Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

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Hégé
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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:51 am
Location: Somewhere in western europe

Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by Hégé »

(english is not my native language)

Hello,

I'm 20 years old and I'm living in Western Europe. I wanted to hear your feedback on my life situation and its stability for the future.

I'm working in a Permaculture Farm. I have no degrees whatsoever. I finished obligatory school then I decided to study Permaculture. I was very lucky to find a friend who was setting up a big Permaculture project and was ready to pay several people to work with him (big investments on his part, he's looking to make profit in the very very long run). I'm paid 12$/h to work there but there's not a lot of field work right now so I don't earn that much (this will change in the summer). The rest of the time I study Permaculture.

I'm basically spending nothing, I live at my grandmother's house. I bike to work. My parents still pay for my food.

Best of all, I actually have a "artistic" grant which pays for my Permaculture courses. (I have a PDC and I'm going to Sepp Holzer's Farm and to Martin Crawford's Forest Garden)

So, very fortunate situation for now. I'm still worried about the stability of it. The guy I'm working with is known for going into project impusivly and not thinking through everything. He doesn't plan much because he has money and he doesn't need things to really work. If this project fail, I'm a bit worried of what kind of job I can find without any "official" degrees in my hand. (I should also point out that college in my country is almost free).

What do you think of it? Should I just hope for the best and try to find another Permaculture farm to work in if it doesn't work?
And also, if you have any suggestion what courses I could spend that "grant money" on, I'll be very interested to hear them! (I though about doing professional bakery courses, and professional mushroom farming courses)


Thank you,
H.

James_0011
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Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by James_0011 »

If its working for you know, why not stick with it? you could always go to college later if it doesn't work out.

George the original one
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Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by George the original one »

Getting paid for your education while gaining work experience in the same field is a good deal. Your living arrangement makes the low wage significantly better than if you had to pay for rent & food, so I hope you're saving while you can.

On the other hand, once you are certified in permaculture, will your income improve? At the current exchange rate, you're only a little bit (10-15%) above the minimum wage in Oregon.

Another thought is that you should always be looking at other permaculture farms to meet like-minded people. Doesn't mean you have to accept job offers, but at least the people would get a chance to meet you which could lead to something in the future.

Hégé
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Location: Somewhere in western europe

Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by Hégé »

@George
Yes I'm saving almost all of it.
My income will improve because we haven't started selling products yet. It should really go up. He knows I have to make a living with it and knows 12$/h is not nearly enough for that.

So if it's working, it's really good. But you're right that I should build some networking and expose myself more. It's something I have to improve at!

@James
I'm definitly sticking with it, because it seems like a golden opportunity, but it still makes me a bit scared. I'm on an unconventional road in terms of education and work. I guess I'll just go with it 100% and improvise if it doesn't work :D Maybe even go to college as you said, even though it seems unlikely after going down the permaculture route.

Thanks all

daylen
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Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by daylen »

If you are looking to reduce risk of unemployment then consider developing another marketable skill in your spare time. Preferably something that does not relate to permaculture/farming in any way. Diversify income streams.

Hégé
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Location: Somewhere in western europe

Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by Hégé »

daylen wrote:If you are looking to reduce risk of unemployment then consider developing another marketable skill in your spare time. Preferably something that does not relate to permaculture/farming in any way. Diversify income streams.
That's a good idea. Maybe I should invest a small part of my grant money on some courses/certification for something else. Programming, Carpentry,.. I will look into it. Thanks.

WalkOnWildfire
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Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by WalkOnWildfire »

This is a really interesting story. I am fascinated by permaculture but never thought of it as making money for anyone besides those creating courses. I wonder if there are any updates on this!

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figmenter
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Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by figmenter »

@walkonwildfire Check out Richard Perkins channel on Youtube for inspiration.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

"Obtain a yield" is one of the principles of permaculture, but making money is not the purpose of permaculture, because you needn't end up needing to make very much money in a permaculture system. That said, there is a good deal of overlap between permaculture and organic, bio-intensive, systems-based, market gardening. Making money is definitely one of the purposes of market gardening. You can tell by the use of the word "market."

This is roughly analogous to difference between the cusp of businessman/renaissance man vs. renaissance man in ERE.

George the original one
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Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by George the original one »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:57 am
That said, there is a good deal of overlap between permaculture and organic, bio-intensive, systems-based, market gardening.
One of the negative things I've noticed about organic bio-intensive market gardening is that of the half-dozen Youtubers I've watched regularly, only one has managed to avoid regular large inputs of biomass (I Am Organic Gardening). All the others either buy compost (Curtis Stone, for instance) or collect out-of-system materials for compost (Charles Dowding) because the waste of an intensive market garden is insufficient. Those that include animal manure in their operation either outsource the manure or the feed.

So how does I Am Organic Gardening manage it? By using a living mulch under paper and accepting lower yields. Being a one-man operation, he trades power tools (tractor, electricity, mower) for labor.

The other, less negative, thing about the modern market gardener is how they stick to only high-profit produce. Things that can be multi-cropped easily and sell for relatively high prices (lettuce, radish, spinach, microgreens) to make the highest profit from their space. Thus carrots, potatoes, beans, and melons are ignored. Tomatoes may or may not be ignored, depending on local season & market factors.

And finally there is the question of wage. Market gardening is not a path to riches unless you do it on a massive scale and are at the top of the business pyramid!

Which brings us around to the difference between farming and gardening... farming is all about yield and gardening should not be, though profitable market gardeners focus on yield, so choosing the goal and scale are important to success. Basically, it seems to me that profitable market gardening has fallen into the specialist trap that so many adherents would rather avoid.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Stability of Permaculture work as main income?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@George the original one:

I agree that it is boring compared to perma-culture because towards efficient, but part of the problem is that the market gardener does not have access to his customer's waste for his compost. I mean, if you think of market gardening as being akin to community level permaculture, it kind of makes sense to grow mostly greens in urban setting. Then the market garden would be like the surrounding neighborhood's Zone 1 (closest to house area where you can walk out in your bare feet to grab stuff as you are cooking dinner.)

There's really no way to do very intensive planting without inputs to the system, if the produce is primarily consumed by humans, unless human waste is processed back into the system. Otherwise, you are going to need about twice as much land for growing green manure as crops. For example, if you plant legumes to fix nitrogen, but you harvest and feed all the beans to humans, there is not a whole lot of extra nitrogen left behind. So, I would suggest that if an urban market gardener collects neighborhood grass clippings to add to his compost or sandwich mulching, that's about as closed cycle as he can get given reality of "modern" sanitation codes.

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