[permaculture] Large scale farming - sustainable? Profitable?

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Tue Dec 22 02:22:15 EST 2009

 From the permies.com farm income forum:
Quote from: Kerrick
(1)Looked at from another direction, however, there's the question of 
whether or not a farm that doesn't turn a profit can be called 
sustainable from a practical standpoint. <...> After all if you don't 
obtain a yield of some kind, it's not sustainable, because you're 
sinking all your resources into a project that you get nothing back 
from. And a farm that relies on only one income stream is as vulnerable 
to changing market forces as a monoculture is to pests and blight.
(2)I'm not yet a permaculturalist or a farmer, but I'm making shifts in 
my life to put this vision of sustainable economy into practice in my 
own life. I'm cutting my costs of living drastically and learning to 
make do with what I can produce myself in as many ways as possible. And 
while I'm learning and working, I'm saving, so that one day, I hope, I 
can have land of my own.
(3)What would a permacultural economy look like to you?
(1)  Any farm can turn a profit with work and luck, and persistence, one 
way or another, whether it be through cropping, forestry,
plant nursery, aquaculture or other enterprise including all the other 
cottage industry categories, including telecommuting (after all you are 
stewarding a piece of land - a good thing, you're a caretaker though you 
derive your income offsite). A farm can be considered sustainable 
regardless of how it pays for itself; your living there is one payback, 
your serving as conservationist of it as a natural resource is a payback 
in the greater sense, certainly contributing to it being part of a 
permacultural economy.
Weather, cropping conditions, timing of farming operations, access and 
availability of marketing opportunities, customer base, personal health 
all have to do with success at making a living off cropping. By 
dramatically diversifying your operation and site resources you broaden 
your income base. That is the essence of sustainability, and 
permaculture. You are making a living on your farm allowing you to 
steward your land as a permaculture site, developing, improving and 
maintaining the systems you have in place so that it becomes 
ecologically richer, able to withstand weather extremes and more self 
sustaining each  year.
(2) I wish you luck in your pursuit of land.
(3) A permacultural economy is one where you have people living on sites 
as described in (1) who cooperate and are economically linked to all 
others doing the same. Consider the concept of individual farms in 
communities of farms adjoining towns and cities forming local nodes, 
which overlap with adjoining similar nodes, which together form regional 
nodes or networks, which overlap with adjoining regional networked nodes 
to form a single national production & services marketing and 
distribution network. That's a permacultural economy, an alternative one 
but robust and fully diversified, eliminating those middlemen from 
outside the network from making a profit off any product or service 
within that network. Provision probably should be made for that to 
happen in a sensible, practical and fair way.
Advocate for a National Permacultural Production and Services Marketing 
and Distribution Network

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