Principle: Create a surplus
Most current permaculture farms are not designed to maximize profit, like a conventional farm, but developing a sustainable business model is important to their long-term success. The payoffs from permaculture farming tend to be the pleasure one gets from growing and eating healthy food, deepening one’s relationship with the environment and sharing with others the benefits of this lifestyle. But permaculture can also bring material gains. In this section we will talk about some ways that permaculture farms are succeeding financially – the strategies they have adopted to do so, the products they sell or trade to others outside of the community. There are countless ways to define and measure success in farming and in life. Doing permaculture helps highlight that.
Adding or creating value
Added value is when you make products from your site more valuable. When you grow peanuts and then make peanut butter, you added value to the peanuts. Adding value is about being creative. Here’s a good article about Successful Permaculture Farms: www.permacultureapprentice.com/successful-permaculture-farms/.
Some simple ways to add value to things at your site:
Potential goods and services
- Start a nursery – You can’t have enough seeds or plants. The more they grow the more valuable they become.
- Sell produce through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) – Join a CSA to develop a good, repeat customer base.
- Grow plants – Nurseries appreciate in value. Just grow plants. If you have more than you need and you don’t sell them right away, they become more valuable.
- Restaurant/café/shop – Sell products your community made.
- Set up your site to be a host site for other courses – There are many people who have skills they could teach. If you provide them a place to teach, you can host courses and even learn something new yourself.
- Volunteers – People will pay around $10 a day to work on your land. This can support people’s food and maybe cover some materials.
- Events/festival – Host local events or festivals.
- Hostel/guesthouse – Providing guesthouse accommodations is a great way to create residual income with not much work once it’s all set up.