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Save the World, Without Giving Your Money Away!

Editor’s Note: There are still places available on the April 17-30 PDC in Morocco – you’re encouraged to book now! Andy’s side-offer, described below, may well be another good reason to go – as while taking the course you have opportunity to check out a very affordable investment opportunity that may pay dividends in more ways than one.

With the high risk of our seeing hyperinflation hit us sometime in the next 2-3 years, many are wondering what to do with their money before it becomes worthless. This is why serious investors have at least part of their portfolio in tangible assets such as gold or land.

For a long time I wanted to buy some land and do something with it, but where I live the land is stupidly expensive (particularly for small amounts), the prices propped up by grants and other scams. I knew there was affordable land in other parts of the world but I had neither the contacts nor the confidence to do anything. Recently I bought a small piece of land in Morocco to build a school and internet project, based around permaculture. Having gone through the purchasing process, with some good friends over there helping, and having the deeds in my possession, I am in a good position to help others do something good with their money.

Starting from the edges, it is quite possible to turn the desert back into a forest. Your investment would be part of the first stage, using permaculture principles to halt the spread of the desert, bring back fertility and then eventually expand into the sand dunes. Reforest the Sahara and not only keep your capital, but also have a good chance of increasing its value massively. Use your ‘insider knowledge’ of permaculture to invest in the real future.

The land I bought was quite fertile agricultural land, and quite expensive; altogether with legal costs it was about 3000 euros for a hectare or so. There’s marginal land in the area much cheaper because people don’t realize what can be achieved on such land. I was inspired by the whole region – it’s turning to desert but could easily be turned around with a little judicious planting and a respite from the goats. Anyone (or a group of friends) with around 3,000 euros could buy some and make it into a forest. This is the kind of land I’m talking about:

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How it Works

We act as an agent:

  • for the initial purchase, ensuring that the purchaser has legal title
  • to employ local people to do the work
  • for any subsequent sale or transfer

The agency would be entirely voluntary, no long term contract or penalty clauses. If you decide to manage your own land, or appoint someone else at any time, you are entirely free to do so.

The fees to cover labour and expenses could be annual or monthly, with no obligatory minimum, and as more land comes into the scheme the labor costs per acre would go down. As the land develops into forest, you will have crops such as nuts, fruit and olives, as well as timber. These can be used to pay the workers maintaining the forest, thus offsetting the ongoing expense altogether. All this can be managed for you by us, or by anyone else you choose to appoint.

Much of the initial work could be done as part of the courses we’ll be running for local people, as well as international students, volunteers and interns, who would benefit from the experience, This would mean you would not need to pay much for the time it should take to become productive enough to cover costs. After the intial earthworks we could pay someone 20 to 25 euros for a full day every now and then, at your discretion. The more work is done, the faster it will develop. This need not be intensive permaculture, more like zone three or four.

We can arrange hospitality and accommodation for you at local rates, so you can visit the project and see your land at any time with minimum cost. The area we are in has stunning scenery and welcoming people, so this could be a low-cost and unique holiday for you too.

Advantages over traditional ‘charity’:

  • Totally Ethical (your ethics). Your children’s world will be enhanced by your investment, and no damage is done anywhere
  • Land price would increase as the whole area becomes fertile. So your investment starts to grow even just in cash terms very soon
  • The investment is under your control completely. You can run it yourself or appoint someone else as an agent at any time
  • It’s free from the pitfalls of fiat currency, which affect virtually every other form of investment except things like gold
  • None of your money is wasted. Most organizations spend a significant proportion of your donations on administrators, offices, computers etc. We will be using the already existing resources of the School/Permaculture Centre.
  • You get to do something useful with your money and still keep it!

Small is Beautiful

By keeping the operation small we can save costs and avoid the burgeoning bureaucracy that plagues many projects.The core operation—the land agency and work co-ordination—can be done by two people, who will use the same resources as all the other projects, and not rely on this as a full-time job. Thus commission and admin fees can be kept to a bare minimum. The vast majority of your money is in the investment itself, and fees are in line with those of banks and other investment agents. The work will be carried out by local people trained on the permaculture design ceritifcate courses at our centre. Thus the communty will see immediate benefits from the project.

You Choose the Kind of Forest

  • Food Forest: This is a diverse woodland designed with an overstory of thngs like palm, wth many fruit and nut trees growing beneath it, as well as a thriving support community of plants and animals. It mimics the natural forest system, producing a sturdy and stable ecosystem with abundant food and water. This is the best for our area, as it has a human population and we need to convince the locals of the benefits of permaculture.
  • Timber: Similar design to the food forest, but with an emphasis on trees that wll be valuable for timber when fully grown.
  • Wild: This would be left alone after some optional initial earthworks to preserve water. Many people believe wild land is worth nothng, but you only need to look at the degrees of corruption timber companies will go to in order to exploit the Public wildlands in the USA to see that this is not true. Usually there is quite an expense in fencing for this knd of project, but the goats here are herded, not free-ranging, and the locals will respect your wishes and not graze the land. There are wild baby-tree predators but the removal of the goats will be sufficient to ensure success.

Comment below if you have questions and/or expressions of interest – or email me on andy (at) tribalnetworks.org

5 Comments

  1. I have been looking for this kind of arrangement for a while and would like to know more. I do not know much about Morocco to be honest.
    The food forest option is really the one of interest to me, but seeing as I am unfamiliar with the climate I do not know what kind of crops could be produced. Who would be designing the land if I find myself unable to visit? Would I be provided with maps, a layout and the design? Are the plantings covered in the cost or is there a way to arrange for it? Is there a system to provide progress updates and a place for the produce to go before I transition to the site?

    How do the locals feel about foreigners buying up their land? Or is there any questionable history about how this land became available?
    Sorry for the barrage of questions! These were just some things that came to mind.

  2. Hi Christian. Thanks, good questions, it is helpful to know what is not clear. As you can see it is just at the idea stage.

    “Who would be designing the land if I find myself unable to visit?”

    The designs would be done by permaculture teachers as part of design courses, with the students, and in co-operation with investors. That would be very relevant to PDC students, because they would have a similar situation in their work later. Satisfying the landowner is a crucial skill.

    The students benefit from the practice, and the fact that the teacher is in charge of producing the plan guarantees it will be ok. In addition, the initial earthworks and preparation would be done as part of a course, so setup costs would be minimal. Both sides benefit from this.

    The ongoing work would be done by locals, trained at the centre and with the professional oversight of the qualified designers at the centre. these would initially be from outside the area (Australia, Britain…), but the aim is to train up locals to run the whole thing.

    “Would I be provided with maps, a layout and the design?”

    Maps and layout would be by email. Also google earth has very good coverage of the area now, so we could pinpoint it by GPS and you’d be able to see individual trees even. I am setting it up so that we are the agent, with no long-term contract, so that we have to satisfy our ‘customers’ and everything is transparent. If enough investors were unhappy with our work, it would be trivial to get together and send someone over to appoint another agent. I realise things can change over time, and I thought this was a good way to keep people on their toes, and stop any power base from emerging.

    We can’t really start until the building is done, but I’d like to iron out all the issues beforehand, so that we can do it immediately after that. I’m aiming for before the end of this year, maybe in the late Autumn.

    Planting: This would mostly be part of the courses, and a nursery would be started at the centre too. Other work including more planting would be done by paying locals at around 25 euros a day.

    Foreigners: From what I saw, there was no resentment. There’s a huge area and we would keep it below a certain percentage of any given area. Once that percentage was reached, we could go further afield (e.g. the land in the video above is about 20 km away, and an ideal place to buy a large plot for maybe 5 or 6 investors and cut costs even more) The idea is for this project to help the overall restoration, not to take it over. The land bought would be the marginal land, and mostly would be like a zone 4 or 5 if you imagine the region as a single large permaculture project. The ‘valuable’ land, which is already farmed, wouldn’t be affected, only beneficially through increased presence of water.

    I have talked about this with people from there, and they see no problem. The most likely negative reaction is that we are mad to be interested in that land, but they’ll take our money anyway!

    This would only be part of many different things, the aggregate of which is like one huge permaculture project.

    Questionable History: hehe! look for the transaction before the first one on any title deeds, and there you will find the crime. But this is tribal land, up in the mountains, worthless to big business. Ownership is like a patchwork of small plots, handed down over the years and split up by the various families. Sometimes selling a patch of ‘useless land’ some distance from your actual farmhouse can enable a new house to be built, or better facilities to be added.

    Still I’ll bear this in mind and find out more. We definitely don’t want to spark off some simmering family feud.

    This would be an integral part of an overall plan including the permaculture centre, school, valley restoration, internet and various small businesses where the locals can form a co-op to sell their produce to the towns without middlemen. Also exporting low-weight, high value commodities such as spices and music, both to shops in europe and directly to people anywhere via the internet. The idea is to restore the ecology and the local economy, but without involving people in repetitive tasks like in a monoculture, by seeing what they do already and using that as a starting point.

    The main thing I noticed is that nobody there does just one thing. What I have in mind is many different small enterprises, which all support each other in an interlocking and organic system based on local traditions and skills. Permaculture is the only thing I know of that doesn’t come along with a pre-conceived plan, and thus is ideal to fit in with the community.

    Having said that, their traditional methods have led to the desert, and that there will be some upset along the way as a new system is introduced, however by teaching the locals and involving them with the project from the word go we hope to enable them to change and create a food forest, and by doing it ourselves and showing them, it shows our respect, rather than imposed laws à la WWF and UN.

    Please let me know anything else this brings up, or email me. I really want to make this happen, and I can see it is very possible, but needs some attention to the details.

  3. hi my husband and i arelooking for land in moroco prefeerably high up with the view of the sea can you help us with any information you may have also we would like a river nearby and some more information on your project yhank you mandy and abraham

  4. what an amazing project! I have been researching investment opportunities that make a positive impact and this is a wonderful method. How can I get some more information and get involved?

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