Farm Small Farm Smart Daily

I think we are in the perfect storm right now for regenerative agriculture and permaculture. The economy isn't great. We have a huge number of people dissatisfied with their jobs who are looking for a fulfilling and creative outlet. People that want to work and make a difference. The environmental side of things is a mess. So much so that we have big scientific meetings in Beijing talking about it. We have a food and water crisis brewing that is legitimately viewed as a looming global problem. But all of these crisis's have created an opportunity. An opportunity for permaculture to step to the plate be the solution.

The tools are there.

And this is the hard part of the game now because it is early in the game, but it isn't as hard as it was 20 years ago or 10 years ago. Forward progress will be made, but I think it is going to take some balls and strategic planning. We need to realize that we are pioneers forging a new path and and we don't have a ton of models to refer to and to fall back on. But there are some - Mark Shepard, Darren Doherty's work, Peter Allen, Kevin Woltz at the University of Illinois, and of course Grant.

It won't be easy, but the path is there. It is just a bit of a bumpy, winding dirt path right now, not a smooth asphalt road straight into the future that most of use are used to. For some of us it is time to adult unschool and put the boots on the dirt and hit the path. And it is on that path where we live between easy and dangerous where really feel alive and are at our best. So if you want to go for it, there is no better time. The perfect storm is here and like Grant says, "You do have to jump on it; you have to go now because tomorrow might be too late."

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP069-08292014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 7:08am PDT

While many of us will never use permaculture outside of our own backyard or community, there is a whole world out there than can benefit from permaculture design. Places where small incremental changes that can have huge effects. Life is hard in places and Rosemary is someone who has lived her life helping hard places. She has dedicated her life to teaching and helping people. She is a true permaculture pioneer and an inspiration.

People often ask, does permaculture work?

From a western standpoint, the definition of work is usually form of ultimate abundance, some unrealistic expectation of what the land should be producing on a huge scale with little input; in other words, a miracle. When those results don't magically appear, people are disappointed and say, see it doesn't work.

When I asked Rosemary if permaculture worked, she said absolutely, she has seen in. She has spent most of her time in the harshest places on the planet; places where the miracle isn't ultimate abundance. The miracle is merely having more today than you had yesterday and having reasonable assurance that it can continue for the foreseeable future. Places where a little more calories means the difference between starving or not. And in places like that, permaculture does work, it performs miracles.


Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP068-08222014.mp3
Category:permaculture -- posted at: 8:38am PDT

My guest Pete Kanaris is a serial entrepreneur. He has started a whole bunch of businesses, some have worked, some haven't. Despite the failures, he has always found a way to push on and try new things to ultimately get to where he wants to be.

That also references another unique point in Pete's story. One of Pete’s most successful businesses was a lawncare business. It was a business that Pete ran for over 10 years and it was really successful. But it wasn't something that Pete liked doing anymore. Along the way he became exposed to permaculture and it became clear that the pathway into the future didn't involve cutting grass, it involved permaculture. So he put it all on the line and started a permaculture design company, Green Dreams. It wasn't about the money; he wanted to do something that he loved doing and something that he believed in.

Given the risk and uncertainty involved in starting any new business it would have been easy to take the safe route and stick with what he had, a thriving lawncare business. But he didn't take the easy route, and he put in the hard work to make Green Dreams a reality. Pete's continued push to innovate and try new things has already paid off and Green Dreams is growing. His story is inspirational for anyone out there looking to take that hard first step. As he says, “start small and when the door opens, go big and never look back.”

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP067-08192014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 7:31am PDT

"Instead of trying to support 1000's of people, let's get really good at supporting 150 people and we'll duplicate it."

Once we do that we will have models that we can refer back to. Models that can be used to train people to go start other small impact zones. Then we start getting more and more impact zones, and suddenly the picture looks a lot brighter. But that will take time, and it's early in the journey, but the conditions are ripe for change. We just need to kick start it, by incubating innovation.Creating the conditions for success and sustainability to happen, something that I learned from Larry.

In fact it's one of the many things that I have learned from Larry. Larry has a wealth of knowledge and the experience to back it up. He's a permaculture pioneer having involved with permaculture since the 80s. He has travelled with Bill Mollison. He's worked on countless projects in the country, the city, and other countries. He gets it. And in Southern California when you mention permaculture, there is one name that comes to mind.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP066-08152014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

This is a real story, about a real farm based business, that is now profitable. In a world filled with reasons why things won't work and with stories about why your children shouldn’t grow up to be farmers, this is story about why they should.

Philippe's story is another story about what is possible. He will tell you that anyone could do this, he wasn't unique, but it does take work and time. But that’s the nature of farming. In an industry where the median farm income was negative $1453 in 2012 you can decide how your time is spent.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP065-08122014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 8:25pm PDT

Today I am talking with David Sachs. David is working outside of the farming world and is trying to transition to working within the farming world. His family owns and operates a farm in Virginia; his dad runs the farm and David sees a future where he takes over the farm. David is a big believer in permaculture and sees his future on the farm involving more permaculture design incorporated into the farm's operations. But it is easier said than done within a family dynamic. Because within the family they are trying to balance the running of the farm and paying the bills with potentially incorporating more permaculture strategies. Not an easy to make decision. Add in the fact that the family is relatively new to farming and getting all sorts of advice from everyone out there - neighbors to the agriculture extension offices - challenging to say the least.

Never the less they are progressing ahead with the farm and doing some great things. In an area that grows a lot of corn, they are now the only organic wheat grower in their area. They are starting up a small scale mill to value add that wheat by turning it into flour. They are making a go of it and starting to look at a future that might involve grazing animals and strategically managed woodlots. They are approaching the transition strategically and systematically, working within the context of reality.

Hopefully something within this episode strikes a chord with you.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP064-08082014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 6:00am PDT

As my guest today Akiva Silver will explain, you can start a small scale nursery with very little space. Putting a lot of plants on really tight spacings;I mean A LOT of trees on REALLY tight spacings.

When you hear it intuitively your first thought is probably, that's way too close. The trees will suffer and the roots will tangle up.

But that is not the results that Akiva Silver has had. Akiva has a small nursery business where he grows over 1000 trees on a half an acre. Thousands of trees plant tightly together in loose, friable soil. Very tight spacings that force trees to grow tall and straight in competition with their neighbors resulting in a lot of nursery stock that can be sold in the first year.

How many people out there have some extra space where they could grow a few hundred trees? Trees to use in the development of your own property or to sell. If you sold each tree for $5 or $10, then we are talking about some significant money given the amount of space it takes.

It is simple, but it does take time, it is hard work. We aren't talking about any sort of gimmicks here. It is about putting time, work, and care in to nurse these trees along to the point where you can sell them.

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP063-08052014.mp3
Category:permaculture,business -- posted at: 6:19am PDT

This episode today isn't just applicable to farming. Ronan's story and what he is talking about is a metaphor. These ideas are applicable to everything under the permaculture umbrella and beyond. It all comes down to starting something small, making some mistakes, and learning and adapting along the way.

Ronan' story is so simple, so common, yet uniquely inspiring; IT IS GREAT.

This is a real story from a real person. Starting with 75 chicks eight years ago and growing that to over 10,000 today. Going from the corporate world to full time farmer; Ronan didn't start as a farmer, he became a farmer.

In a world of negativity there are a lot of people out there doing absolutely great things. People just like you. People that listen to this show. Ronan is one of them. These are the stories that inspire me to keep doing what I do and give me hope in a better future. The change is happening out there. You might not see it yet, but it's happening..

Show Notes:

Direct download: PVP062-08012014.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming,business -- posted at: 6:00am PDT