Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dreaming Big

For the last two years I've been planning for the farm and that has helped me really spend quite a bit of time planning, researching and just plain dreaming about what the farm is going to look like. I think it's been good for me to have a long planning period and has helped me find a clearer vision and will hopefully allow me to hit the ground running when we do buy land.

What I'd like to do is throw out some of my "in a perfect world" dream plans even if they never make it to reality on the actual farm. I'm going in order I'd like to get them done.

  • Launch an on-line store for my hand made products.
  • Start a 500 Year Farm podcast.
  • Start a 500 Year Farm Youtube channel.
  • Buy the land.
  • Plop a cheap and quick structure on it, the biggest candidate being a prefab shed. Something I could use as a make shift cabin on weekends while getting things started and store things in when I'm not there.
  • Start building a nursery. It's about the lowest risk business I can have on the farm. It doesn't require a lot of capital or infrastructure. I can work on it just on weekends without having to live on the land first. Even if nothing sells, I can use the unsold stock on the farm. There are opportunities for covering the startup costs of the nursery with propagation workshops if I partner with a qualified instructor.
  • Begin work on the keylines and swales for the property. It's better to get this done before things get too established and in the way. It's also the time when it will cost the least to complete. Again, opportunities to supplement the costs with workshops and partnering with other permaculture programs for this.
  • Work with an existing holistic pasture manager that is looking to lease land to start restoring the land and generating a small amount of income. More workshop opportunities.
  • Find a local naturally managed bee keeper who could place some hives on the farm in exchange for a portion of the honey, pollen, bee's wax and propolis collected. The first opportunities for a value added products from the farm.
  • Start construction of the first permanent building on the property, the family house. It's the largest capital cost. It will take the most time and labor to finish. It doesn't make any money for the farm. However, without it, I'm very limited in the other income generating things I can do. Costs could be brought down again with workshops if the right relationships are developed with qualified natural building instructors. Also, a possibility for a crowd funding campaign.
  •  Start an education program to teach skills I have, bring in reliable income and get people to come to the farm. Again, opportunities to pair with other instructors.
  • Start a fun day on the farm program to bring in income and get people to come to the farm.
  • Start a breeding program for work dogs. This fulfills three niches; I love working with dogs, it generates income, the dogs will work on the farm.
  • Start with small livestock, chickens to begin with, to creating annual and perennial food systems. Workshops abound here.
  • Start selling farm produced products at farmers markets.
  • Shift grazing program to be managed in house with our own livestock.
  • Find a local leather crafter to partner with to create unique leather products from animal hides.
  • Develop a natural fiber program.
  • Bring horses onto the farm. It's my wife and daughters dream to own horses, they can be used as work animals on the farm, they supplement the grazing program, and Colorado has a robust industry of equine activities for leisure that could bring enough income to cover their cost.
  • Find a local farm to table, nose to tail, restaurant to partner with to do on the farm dinning nights.
  • Build a smokehouse.
  • Build a few tiny cabins on the farm for interns and tourism.
  • Start a relaxation and wellness program.
  • Develop a commercial kitchen. Either on site or mobile food truck.
  • Stop going to farmers markets and only sell on farm, on the web.
  • Develop a PDC program.
  • Develop a local delivery program.
  • Develop a forestry product program.
  • Develop a nano bakery.
  • Develop a nano brewery.
  • Develop a nano dairy.
  • Buy more land and expand.
I view my roll in each step as the person who launches each new aspect of the business then it's important to find or develop a manager to take over responsibilities.

I'm sure I forgot some things, I'm sure some things will never happen but there it is. The 10,000 foot view of 500 Year Farm as right now.

I'd love to hear your feedback. Please, post a comment. Don't forget to check out my music either.