It's about trialing three ways to grow crops on abandoned asphalt areas. But, about paragraph # 11, I see this -
"Kovach recently completed a six-year study of fruit and vegetable polyculture: “ecologically designed” mixed-crop plots that maximize biological diversity, minimize pest problems and earn the equivalent of nearly $100,000 an acre a year....."
So he's done polyculture and quantified the economic results....hmmm.... must research farther....this is in Ohio, btw.
It's time to get positive about negative thinking -Art Donnelly
Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
$100K/acre? What are they growing...coca leaves, or opium poppies?
Joined: Feb 22, 2010
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
Thanks to Ludi's links, it appears that blueberries were the only (but big!) winners for Joe Kovach.... using 'eco-mimicry'. He's not exactly permaculture (using beds, weed cloths, etc.) but seems pointed in the right direction. And he's big on urban farming .... unused lots, big lawns, etc.
Joined: Oct 09, 2008
Location: Missouri/Iowa border
According to my old-fashioned math... In order to glean $100,000.00 from 1 acre, you would have to make $2.30 per square foot, multiplied 43,560 times. That is mighty dense profitability for anything short of a mine.
Joined: Jul 19, 2011
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
I've heard of folks making huge profits growing pricey salad greens; microgreens, pea tendrils (shoots) and sunflower shoots. Will Allen in Milwaukee has a very intensive polyculture growing on three acres.
If you read the story (the ourOhio one) he's saying that the retail value of his crop is abouat 90,000/acre with 100K his goal. He also admits it cost 25K to set up.
Unless you are running a street stand, you will have to wholesale it. We have a local co-op that does this, and they take about 1/3, with the rest going to the farmer. But the farmer has to deliver to the co-op once a week in the amounts they request. So you aren't guaranteed a market.
So 100K turns to 66K.
Now he's growing a raft of different things. Choose your different things carefully, as you can easily end up with situations where everything happens at once. You want a harvest season that is fairly long so you have an extended income stream.
To get that kind of $/acre he's using every trick of intensive growing. Lots of growing projects like this are a LOT easier if you have more room to work.
Here's something to think about: If you get an average of $1/pound (low for blueberries, high for mellons and lettuce) you are transporting 50 TONS of produce (not counting the boxes...) to the market.
Running a raft of different crops makes hiring help tricky. You either have to pay enough to keep them coming back, or you have to train new people all the time, or you have to do it all yourself. I find it takes me about an hour to train someone to transplant a tree to my standard, and another few hours for the person to get fast at it. Generally I find that I have to work with people to get good value for my wage. If I'm not there, only half as much gets done. (I use mostly high school kids)
Farming is hard work. This kind of farming is physically demanding, often boring work. The advantage to polyculture is that you aren't doing the same thing day after day. Boredom is less likely. The disadvantage is that you aren't doing the same thing day after day, so you have to pay attention.
On top of the farming work, you have to market your stuff. That's a whole new learning curve, which I'm still trying to pick up.
In my case the co-op market is a 90 minute drive. Costs me $50 for gas to make the round trip in my pickup. It also costs me 3 hours. That's 3 hours I'm not weeding, planting, watering, harvesting.
On the other hand, I've got more than an acre to work with.