Friday, February 13, 2015

500 Year Farm

In my post about my 500 year plan I talked a little at how I arrived at my dream but I didn't really spell out what that plan is. This post is to clarify what I want to do.

Step 1: Buy land in Colorado.

The ideal would be 80 acres but anything over 20 acres would fit my plan just not on the scale I was hoping for. I would prefer to have some water rights that would allow me to build ponds but that can be difficult in Colorado, though not impossible. I don't really care if the land has existing infrastructure other than it needs to have relatively close electrical hook up and be within a 30-45 minute drive of the Denver Metro area as that's a large part of my business plan. Something with some texture to the land would be best, e.g.:A bit of rock, a bit of hill, some valley, some elevation. Some existing forest or woodlot would be awesome. The most important part would be the ability to pay cash for the land so the cheaper the better $50,000 - $70,000 would be ideal and $100,000 as the top of my budget.

Step 2: Housing

Establish low cost short term housing on the land. The most likely candidate right now would be a single wide trailer. The important parts being enough room for the family to live for 2-5 years comfortably,  low cost, and as little set up labor as possible. Again this housing would need to be paid for in cash. If I don't get banks involved, it takes the pressure off being profitable in the first year. I just need to break even and provide food for the family as I build up things on the farm to provide the stable income. This is important in eliminating the monthly rent we are currently paying to free that up to pay for farming projects as soon as possible.

Step 3: Complete earthworks

A large part of what I want to achieve will require shaping the land to maximize it's water usage and topsoil creation. Terracing, Hugelkulture, ponds and swales, as well as key-line plowing will turn the land into a carbon capturing, soil building machine that will outlast many generations. This is something that only has to be done once.

Step 4: Short term food production

Using the Hugelkulture beds and possibly a small greenhouse to begin growing enough annual and perennial food grown in poly-culture as possible for immediate use by my family with a hope of enough surplus to sell and begin building a client base.

Step 5: Begin Building a Food Forrest

This will happen alongside step 4. Using small herds and flocks of chickens, goats, and pigs to start building the land. Chicken are my tillers, pigs my plows and goats my brush hogs. I will be  following their work with cover cropping and then planting what will become the over story of a food forest.

Step 6: Food Truck

This is where I plan on providing the majority of income for the farm and why I want to be close to Denver Metro. I want to change the world by knocking down the barrier between people and their food. I believe availability of local in season food isn't the only thing standing in the way of the "Eat Local" food movement. People go to a farmers market, buy a bunch of veggies, get them home, don't know how to prepare them and they rot in the fridge while they eat fast food. I think people are so separated from their food now that unless it's on their plate it doesn't matter how good it is for the planet or their health, or how tasty it is. People have forgotten how to eat anything other than boneless skinless chicken breast in a prepackaged and pre-seasoned microwave pouches with a side of macaroni and cheese. I want to not only produce amazing food, but I want to deliver food experiences for people that changes the way they look at their food. I don't want to mimic what a grocery store has and try to compete just on quality. I want people to get back to eating whats growing right now, right here and wasting as little of an animal as possible. I want to use the food truck to provide lunches, produce, and meat to places around Denver. Meals that show how to eat seasonal, from a local farm that produces food that benefits the earth, the farmer, and the consumer. Guilt free food that tastes amazing. The food truck gives me a certified commercial kitchen letting me turn everything the farm produces into a salable product that blows away anything else you can get. With modern technology I can reach out to customers using Facebook and Twitter, process credit/debit cards on site, update people on what's ready that day and get it to them in the most convenient way possible.

Step 7: Building Long Term Housing

Once the farm is profitable, I want to build an earth friendly, high efficiency house that can be handed down for generations without draining the planet of endless resources. Other structures should be constructed too. I'd love to have small cottages on the farm for people to stay in as well as some meeting areas for various events.

Step 8: Refine and Enjoy

Once the major projects are finished the rest is making year after year improvements to get more diversity and better output. The great thing about permaculture is that it strives to let nature do as much of the work as possible and overtime just enjoying the farms outputs. It's never going to be easy, but it shouldn't be slave labor either.

So, is this exactly what's going to happen, probably not. I've left out all the hard work, money, and time that will be required as well as the luck aspect. The thing about planning is being flexible, like a reed in the wind, bending but not breaking. This is how I see things now, it could change tomorrow, in a week, a month, a year, 20 years, or 500 years. But I have a plan and I'm laser focused on it now.