Farm Small Farm Smart Daily

Darren Doherty of Heenan Doherty and Regrarians joins me from Australia to talk about the regrarian philosophy that he has put together and how it can be used to regenerate landscapes and farming enterprises.

This is a system that borrows and includes tools from multiple disciplines like permaculture, keyline design, the transition movement, carbon farming, and the work of of people like Joel Salatin, Paul Stamets, and Dr. Elaine Ingham. These tools give you the ability to design a system that ultimately regenerates land while producing numerous agricultural products. The system deals with everything from the work done on the land to how you can synergistically stack multiple enterprises in the same system, and ultimately how to market and distribute those products to the people that actually want them. The system emphasizes participating in all 4 legs of the farm income stool - production, processing, marketing, and distribution. This allows you to be a market price setter, not a price receiver.

If you are involved in an agricultural enterprise, or if you want to be involved in an agricultural enterprise, then you need to pay attention to the regrarian system and learn this information. The current status quo of agriculture isn't working; it isn't sustainable, it's degenerative. The regarian system IS regenerative. And it gives you the tools to produce the products that the consumers ultimately want, all while living the farming lifestyle that you want to live. It won't be easy, and it will be hard work, but hey that's farming. And I think farmers that farm in systems like this have fun and enjoy their life because they can make good living while restoring the land.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP013-09272013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 7:12am PDT

Doniga Markegard of Markegard Family Grass-Fed comes on the show to talk about ranching, permaculture, and the regenerative power of rotational livestock grazing.She is a real life rancher, who is out there successfully doing things the right way. On her ranch she is using cattle, sheep, and pigs to build the soil and supply the San Fransisco Bay area with high quality food.Doniga discusses why traditional ranching methods often fail and lead to degenerative cycles with the soil; and how a more holistic, permaculture approach can actually repair landscapes. She talks about how they use permaculture on their ranch to increase species diversity and to increase the water holding capacity of the soil. She touches on how to get into ranching, the advantages of small herd dairy, and the importance of leasing land.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

-The healing power of using proper livestock rotational management on a landscape is tremendous. Doniga often sees the benefits after just one or two rotations. The disturbance created by the livestock starts to build organic matter in the soil, sequester carbon, increase water infiltration, and that then leads to increased species diversity.
-The big impact of stock ponds. Early keypoint dams have played a huge role in the health of their farm. Water is kept on site, instead of running off site, causing erosion. Retaining this water has helped to rehydrate the landscape.
-Don't be afraid to lease land. Land is prohibitively expensive in California, so leasing is a good option for ranching. It will require some work, but a lot of land is available.

Visit for show notes.

Direct download: PVP012-09202013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 9:31am PDT

What if you could gross $100,000 per acre in a small sustainable agriculture operation? You could make a good living and/or you could afford to pay someone a decent wage. If you can gross roughly $2.50 per square foot, per year, then that translates into a gross revenue of $100,000 per acre, per year. How can permaculture techniques be used to accomplish that goal?

Chris Young of SoCal Shrooms and Closing the Loop joins me to talk about just that. His goal is to show that you can gross that $100k so you can hire one person to work an acre of land and pay them a good wage to work it. He aims to achieve this by reducing input costs and stacking revenue generators, all while improving the quality of the land and producing a high quality product.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

-Oyster mushrooms have a nice advantage of having a quick turn around. They can start creating cash-flow in 4 to 6 weeks. Similar to selling sprouts and micro-greens which have a 2 to 3 week turnaround.

-If possible tap into an existing distribution network. This gets you contacts right out of the gate.

-Get more out of the same amount of land. Property taxes will go up the future, water costs will go up in the future, and more and more land is being developed away from farmland. So try to be more productive on the same amount of land while improving the quality of that land.

-Consider the cost of your own time in the business. And pay yourself.

-You have to do the real numbers for you business.Don't fudge them. The numbers won't lie. If something isn't working, then look at the numbers and see where you can start making changes to make the numbers work. When you have exhausted all possibilities, then it is time to move on.

-Start broad and control your risk at the beginning. Then look at the numbers and refine down overtime to optimize each system or business.

-Celebrate the small victories. There is a lot of drudgery that goes along with business and farming, so enjoy the good times.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP011-09112013.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 8:22am PDT

Cathy Payne of Broad River Pastures joins me to talk about heritage breed livestock and her journey into farming that began in her mid-50's.

Cathy and her husband started changing their diet in their 50's. Their quest for nutrient dense food led them to local farmers, and a lot of visits to their farms. One day they decided, why don't we do this, and they began their journey into farming. They jumped in with the goal of growing the food that they wanted to eat. This meant that they would raise the right animals, the right way - incorporating holistic livestock care, permaculture practices, and sustainable organic farming.

Now they are a few years into their farming adventure. The farm is slowly growing and expanding it's education outreach a long the way. They actively support heritage breed livestock and education via outreach and their on-farm internship program. Both Cathy and her husband feel better than they have ever felt in their life due a combination of lifestyle and nutrient-dense food. They continue to learn along the way and they are making a difference. Keep in mind that they started all of this as virgin farmers.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:
-Start small, observe, then decide if it is worthwhile to scale up.This could be applied to livestock or a commercial crop. It is easier and less risky to make small incremental changes.
-Choose livestock breeds that match your climate and farming style.
-Do not underestimate the importance of data collection on the farm. The data ultimately drives the direction of your breeding program and the farm.
-Breed to suit your environment. Each generation ultimately can improve the genetics for your location since you can selectively breed for the traits that you favor.
-Don't forget value adds. Such as raising wool sheep where you can sell the fleece in addition to the meat.

Show Notes:


Direct download: PVP010-09032013.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 9:03am PDT