Tropical Fruit > Tropical Fruit Discussion

Land purchasing and search discussion

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driftwood:
Good evening everybody.

Normally I am intrigued on topics pretty much only on plants, trees, and seeds but tonight I have something else on my mind. This is mainly questions for anyone who grows fruit professionally. (No shade on balcony and backyard growers, feel free to chime in as well)

I am a young man from the US and love growing my seeds in containers and eating fresh fruit from the market and learning about botany in general. But I deeply desire to grow my own orchard.

I know the hard work it can take as I have rented a 15 acre farm in New Mexico in the past and have lived in San Diego County and Puerto Rico and been a caretaker for various properties. By trade I am a graphic designer, landscaper, and carpenter. However it seems like land ownership is constantly out of reach for me and I no longer have a desire in renting someone's land and improving it for their benefit.

It seems like good agricultural land is going up drastically in price. Not to mention areas that are subtropical and tropical like SD and Homestead. Even the gulf coast of florida is going up. I am not very interested in becoming a zone pusher and try greenhouses in places like arizona or texas, I would rather work in a place where I am able to grow the plants I would like to grow.

I do know that we are about to experience a pretty large land shift over the next decade, due to large land owners aging. I am willing to be patient for the right time and the right piece of land and the right price. I am building up my knowledge and skills, asking questions, and meeting people. But I want to know, how many people grow fruit as their sole income? Or do people mainly have a different profession? and move to growing fruit as they acquire land? Or was the land already in your family?

I am putting out the call to the universe for a teacher. I am looking for experienced fruit growers or nursery owners who have some advice for a young guy starting out or maybe want an apprentice in the future. Do you think there are any older farm owners who would be interested in a sort of "passing on"/rent to own kind of deal as you teach the ins and outs? I am also open to doing a longer intensive study through several seasons with somebody here in the US or even another country. The 12 tribes in Bokeelia tried to recruit me to their mango farm, but I didn't feel like joining a cult this year. Not interested in wwoofing and giving away free labor either. I have been down that road already

I will probably be going back to work at a plant nursery soon that mainly deals with landscaping plants. Part of me wants to move back to Puerto Rico as land is the cheapest there for me. But if my savings run out, I am not sure what I would supplement with while trees get established and I am running the farm.

What would you tell your younger self if you were in my position? How did you get to be where you are today? How hard is it to get a job maintaining an orchard or nursery operation? Also, if you werent were you are now and could purchase anywhere, where would it be?

resources, good advice, bad advice, is all welcome. Thanks for reading. Be well everyone

Finca La Isla:
Itís a good topic and I know something about this.
In the 80ís I moved to Costa Rica to start a fruit and spice farm.  I moved to a depressed area that had great tourism potential, bought land cheap, and started planting.  I started a nursery that is still operating and I planted lots of fruit trees.  Fortunately, it all came together after about 8 years when I was able to stop working on the side and live off of farm production and consultations mostly. We also have a farm tour. 
What made this work so well was a combination of luck and timing as well as vision and hard work.  To find good farmland cheap you might look at Puerto Rico as a place with potential.  There needs to be an economy where locals can buy your products.  You have to have a judicial system that protects your investment.  This rules out a lot of places. Panama might be a possibility but I feel it doesnít have the fresh fruit consumers that CR has. 
My model is to sell locally at the farmers market, fruit stand, farm sales.  This works well in Costa Rica but itís hard to find land inexpensive here now.  A reference price for farmland in our area would be about $4000 an acre.  Thereís cheaper land around but farther from areas with services and economic activity.  Actually, people are pouring in from the US and buying up places all over CR these months.
Peter

driftwood:

--- Quote from: Finca La Isla on August 03, 2021, 10:30:30 PM ---Itís a good topic and I know something about this.
In the 80ís I moved to Costa Rica to start a fruit and spice farm.  I moved to a depressed area that had great tourism potential, bought land cheap, and started planting.  I started a nursery that is still operating and I planted lots of fruit trees.  Fortunately, it all came together after about 8 years when I was able to stop working on the side and live off of farm production and consultations mostly. We also have a farm tour. 
What made this work so well was a combination of luck and timing as well as vision and hard work.  To find good farmland cheap you might look at Puerto Rico as a place with potential.  There needs to be an economy where locals can buy your products.  You have to have a judicial system that protects your investment.  This rules out a lot of places. Panama might be a possibility but I feel it doesnít have the fresh fruit consumers that CR has. 
My model is to sell locally at the farmers market, fruit stand, farm sales.  This works well in Costa Rica but itís hard to find land inexpensive here now.  A reference price for farmland in our area would be about $4000 an acre.  Thereís cheaper land around but farther from areas with services and economic activity.  Actually, people are pouring in from the US and buying up places all over CR these months.
Peter

--- End quote ---

Yeah you are right about locals needing to buy the fruit, I know some good markets to move some fruit but I think it would be mainly supplemental income and not sustenance. I believe in Puerto Rico exporting the fruit to the US isnt really allowed I dont think. . I know there are pest transmission issues but it seems silly because we import fruit from other carribbean island nations to the US. I believe you are able to ship plants to the US though... which makes me think I could plant out lots of seedlings and sell them by mail to the US. Focus on a nursery instead of fruit production.

Ive never been to Costa Rica. I have a friend there. I am considering a trip soon. I should check it out before I make any judgements, as this new wave of expats buying up the land has sort of turned me off to the idea. (Woo-woo new age hippies drive me crazy). Though 4000$ per acre is still pretty cheap. Cheaper than Punta Gorda, FL still. I appreciate the insights Peter, what area are you living in? How big is your plot? how many trees can you comfortably manage by yourself and still have time to surf or hike? I thought about doing a program there, but I don't want a permaculture design certificate. But rather a more intensive fruit learning experience from people who actually do this for a living. Not to get college credit. I guess I should try to get in touch with more people and see who needs help

Gone tropo:
Driftwood great topic i find it quite fascinating myself. I come from a family with near 100 years of sugar cane farming here in australia.  Land here is extremely expensive the prices i see mentioned here $4000 an acre is outrageously cheap.  I myself only have 2.5 acres i often wonder if someone could make a living off a block my size with fruits but i think the answer might be a min of 5 acres.  5 acres of a high value crop such as durian might be liveable.  I have a mate who has 5 acres with around 130 mangosteen trees who makes a part living off them, he is planting out durian at the moment as well.

The other important question here is how much acreage can one person manage on their own?? its one thing to have 50 acres but when it requires a whole bunch of staff to run thats a whole different ball game to someone trying to run a single man operation.  i dont know what the answer is but i know my mate needs labour during harvest time with the mangosteens and thats only 5 acres. 

Look forward to seeing some of the answers you get.   

driftwood:

--- Quote from: Gone tropo on August 03, 2021, 11:58:28 PM ---Driftwood great topic i find it quite fascinating myself. I come from a family with near 100 years of sugar cane farming here in australia.  Land here is extremely expensive the prices i see mentioned here $4000 an acre is outrageously cheap.  I myself only have 2.5 acres i often wonder if someone could make a living off a block my size with fruits but i think the answer might be a min of 5 acres.  5 acres of a high value crop such as durian might be liveable.  I have a mate who has 5 acres with around 130 mangosteen trees who makes a part living off them, he is planting out durian at the moment as well.

The other important question here is how much acreage can one person manage on their own?? its one thing to have 50 acres but when it requires a whole bunch of staff to run thats a whole different ball game to someone trying to run a single man operation.  i dont know what the answer is but i know my mate needs labour during harvest time with the mangosteens and thats only 5 acres. 

Look forward to seeing some of the answers you get.

--- End quote ---

Appreciate that man. I am with you on 4000$ per acre sounding cheap. Perspective is funny. Thing is the places where land is expensive, people also pay more for fruits

From my little experience with working the land, I know I am looking to end up with somewhere between 1-20 acres. around 1 acre of nursery and greenhouse and medicinal plants, and a couple hundred trees. Maybe some yuca fields or ginger -- Starting small obviously. 50 acres is not in my vision.  I also build houses and tiny homes so I was considering AirBNB and hospitality as well.

Soursop and sugar apple are one of the more expensive fruits here. not sure what the most profitable though. There's not a big market for durian. TBH ive never had durian as I want my first to be fresh and not store bought. Who knows, maybe I will fall in love with the durian and move to Asia

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