Farm Small Farm Smart Daily

For notes related to this episode visit permaculturevoices.com/growmicrogreens.

Over the last two episodes [Episode 1, Episode 2] we looked at How Chris started and grew his microgreen business, and we have taken a look at what's possible with that business when it grows.

And if you just stand back and look at the numbers, their jaw dropping.

Let's be honest.

Grossing $200,000 growing 10 day old crops in a shipping container that takes up 320 square is jaw dropping.  It almost seems unbelievable.

But it's real, and that's where Chris is at with his business after 10 years.

Chris has show what's possible. And given that and the relatively low capital investment required to start a microgreens business, it's a business that attracts a lot of people.

People that likely focus on the high dollar value per tray, and people that dream about how much money they can make.

This is where it gets dangerous, because you can't just look at the income side of the business. You have to look at the expenses as well.

When you do that with microgreens that high dollar per tray, isn't as high as it might appear.

There are a number of cost that need to be considered - the soil, the seed, and the big one - the labor.

There's a decent amount of labor that goes into producing each tray of microgreens. Labor that needs to be priced into the product, and labor that might turn some people off from growing microgreens.

When over 60% of your time will be spent harvesting, cleaning, and sanitizing trays, some of the allure of that $50 tray goes away.

Add in the need for rigorous observations and recording keeping, and you will find yourself in a position that Chris describes as part automaton and part scientist.

No for everyone.

Especially when people enter the business looking to make a quick buck.

If you are thinking about starting a microgreens operation, there's a lot to consider, especially the negatives.

For notes related to this episode visit permaculturevoices.com/growmicrogreens.

Direct download: MICRO-E3-2016.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/27

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.

Ben Falk from Whole Systems Design, LLC joins me talk about permaculture design and what he has learned on his research site over the years.

He talks about how to break into the business as a designHe touches on cold climate infrastructure and heating with wood. And he goes into his thoughts on designing a property and why it's important to understand the land's capability and how you should relate that to your goals.

We also spend some time talking about the mass selection of plant genetics for a site, stressing the importance of over stacking the system in the beginning to see what works and what doesn't.

Key Takeaways:

Get some experience working with the land and systems before you start designing properties as "a designer."

You can reduce your wood usage by 30-40% by drying wood well versus haphazardly drying it.

Cold humid climates have a low tolerance for bad moisture detailing in structures. When designing a home detail carefully to keep the home dry and get water out.

Grow tree multi-purpose tree species for fuel wood. Consider black locusts - fixes nitrogen, fast grower, rot resistant wood, good fuel wood, and makes great saw logs.

Have goals but understand the land's capability so you can adjust those goals as needed. Don't fight against the land's tendencies and capabilities, work with it, not against it.

Most people have more land than they can manage well. Moving down in acreage might be advantageous. It is better to manage 5 acres right than 100 acres wrong.

Most people can have most of their needs met on 5-10 acres. Unless you have a commercial aspect or grazing component.

Have a good access plan for your site. Don't box yourself out. Start and maintain a clear access pattern which is based on the water flow throughout the site.

For site selection general location and access are a quick way to filter down a list of a lot of properties. Then look to the Keyline Scale of Permanance. Consider water security and controlling as much of a watershed as you can.

Focus on manageability with regards to plantings. Plant based on water access with on contour swales.

Not all permaculture techniques will work on all sites. So don't expect that.

Practice the mass selection of genetics. Identify the best genetics from your site by growing trees from seed. Plant as many tress as you can on a site, way closer than you would ever imagine, and cut out the ones that don't do well.

Use the first 3-5 years on a site to learn what does well. Years 5-10 are when you focus on plants and families that really want ot grow on your site - microclimate - aspect - soils. And there is no way to know which ones will work unless you start putting a lot of plants in the ground.

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/27

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.
Direct download: PVP027-REPLAY.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 7:07am PST

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/139

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

If you have kids and you are self-employed and you work from home, getting work done in that environment can be a challenge.

Today Rob Avis is going to talk about some of his methodologies for balancing out working at home and what techniques he uses to plan out his week.

Rob is a busy guy co-running two companies (Adaptive Habitat and Verge Permaculture) with his wife Michelle, and he does it from his house, raising two young kids, so he has had a lot of experience getting serious work done in the heat of it.

Rob's also one of the smartest guys that I know. He's an avid reader and he thinks a lot about this type of stuff, so I was really curious how he is approaching raising kids, how he is choosing to school his kids and why. He's one of those guys that I go to when I am questioning a decision that I am making. He usually has a lot of insight into things that make me really think about what I am doing and why. It's something that I think we all need in our life.

Overall this message is part life hacking, part parent hacking, part hard dose of reality.

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/139

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

Direct download: PVP139-2016.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

For notes related to this episode visit permaculturevoices.com/growmicrogreens.

 

"They weren't just buying the product, they were buying the whole package."

 

That's how Chris Thoreau was able to go to a farmer's market selling one crop.  Just one.  Sunflower shoots.  He was able to go to market with just one crop because he was selling a product that had a great story.  

 

It was a product that was produced hyper-locally and one that was delivered to market via pedal power on a bike. 

 

Since Chris started his microgreen business nearly 10 years ago he has grown the business into one that has multiple employees and one that will do over $200,000 in sales in 2016.

 

If you want grow microgreens commercially, listen to today's episode.  You'll see how important it is to systemize your production and constantly record and analyze your results.  

 

It's the constant testing, analyze and adaptation that has made Chris' business hugely successful.  

 

I think that you will really get a lot out of this interview.

 

You'll learn how Chris introduced a brand new crop to his market.  How he priced that product.  

 

And how and why he thinks about new products to sell.

 

There's a lot of in depth applicable business content in here for the experienced growers.  And for the beginners you will learn what Chris suggests for some good crops to grow 

 

There's a lot in this one and at it's core this interview focuses heavily on core success principles - relentless testing and experimentation, constant record keeping and analysis, and knowing what to focus on.  

 

Let's get into it Tips and Tricks for Growing, Harvesting, and Selling Microgreens as a Business with Chris Thoreau...

 

For notes related to this episode visit permaculturevoices.com/growmicrogreens.

Direct download: MICRO-E2-2016.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Mycologist and author Peter McCoy of RadicalMycology.com takes on the question - What are you thoughts on combing biochar and fungi?

To learn more about Peter and see all of the ASK Peter episodes visit permaculturevoices.com/peter.

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support.

Direct download: ASKPeter-15-Biochar.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/138

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

Today I am talking with Erica Wisner, co-author of The Rocket Mass Heater Builder’s Guide.  

She co-wrote the book with her husband Ernie, and combined they are a wealth of knowledge on RMH.

They build them, they use them, they teach about them, and they innovate new designed.  They live the RMH lifestyle.

On the surface I think RMH are a complex subject, and I really tried to break through that complexity in this one by getting to the core of the what, where why and how.

At the end of this episode I think you will either be excited to learn more or saying, not for me.  Either way, we have done our job.

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/138

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

Direct download: PVP138-2016.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Homesteader Justin Rhodes of AbundantPermaculture.com takes on the question - Any advice for processing one to two birds at a time on a homestead level without having to purchase a bunch of equipment?

To learn more about Justin and see all of the ASK Justin episodes visit permaculturevoices.com/justin.

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support.

Direct download: AskJustin-31-Process.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

For notes related to this episode visit permaculturevoices.com/growmicrogreens.

 

Today we are going to start the series, by going back to the beginning.  This is the story of how urban farmer Chris Thoreau started his microgreens farm almost 10 years ago.

 

Chris will take on questions such as:

 

Why microgreens?  Why did he start with microgreen?

 

Who did he model and how much did he start with?

 

And how did he handle startup and work life balance.

 

As you will hear it was tough at times, because Chris started his farm at what on paper looks like an inopportune time.

 

He started this part time while in school full time and 2.5 months into his first semester his son was born.

 

Despite life presenting challenges that some people would say aren't worth the risk, Chris made a go of it taking on these early challenges he has managed to grow his operation to  one that will do around $200,000 in sales in 2016.

 

And all that sales are coming from a farm that's in a shipping container taking up 320 sq. ft.  

 

That's where Chris is at today, but it didn't happen overnight, let's get into it and find out how it all started.

 

For notes related to this episode visit permaculturevoices.com/growmicrogreens.

Direct download: MICRO-E01-2016.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/79

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.

In Woody Agriculture, crops would be planted only once in a lifetime. The use of woody perennials for agricultural staple commodities production would result in little or no use of tillage, as well as the presence of a permanent cover during both the growing and the dormant seasons. Not only would this lead to a vastly lower rate of soil loss and less runoff into water supplies and aquatic environments, but there would be a reduced need for the fossil fuels consumed in plowing and tilling. In addition, use of pesticides needed for the establishment of annual plants could be sharply reduced. A further important benefit would be the reduction of soil compaction, since far fewer trips through the fields with heavy equipment would be required.

Key Takeaways:

Breeding: You cannot work with more than two traits at the same time. The most important trait is to have a population that actually survives.

When you sell products off of your farm (like nuts) you are exporting a lot of minerals. It is important to remineralize your soil. You can use sheep and chickens in hazelnut systems to remineralize and fertilize the soil.

Hickory and Pecan work well with hazelnuts. Chestnuts don't do as well given different soil pH requirements. Find the old timers growing tree species that you want to grow in your area. They may have long tested genetics suited for your area.

Hazels are wind pollinated, so you don't' need immediate close proximity for insect pollination.

Coppicing to the ground every 10 years can help to rejuvenate the plants.

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/79

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.
Direct download: PVP079-REPLAY.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Mycologist and author Peter McCoy of RadicalMycology.com takes on the question - I have been curious how an aspiring homeowner could make prefab parts of their home using mycelium on a straw based substrate? Wouldn't be amazing and incredibly empowering if we could literally grow the walls of our homes? Is this something the average person could realistically pull off?

To learn more about Peter and see all of the ASK Peter episodes visit permaculturevoices.com/peter

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

Direct download: ASKPeter-14-Prefab.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/58

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.

An interview with Phil Rutter of Badgersett Research Corporation.

We talk about why perennial based woody agriculture is important and how chestnuts and hazelnuts fit into that. We also talk a lot about plant breed and using mass selection to find genotypes that have the traits that you are looking for.

This episode is pretty dense and has a ton of information in it for anyone looking to breed plants. Phil is brilliant and I think I learned more about plant breeding my conversations with him than I ever have anywhere else. Given how much information is in this episode and how long this episode is, I have split it into two parts. This is part 2 of 2.

Take it all in, enjoy it, and most importantly do something with this information.

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/58

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.
Direct download: PVP058-REPLAY.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Homesteader Justin Rhodes of AbundantPermaculture.com takes on the question - I have noticed that your kids do a lot of work on the farm, what has been yall's approach to introducing the kids to work and chores on the farm?

To learn more about Justin and see all of the ASK Justin episodes visit permaculturevoices.com/justin.
 
Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support.
Direct download: AskJustin-30-Kids.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/jodi

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support


Curtis is on vacation, so I am joined by bio-intensive farmer Jodi Roebuck.

Jodi's been farming and studying under the originator of the Grow Bio-Intensive form of farming, John Jeavons, for 18 years.

Jodi's well known for using Jeavon's bio-intensive method to build soil. Soil that's deep and loose enough to literally put your arm into up to your elbow.  It's a soil that well known grower JM Fortier has called some of the best soil that he's ever seen.  It's from this rich soil that Jodi farms, growing his own fertility, his own food, saving seeds, and educating the next generation of farmers.

He's traveled the world studying under the masters and visiting a lot farms along the way.  This summer Jodi made a stop in North America where he visited the home farms of both JM Fortier and Curtis.  As a result, he's very familiar with their market gardening style.  The question then becomes how can he apply his knowledge of bio-intensive practices to the context of market farming, and that's where we pick up the conversation today.

Where do the worlds of bio-intensive growing and market gardening collide, and what's possible...

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/jodi

Direct download: TUFS2E32-2016.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/16

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.

Darren Doherty of Heenan Doherty and Regrarians joins me from Australia to fill in some of the gaps surrounding Keyline design.

While the whole Keyline design system is complex and way beyond the scope of this podcast.This episode should give you a brief introduction into what Keyline is, where it can be used, and what it can accomplish. Like all other design systems Keyline isn't the be all, end all, it is another tool in the tool box help design a regenerative landscape.

For those that want to learn more check out Darren's work, some of it below, and P.A. Yeomans books. Darren recommends The Keyline Plan and The Challenge of Landscape.

Keyline design is a foundation of technique and planning using a scale of permanence. It's focus is on reacting to a climate of an environment, a site, and then using the landscape's shape to maximize the possibility of a sustainable, regenerative environment.

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/16

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.
 
Direct download: PVP016-REPLAY.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 2:00am PST

Mycologist and author Peter McCoy of RadicalMycology.com takes on the question - What are your thoughts on the integration of fungi into septic, grey water, swales, and/or other water catchment systems?

To learn more about Peter and see all of the ASK Peter episodes visit permaculturevoices.com/peter.

 
Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support
Direct download: ASKPeter-13-Water.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/57

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.

An interview with Phil Rutter of Badgersett Research Corporation.

We talk about why perennial based woody agriculture is important and how chestnuts and hazelnuts fit into that. We also talk a lot about plant breed and using mass selection to find genotypes that have the traits that you are looking for.

This episode is pretty dense and has a ton of information in it for anyone looking to breed plants. Phil is brilliant and I think I learned more about plant breeding my conversations with him than I ever have anywhere else. Given how much information is in this episode and how long this episode is, I have split it into two parts. This is part 1 of 2.With the second part dropping this Friday, July 11 as episode 58.

Take it all in, enjoy it, and most importantly do something with this information.

Learn more at permaculturevoices.com/57

Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support

THIS EPISODE IS A REPLAY OF PREVIOUS PUBLISHED EPISODE.
Direct download: PVP057-REPLAY.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

Homesteader Justin Rhodes of AbundantPermaculture.com takes on the question - You have been raising turkeys for a few months now - how has it been, and has it been worth it?

To learn more about Justin and see all of the ASK Justin episodes visit permaculturevoices.com/justin.
 
Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support.
Direct download: AskJustin-29-Turkeys.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

 
Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support
 
Today Curtis takes on the question - Let's say you are starting a a new farm.  And I gave you a bunch of land, 15 acres.  All pretty flat, all pretty usable.  How would you go about deciding how much of that land you would farm? We get into the ideas around how much land he would farm and why.
 
 
Support the show at permaculturevoices.com/support
Direct download: TUFS2E31-2016.mp3
Category:permaculture,agriculture,farming -- posted at: 3:00am PST

1