Tropical Fruit Forum - International Tropical Fruit Growers



Author Topic: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)  (Read 6452 times)

nattyfroootz

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 137
    • Woodside/Santa Cruz CA
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2017, 05:33:02 PM »
I might be coming into land some land soon and have been thinking about how I would try and integrate my philosophy onto the land.  I'm a huge believer that supporting native ecosystems is the most valuable thing you can do. I remember reading a study showing that only like 15-20% of native species were capable of feeding or using exotic introduced species.  I've been researching Native cover crop species and native clover species that have been overlooked for their easier to grow European counterparts. 
Might be worth it to see what is native, what grows in your area and what could be a native alternative to introduced invasive species.

pineislander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1265
    • Bokeelia, FL
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2017, 06:48:24 AM »
For nitrogen fixers you should probably do a mix of all of the species available. You can use them for different purposes, short term like pigeon pea which also produce an edible, long term like gliricidia and calliandra work well for living fences. Yes Leucaena can be weedy if you don't cut & let it seed but you will have it on every farm anyways, along with guinea grass, whether you like it or not. Perennial peanut is a low ground cover but probably won't provide significant chop/drop biomass, has it's place in paths and can eventually dominate out weeds.

Don't underestimate the need for some equipment. Without it some jobs will take forever using a wheelbarrow. A front-end loader around 20-25 HP lifts, dumps and carries 3-4 wheelbarrow loads at a trip with no effort leaving you free and untired for other jobs.
With a few attachments like scraper, tiller, and bush hog you can easily do jobs in minutes which would take days or be nearly impossible otherwise. You may have to go to the US but can probably assemble this set of equipment for about $10,000, less than most people pay for a car. Once bought you can pay for it by hiring out your skills at pretty good rates. A good Kubota tractor is good for 20-30 years. Mine is 1980 running strong after many thousands of hours. 

Tropicdude

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2096
    • Dominican Republic, Zone 13B.
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #27 on: June 27, 2017, 12:24:36 PM »
PFAF   Plants for a future

Has a very useful Database of plants I have spent hours using this,  detailed information on 1000s of plants. and their uses.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx
William
" The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.....The second best time, is now ! "

FrankDrebinOfFruits

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
    • Kauai, HI 12A
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #28 on: June 27, 2017, 02:01:11 PM »
For nitrogen fixers you should probably do a mix of all of the species available. You can use them for different purposes, short term like pigeon pea which also produce an edible, long term like gliricidia and calliandra work well for living fences. Yes Leucaena can be weedy if you don't cut & let it seed but you will have it on every farm anyways, along with guinea grass, whether you like it or not. Perennial peanut is a low ground cover but probably won't provide significant chop/drop biomass, has it's place in paths and can eventually dominate out weeds.

Don't underestimate the need for some equipment. Without it some jobs will take forever using a wheelbarrow. A front-end loader around 20-25 HP lifts, dumps and carries 3-4 wheelbarrow loads at a trip with no effort leaving you free and untired for other jobs.
With a few attachments like scraper, tiller, and bush hog you can easily do jobs in minutes which would take days or be nearly impossible otherwise. You may have to go to the US but can probably assemble this set of equipment for about $10,000, less than most people pay for a car. Once bought you can pay for it by hiring out your skills at pretty good rates. A good Kubota tractor is good for 20-30 years. Mine is 1980 running strong after many thousands of hours.

Lots of truth. I went through 5 wheelbarrows in 4 years, and I wheelbarrowed my back out. Bulging disk. The spinal doctor says my back scan looks like someone 20 years older than my age. Its the age of machines, time for me to bite the bullet and get one sooner rather than later.

Doug

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 241
    • Turrialba Costa Rica
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #29 on: June 29, 2017, 07:22:57 PM »
Caesar....I assume you are in contact with others in Puerto Rico who have the same goals as you? That seems like the obvious route to finding out the info and answers that you seek. I was looking on Google, and there does seem to be interest in permaculture in PR.

tanfenton

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 24
    • United States, FL, Palm City, 10A
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2017, 09:45:34 AM »
Caesar,

I'm assuming you are already aware of Eric Toensmeier and his work, but if you aren't, I would HIGHLY recommended pursuing his book The Carbon Farming Solution. This work could be a game-changer for you, and Eric himself will write you back--given enough time--if you formulate a thoughtful e-mail to him.

I would also recommend leaning on the resource of ECHO, in terms of both seeds and knowledge. They have an authoritative library of documents regarding tropical agriculture and a helpful staff willing to assist you in finding what you need. Although small, their physical library at their Durrance Road location contains invaluable resources. If you visit Ft. Myers with a purpose of researching particular crops, copy and scribe all that you can from this material!

Nathaniel

Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #31 on: July 01, 2017, 04:14:32 PM »
I have been reading here for a long time and was happy to just read but I can share regarding your question on quail :)

I have a mini permaculture style farm where we just grow food for us and a few friends. It's not serious, just for fun. I run a few of these tractors for quail. Currently working on mk11 versions though to fix some issues with these. The birds do great in tractors on a small scale, this doesn't necessarily translate to the scale you would need for profit though.

If you want details - http://boobookfarm.com/quail-tractor-build/


It looks like a good system, though I would like to up-size the cages. It's not a battery cage, but it still seems kinda small for them. As for profits, I don't think I'll be getting into animals for profit; more likely, I'll be dealing with them as a matter of personal interest, or as a small-scale artisanal product source. There'll be a lot of stuff in the farm that won't be profitable, because the point isn't to only sell profitable stuff, or to handle everything I have on a profitable scale; the point is for the farm on the whole to yield an ordinary bill-paying paycheck, but not every component will participate in that. There will be a few "moneymaker" crops grown in quantity to bear the economic weight of the farm, and the rest will be maintained for personal consumption, artisanal production, and experimentation.


I might be coming into land some land soon and have been thinking about how I would try and integrate my philosophy onto the land.  I'm a huge believer that supporting native ecosystems is the most valuable thing you can do. I remember reading a study showing that only like 15-20% of native species were capable of feeding or using exotic introduced species.  I've been researching Native cover crop species and native clover species that have been overlooked for their easier to grow European counterparts. 
Might be worth it to see what is native, what grows in your area and what could be a native alternative to introduced invasive species.


I looked into native N-fixing groundcovers. I couldn't find much, unfortunately, but it sounds like a good idea. I'll keep my eye out for further information. As for the rest of the ecosystem, I do have a book on native flowers that I might grow for the pollinators.


For nitrogen fixers you should probably do a mix of all of the species available. You can use them for different purposes, short term like pigeon pea which also produce an edible, long term like gliricidia and calliandra work well for living fences. Yes Leucaena can be weedy if you don't cut & let it seed but you will have it on every farm anyways, along with guinea grass, whether you like it or not. Perennial peanut is a low ground cover but probably won't provide significant chop/drop biomass, has it's place in paths and can eventually dominate out weeds.

Don't underestimate the need for some equipment. Without it some jobs will take forever using a wheelbarrow. A front-end loader around 20-25 HP lifts, dumps and carries 3-4 wheelbarrow loads at a trip with no effort leaving you free and untired for other jobs.
With a few attachments like scraper, tiller, and bush hog you can easily do jobs in minutes which would take days or be nearly impossible otherwise. You may have to go to the US but can probably assemble this set of equipment for about $10,000, less than most people pay for a car. Once bought you can pay for it by hiring out your skills at pretty good rates. A good Kubota tractor is good for 20-30 years. Mine is 1980 running strong after many thousands of hours.


I like the combo idea. And, I think I'll give Leucaena a shot; it makes sense that it wouldn't spread too much under chop 'n' drop. Pigeon pea is BIG in local markets, so it's pretty high up in my list of crops. But would it bear well under a chop 'n' drop regimen?

The light tractor is definitely a done decision now. It'll be a big help while managing the farm on my own, and even if/when I start adding people into the project. I'll look into what's locally available, to see if I find something to fit my needs. If not, I'll check out what's available stateside.


PFAF   Plants for a future

Has a very useful Database of plants I have spent hours using this,  detailed information on 1000s of plants. and their uses.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx


I've actually found a few obscure species with that. Perhaps it'll have something on N-fixers. I'll check it out.


Lots of truth. I went through 5 wheelbarrows in 4 years, and I wheelbarrowed my back out. Bulging disk. The spinal doctor says my back scan looks like someone 20 years older than my age. Its the age of machines, time for me to bite the bullet and get one sooner rather than later.


 :o Dang! This pretty much cements my decision. I already had one hernia (not in the spine, thank God), I'm definitely not eager for worse damage. I'm getting that tractor.


Caesar....I assume you are in contact with others in Puerto Rico who have the same goals as you? That seems like the obvious route to finding out the info and answers that you seek. I was looking on Google, and there does seem to be interest in permaculture in PR.


They mostly call it "Agroecología" over here. Utuado University was definitely in touch with the concept, but I'll be honest, I don't get out much since finishing University. I'm not entirely sure who else to reach out to, besides the people mentioned here.


Caesar,

I'm assuming you are already aware of Eric Toensmeier and his work, but if you aren't, I would HIGHLY recommended pursuing his book The Carbon Farming Solution. This work could be a game-changer for you, and Eric himself will write you back--given enough time--if you formulate a thoughtful e-mail to him.

I would also recommend leaning on the resource of ECHO, in terms of both seeds and knowledge. They have an authoritative library of documents regarding tropical agriculture and a helpful staff willing to assist you in finding what you need. Although small, their physical library at their Durrance Road location contains invaluable resources. If you visit Ft. Myers with a purpose of researching particular crops, copy and scribe all that you can from this material!

Nathaniel


I'm only mildly familiar, but I had glimpsed the book, and it seemed like pure gold. I just checked it out, and it's available on amazon, so I'm putting in an order for it.

I do have some ECHO documents stored away, as well as some questions to ask about them, so I'll be contacting them soon. I checked them out just now, and they have loads more stuff than I first realized, so I'll be storing every relevant document that I can find.



I'm still waiting on the call (which should happen no earlier than Wednesday), but I've been told my paperwork seems promising, and that no one else has turned in any paperwork, so here's hoping they'll concede a plot of land. With any luck, it'll all start before year's end.

Ulfr

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 243
    • Brisbane Australia
    • View Profile
    • Practical Primate
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2017, 07:31:54 PM »
Each of the bays is bigger than it looks (3ft x 2ft) but I'm also moving to larger ones with the mk11. The problem with going too large in a quail tractor is that you need to be able to catch te little buggers :)

Balaman

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 25
    • Australia
    • View Profile
    • iplantz
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #33 on: July 02, 2017, 12:56:40 AM »
PFAF   Plants for a future

Has a very useful Database of plants I have spent hours using this,  detailed information on 1000s of plants. and their uses.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx


The focus of the www.pfaf.org website is temperate plants. For tropical and subtropical plants visit http://www.iplantz.com/. Granted they have fewer plants, but the information is better researched.

As with any farming venture, deciding what plants to cultivate should start with what market you're trying to serve and what opportunities exist in that market. For example, if your farm is on a tropical island that is visited by tourists you may want to consider that market, in terms of supplying food to hotels and restaurants that serve the market. However, relying solely on the tourist market has it drawbacks, not least of which is that it is seasonal. So targeting other markets is essential. These may include local supermarkets, the restaurant and catering trades, or even the export market. Example of products that could be supplied to each market:

Tourist market: Fresh fruit, veg and herbs (e.g. Papaya, Exotic citrus such as Finger lime, Buddha's hand, Exotic fresh herbs such as Epazote, Cuban oregano, Saw-toothed clintro, Edible flowers etc); Value add product: Sugar cane swizzle sticks; Juice of sour orange for marinades and bar drinks, etc.) The idea here is to focus on niche produce that grow well in the area and can be produced with consistent quality, supplied quickly and is preferably organic. Niche produce means you are producing small quantities of an exotic product, so that you're not competing against large commercial operations with their economies of scale. Even large hotels buy small quantities of some product, in some cases to serve specialist restaurants within their overall offering. For example, my uncle used to grow a very large papaya variety on a quarter acre block and sold all papaya to a few large hotels in Montego Bay. Why did large hotels buy small quantities of a large papaya? They made great display items when carved. They were not for eating.

Local markets: Product may be similar to the tourist market but with supply not restricted to the winter tourist season. This means, for example, fresh herbs that can be produced and supplied in the winter as well as throughout the humid summer months. This has implications for what is selected to be cultivated, as not all culinary herbs do well in both the dry winter and humid summer season. And don't forget Farmers Markets, these are springing up everywhere. The list goes on..  P.S. There is also the possibility of producing honey from nectar producing plants in your area, single floral or multi-floral.

Export market: Dried fruit, Dried herbs, Dried spices, Dried flowers, Essential oils to name a few and all organically grown. Dried, organically grown produce is in high demand, is cost effective to transport and has a long shelf-life. Here are a few essential oil yielding plants to consider: http://www.iplantz.com/search/?sortBy=botanicalName&facetFilter%5BiDictUseRawMaterial%5D%5B%5D=Essential+oil

There are many other market segments, but each needs to be researched and evaluated.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 09:33:30 PM by Balaman »

Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2017, 05:07:49 PM »
Each of the bays is bigger than it looks (3ft x 2ft) but I'm also moving to larger ones with the mk11. The problem with going too large in a quail tractor is that you need to be able to catch te little buggers :)


Well, catching is half the fun! But yeah, I can see how that might be a problem. I was hoping to tame them to some degree, though I'm not sure how feasible that is. Tame quail don't run, or at least that's what I hoped.


PFAF   Plants for a future

Has a very useful Database of plants I have spent hours using this,  detailed information on 1000s of plants. and their uses.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx


The focus of the www.pfaf.org website is temperate plants. For tropical and subtropical plants visit http://www.iplantz.com/. Granted they have fewer plants, but the information is better researched.

As with any farming venture, deciding what plants to cultivate should start with what market you're trying to serve and what opportunities exist in that market. For example, if your farm is on a tropical island that is visited by tourists you may want to consider that market, in terms of supplying food to hotels and restaurants that serve the market. However, relying solely on the tourist market has it drawbacks, not least of which is that it is seasonal. So targeting other markets is essential. These may include local supermarkets, the restaurant and catering trades, or even the export market. Example of products that could be supplied to each market:

Tourist market: Fresh fruit, veg and herbs (e.g. Papaya, Exotic citrus such as Finger lime, Buddha's hand, Exotic fresh herbs such as Epazote, Cuban oregano, Saw-toothed clintro, Edible flowers etc); Value add product: Sugar cane swizzle sticks; Juice of sour orange for marinades and bar drinks, etc.) The idea here is to focus on niche produce that grow well in the area and can be produced with consistent quality, supplied quickly and is preferably organic. Niche produce means you are producing small quantities of an exotic product, so that you're not competing against large commercial operations with their economies of scale. Even large hotels buy small quantities of some product, in some cases to serve specialist restaurants within their overall offering. For example, my uncle used to grow a very large papaya variety on a quarter acre block and sold all papaya to a few large hotels in Montego Bay. Why did large hotels buy small quantities of a large papaya? They made great display items when carved. They were not for eating.

Local markets: Product may be similar to the tourist market but with supply not restricted to the winter tourist season. This means, for example, fresh herbs that can be produced and supplied in the winter as well as throughout the humid summer months. This has implications for what is selected to be cultivated, as not all culinary herbs do well in both the dry winter and humid summer season. And don't forget Farmers Markets, these are springing up everywhere. The list goes on..  P.S. There is also the possibility of producing honey from nectar producing plants in your area, single floral or multi-floral.

Export market: Dried fruit, Dried herbs, Dried spices, Dried flowers, Essential oils to name a few and all organically grown. Dried, organically grown produce is in high demand, is cost effective to transport and has a long shelf-life. Here are a few essential oil yielding plants to consider: http://www.iplantz.com/search/?sortBy=botanicalName&facetFilter%5BiDictUseRawMaterial%5D%5B%5D=Essential+oil

There are many other market segments, but each needs to be researched and evaluated.



Duly noted, I've bookmarked the sources for reference.

That's really good advice, and while I thought about extra markets, I hadn't considered them in full. Essentially, my crop list was mostly focused on local markets (especially tiers 1-3 of plants, and tiers 1 & 2 of tree crops). Everything that was included but fell past those tiers was essentially included for me to experiment with, but I get the feeling a lot of it might be useful for the tourism and exportation niches (and even the crops from the local tiers). I had also considered value added products (someone once told me they were an advantage to the farmer), and with my list of crops, possibilities for them abound, but as they require more resources to manage (equipment, mostly) and come into play after the farm is already established, I haven't decided in full just how to handle that part yet. I'm mostly in the brainstorming area with that. Sofrito and other such condiments are a given, jams and jellies are a possibility. Fritters, confectionery, flours and other stuff have also been considered. For now, I'm waiting to see how it all turns out. I'm still waiting on the call.

kmwilli6

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 11
    • USA, FL, Tampa, 9
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #35 on: July 17, 2017, 10:30:22 PM »
Hello Caesar,

I have been following this thread and I am very interested in what you are doing. I myself am starting a food forest project right now and will post about it in the coming months.

As for food forests, the best reference I have found is a Geoff Lawton film called Establishing a Food Forest. In the first 15 minutes he really breaks down the concept and how it is implemented through space and time (google "Geoff Lawton establishing a food forest" and you will find the film). It is an excellent film well worth watching.

Something to add if it applies, but if you have the invasive brazilian pepper like I do, you can make biochar from it instead of just burning it or disposing of it otherwise. I hear biochar is invaluable, but have not yet used it.

Hope this helps and I'm excited to see how your project grows!

Kevin

mangomike

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 184
    • USA California
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #36 on: July 22, 2017, 09:49:35 PM »
 I would also agree with others that the use of heavy equipment to install all your earthworks as a first step is essential, especially in rainy tropical climates prone to erosion. The cost for this should be factored into your down payment. Once that is done a small walking tractor can be an essential and very scale-appropriate tool; see the videos at https://earthtoolsbcs.com to get an understanding of how much labor these implements can  save over hand tools. I have used some of these attachments (cultivator,chipper) when I had my own farm and was able to work several acres of vegetables with only 1 part-time helper; would have been impossible with hand tools. I didn't experience any ground compaction in the three years I was on this site (I heavily ripped it with a D-9 prior to planting however).

Good luck on your project and keep the forum posted!


Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #37 on: July 26, 2017, 11:05:44 PM »
Hello Caesar,

I have been following this thread and I am very interested in what you are doing. I myself am starting a food forest project right now and will post about it in the coming months.

As for food forests, the best reference I have found is a Geoff Lawton film called Establishing a Food Forest. In the first 15 minutes he really breaks down the concept and how it is implemented through space and time (google "Geoff Lawton establishing a food forest" and you will find the film). It is an excellent film well worth watching.

Something to add if it applies, but if you have the invasive brazilian pepper like I do, you can make biochar from it instead of just burning it or disposing of it otherwise. I hear biochar is invaluable, but have not yet used it.

Hope this helps and I'm excited to see how your project grows!

Kevin

Hi Kevin! I look forward to reading about your own project. I hope you've found my thread as useful as I've found the answers to be. This website is pure gold.

I did a preliminary search and failed to find said film, but I'm gonna dig deeper as soon as I'm able. I haven't been able to read up on the latest info 'cause of family issues (no drama though). But I hope to throw myself into this work after summer's done. I was actually hoping to have an answer when next I posted, but they've yet to call me back regarding the land. I'll be visiting their offices soon, to check up.

I had initially thought to compost whatever local weedy trees I got, but if I get a charcoal drum up and running early, that'll definitely be my preferred choice.


I would also agree with others that the use of heavy equipment to install all your earthworks as a first step is essential, especially in rainy tropical climates prone to erosion. The cost for this should be factored into your down payment. Once that is done a small walking tractor can be an essential and very scale-appropriate tool; see the videos at https://earthtoolsbcs.com to get an understanding of how much labor these implements can  save over hand tools. I have used some of these attachments (cultivator,chipper) when I had my own farm and was able to work several acres of vegetables with only 1 part-time helper; would have been impossible with hand tools. I didn't experience any ground compaction in the three years I was on this site (I heavily ripped it with a D-9 prior to planting however).

Good luck on your project and keep the forum posted!

The heavy equipment will come curtesy of the municipality (I would assume for a fee). Thanks for the link, by the way, saved it. They got some pretty interesting tools in there. I had thought about a UTV with attachments for long term farm maintenance (as long as soil compaction doesn't occur, or isn't a problem if it does), but I'm still thinking these details over. And multiple acres with minimal help is impressive. Thanks for letting me know, it's a big confidence booster.

Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #38 on: July 28, 2017, 12:13:43 PM »
Having talked about Organic Farming & Permaculture on two threads, there is one more thing I'd like to mention. I don't know for certain that it works. I don't know for certain that such techniques are capable of feeding the masses, producing on par with conventional techniques. I don't know for certain that they're capable of supplanting industrial agriculture. I've very little evidence, not much to provide (if anyone does, chime in). I've mostly gone off of secondary sources (their primary sources, I've not been able to evaluate). However, I am a biologist, it's what I studied (and was reading up on my own terms long before college). Most of what I've read makes sense, seems sound in regards to the science (and there are some that seem to be having success). And the idea of providing food without destroying the environment is an attractive one (plus doing so self-sufficiently, with minimal outside resources after establishment). So, I've decided to put it to the test myself, and that is what this thread is about. I aim to put all that knowledge, all those organic & permaculture techniques to the test in the way the common man, the common farmer, would be interested: as my livelihood, as a way to pay bills, put food on the table, and give my family a comfortable life (for a certain value of comfort), documenting it every step of the way. If I succeed, then it's as I said earlier: proof-of-concept, and incentive for others to do the same with what I hope to be a productive and eco-friendly system. If I fail, then it'll show either that it doesn't work, or the pitfalls to avoid to ensure that it does work.

So in short, the point of this post? I'm not just going into this with blind loyalty to a concept (that wouldn't be good science at all). I promote it because it makes sense and I have seen some good results. But I'm willing to recognize that it might not work (experience will teach me, if so), and that it might not be for everyone. Having said that, I'm reasonably confident that it'll all work out. If it doesn't, you'll all be the first to know.

kmwilli6

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 11
    • USA, FL, Tampa, 9
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #39 on: July 31, 2017, 03:00:09 PM »
Sorry Caesar, should've just posted the link, but wasn't too sure on the ethics of it. But since I see people do it all the time I guess its cool...

http://realfarmacy.com/establishing-a-food-forest-full-film/

Kevin

shinzo

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 312
  • High Density Urban Cultivator
    • Tunis (Tunisia) - 10 b
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #40 on: August 03, 2017, 09:30:56 AM »
Nice thread, this is my dream too to start such a farm.
To add some ideas in the brainstorming side of the thread, have you considered agrotourism to support you financially while operating your farm ? a couple of in-the-farm rooms dedicated to passionated tourists who want to live the experience of a permaculture farmer for a couple of days may provide you a secondary income, be a source to use your local grown food, and if you have the chance to host some motivated guests they may even give you a hand in your daily farming activities. Besides, this may give your wife an occupation managing this component of the Farm.
I don't know if your local environement is favorable for such activity, but you may think about this option if it can help you financially to realise your dream.
Best wishes for success

Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #41 on: August 04, 2017, 02:32:23 PM »
Sorry Caesar, should've just posted the link, but wasn't too sure on the ethics of it. But since I see people do it all the time I guess its cool...

http://realfarmacy.com/establishing-a-food-forest-full-film/

Kevin


Thanks! I'll check it out, saved the link.


Nice thread, this is my dream too to start such a farm.
To add some ideas in the brainstorming side of the thread, have you considered agrotourism to support you financially while operating your farm ? a couple of in-the-farm rooms dedicated to passionated tourists who want to live the experience of a permaculture farmer for a couple of days may provide you a secondary income, be a source to use your local grown food, and if you have the chance to host some motivated guests they may even give you a hand in your daily farming activities. Besides, this may give your wife an occupation managing this component of the Farm.
I don't know if your local environement is favorable for such activity, but you may think about this option if it can help you financially to realise your dream.
Best wishes for success


It's too soon to tell if I could handle agritourism (perhaps later, with some help?) as it adds a level of complexity to the project. At any rate, while the idea sounds fair enough, if I get a second job, I'd rather have it separately from this farm rather than being a facet of it. It's mostly the principal of the thing (though I'll admit, principals don't always pay the bills). I'm trying to prove (if it is true) that permaculture can be competitive with conventional farming (while remaining eco-friendly), and thus, make it appealing to the average farmer. Most conventional farms derive their income from product, so to be a fair one-on-one comparison, I believe mine should have product as its economic foundation as well. I see a lot of permaculture projects out there that are fascinating and excellent, but one thing most of them share in common is that agritourism is their biggest source of income. You don't get to see if the crops are actually economically viable in that setting, because they're not being used as the economic foundation. And that is my entire point... To see if permaculture can be competitive with conventional ag, the comparison ought to be one-on-one (to an extent). Not every farmer would be on board with operating an agritourism site, but most of them would be on board with a productive system that requires minimal input in the long-term. I might be open to adding agritourism in the long run, as I'm sure it'd help. But for the first many years, I want to run it as a simple farm. No extras. That way, any success can be attributed to crops, and crops alone.

Ultimately though, I'm not going to say "no" either. Time will tell if I need to make use of previously-rejected ideas to keep myself afloat. I hope to document the ups and downs right here on this thread. And for the record, yes, agritourism is big over here. So for any other Boricuas looking at this thread for ideas, this is a good one.  :)

Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #42 on: October 16, 2017, 09:13:10 PM »
Hello everyone. I'm happy to report that I've been doing relatively well in the aftermath of hurricane Maria (diesel generator, accessible water - working pipes now -, and good food), and that my current collection is relatively intact, with only one exotic being strongly damaged (an Achachairu tree). Even the Dioscorea bulbifera is still there, growing on the trellis, unaffected by the storm. My collection survived due to the small size and young age of the trees (and the strategic placement of the ones still remaining in pots). The exotics turned out alright, but I lost all three of my mature avocado trees, large and in the midst of a good crop, completely uprooted. And the partial-to-full destruction seen in most of the trees in the countryside is surprising in its scale. For all my good fortune, I never imagined the entire island could sustain so much damage from a storm. The event shocked me to my core, and made me question my future at length.

I started this project as a thought experiment many years ago while I was still studying for my bachelors degree. It quickly grew into a labor of love, and while it never left the flexible stage of the theoretical into the practical, I had high hopes that I would someday accomplish much with it. I wanted to put theories to the test, bring true permaculture into the mainstream (at least in PR), focus on tree crops (which are mostly neglected in modern agriculture), expand the local palate with new choices, innovate in any way I could, and ultimately contribute to the food security of the island, both directly with my own farm, and indirectly through example. Dread and a sense of barren futility set in after the storm, and I thought I would never get that chance.

I thought about my options long and hard. While it's true that storms of this magnitude are rare on the island, the fact remains that the hurricane season is a yearly occurrence, and only chance or divine providence has kept such storms rare. There's nothing that would guarantee they would remain rare in the face of a changing climate. Some consider it foolhardy to plan one's life around unpredictable natural disasters, but that's exactly the point: hurricanes are not unpredictable. Their season is yearly and cyclic, like clockwork, and their presence is guaranteed in this general part of the world; the only unpredictable thing about them is whether they'll pass you by or hit you head on. Strong weather and geological events abound throughout the world, but they tend to be scattered and isolated events, truly unpredictable; few places have such a consistent cyclic risk of disaster (even if it rarely delivers on the threat). The threat is always there, in a way that random isolated events never are. I can live with the idea of having my efforts destroyed by a truly random event (something I never could've planned for), but to try the exact same plan in a place with a perpetual clockwork risk of disaster feels like I'm setting myself up for failure, painstakingly building something up that I know will be destroyed in a matter of time by a ticking time bomb. Such a prospect is completely unacceptable to me. So it was back to the drawing board, trying to salvage what I could from my plans (which, thankfully, are still theoretical; I still hadn't received a call for the paperwork I sent in, trying to acquire land).

I thought about doing it anyway, and I concluded that I couldn't. Even if I could handle the emotional impact of my work undone, the economic impact of a destroyed tree farm would probably bankrupt me. That means that (NFT's not withstanding), tree crops are out of the question for me as a dominant aspect of the farm (thus hurting that particular founding principle for me, here on the island). I thought about continuing the farm without the tree crops, but it feels like too much is missing, like the intended project was ultimately defeated. I thought about moving stateside, but even if the coasts were free from hurricane risk (which they're not), the warmest part of the mainland is still too cold during winter for some of the tropical trees I was hoping to trial; as for Hawaii, it's a little too far for my comfort, I don't know their weather patterns, and I've heard the cost of living is high there. I thought about moving to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, or even Brazil, where I could complete the project at a safe distance from such consistent yearly threats (provided those places don't have a hurricane season). But they share one trait in common with the US: they're not PR (so for all their completeness, any farms there would not contribute to the food security of my homeland). And besides, I've no family there, and I personally don't want to put much distance between me and them.

I was close to giving up entirely, but I've worked too hard for too long to give up on this. Some other job is necessary now, so at least that has changed: I wanted the project to stand by itself economically, as described earlier in the thread, but even before the storm I had come to accept the certainty that I need another job to acquire a firm economic foundation for myself. I was about to start the job search when the storm hit. In the aftermath, I noticed many staple crops were running low in the local markets, and I realized that with the yearly risk of storms, a strong food supply is necessary here, now more than ever. And that has kept me from giving up.

I still plan on getting a job as soon as I'm able (hopefully something in line with my Biology major), but I've also decided to combine some of the prior ideas and rebuild my fractured plans on them. I intend to start a farm here after I get a job. It will use some of the NFT alley crop methods as a basis, and I will focus on staples, vegetables and smaller fruiting plants. The Tree Crop section will be small compared to prior plans, and will consist mainly of Avocados (easily replaced if lost) and Breadfruit (quick to grow back from a broken trunk). That way I get to practice permaculture (even if the selection of tree crops is diminished) and contribute to the local food security, while being at minimal risk of strong economic loss (few and common trees to lose, and readily replaceable annual crops; hacked up NFT's should weather the storm nicely). Once I'm economically stable, I hope to acquire land in Central America later on, to grow the missing half of my farm: the exotic tree crops. I'd get to satisfy my desire for tropical fruit without living in yearly fear of hurricanes ripping them out of the ground. If I could ship the fruit into PR, I'd get the pleasure of expanding the local palate as well (even if they weren't grown there). Staple crops on the island, fruiting trees in Central America, and all my intended boxes checked. It's a little more complicated than I had hoped, but hopefully doable.

Any thoughts or advice in relation to this? And regarding acquiring land elsewhere?

pineislander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1265
    • Bokeelia, FL
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #43 on: October 18, 2017, 05:56:48 AM »
Caesar, it's good that you had a chance to gain experience before you took a loss and know the risks. There really is no better teacher than experience. This is a forum about growing tropical fruit crops. Most of the tropics are subject to extreme weather threats including wind, water, and even heat, drought, and fire. All of these hazards need to be considered. The folks in California which were recently wiped out by fire are a good example.

So, what to do?
Design into your system resistance to those elements.
It really is folly to have 40 ft. Haden trees surrounding your flimsy trailer house as a hurricane approaches or to have dry mulched beds, cedar shingle roofs, vinyl siding, and gutters full of pine needles in a on a house in the fire prone areas of California. Looking back, what the hell were we thinking would happen?

This forum has plenty of folks with experience with hurricanes, accumulated decades and likely even centuries of lessons learned from across the world if you add us all up. There should be ways to mitigate and protect orchards against wind and water, at least to some extent. We probably need a dedicated thread on the subject, and I know it has been discussed some already.

You spoke about becoming a leader in your community and proving concepts. Well, there you go, this is a challenge to face in which you could help find solutions to this perennial problem. All of us can and should be doing these things.



 

shinzo

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 312
  • High Density Urban Cultivator
    • Tunis (Tunisia) - 10 b
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #44 on: October 19, 2017, 12:26:20 PM »
Hello everyone. I'm happy to report that I've been doing relatively well in the aftermath of hurricane Maria (diesel generator, accessible water - working pipes now -, and good food), and that my current collection is relatively intact, with only one exotic being strongly damaged (an Achachairu tree). Even the Dioscorea bulbifera is still there, growing on the trellis, unaffected by the storm. My collection survived due to the small size and young age of the trees (and the strategic placement of the ones still remaining in pots). The exotics turned out alright, but I lost all three of my mature avocado trees, large and in the midst of a good crop, completely uprooted. And the partial-to-full destruction seen in most of the trees in the countryside is surprising in its scale. For all my good fortune, I never imagined the entire island could sustain so much damage from a storm. The event shocked me to my core, and made me question my future at length.

I started this project as a thought experiment many years ago while I was still studying for my bachelors degree. It quickly grew into a labor of love, and while it never left the flexible stage of the theoretical into the practical, I had high hopes that I would someday accomplish much with it. I wanted to put theories to the test, bring true permaculture into the mainstream (at least in PR), focus on tree crops (which are mostly neglected in modern agriculture), expand the local palate with new choices, innovate in any way I could, and ultimately contribute to the food security of the island, both directly with my own farm, and indirectly through example. Dread and a sense of barren futility set in after the storm, and I thought I would never get that chance.

I thought about my options long and hard. While it's true that storms of this magnitude are rare on the island, the fact remains that the hurricane season is a yearly occurrence, and only chance or divine providence has kept such storms rare. There's nothing that would guarantee they would remain rare in the face of a changing climate. Some consider it foolhardy to plan one's life around unpredictable natural disasters, but that's exactly the point: hurricanes are not unpredictable. Their season is yearly and cyclic, like clockwork, and their presence is guaranteed in this general part of the world; the only unpredictable thing about them is whether they'll pass you by or hit you head on. Strong weather and geological events abound throughout the world, but they tend to be scattered and isolated events, truly unpredictable; few places have such a consistent cyclic risk of disaster (even if it rarely delivers on the threat). The threat is always there, in a way that random isolated events never are. I can live with the idea of having my efforts destroyed by a truly random event (something I never could've planned for), but to try the exact same plan in a place with a perpetual clockwork risk of disaster feels like I'm setting myself up for failure, painstakingly building something up that I know will be destroyed in a matter of time by a ticking time bomb. Such a prospect is completely unacceptable to me. So it was back to the drawing board, trying to salvage what I could from my plans (which, thankfully, are still theoretical; I still hadn't received a call for the paperwork I sent in, trying to acquire land).

I thought about doing it anyway, and I concluded that I couldn't. Even if I could handle the emotional impact of my work undone, the economic impact of a destroyed tree farm would probably bankrupt me. That means that (NFT's not withstanding), tree crops are out of the question for me as a dominant aspect of the farm (thus hurting that particular founding principle for me, here on the island). I thought about continuing the farm without the tree crops, but it feels like too much is missing, like the intended project was ultimately defeated. I thought about moving stateside, but even if the coasts were free from hurricane risk (which they're not), the warmest part of the mainland is still too cold during winter for some of the tropical trees I was hoping to trial; as for Hawaii, it's a little too far for my comfort, I don't know their weather patterns, and I've heard the cost of living is high there. I thought about moving to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, or even Brazil, where I could complete the project at a safe distance from such consistent yearly threats (provided those places don't have a hurricane season). But they share one trait in common with the US: they're not PR (so for all their completeness, any farms there would not contribute to the food security of my homeland). And besides, I've no family there, and I personally don't want to put much distance between me and them.

I was close to giving up entirely, but I've worked too hard for too long to give up on this. Some other job is necessary now, so at least that has changed: I wanted the project to stand by itself economically, as described earlier in the thread, but even before the storm I had come to accept the certainty that I need another job to acquire a firm economic foundation for myself. I was about to start the job search when the storm hit. In the aftermath, I noticed many staple crops were running low in the local markets, and I realized that with the yearly risk of storms, a strong food supply is necessary here, now more than ever. And that has kept me from giving up.

I still plan on getting a job as soon as I'm able (hopefully something in line with my Biology major), but I've also decided to combine some of the prior ideas and rebuild my fractured plans on them. I intend to start a farm here after I get a job. It will use some of the NFT alley crop methods as a basis, and I will focus on staples, vegetables and smaller fruiting plants. The Tree Crop section will be small compared to prior plans, and will consist mainly of Avocados (easily replaced if lost) and Breadfruit (quick to grow back from a broken trunk). That way I get to practice permaculture (even if the selection of tree crops is diminished) and contribute to the local food security, while being at minimal risk of strong economic loss (few and common trees to lose, and readily replaceable annual crops; hacked up NFT's should weather the storm nicely). Once I'm economically stable, I hope to acquire land in Central America later on, to grow the missing half of my farm: the exotic tree crops. I'd get to satisfy my desire for tropical fruit without living in yearly fear of hurricanes ripping them out of the ground. If I could ship the fruit into PR, I'd get the pleasure of expanding the local palate as well (even if they weren't grown there). Staple crops on the island, fruiting trees in Central America, and all my intended boxes checked. It's a little more complicated than I had hoped, but hopefully doable.

Any thoughts or advice in relation to this? And regarding acquiring land elsewhere?
Good luck Caesar. You may consider papaya also as they are fast growing plants and the plantations are replaced at a periodical bases with or without hurricanes according to my readings concerning commercial papaya plantations. it helps you mitigate the damage if the trees are down by a hurricane.

Solko

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 309
  • Zone 8b-9a
    • Europe
    • View Profile
    • Visual Art
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #45 on: October 21, 2017, 08:32:03 AM »
Hi Caesar,

I think you are doing everything right, step by step. I got interested in permaculture and fruit breeding both out of curiosity and idealism, but I do have another education, job and passion which is my ‘first love’.
On the other hand I always fantasized about my ‘plant hobby’ to someday be able to generate some money or income, but after eight years of spending a lot of time and thoughts on it I realize that that is very hard to do ‘on the side’ . I am afraid there is not a lot of ‘passive income’ to generate from farm work and fruit breeding is by now an equally complex art, so adjusted to market demands it has become not only an enormous long shot, but in order to develop new varieties into a licensed or patented product that generates money ‘passively’ you have to work full time at it. So the ‘passive’ part is very relative.

Nonetheless some permaculture farms that are well planned and thought through have flourished and taken off also commercially. These are truly admirable enterprises and have given a better idea on how to make such a thing work. All of them take it as seriously hard work and research their context and market extensively, start small and scale things up later.
You might want to check out the videos of this guy:
https://youtu.be/p__7st7Q6ic

Good luck!


Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #46 on: May 29, 2018, 07:11:12 PM »
Hi all. I've been a bit busy, which is why I held off on posting in this particular thread, as I wanted some time for a proper and full reply. I have taken the advice you've all given to heart, and I'm here to say: the plan is back on. I came to realize that this project is too important to let go, and that there are solutions for the challenges we face here on the island, even hurricanes. So I will not be executing that modified plan I mentioned in my last post... I'm going for the original. So what has changed? Half of the solution was right in front of my eyes, and I hadn't even seen it. The other half was provided by the very purpose the project was founded on: Permaculture.

For one thing, not every tree in the countryside was ripped up. Indeed, most of the trees remain standing and have regrown beautifully from snapped or broken trunks. And even broken trees have their purpose. So in the spirit of permaculture, I have decided to integrate the storm's natural destructive power into the farm itself. Chainsaws, wood-chippers and any relevant resources and infrastructure will be included in the farm to turn the fallen trees into valuable biomass, from compost to biochar. I will figure out how to restore damaged trees to full productive health, and I will make due with what I have to make the project work as best it can.

Regarding the other solution... A large and protected nursery. I intend to keep a large collection of replacement trees for all the species in my project (with emphasis on the more important and the more vulnerable ones). With every loss on my farm there will be younger replacements at hand, which I will replace in turn in the nursery for the next big disaster.

Any further improvements on the plan will be evaluated and incorporated as I gain experience. In short, neither rain nor sleet nor gale-force winds will stop my project. It's one of the most important things I hope to achieve, and any further challenges will be welcomed as a learning experience for myself and for others who may wish to learn from my trials. That is the end of it.

As I mentioned in my last post, there is one aspect that remains changed. The job. So far, no answers to my applications, so while I look further, I'll be applying for a position in my local factory in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I'm broke. They haven't called me back regarding the plot of land I applied for either, so I'm not gonna count on that unless I actually get a call someday.

*

Good luck Caesar. You may consider papaya also as they are fast growing plants and the plantations are replaced at a periodical bases with or without hurricanes according to my readings concerning commercial papaya plantations. it helps you mitigate the damage if the trees are down by a hurricane.

Papayas are part of my plan. I'd like to trial Babaco too.  :)


Caesar, it's good that you had a chance to gain experience before you took a loss and know the risks. There really is no better teacher than experience. This is a forum about growing tropical fruit crops. Most of the tropics are subject to extreme weather threats including wind, water, and even heat, drought, and fire. All of these hazards need to be considered. The folks in California which were recently wiped out by fire are a good example.

So, what to do?
Design into your system resistance to those elements.
It really is folly to have 40 ft. Haden trees surrounding your flimsy trailer house as a hurricane approaches or to have dry mulched beds, cedar shingle roofs, vinyl siding, and gutters full of pine needles in a on a house in the fire prone areas of California. Looking back, what the hell were we thinking would happen?

This forum has plenty of folks with experience with hurricanes, accumulated decades and likely even centuries of lessons learned from across the world if you add us all up. There should be ways to mitigate and protect orchards against wind and water, at least to some extent. We probably need a dedicated thread on the subject, and I know it has been discussed some already.

You spoke about becoming a leader in your community and proving concepts. Well, there you go, this is a challenge to face in which you could help find solutions to this perennial problem. All of us can and should be doing these things.

I haven't kept myself up to date. How are people doing in California lately, in the aftermath of the fires? They're not still going on, are they? I hope everyone's doing better. I was just shocked by a recent study that says the death toll on PR is over 4,000. I suspected it was much higher than the local government numbers, but I never imagined it could've been that high.


Hi Caesar,

I think you are doing everything right, step by step. I got interested in permaculture and fruit breeding both out of curiosity and idealism, but I do have another education, job and passion which is my ‘first love’.
On the other hand I always fantasized about my ‘plant hobby’ to someday be able to generate some money or income, but after eight years of spending a lot of time and thoughts on it I realize that that is very hard to do ‘on the side’ . I am afraid there is not a lot of ‘passive income’ to generate from farm work and fruit breeding is by now an equally complex art, so adjusted to market demands it has become not only an enormous long shot, but in order to develop new varieties into a licensed or patented product that generates money ‘passively’ you have to work full time at it. So the ‘passive’ part is very relative.

Nonetheless some permaculture farms that are well planned and thought through have flourished and taken off also commercially. These are truly admirable enterprises and have given a better idea on how to make such a thing work. All of them take it as seriously hard work and research their context and market extensively, start small and scale things up later.
You might want to check out the videos of this guy:
https://youtu.be/p__7st7Q6ic

Good luck!

I've saved a few videos of his that seem particularly promising, but I gotta take time to see all of it. Good information, thanks for the link.


*


Thank you all for the advice and the encouragement. You've all been a greater help than you know, and despite the time elapsed, I hope this is not the end of this thread. Perhaps if I can get that job soon, I'll be that much closer to starting the farm. Slowly for sure, but I'll be posting my progress as it comes. Once again, thanks.  :)

Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #47 on: August 20, 2018, 08:25:45 PM »
I've already determined everything I'm going to grow and sell, down to the letter. I had a very expansive list as a starting point, and eventually whittled down the candidates to four tiers (each, on two separate lists: small & annuals, and trees): Tier 1 has the bread and butter, that I know will sell well because they have a strong market here and are always in demand. Tier 2 has crops with a strong enough local market, but not as strong as tier 1, so I'll be planting less of them. Tier 3 has crops with a weak local market: strong enough to confidently grow them in the knowledge they will be bought, but not so in demand to warrant anything over a small planting. Tier 3 with the trees means most exotics: trees that I'll grow singly (or in very small groups) for my own personal consumption, and to test the waters in the local market (there are exotic trees in the upper tiers, but they're mainly well-known species that I'm reasonably confident will sell well, from what I've seen). Tier 4 with the trees are extra species and poorly-known exotics, that will only get a spot in my land if I can afford to give them space (they're all optional). Tier 4 with the small crops are also exotic and poorly-known crops, that I'll be growing in small quantities for myself (and to test the waters at market) in my own personal plot.

I found the plans I was working on prior to the hurricane, hashing out companion planting guilds and crop rotation schemes for the small and annual crops. I was already far along back then, having collected and processed most of the information. I've been working on it again for the past few days, and have finally decided on the Plant Guilds I will be trialling on the farm (now all I need is the farm...   ::)). I've also been drawing up some of the planting schemes themselves, but I won't be posting those pictures, my drawings are terrible.

The next step (after I finish drawing the schemes) would be to figure out the proper spacing for all the plants involved, but I'm not sure how to hash that out when each species has a different distance. After that comes the final step: figuring out the monthly and yearly planting calendar... It's all well and good to have a pretty picture in your head of all the mature plants growing together, but the practical reality will probably be a bit different, especially when taking the seasons into account.

This is all highly experimental, based on information I've found online and other people's experiences. I've evaluated all of it to the best of my abilities, and have given special attention to well-sourced information, but there's no guarantee it'll work. This is merely what I intend to trial when I start planting on the farm. Naturally, whatever works shall remain in use and be improved upon over time with further trials; whatever fails shall be dropped from my methods. Trial and error is pretty much the only way to go with these topics.

As previously stated, I divided everything up into tiers when doing my research. So here are the small crop tiers of economic importance in my neck of the woods:

Tier 1:
Plantain
Yams (Dioscorea)
Pigeon Peas
Calabaza (the local Squash, C. moschata)
Sweet Peppers (local Ají types and others, like Banana and Bell Peppers)
Tomatoes
Lettuce (the local favorite is Black-seeded Simpson)
Cilantro
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum)

Tier 2:
Sweet Potatoes
Cocoyams [Yautía (Xanthosoma spp.) and Malanga (Taro, Colocasia esculenta)]
Chayote (Sechium edule)
Sweet Corn
Alliums (Onion, Garlic, etc.)
Broccoli
Cabbage
Potato (admittedly this one's experimental... It depends if my tropical breeding program works out)

Tier 3:
Papaya
Apio Criollo (Arracacha)
Asparagus
Carrots
Eggplant
Okra
Beans (White Beans and Bush Green Beans, mostly)
Peas
Garbanzos
Peanuts
Other Legumes (other Phaseolus, Vigna, Vicia)
Other Brassicas (mostly Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Kale)
Spinach
Other Cucurbits (Cucumber, Melon, Watermelon, other Squash types)
Parsley
Beets
Radishes

Also herbs and flowers, mostly grown in belts near the main crop lines.

I'll also be trialling some other species in my personal patch, like the Hodgsonia, Telfairia, Groundnuts (Apios Americana), Tuberous Vetch, Potato Mint, etc.


That being my selection, I sought out as much information on companion planting as I could. I made extensive use of Wikipedia's table, but focused more on the combinations that had reference links to them, which I could review for credibility; I ran separate searches for them as well, and also for the source-less combinations. I took special note of what NOT to plant together, and underlined those combinations that were especially promising. When my own table was finished... I paused the project until last week. Now I reviewed the information again and started building the guilds, mostly focusing on the underlined combos, but also reviewing the rest for good measure. I built the guilds around the most important crops, but the less important ones also had a part to play, often being good companions. When the guilds had few components, I tried to think up a good pattern for the planting scheme, mostly giving them equal space. If a guild had more components, I first arranged the core components as previously described, and then left the remainder to the periphery of the growing bed (if I thought it appropriate for a given species).

These are the guilds I intend to trial, which I've tiered according to their dominant crops, which aren't always the most important ones in the guild; they'll be rotated according to standard crop rotation practices. The further down you go, the more likely you'll see an uncommon crop being used in the guild:

Tier 1:

1 - Plantain + Cocoyams + Sweet Potatoes + Periphery: Okra

2 - Yams + Papaya + Bush Beans

3 - Lettuce + Cilantro + Broccoli + Periphery: Culantro + Onions + Beets + Radishes

4 - Tomato + Peppers + Garlic + Carrots + Basil

4.5 - Other companions to trial in guild 4: Marigold, Borage and Nettles

5 - Squash + Corn + Beans + Periphery: Turnips + Nasturtium


Tier 2:

6 - Chayote + Arracacha + Peppers + Peanuts

7 - Potato + Brassicas + Peas + Alliums + Periphery: Chamomile + Marigolds


Tier 3:

8 - Asparagus + Tomato + Parsley + Basil

9 - Eggplant + Garbanzo + Radishes + Tarragon + Marigold + Lemongrass (repels cutworms)

10 - Spinach + Cauliflower + Peas

11 - Cucumber + Garlic + Kohlrabi + Celery + Bush Beans + Radishes + Amaranth


The guild at the periphery of the major plots (as opposed to the periphery of each growing bed) is the following: Pigeon Peas + Cassava in the inner circle, Lemongrass in the middle circle, and Peppermint (a low-level rodent deterrent) in the outer circle.

Some plants to use everywhere due to different traits that make them excellent companions for a broad range of crops: Lovage, Borage, Tarragon, Oregano, Yarrow, Marigold


The companion belts are the following:

Herb Belt (good for tomatoes and other crops; a broad choice of herbs that all play well together and which you can choose from according to the needs of the area)): Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Lavander, Chamomile, Yarrow, Nettle

Flower Belt: Sunflower, Marigold, California Poppy, Lupines, Dianthus, Alyssum, Lacy Phacelia


Good companions to fruiting trees: Southernwood, Borage, Comfrey, Nasturtium



That's as far as I got with the annual crops so far. Still a lot to do, to trial, to consider and evaluate. My only problem is, I don't have the land to shift this into a practical evaluation immediately. It's gonna stay theoretical until I can get some space.

pineislander

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1265
    • Bokeelia, FL
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #48 on: August 21, 2018, 08:07:38 AM »
Caesar figuring out companion plantings and making them work is probably one of the hardest exercises you can do. It will probably take years to become good at it along with some problems and even failures. I've been trying out some and there are almost always things to learn about how they cooperate, proper spacing, timing of planting/harvesting, and the difficulty of working in a less concentrated crop scenario of polyculture compared to a monoculture. There's lots to learn and share which might benefit others.

Since most here are involved in trees I'll show an example of what looks like a successful example of such a guild of annual plants cooperating with a new planting of mango trees. The scene is a 130 ft (40 meters)long raised bed of Mahachanok mango trees interplanted with a mix of sweet potato and ordinary peanuts. The beds are native sand topped with 4"(10 cm) compost, peanuts were planted at 18" (45 cm)spacing directly on top of the compost then covered with mulch. Sweet potato cuttings were inserted into the mulch at 24" (60 cm)spacing between peanuts. Centered between each mango tree are banana trees.









It's interesting what what you find for example I tried 3 different sweet potato varieties with different vine habits and the short vining 'bush' type did best but who knows if just a different spacing is needed? It'll also be interesting to find out how the harvest goes. Commercially the vines are stripped & a plow is run down a row of sweet potatoes to lift them, with peanut mixed in there will be complications at harvest. You can see in the adjacent bed i tried other combinations with papaya, yuca/cassava, and several other crops.

So, short word is that this sort of work could be a lifetime experience good thing you are young!

Caesar

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • PR
    • View Profile
Re: How to start a farm? (Commercializing Permaculture... ?)
« Reply #49 on: August 23, 2018, 01:15:36 PM »
You ought to dedicate a whole thread to your land, it really looks great! You've been able to do so much in the sandy Florida soil.

I'm surprised you were able to combine sweet potatoes with peanuts. Since both are groundcovers, I expected them to compete for space, which is why I didn't combine them in any of my plans. Trial and error indeed, even the successes are surprising.

And of trial and error, I think that's all we can do here. We're breaking new ground every time we try a polyculture in a new place, so instead of reading books to learn about what works (of which there are few), we'll have to contribute to them instead for others to learn. I want to record everything I try, from successes to failures and half-successes. That was a major draw to me, of Permaculture: so few trials available, so I'd like to fill in some of those blanks myself.

Is manual labor (personal or otherwise) a viable alternative to machines for digging up the sweet potatoes in a smaller commercial operation? I wouldn't want to sacrifice crop diversity for my comfort, though I like to reduce workload wherever possible.

 

Copyright © Tropical Fruit Forum - International Tropical Fruit Growers