Archive for Downsizer For an ethical approach to consumption
 


       Downsizer Forum Index -> Finance and Property
cassy

"Small is Successful" report

The "Small is Successful" report on the Ecological Land Co-operative website makes interesting reading.

It investigates 8 case studies where people have viable "low acreage livelihoods", in most cases without subsidies or grants, often on marginal ground. It found the key component for success was the attitude of the people involved. Nothing we probably don't know already, but nice to have an injection of hope now and again! Very Happy

Quite a lot of other interesting info on that website for people interested in low impact development.
Treacodactyl

Thanks Cassy, we've downloaded the PDF to browse through - interesting to see Real Seeds there.
cassy

Yes, interesting to see Real Seeds and good to know their business is doing well.

Have you read the study on Bridge Farm yet?

"Bridge Farm is a thriving market garden and forest garden run by John and Rachel Harding. Annually it produces 22,000 worth of Soil Association certified organic fruit, and vegetables sold locally. Although the total area of the land is 4.5 acres, the majority of the food is grown on 1.5 acres of which 1 acre is de-voted to vegetable production, with 0.75 acres of raised beds managed entirely by hand. Half an acre is a mature forest garden, comprising 65 different varieties of apple tree, 20 pears, 20 plum, cob nut and filbert trees and a walnut tree. It is probably the largest example of a commercially operative forest garden in the UK."

Great to read positive reports on what can be done on small amounts of land using forest gardening.
Woodburner

All very interesting stuff. TY for the link. Smile
Treacodactyl

Have you read the study on Bridge Farm yet?


Just read it. What they've done sounds quite similar to what we plan, i.e. have a forest garden for some plants and vegetable garden for others.

It would be great to meet some of these people and get an honest opinion of how they think things are going. Selling as much produce locally sounds ideal but I'm still a bit unconvinced how easy it is to do currently and, of course, it'll depend on where you are.

It's also interesting to read that even with such a small holding they are still heavily dependant on cheap labour. One of the things that concerns me the most is just when you need to spend time on your holding harvesting you also need to spend time away selling your produce. Obvious really but it doesn't really appeal, we're more the type of people who'd pick and process our produce and would like to get help from others to sell it.
cassy

We're in a similar position. Our location means that the opportunities to sell fresh are very limited and as you say, combined with the necessity for extra labour at critical times, selling fresh produce doesn't seems a sensible way forward for us.

I think the value added approach is the way to go and hopefully some of the more unusual forest garden plants will help to differentiate us from other producers.

Would there be any opportunity for farm gate sales for you?
gil

Interesting link - thanks, cassy !
Treacodactyl

Would there be any opportunity for farm gate sales for you?


We've yet to find a property to put up any gates. Laughing Seriously though, we'll be looking for a place probably next year now and that's one of the things we're thinking about. Do you want somewhere quiet or somewhere with a reasonable amount of traffic if you want farm gate sales. If we have much choice we'll go for the quiet option so I doubt we'd be able to sell too much at the gate.

An ideal solution would be to provide a veg box scheme or, perhaps, some local restaurants. However, apart from the exotic but familiar fruits I'm not too sure of the market for some of the more unusual produce.

I think we'll get on with what we want to do personally and see what, if any, opportunities arise.
gz

I think it comes down to yes, you can make a living on 10 acres.
Depending on keeping the overheads down, buying local and selling local as far as possible.
tahir

Martin at ART ran an organic smallholding before setting up ART, he told me that it devoured all his time and made very little money.

I've not read the report but 22k worth of produce isn't going to pay anyone's bills.
cassy

I've not read the report but 22k worth of produce isn't going to pay anyone's bills.
From the report

"Income from agriculture covers house insurance, heating bills, council tax and personal food bills. Additional income for other personal expenses come from the courses and their B&B business."

After business costs, they were left with around 11,000. As they have kept their overheads down, as gz says, it seems 22,000 worth of produce can and does pay their bills.

One of the similarities between all the case studies in the report, was the lack of having to service debt by building the businesses gradually and doing a lot of the work themselves.
Nick

Martin at ART ran an organic smallholding before setting up ART, he told me that it devoured all his time and made very little money.

I've not read the report but 22k worth of produce isn't going to pay anyone's bills.

It's worth reading. I guess, if you're working 22 hours a day, you don't have much time to rack up bills.

Some good business plans in there. Some shocking, but some good.
RichardW


I've not read the report but 22k worth of produce isn't going to pay anyone's bills.

It would easily pay ours more than twice over. Even the 11k bottom line they make would still give us some spare cash each year compared to what we live on now. With 11k per year we would not need any tax credits ect even though we would be well under the limits.
shadiya

Blimey Tahir, if you don't think 22,000 will pay any bills Shocked then please can I have a borrow of your petty cash tin? Wink Laughing

Haven't had a chance to go through this yet though the description of the largest commercial forest garden is intriguing. I'm not wholly convinced about temperate forest gardening myself, as I just don't think we get enough sun to really do the layers and there is obviously a balance to be drawn between underplanting and airflow but I would be very happy to be proven wrong. That small farms are more efficient/sustainable/productive etc isn't really news, the IAASTD report of 2008 confirmed that and was promptly buried by the countries that commisioned it as it didn't really say what they wanted. Mad

Obviously, I am not saying all small farms etc, it is a generalisation and not one that I'd apply here but I'm working on it..... Wink
Lorrainelovesplants

yes, working every daylight hour on 1 acre probably might make us sucessful. tahir

Blimey Tahir, if you don't think 22,000 will pay any bills Shocked then please can I have a borrow of your petty cash tin? Wink Laughing


22k of turnover, not 22k of profits. You could turn over 22k and be losing serious money, even in a best case scenario there ain't much room for a profit at that turnover level.

I'm not going to get into another protracted argument about this, people can make their own minds up on what they deem an acceptable income, all I'm saying is that:

a) We spend more than that in general living and stuff we do on the farm

b) It's VERY dangerous to infer any level of potential profitability based just on turnover.
RuthG

22k worth of produce isnt the same as 22k profit to spend. Much of the money would have to be used to transport the produce, buy in seeds for next year, repair the holding, etc etc. The first case study said they produced something like 28k of veggies, but the profit was only 5.5k because of overheads. Living on 5.5k is pretty hard! tahir

22k worth of produce isnt the same as 22k profit to spend. Much of the money would have to be used to transport the produce, buy in seeds for next year, repair the holding, etc etc. The first case study said they produced something like 28k of veggies, but the profit was only 5.5k because of overheads. Living on 5.5k is pretty hard!

Exactly, thanks Ruth Smile
Ty Gwyn

Had a look through last night,
One of the links to Energy ,mentioned 74% of the UK are in favour of Wind energy

Are there that many MP`s?

Running some of them business`s relying on Cheap labour,is a cop out ,not to do the work themselves,
If they paid minimum wage,they would`nt survive
cassy

22k worth of produce isnt the same as 22k profit to spend.!
cassy wrote:
After business costs, they were left with around 11,000. As they have kept their overheads down, as gz says, it seems 22,000 worth of produce can and does pay their bills.

It seems to me that it is up to the individual to say whether they are able to manage on that level of income. Other people might not be able to / might not want to, but if they can and do ....

I don't think any of them were claiming that it is easy. It says in the report that a common factor in the success of these projects was their attitude.
markjadams

Does anyone know where Holly Tree Farm is based as it does not say and I can't find any reference to them on the internet.

We are in a very similar business but with a much larger annual turnover we have acheived this on 5 acres without a problem.

Mark.
tahir

We are in a very similar business but with a much larger annual turnover

Are you happy with your profitability? Does it give you a living and a surplus to re-invest?
markjadams

That is a difficult question to answer, I would always like to earn more but yes the business does have money to reinvest and grow.

I do not feel that it is currently the right time to be investing any money I am just trading as normal and waiting to see what happens.

It would be very helpful if the price of feed could drop a little as this is the main cause for concern at the moment.
tahir

Excellent, well done. shadiya

I may be a muppet but even I know that turnover doesn't equate with profit, it was more of joke than any kind of serious comment, though I could live the hi life with a22k income Very Happy markjadams

22k worth of produce isnt the same as 22k profit to spend. Much of the money would have to be used to transport the produce, buy in seeds for next year, repair the holding, etc etc. The first case study said they produced something like 28k of veggies, but the profit was only 5.5k because of overheads. Living on 5.5k is pretty hard!

RuthG,

I think you are missing an importing note which says that they have 5.5K profit AFTER PAYING THE OWNERS WAGES. It is not 5.5K for them to live on.
markjadams

Does anyone know who and where they duck hatchery featured in the article are?

Mark.
       Downsizer Forum Index -> Finance and Property
Page 1 of 1
Home Home Home Home Home