[permaculture] cash crops

Jennifer Nazak jnazak at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 5 00:58:17 EST 2012

Offhand, I would say that if you (and by "you", I mean not just you but anyone else, me included) are experiencing a conflict between "making a living off the land" and "permaculture", I suspect that there are some opportunities you're overlooking to integrate permaculture design principles into your growing practices, farm layout, etc. 

A frequent design error is trying to farm on too large a scale. All too often, this excessively large scale (of the farm or other operation) is dictated by way-too-high overhead. 

Most permaculture folk are pretty good at reducing their household and business overhead, but there are three stubborn areas where even permies have trouble reducing household overhead. Those are 1) mortgage; 2) children's college tuition; 3) medical bills. Do whatever it takes to eliminate these albatrosses (or drastically reduce them), and you will be able to downsize your farm or other land-based enterprise to a more manageable, more human scale and have a better chance at making a living off the land without wearing yourself out.

In addition to cutting overhead: Don't forget to explore value-added offerings as a means of increasing your land-based income. Don't just sell tomatoes - make salsa. Don't just sell milk - offer ice cream in really creative flavors using ingredients specific to your bioregion. Create a product that your community will clamor for. Either find a demand or (by coming up with an irresistibly delicious recipe) make one.

Also: team up with other households in your neighborhood. Share equipment; sell off duplicate tractors etc. Sharing is a time-honored permaculture strategy, often overlooked even by permies because our American consumerist indoctrination encourages us to forget it. Sometimes the simplest and most low-tech measures end up paying the largest dividends. Plain, good ol'-fashioned sharing is a prime example.

If you're experiencing a conflict between your permaculture practice and any other area of your site (or your life), it could be a sign that you're overlooking opportunities to apply permaculture design principles to those "other areas."
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Jenny Nazak 
Austin Permaculture Guild  
 Use permaculture design to optimize your life and "Work SMART, not hard." 

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