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Permaculture land trust

Stuart Davis

Joined: Nov 25, 2011
Posts: 18
Location: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Greetings, My family and I own 18 acres of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. This is beautiful land that I have built a straw bale home on as well as created ponds, terraced some areas, and planted some trees to start a food forest. In general, been working towards developing the land using permaculture design concepts. This work has been slow going while maintaining a full time job and in the process there was a fire that consumed all of the trees and vegetation on the property as well as some of our belongings. Fortunately, this event did not destroy our home in part due to good planning and in part by the grace of God.

Unfortunately, the other members of my family do not want to live this remotely (32 miles from the nearest city) any longer. This breaks my heart. I love this place and see so much potential in it, but my children want to be more involved in school activities and with other kids. I understand this given their ages. We will need to sell this property in order to purchase something in the city. I can’t help but think there may be another way. This is more land than we ever needed.

I think it could be possible to establish a land trust that folks could purchase stocks in and devise a way to be on the land or co-own the land with the land trust established to make it possible to use the land following permaculture principles in perpetuity. Ownership of stock would provide certain benefits and for anyone that wanted to sell, the stocks would pass on these benefits to the next owner of the stocks. Think of it much like buying a condo. You own the space within the walls of the dwelling but the property of the main facility is collectively owned and a certain structure of use and behavior associated with that facility is maintained.

Is this a viable way to create permaculture communities? Anybody already do it this way? Are there any other ways to keep the land and still get some down payment funds? At the very least it would be good to sell to some other permaculture folks if there is any interest out there. Thanks for any comments or interest in these ideas.
cameron richardson

Joined: Jan 04, 2013
Posts: 5
Are you trying to organize this or sell it and have them organize?

Just curious because I would love to be a part of establishing a permaculture community in the Santa Cruz area.
Steven Johnson

Joined: Mar 14, 2012
Posts: 61
Location: south east mo
Hi Stuart and all,
This has been our idea too. Buy together, as a holding company, and get the right to maintain a home and the right to take part in the common perma cult ure projects, that should be decided on together but giving people freedom to do what they want except selling the whole thing and breaking it up. Much like a condo, you can sell your part but cannot make everyone else sell too.
This needs to be people with some resources, people who have nothing now will be welcome on some levels at some times but initially it must be people who can invest some subtantial money,but not nearly as much as if you did it alone.
We only want a small house and yard size place for a home, which might be a tent, or an emcampment, and the right to develop gardens and food and fiber growing modalities in the perma cult ure way, in the common areas. A combination of tiny homes, mobile or not, and inovative camping out, perhaps. I believe that is legal in mendo county.
Maybe we could call it the Perma Cult. It could be one legal entity which owns many parcels of land and people can live on whichever one they want to and can move around. Once we figure it out a person could buy into it with a standard amount, that they could pay in instalments while they were partial members but when they were fully paid in they could have a permanant home space and a community which might grow as the perma cult ure infrastructure develops.
We are eager to start this right now. We have some money and the possibility of more in the future and are motivated since we need a place to live.
Write to me at rowansc at yahoo, you know the drill. The time is now. I'll be writing more about my ideas soon on Lets do it!!!
We could call it the Perma Cult, where all you have to believe in is freedom and not buying into the system. We need to make it a legal entity. We are in Mendo county right now and are open to moving, we like mendo, and ca. and are drawn to northern ca, but might go anywhere. Santa cruz would be a good area, 32 miles from town sounds about right.
S Bengi

Joined: Nov 29, 2012
Posts: 1221
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
each family/person would need 1-3 private/condo acres just for them to provide their own food/experiment.
And then at least that much for a "farm" to make some outside money.
So 5 families seem like the max it could hold with 9acre private and 9 acres as a shared farm.
I would much rather not have a meeting to see if me growing lettuce 40ft from my door is the right direction for our shared farm.
Or if me building a 20ft greenhouse or shed is a waste of our shared farm space.
Steven Johnson

Joined: Mar 14, 2012
Posts: 61
Location: south east mo
I think we could have both to a significant degree, private space for private stuff, and common space for food, and for making money. In my vision, having a large space for private profit would not happen, we might want common money making modalities too. Have you read Mollisons permaculture manual? esp the last chapter on developing communities.
I've been trying to do the homestead thing all alone and sometimes with one wife or girlfriend and while it can be fun, it takes way too much comittment of being there all the time, I mean 24/7 365 a yr, yr in and yr out. I want to share those things. There is a lot to work out, the challenge here is to figure ways to do it and I think it cannot be done ahead of time. To make it happen we need to try. The problem I have is that people tell each other what to do too much. I need to give it up too.
In my vision, you could put up that greenhouse in the common area, but you could not keep other members out of it. And vice versa. The big, productive areas are for the group to use together. The little private areas are for getting away from the group, and private time.
We need a common vision for the common areas, and a decision making process. Mollisons book looks good to me for the vision.
S. Benji, where are you? Have you tried perma cult ure gardening? Permaculture is more than gardening techniques, it is a philosophy and a way of life that existed everywhere once upon a time because there was no alternative, there is a chioce now, it is competition and the money economy, and money is really just a game marker.
In the permaculture idea, an efficient productive homestead mostly involves growing a community of life, allowing each to benefit the other, and specificly not turning our energy into money except to the degree needed to transition and to maintain our standing in the money economy but to mostly live outside, maybe beside the money economy.

Does this resonate with any one? The time is now, we can only start small, it might grow. We do not have the option to start big, just not possible.
Is there one other person or family who wants to start now? We are ready. Write.
S Bengi

Joined: Nov 29, 2012
Posts: 1221
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
Most of the guys with 100 acre farm say that they dont work that much. and all they really need is 8 or so people to help during harvest time.
So with 5 families (maybe 15 people about the age of 12) working on just 18 acres.
Doesn't seem like there should be all that much work yr after yr.
I do understand that the initial setup does require alot but after the 1st two years of really hard work.
The system should not be a 80hr/wk for the next 30yrs.

Some ppl view pemaculture as planting a winter covercrop for corn.
For other you have to share housing/bathroom.
Its a sliding scale.

For me personally I like the idea of having a private space for my own house, for other they like to share a house only a private room.
I like the idea of having a private space for my own lettuce. 1-3 acres.
Now when it comes to buying, harvesting and marketing etc I dont mine combining resources.
I personally think that 1-3 acres is a nice balance.
Where we can have a greenhouse as a shared farm to grow tomatoes as a cash crop, but if I want to grow mangoes just for myself on my 1 acre I can too.
I do understand that everyone have different ideas of what permaculture is.

Even in the arabic normadic tribes. They might combine sheeps, but at night the flock divide and each one goes to their respective owners.

Yes I do have a permaculture lawn/garden but not permaculture heating/cooking/electric/greywater/building/etc.

nathan luedtke

Joined: Apr 15, 2011
Posts: 165
Have you spoken with the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County? They have programs to assist land owners with conservation easements, or to match landowners with conservation-minded buyers. They may be able to provide you with advice in how to structure something like this.
I agree. Here's the link: food forest dvd
subject: Permaculture land trust