How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

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cmonkey
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How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by cmonkey » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:57 am

I'd be willing to bet this guy is in the INTJ vein. He mentions the 80/20 rule and talks in a very analytical way. Good stuff.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by thrifty++ » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:32 pm

Thanks CMonkey. This is an awesome video. I love stories like this which demonstrate the freedom we have to choose to do random things to get by. Quite empowering and inspiring to see other people exercising such options.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by enigmaT120 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:51 pm

When I saw the title I was afraid it would be about the pot growers on national forest land in Northern California. I'm glad it's not about them.

JL13
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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by JL13 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:27 pm

Great link, I ordered the book.

I know I'll need to get some knowledge of growing food in the near future, but I find the topic so dreadfully boring. Hopefully this will spark some interest.

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jennypenny
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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by jennypenny » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:41 pm

enigmaT120 wrote:When I saw the title I was afraid it would be about the pot growers on national forest land in Northern California. I'm glad it's not about them.
Haha ... John's (the host's) house was searched because they suspected him of growing pot. (see here) I thought it was a lark until I saw him discussing it on several other outlets and wondered if he doth protest too much.

I like his youtube channel. I think I've watched all of his videos.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by vexed87 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:17 pm

This book was on my wish list, now I ordered it... :D Inspiring.

Cannot wait for spring...

ffj
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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by ffj » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:56 pm

Does anybody already have the book? I'm a little skeptical to be honest about the numbers. In the video he mentions growing radishes, lettuce and arrugula, and baby carrots. Does he have a bunch of high-end restaurants around him that pay premium prices?

I would till up my entire yard if I could replicate those numbers, and I own an acre. I just can't imagine making that kind of money for what vegetables cost around here. It's sort of the same with these chickens I own. I can sell a dozen eggs for 3 or 4 dollars but by the time you average the cost of feed and down-time when they don't lay at all, plus raising them for six months before they lay their first egg, the money is about break-even at best.

He does sound really interesting though.

JL13
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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by JL13 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:25 pm

i'm not sure about the figures. I assume that it's revenues (not net). Bourgey whole foods neighborhood + careful planning/crop selection + labor. It may be more anecdotal. Just like it's possible to secure a far below market lease if you find a little old lady renting out a room, it's not available to everyone everywhere.

Once I get through the book i'll give some critical analysis. I can forward it onto you after I read it if you're interested.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by JL13 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:32 pm

On one hand, yes it does sound a little farfetched. Actually IIRC in the video the guy claims $75k, not $100k. And when you figure that that's revenues AND he's got multiple years of entrepreneurial experience/expertice AND we're talking Canadian dollar AND we're talking HCOL area....it may not be so impressive.

On the other hand, do you remember what IT was like in the 90's? College dropouts who could code HTML were partying on NYC rooftops with supermodels during IPO parties. This may be an industry that's experiencing a total vacuum.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by theanimal » Sat Feb 06, 2016 12:09 am

This is the same guy who was interviewed by Joshua Sheats twice on Radical Personal Finance. He goes into his numbers a lot more on there. His initial expenses starting out were $7k. I remember the figure from the first year being $20k, not sure if it was net or revenue. That continued to dramatically increase and I believe at his height he was pulling in something like $400,000 in annual revenue. He cut back though because it was too much work. He has 1 or 2 hired workers that help him out, but besides that his expenses are near 0. I remember him saying somewhere that people lease their yards to him for just a few hundred dollars/year or for just some veggies in exchange. The bulk of his food is sold directly to restaurants and then some of these people also run CSAs. Do note that he lives in a rather large area. I believe more than 100k people. This would be very difficult to replicate in a small town.

The whole concept of this market gardening is focusing on high yield vegetables. You aren't going to see any of these guys selling potatoes. Things like microgreens besides high yield veggies are popular too.

I find it quite impressive.

Note:This is all from memory and I didn't watch the video.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by steveo73 » Sat Feb 06, 2016 4:24 am

I liked that one. I can't see myself doing it but I'd love to grow more to eat.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:07 am

This is one of the 8 models I am copy-chopping into my plan. As others have noted above, his business revenue/profit model is almost exactly analogous to my experience as a rare book dealer. He is serving the micro-niche wants of an affluent market, not the caloric-survival needs of the mass market. Salad created from locally grown goumi berries and micro-arugula = "The Otherness of Self: A Genealogy of Self in Contemporary China" and "Jan Tschichold: Typographer" (last two books I auto-pilot sold to buyers in Moscow and San Francisco.) The income derived from over $100,000 in revenue, even in a business with low overhead and high profit margin, is significantly less. Also, you will quickly come to the realization that you are earning $30/hr. for some of your business activities (maybe marketing in this example) and $5/hr. for some of your other business activities (maybe tarp maintenance in this example.)

That cautionary note offered, some of the things I really like or admire about his method/model are his use of soil blocks, stacked functioning in greenhouse, bike trailer transportation, washing machine as spinner, flame weeder, tilther, hard-pruning, frequent harvesting, crop rotation relationship to urban perma-culture zone, and sketch-up as design tool. My overall plan is more like a cross between the model offered in "Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City." and the classic potager model. IOW, it is my intention to incorporate many more perennials and principles of perma-culture and, also to create a very pretty space in the city. Plastic tarp as mulch or ground cover-blech.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by ffj » Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:40 pm

O.K., I watched this video which explained everything much more clearly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adW3GCQGHug

What stuck me is that the food he is growing is very easy to grow, and that apparently there is a huge demand for greens in his area. I'm sure his marketing has something to do with the latter. I still am very curious what his overhead costs are and what kind of profit margin exists. The greenhouses, crop covers, water fees, irrigation systems, walk in coolers, gardening tools, etc. have their costs and even though he has greatly simplified and multi-purposed his plots these are real costs to be dealt with. I am just really curious how lean the margin is between sales and profit, and if the business model would hold up to scrutiny if all factors were analyzed. I hate to be cynical with these types, but it seems to me many of them are in the business of selling books or holding workshops or speaking at paid conferences more so than what they are purporting to be wildly successful at.

I really like his model however and I really hope it is all true. And his efficiencies are fairly impressive too.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by SimpleLife » Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:35 pm

Yeah, I'd like to see a tax return. Anyone can claim that they make 100K a year selling trinkets made only from empty toilet paper rolls in their spare time from home, upload the video and make money off the "people" who blindly believe everything they are told without any evidence to support it. Also, not sure about Canada, but here in the US you typically have to be licensed to sell food.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by theanimal » Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:45 pm

It is profit, not revenue.

For those who haven't heard this before:Interview with Curtis Stone on Radical Personal Finance

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Ego
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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by Ego » Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:40 pm

I love this story and would really love for it to be true, but my bullshit detector was going off throughout.

"So the first year I was at a quarter acre, I turned about $7K investment into $22K gross profit that year and then I doubled that profit every year for four years. "

That would mean he made $176,000 in PROFIT in year four. He said he had 8 full time staff that year and then goes on to say that it was way too much work for the amount he was taking home. What would be the minimum cost of 8 full time staff in Canada? What kind of revenue would he have to have to support those staffing costs? Hum....

Fast and loose with profit vs revenue?

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by subgard » Sun Feb 07, 2016 10:24 am

A little arithmetic.

1/4 of an acre = 10890 square feet.
Assume that only 70% can actually be planted, due to walking paths, etc. 7623 square feet left.
For simplicity, assume a mono-culture of radishes.
Radishes can be planted 16 per square foot, and have a very high germination rate. An assumption of 12 mature radishes per square foot is actually pretty low.
Radishes (depending on variety) mature in 30 days.
Let's be conservative, and assume a 45 day turnaround. In a 6 month season, that's 4 crops.
7623x12x4=365904 radishes in a season.
365904/$22000 profit=16.6.
A dollar of profit for every 16.6 radishes produced.
If these were high-end organic radishes, that might be possible.
So, the figures are actually on the edge of believability.

The figures become more believable if you assume higher productivity per square foot (possible), a quicker turnaround than 45 days (very possible), and a longer radish-growing season (had a 7-8 month season, I think).

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by SimpleLife » Sun Feb 07, 2016 10:53 am

Would you like to make MILLIONS from your kitchen table, buying flipping real estate with no money down, no experience and no risk?

Just buy my book...that I make money from...

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by ffj » Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:15 pm

@subgard

This is where I am having my doubts. I couldn't find stats for Canada but I found this: http://www.statista.com/statistics/2573 ... s-by-type/. Three or four hundred thousand radishes is a lot of consumption for a city the size of Keolowna http://www.kelowna.ca/CM/Page67.aspx. That doesn't even take into consideration other organic growers or outside suppliers. Remember, he does everything from a bicycle.

Yes, one can grow a lot of radishes very easily. Some people use them for cover crops. The question remains whether the demand is there and if your price point per bunch creates the profit he is alluding to. And even though he has fairly low overhead costs, which I am impressed by, they still exist.

I could be wrong about all of this, but I think he is exaggerating his profit margins. That's not to say however, one couldn't make a fine living replicating his model, but throwing out triple digit profit figures has me wondering what else he is exaggerating about.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by JL13 » Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:19 pm

I'm leaning towards believable. Remember we're talking CAD in a high cost area and he said "$75,000" not $100,000.

Starting salary for an engineer in Calgary is $62,000. http://talentegg.ca/incubator/2014/09/1 ... -edition/

All you have to do is go to college for 4 years. How many years do you think this guy worked on this project? Certainly more than 4. He didn't say that he spend a month putting it together and now sits on his ass collecting money.

If you don't think you can invest thousands of hours into a project over a few years and earn $75,000/year, then I think you're overly pessimistic. I earn ~$75k/year and I didn't have to work too hard to get here. I DEFINITELY did less work than this guy.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:48 pm

Let's cut the guy some slack. He's a farmer, not a financial analyst. For sake of comparison, using rough rounded figures, I started my used-rare book business with an initial investment of $8000. By the 4th year I was in business, I had taken on my sister as a partner, and we were both working around 30 hours/ week and we also employed about 20 hours of minimum wage paid teen labor each week. My sister and I were both able to pull close to $30,000 in income, so I might have said that the business was making around $60,000 in profit. Based on the videos, Curtis Stone has at least 10 times my level of chi, so I believe it when he says that he and his partners (fairly likely his business is run on a co-operative model) were able to take that much as a combined draw.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality of the life of a free market entrepreneur is that all strictly defined enterprises follow an S-curve. There's start-up inertia and ignorance that limits profits initially, then if you are going to succeed, you experience a fast upward rise, then others catch on and enter the competition and saturation begins to limit your profits. (This is a very simplified, not very accurate or complete description of the phenomena.) When you don't understand this reality, your initial reaction when your profits start flattening out might be to do "more of the same" or just work harder or more efficiently. This does not work, for reasons that are obvious if you even half understand the S curve. What does work, as can be seen by the examples offered by corporations that have survived for a very long time, is to step back away from your enterprise and reconsider your products and your markets on broader terms. For instance, it is easier to maintain profitability if you describe your business as "provider of novel, organic ingredients" rather than "micro-arugula farm."

I would also note that there are plenty of confirmed highly successful business people who have written and sold books about their experience. It's kind of a natural human tendency to want to share your success in that manner. Not all books in the genre of "how to make money" are worth reading, but they're not predominately just-blocks-in-a-pyramid-scheme either.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by ffj » Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:52 pm

@J

I think part of the problem also is that some are claiming it's profit and some are claiming it's revenue. Which is it and what is the amount? We've heard 75,000, 100,000, 176,000, and 400,000. Again, which is it? The fact that this guy isn't really clarifying this is troublesome.

So let's go with 75,000 CAD net revenue. That would be 53,894 U.S. dollars. What is the net income? I have no idea as we don't know his operating costs and we don't know the number of hours worked. So ultimately we don't know if this is a good model to follow if we wanted to replicate it, and that is the problem I am having with this conversation.

I have to say though I like what he is doing, but much like this guy, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7BgtCqcEP0, it's easy to fall in love with the idea, but much harder to execute when tough questions are asked.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by ffj » Sun Feb 07, 2016 12:59 pm

@ 7

Yes, so now that everyone in BC knows that growing radishes and lettuce is highly profitable, then the competition will drive prices down quickly.

I think this guy knows he had a good run, that it won't last forever, and he branching out to lectures, books, and workshops. Smart guy, but that doesn't mean I should plow my yard up to grow radishes.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:12 pm

@ffj- Right, likely not the time to seek high radish profits in BC. I also wouldn't recommend 2016 as a great time to start dealing in rare books on the internet-lol. BUT (note the caps), that doesn't mean that Curtis Stone is out to deceive anybody. Was Joe Dominguez trying to run a scam with his very strong suggestion that treasury bonds would be the best investment choice for secure passive income? Should somebody who hasn't actually read Jacob's book, suggest that he is a scammer if the world-wide lentil crop fails? It's like reading a story problem in a 1950s algebra text and faulting it for imagining a correct answer of 20 apples purchased for $1. The thing that I like the best about Jacob's book is that it he attempts to keep his discussion more in the realm of wide theory rather than specific practice, so that it can be more universally applicable. However, that does not mean that somebody who offers up their specific practice or experience as an example is a liar if it can not be universally applied or infinitely extended.

IMO and actual experience, the rational conclusion that a person who read 20 well-recommended books on the topic of frugality and 20 well-recommended books on the topic of a variety of forms/experiences with entrepreneurial self-employment, might come away with is that it is very possible with a little bit of hustle and flexibility to support yourself in a semi-extreme frugal lifestyle as an entrepreneur or self-employed-small-business-person.

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Re: How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don't Own

Post by JL13 » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:17 pm

Ah the book just arrived today and I finished the preface which is essentially his story. No accounting details but $75,000 is described at his "gross profit" while working 40 hours/week during the on season and working till 2pm on the off season. I believe the profit is net of one part time employee. He spend the better part of 2 years intensely studying permaculture and farming and talking to everyone about it. His first year he worked 100 hours per week and made $22,000.

While getting the first plot ready, he went around to restaurants collecting compost a la pedaltopetal (he actually got the idea from our own ERE forum member). This generated a buzz and people came by the plots to talk to him and eventually local news ran a story or two about him. When a very prominent local chef started ordering from him for his restaurants, many more restaurants jumped on. These ended up being his most profitable clients so he cut out the other sources (CSAs, and many farmer's markets).

His story definitely has a lot of struggle in it. Lots of hours worked, and lots of hours researching. I would guess that (hold on I haven't even read the full book yet) the main reasons for his success are:

1.) Intense knowledge
2.) de-commodification of the product (not selling bulk to farmers markets but selling a special type of product to restaurants)
3.) Use of waste streams (picking up compost for free rather than paying for fertilizer)
4.) Automatic promotion - picking up compost got the word out, new stories did the rest (no ad $$ needed)
5.) Minimization of assets (using other people's land, human powered delivery bike, etc)

It is definitely inspiring and interesting. But the message appears to be a "you can be a part of the solution and not the problem" and definitely NOT "you can be rich doing this".

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