realistic livelihood.

The best way to counter idealism is to start doing whatever you have idealistic expectations of. Once you start doing it and experiencing it, the pragmatism comes.

Do a little research before jumping into a system but don’t do so much that you are waiting a long time before jumping in.

Book : Chicken Tractor - Paul doesn’t like that approach. https://www.amazon.com/Chicken-Tractor-Permaculture-Healthy-Homestead/dp/0984338209/ref=pd_sbs_14_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=GYF6422VEJJAXWKQJWET

Round 5: Undefined Context


Holistic Management by Allan Savory - how do you know you are accomplishing your goals if you haven’t even written down your goals to begin with.


If your new to this stuff, creating many lists and mind mapping can be very helpful. There is also something to be said about an artistic approach. Try different things and see what kind of paths present themselves. Allan Savory seems to poo-poo this approach.

Paul admits this is not the most monetary positive path.

Permaculture is a design science. You think about and plan what you will be doing before implementing.

Permaculture is giving a gift to your future self. It is a lot of hard work up front but can lead to a lifestyle of very minimal work in the future.

How chickens should be raised… Paul’s perspective.

Round 6: The Myth of the Perfect permaculture Place or Farm


Book: Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country by Les and Carol Scher (updated year 2000 edition)


Purchasing the wrong property or getting into permaculture after you have already purchased a piece of property.

Paul talks about buying too small of a piece of property. Starting a garden, then upgrading to more land, then running out of land and upgrading again.

Buying a great piece of property and then hating the culture in the area. A good way to judge if there are many like-minded people around you is to visit the local farmers market.

It is sometimes nice to start from scratch after you have learned permaculture and maximized the space you are currently in.

Round 7: Lack of Commitment


Common to get into farming while working another job. A lot of times this will burn you out and is a great cause of the Lack of Commitment issue.

How getting into farming can destroy relationships. One person is loving it and can’t get enough while the other wants to go back to relaxing and missing the old lifestyle.

Irresponsible to run a farm and not think about it every day, living it and engaged with it.

Round 8: Lack of Planning


People often fail to make time for planning. A lack of focus on business is a major shortfall in permaculture.

Nothing is wrong with capitalism in permaculture if you are trying to make a living.

You might not have to focus entirely on capitalism but you may be to the point where you need very little to get by and a little capitalism from your excess produce to pay for the minimal lifestyle is okay.

A lot of people want money but don’t want to do any work. This seems to be a growing trend in western civilization.

Another issue is debt. People will put themselves into massive amounts of debt and then feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that is going into paying off that debt or interest on the debt.

Legal partnership success is very rare. Collaboration is much more effective in most cases. Many short collaborations are often easier and more successful than long-term commitments. Obligations are all resolved quickly and if it works out well, do it again.

Round 9: Find Your Inspiration through Internships


Spend a season working at an established farm like Ben Falks farm and not at Paul’s farm if you are looking for great inspiration. Ben’s place is well established and can show you what to look forward to. Paul’s farm is just in the beginning phases of establishment.

Ben Falk’s farm: http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/

Paul discusses new systems that still need to be implemented into the Wheaton Labs property.

Many successful farms phase out the opportunities available to fully immerse themselves into those properties because the farms simply no longer need to bring in many people to help build the farm up. Get in while you can.

Interning at these farms provides you with the opportunity to see what is possible and to see if you are up to doing all of the work that needs to be done.

Doing the work isn’t something you want to just give up on. A lot of the physical limitations you have go away after you have worked for a while and gain the muscle memory needed. You will learn more about yourself by sticking it out.

Most people that go and internship will come in with expectations of sticking it out but then after a couple of hours or a couple of days give up.

Round 10: Fear in the Unknown and Lack of Financial Capital


Our ever-changing lifestyles can cause fear in getting into something that requires long term thought and dedication like raising livestock. Spend 3-4 seasons working on a farm before starting your own.

There are no magic answers to getting the capital required for starting your farm. There are other ways to get into this.

Look into creating complimentary enterprises (or fiefdoms) on existing farms. Many farmers are very open to people coming onto their property and starting their own enterprise that meshes with what the farmer is already doing. For example, a farmer may be buying a lot of compost and if you have a business plan that benefits the farm by creating and selling compost it will be enticing to the farmer.

It is more beneficial to the farmer to have complimentary enterprises running on their property by people who enjoy doing those enterprises more than the farmer does.

Your Hosts


Paul Wheaton Bio Photo

Paul Wheaton Permies.com Richsoil.com

Paul Wheaton is the tyrannical dictator of Permies.com, the largest permaculture forum on the web. As a certified master gardener and permaculture designer, he’s built an empire around what he calls, ‘infecting brains with permaculture’. His forums are full of rich information, and there are a number of great free resources, guides, and articles that can be found on his sister site, Richsoil.com as well.


Partner, Director of Education PermaEthos

Josiah Wallingford is a permaculture instructor, Partner and Director of Education for PermaEthos, and Owner of Brink of Freedom.

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