An areal photo of our farm as it looked when we purchased it.

An areal photo of our farm as it looked when we purchased it.

In the middle of this photograph, is an old truck.  The house below, or in fact to the south of the truck, belongs to our neighbour.  The house sticking out from under the leaves, up and left of the truck, is a four residence apartment block.  Our house is tiny enough to snuggle under the leaves themselves.  A suggestion of a straight line is the edge of the road on the second rear extension.

Although somewhat skinny at 44 feet, it is 174 feet long, giving us just over 7500 sq ft of land, including the house – just over 1/6th of an acre.  That is tiny compared to a conventional farm, especially compared to the modern industrial farms.  We are by no means conventional.  The hugels will effectively double the size of our garden.  Using food forest techniques, allowing things to grow above each other, will increase our yield yet again.  Lastly, throw in an all season aquaponic greenhouse, and our annual yield will increase exponentially.

The economics of farming:  a quick intro.

Yeah, really quick.  An acre of corn should come close to producing 20,000 ears of corn.  At $3 per dozen, that is about $5,000 of potential sales.  That is revenue, not profit.  Seed has to be saved or purchased, fertilizers and pesticides are also purchased, the cost of someone to drive the tractor, as well as the tractor itself has to be factored in to the equation.

In our case, our operational costs are much lower.  Our equipment will be powered by an initial investment in solar panels.  We will have a large initial investment, but the operational costs will be minimal.  What about our revenue or profit?  Our initial calculations are that we might be able to grow about 40,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables each year and another 2,000 pounds of fish.  Currently, we can sell nothing, due to local zoning regulations.  Once we change that, then we can look at a decent income from this small piece of land.

My summary of farming economics:  Take each 100 acre farm, break it into 100 one acre permaculture farms and the farmers get more time off, more income per acre, and we get more food to eat.  Hmmm, a solution to world hunger?  Not that simple, but a part of the solution at least.

Just think – growing just enough to feed ourselves.  We spend an easy $800 a month on groceries.  Reduce it by not having to purchase say $500 a month – because we just harvest it.  We save $6,000 a year.  But, to have $6,000 to spend on groceries, we have to earn somewhere around $8,000. Even if we sell nothing, we save $6,000 a year.

If you want to talk to me about all of this, I will be happily reading a book, on the park bench, beside the pond in my back yard food forest, listening to bird songs, squirrel chirps, and girl squeals and screeches.