I am currently at the Permaculture Voices 3 conference in San Diego. There are so many incredible growers here and the presentations are blowing my mind. I attended two sessions today where one market farmer is growing $80,000 of produce on a quarter acre. The other is growing $100,000 of produce per acre. Both systems are very labor intensive and have no large equipment. Neither farmer is completely clear what would happen if they scaled up their operations to larger properties, but they have found their sweet spot for profitable and successful tiny farms.
So how does this apply to our farm? How can their applications of intensive small scale farming be applied to Stone Coop which is currently growing on 4.5 acres? Do we scale back and downsize to grow more intensively? Do we reduce the number of crops we grow and primarily focus on our most profitable crops? How can we grow more perennials for our beneficial insects to help us reduce our pest pressure? How can we smother weed seeds in our large fields with tarps? Do we just target one field this year and do experiments? There is so much information to process and figure out. It is a great opportunity to make changes in 2016 because we haven’t started growing in the fields yet and we are just now starting our spring crops in the hoop houses. I think more research is necessary and I need to ask these successful farmers more questions. Ultimately we just need to make a decision and establish a plan that we can use this year and learn from it.
There are more sessions tomorrow and Saturday. I am hoping to find a farming mentor at this conference or at least establish a community or forum where I can get ideas and solutions. Everyone here is excited to help each other and you can tell that “trade secrets” do not apply here. These folks want to change our planet for the better and they are doing great things that are having a global impact.
Recommended Reading: “The Urban Farmer” by Curtis Stone and “The Market Gardener” by Jean-Martin Fortier. Both have tiny farms that are super successful.
Recommended Viewing: Farmer Gina gives you some background information about growing kale in the winter and then shows you how to harvest. I am just loving the Stone Coop Farm YouTube site!!!
Did You Know that there are 8 forms of capital? This conference has speakers constantly referring to their social capital, intellectual capital, material capital, etc. These are very new concepts to me, but fascinating. The basic concept is these are all valuable and incredibly effective when used and considered together. They can also be things that you barter for with other people. At Stone Coop we tap into a few of these sources of capital with our working shares. I am excited to start using this thought process to use all 8 Forms. The link above can give you more details on this concept.