Why Permaculture?

Why Are There So Few Profitable Permaculture Farms?

An email today, like many I get, got me thinking about the barriers that stop people making the leap to farming for a living.

Richard Perkins, talks about the key points he says impacts the profitability/ viability of a Permaculture Site.

Connect with Richard:

On Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3111rvadtBPUY9JJBqdmzg

His Website: https://www.ridgedalepermaculture.com/

Richard on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ridgedalepermaculture/

The Permaculture Research Insitute

PRI Zaytuna Farm functions as a model farm (in development) and permaculture training facility. Geoff and Nadia Lawton, world-renowned permaculture educators and consultants, lead the project. Much of Geoff and Nadia’s time over the last few years has been spent away from the Institute, consulting and helping set up projects in diverse locales around the world. Seeing the worldwide demand for knowledgeable permaculture consultants and teachers increase exponentially, as fuel and fertiliser prices skyrocket and the effects of climate change, soil depletion and water shortages begin to hit hard, priority and focus is now shifting back to the Institute, where growing the training program will increase the output of quality teachers to help fill the growing need for them.


    1. Hmmm. Seems like it boils down to the fact that Permaculture is a design system, not a management system. Designs are cool, but who runs the system? Or does the system run you? Management of a permaculture design system will make profits. Kudos for being up on Savory.

  1. Interesting and valuable stuff. I particularly liked the last section about the possibilities of complementary enterprise as an alternative to buying a property. This can work both ways: there are people who would like to invest in permaculture but, perhaps because of their age or other commitments, do not want to go the whole hog 7/365.

  2. Yesterday, I attended a seminar by Arkansas’ most ‘successful’ organic produce farmer. Although he only uses certified organic products labeled by OMRI, the reality is he is perpetually hooked on conventional systems thinking. All the bugs must be killed. The ‘weeds,’ (here, mostly hearty grasses) must all be snuffed out with silage tarps. Natural processes, in so much as we hope folks can see them, never enter into his field of vision at all.

  3. You have to have a plan and goal to work towards. A great comment applicable to all facets of professional life.

    1. He did mention that, because he had a business plan, he got a loan. I was told something similar by a CEO that I know: I was fantasizing about a $2mil property, and I have no savings and very little income. This CEO said, if you can get a good business plan, a bank will lend to you with very little, specially for something like farmland. In fact, it may be easier to get a loan for land (which can readily be resold if the business fails) than for a business on a rented property (because a failed BUSINESS is hard to sell)

  4. Excellent video, thanks so much Richard. You have put your finger on so many important issues here especially the idealism of many of the young attracted to pc who want to throw out the ‘old ways ‘ of thinking without realising much of what has been learned in mainstream production is valuable and important (agriculture = bad, permaculture = good). We still see this far too much in permaculture gatherings. I particularly like the idea of letting permies start small enterprises on larger farms where the farmer is getting too old to work the farm properly and is asset-rich but cash-poor. Farmers can be a powerful mentors to work in alongside permies (eg as part of a PDC), if both groups can learn to accept each other and find common ground. That could potentially work really well here in Tasmania. Do you know of this happening elsewhere apart from the Swedish eg you used? Can a traditional farm-permie landshare system be set up perhaps?

    From the mainstream perspective, I hope this sort of thinking gets shared in the wider agriculture community. Permaculture still, after some 30+ years, is still seen as fringe and having little to say to mainstream agriculture production. Here in Tasmania we have tried to get permaculture accepted as a stream in agribusiness education, but no success (as yet ….!)

  5. profit doesn’t capture the intangible values very well
    so i dont’ consider it relevant to my own internal system for where i live.

    it is an interface to the wider socieity.

  6. We wish to create a permaculture land trust in Hawaii, have secured the land, but have found no real means to connect with investors that may be interested in pooling money and resources. Are networks or organizations or even real-estate agents known to you all that might facilitate these kind of arrangements? Any help on this is much appreciated.

  7. As always, the devil is in the details. It would seem that 25 acres cost something in the vicinity of US 100,000 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A0uNUN9UG0.

    As with every enterprise, if one can keep one’s initial negative net cash flow small, then the sword of woe that constantly dangles over one’s head is less likely to be fatal when in inevitably drops.

    Smart boy to figure out where the cheap but economic land is.

  8. Well said Richard I agree with your points. Also, I’ve always had a nagging frustration that ‘Profitable’ needs defining in Permaculture – because it is an activity of production… within a regenerative context. Dollar for dollar the regenerative part is shared profit with future generations, not just the farmer’s gain. So dollar value from output is a masked representation of real profitability and permaculture farmers are no different from any other farmer if they’re just thinking about market value of produce. Permaculture farmers need profit so they can eat and sustain a healthy lifestyle, just as any other professional who devotes their life hours to a focussed activity for validation/gain/profit. There’s nothing wrong with profiting from an activity, yet that seems to be wrong in some permaculture mindsets. So (to borrow from a snail/duck Mollisonism) permaculture profit is not the problem in itself– we have a deficiency in understanding how to recognise, define, catch and eat Permaculture Profit :) Cause everyone’s gotta eat in the real world–and why not eat well!

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