BIG Permaculture Project Starting! Looking for Collaborators (Central NM)

BIG-permaculture-project

For the right person or family, this is an amazing opportunity to own land in exchange for sweat equity while being on the front lines of the food revolution. Or just come out, bring your portable infrastructure, and do your thing for a season or two. It definitely won’t be for most, but if regenerative agriculture is your passion, you’re hardy and independent, you have a proven ability to pick something up and run with it, and you want to live on a beautiful piece of land in the heart of New Mexico, please read on…

I just bought 141 acres of grazing land in central NM, and will be turning it into a working permaculture farm, holistically managed ranch, and education center. Right now I am looking for a person or several to share the land with and help watch over livestock when I’m not there, as I still have to work my day job for the next year or two while I put in infrastructure and get some things established.

I am looking for another regenerative agriculture nut or three to live out there with me, and help develop the site and various agricultural enterprises off the land. In exchange you will have the opportunity to either run whatever agricultural business off the land you’d like, and/or have the opportunity to own part of the property outright in exchange for sweat equity if we become long term collaborators. I am NOT looking for a WWOOFer, intern, or employee. I don’t want to babysit. I’m looking for collaborators. People who can see opportunity, decide on a course of action, and pull themselves up by their boot straps to make things happen.

BIG-permaculture-project4

My Permaculture experience lies mostly in broad acre applications, and I will be planning and overseeing the overall development of the property. However, I believe deeply in also having a much smaller homestead Permaculture demonstration site of half an acre to two acres, because small plots are what most people have access to and it’s important for people to see just how much is still possible at a small scale.

For the right person or family able to pick up this vision and run with it, while folding it into the overall design and mission of the farm, I would love to deed that part of the property to you as sweat equity. In fact, I can only deed a minimum of 30 acres to someone due to legal restrictions against subdivisions, so in exchange for developing the homestead demonstration site, you can keep the site, and the surrounding 30 acres as well. Obviously we’d come up with an agreement giving us both protection and gradual ownership over time, and have a contract drawn up etc, but the point is I’m generous, flexible, and want to make it attractive and easy to work with the right high-quality people. I know land access can be difficult, and I kind of stumbled on being able to get this property, so I want to pay it forward where possible.

Property details:

  • 141 acres
  • 1.5 actual hours from both Santa Fe and ABQ
  • high desert juniper/pinon savannah biome
  • approx. 4800 ft. elevation
  • zone 6
  • 15 inches annual rainfall
  • HUGE catchment from surrounding properties

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Challenges: brittle, windy, remote, fairly common late frosts, completely raw and undeveloped with no infrastructure

Resources: HUGE catchment, pond with tons of rich muck to quickly build gardens, community well access, good grazing land with lots and lots of grama grass, 1.5 actual hours from both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, extremely beautiful, peaceful, quiet, secluded, cannot ever have subdivision, casino, CAFO, or other large commercial operation in area due to land owner restrictions, only 6 miles from interstate

Potential crops: livestock, pinon, lavender and other medicinal herbs, goji berries, honey, education, agri-tourism, and I’m sure a dozen more I haven’t thought of.

Unfortunately there is no housing on the land at this time. I am converting a box truck into a tiny house and putting it on the property. Ideally you have a RV, yurt, or some other ready made housing, or don’t mind camping while I help you build a housing of some sort. I have a set of battery operated power tools and a portable solar power charging station, and will be buying a truck and larger solar station soon. In addition, my roommate is a contractor who is closing his business and moving overseas to do humanitarian work, and is giving me a bunch of his tools and leftover building materials. So while I don’t have much money, with tools, free and cheap materials from Craigslist, and a truck which I’ll be buying soon, we can do a lot of amazing stuff. Another goal is to have several small houses around the property to serve as collaborator housing and retreats for artists and nomads. So if you like to build and want to play around with adobe, earth ships, conversions, underground structures, and whatever other fun things we come up, this could be for you.

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If something like this is what you’ve been looking for, please write, tell me a little about you and any agricultural experience you have, and include contact info and a good time to get hold of you. I know this is unconventional and am a bit nervous about opening up this opportunity, but if you’re interested, let’s talk and see what’s what. If you would prefer to send an email to E.J., please write to [email protected]

Thanks for reading and enjoy life!

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43 thoughts on “BIG Permaculture Project Starting! Looking for Collaborators (Central NM)

    1. Hi Ken! I have been doing my own very small thing in Gordons Bay, Cape Town area.
      It’s time for “growin-up”, and your situation sounds the way bto go. I have been thinking along these lines for a while now; time to make a move. I do not want to leave SA, and want to spend all my time working the earth. I do not fully know what your plans are, but let’s talk? Like to hear from you. Barry Horn

    2. Hi Ken, Would love to see if we could collaborate. I’m looking to buy land currently.
      Maybe we can talk. Jean, South Africa

  1. Hi there, what you are doing is interesting. Since there is a lot of corruption near that area, or perhaps there was before it was vacant, it would be nice to see a small percentage of whatever future profits, go toward the support of human rights for those who have to fled the area. Andrew Faust is a permaculture instructor who also has a school named yestermorrow, who wold be more than qualified. Either way, hope you get someone who fits the job. Best of luck to you!

  2. E.J.,

    You need a business plan and a permaculture design. The single most important thing you could do right now would be to find customers and/or figure out how you will make money. That will drive what you implement and should directly impact your permaculture design. It will also determine whether the project can be financed and at what level of investment (regardless of whether you need $5000 or $50 million).

    I would also recommend that you look into the USDA EQIP program – they have grant money that will help you setup your permaculture systems. Just be prepared to translate permaculture terminology to their terminology – they often do the same practices but call them different names.

    I am working on a multi-site / multi county job creating economic development mid-market corporate project that will be announced in about a month. This project will be acquiring and developing 500-800 acres of land each year in a region where the local coal economy is dying. We will have customer offtake agreements for two core (capital intensive) products which essentially pay for the properties, our team of employees, our fleet of heavy equipment, most of the infrastructure, and our overhead. These enable our financing. However, the properties have additional potential revenue streams (e.g. home rentals, bees/honey, timber/wood products, grazing, forest farming, orchards/tree systems, tourism, education, etc) stacked on the same land. While we handle a few of these, most of them will be farmed out to element joint venture partners. Basically, it is a real-world implementation of a commercial broad-scale permaculture nation development model that has access to capital markets and a capital markets finance group in New York City 600+ miles away from where the projects are located. To succeed in this sort of a project, you need a lot of solid planning and design work along with finding the right local and national (even international) resources and partners.

    I think you need to do a better job thinking through (or communicating) the value proposition you offer for a potential partner.What element(s) would they run and what is their investment needed relative to the upside they can expect?

    Richard

    1. Like you thinking Richard. Being a person who does not have the land but has the passion, puts me in a position where I have to work with what I have, so all my energy has been devoted on a sustainable model/plan and looking at the opportunities that are there to incorporate into such a plan to enure its Longevity. there is loads of opportunities out there for example, the tiny homes movement, has an opportunity to supply low cost rental homes. As well as micro-business opportunities that can be set up as a cycling support system. Just as you would turn a rock to see what micro organisms are under them, look at every opportunity as a rock and leave none unturned and see what connects to the last rock.

      1. If we design larger broad-scale projects right, there are definitely opportunities for people who don’t have land or a lot of money for capital investment. Some may be micro-investments that simply are a side or part-time thing. However, if networks of permaculture properties/projects are developed and you can extend that micro opportunity across multiple properties (e.g. run bee hives on 10 properties within a one hour driving radius) and create a marketing/distribution system that micro opportunity might support multiple full-time jobs with benefits, If you then add some land leasing into the mix (either for the element or the entire property), the “bee” micro enterprise above could even grow to the scale that it could produce enough volume to sell to grocery stores. Likewise, a network of “bee element businesses” could share processing, marketing, and distribution infrastructure and sell under a common brand.

        Then, repeat for each other design element that is viable for your property or group of properties. If you do this right like Joel Salatin did, you could support 15-20 full-time equivalent employees/partners/element micro-business operators on a single broad scale site.

        However, to be fair to the element partners or micro-entrepreneurs, they do need proper disclosure of the opportunity and need to have their arrangement(s) properly contracted. There is a lot of excitement and desire to act within the permaculture community but to care for people we also need to make sure that there are viable opportunities that make economic sense for the individuals and that they have a reasonable expectation and probability of benefiting from their investment. Hence – good planning, research, and documentation are critical.

    2. I linked to this article from Facebook… interested in your comment, especially as a replacement for coal industry as I agree that renewable energy will take over the energy fields at all levels, and that people who work in the coal industry are more concerned about having a job to provide for their families than the future of the coal industry… replacing all the jobs that are going away in all areas of industry is going to overwhelm a lot of people and businesses. If you have a blog or other contact point, it would be nice to see what you are doing and follow the concept.

      1. Deborah,

        Solar already provides almost twice the number of jobs as the coal industry and pays good wages. More importantly, solar job totals are increasing about 20% to 25% per year. Sadly, there are zero solar jobs today in the Virginia, Kentucky, or West Virginia coal counties. I am working to fix that but my biggest problem is the utilities (especially AEP) in this region have done everything possible to block any investment in ANY alternative (i.e. non-coal / not owned by AEP) power generation. AEP is literally milking fully depreciated infrastructure and uses an artificially low rate to buy power such that no new power plant (coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar, hydro, wind, etc) could be viable or financeable under their absurdly low wholesale rate.

        The “green” crowd demonizes coal in their quest to benefit the environment but has effectively forgotten the people side of the equation. If you kill the coal jobs (and the indirect jobs lost when coal miners can no longer spend in their communities), you create a human and social disaster if you do not simultaneously make the investments to create sustainable replacements. The human effects in these communities is very real. For example, the loss of coal tax revenues has cost the school system in Wise county $7 million per year — a lot for a county with a relatively small population.

        Unfortunately, I’m still in quiet mode as we are in the final stage of closing a very complicated financing round and we are scrambling to get our HR systems, website, benefits, and employment compliance legal work done before the project gets announced as we have been advised to expect to get over 1,000 job applications for every open position (something that happens when you take care of people while also making profits and taking care of the environment). The good news is a) we are working with top tier Wall Street financing players and state / regional / local economic development players and b) our first full round of funding will be an order of magnitude bigger than any permaculture financing to date with enough funding to install a portfolio of 20 MW of utility and large commercial solar, 5 MW of energy storage, and 10 acres of commercial year-round greenhouses along with the financing for a fleet of heavy equipment and a major investment in ERP and commodity trading and logistics software. The first six project sites include over 500 acres of ag land plus industrial development sites in three coal counties. Two of the sites have the potential to be world-class permaculture demonstration sites. We also have commitments from two different sources to finance 100+ MW of solar if we prove we can deliver several of the initial projects.

        The funny thing about the permaculture ethic is when you actually follow it and use it for economic development for real projects that bring jobs and investment, an enormous number of doors open and you create a lot of good will that can help make things happen. Too many focus purely on profit and strip mining style investment that leaves no benefit to the locals or the community. I could easily develop 20 MW using national EPC players but that would not create a single job locally. Yet by creating local jobs and stacking functions, we actually make more profit that if we just built a “solar monoculture”. This has been so well received that a fortune 500 company’s economic development group came to us wanting us to implement the same solar / commercial greenhouse / permaculture model in another state and another group want us to do the same in the United Kingdom. Every county has an “industrial development authority” or some form of a comparable economic development arm and most have a variety of resources ranging from grant and incentive money to spec buildings to industrial parks that they will bring to the table to those who bring jobs and investment to their community, If this model works in the coal counties with coal subsidized electric rates, it will work in the majority of the rural counties in about 40 states in the United States.

        Note to Geoff and PRI – you have my email in the comment system – send me an email and sign a NDA and I will brief you on the project while it is still in quiet mode before it is formally announced. My design for the 2014 Geoff Lawton PDC was an early first draft but 6+ months of refinement, due diligence, engineering work, and investment banking work has refined it and made it close to a reality. That particular site did not pan out for the greenhouse aspect but it opened other doors that developed into a bigger play (100 MW of solar over 5 years), introductions to better offtake customers, and the identification of better sites for acquisition.

        1. Richard,

          Your comments have been helpful. I completed the PDC but have been thinking on how to turn it into a modern professional business. It’s encouraging to see it’s already being done.

          Sara

    3. I would like to be involved in your project of regrowing coal country communities. I have the capabilities to creating a nonprofit company. I would like to pursue an aquaponic system that could feed the community and become an economic stream of income for the employees who care for the system. I want to be a part of an intentional community.
      I am retired and have a monthly income of $1500. I am able to relocate and to join into a new venture. I have a background in grant writing, USDA/
      FSA farm loans and an abundance of knowledge about herb gardens and permaculture. I am currently interested in Appalachian herbs and remedies. So forest farming would be a big part of harvesting, bloodroot, black cohosh
      and maybe cultivating ginseng.

      Please keep me posted on what part I can play in this intentional community. Thank you, Eve Elliott (temporarily residing in TN)

      1. Hi Eve. I read here that you have the knowledge to put up a non-profit organization.You also mentioned that you have a background in grant writing. Now that you are now retired, are you are still willing to help with grant writing and setting up the organization?

        I really appreciate your time.

        Thank you,

        Chermaine

        1. I don’t think I’ll be moving to NM anytime soon, but I would be willing to help you anyway I can via finding grants and helping you apply. You need to incorporate as a 501(c)(3) once you get the board formed that is going to direct the farm.

      2. hello eve elliott could you possible contact me on my email as i need to ask you some questions and help with regards to project rgds martin

    4. Hi Dr. Richard, thank you so much for your response. I’ve been thinking all morning about ways to give this more structure and have come up with a couple of ideas, so thank you for that. My strategy at this point is to first find the right people to work with, and then make more concrete business, compensation, and land/farm design plans in place based on the talents, skills and unique life circumstances of each person. Functioning ecosystems develop organically, attracting the right beneficial organisms while repelling the harmful ones. I am hoping to mimic nature in all aspects of this project, from formation onward, while at the same time not being too hippy dippy, wishy washy about it, if that makes sense. Thanks again for the helpful comments, and good luck with your projects! They sound amazing!

      1. The more planning you do the better your design/plan will be. Building your team is very important. Without our team, my project would not be able to raise the funding we are getting.

        My sense is that there is an incredible amount of demand for and interest among the permaculture community to get involved in broadscale projects and micro-entrepreneurship opportunities. Leverage it.

        Richard

        1. I think what we are seeing is more people entering the permaculture world with skills they have picked up in the corporate world Richard. Like me for example who has come in with 6sigma value streaming as well as skills in chasing the waste out of the process to remove the inefficiencies

          1. Getting more professionals in the permaculture world is the only way permaculture will get financed or implemented on a commercial scale. It has to be economically viable and done on the right scale to be financeable. This means you have to have teams of professionals, have proper accounting systems, and comply with regulations. It also means operating as self-sustaining corporations as opposed to non-profits dependent on the next round of donations. Having youtube videos associating permacultures with hippies talking BS or acting unprofessional is a very real turn-off to real professionals. We need the professionals to implement large commercial projects and a permaculture nation.

            I recently sent links to five of Geoff Lawton’s videos (including the ones with Mark Sheppard and Ben Falk) to one of our advisers who is one of the best known and most experienced commercial real estate developers/brokers in the region. They made a great impression and our adviser quickly recognized that this is a very interesting alternative land development model that appears to be economically viable. He made an introduction to a local attorney who is a player in economic development for the region. This got us access to a 250 acre property that has the potential to be a world-class permaculture site. We need the professionals. Get the right people in the room and you can get things done quickly and get access to critical resources and funding. But if you turn them off, they can throw up numerous roadblocks that will kill your project.

            The permaculture world needs to get away from dependence on WOOFERs and behaviors that scream “we’re broke, we’re undercapitalized, or we’re not economically viable”. I have a huge problem with using unpaid volunteers. There are WAY too many liability and regulatory issues to use them on commercial projects AND it really violates the permaculture ethic (unpaid slave labor). Using them would get me in trouble with labor regulators for violating minimum wage laws, with OSHA for safety, and with our insurance providers.

            Richard

            1. Dr. Richard: ” It also means operating as self-sustaining corporations as opposed to non-profits dependent on the next round of donations.” Um, what about cooperatives?

              1. Agricultural cooperatives are a corporate form recognized by USDA and the U.S. government with their own set of rules and regulations. There are also USDA loan programs for them – primarily for shared processing and distribution infrastructure. They are a hybrid structure that can pay dividends to their owners but that have some features like a non-profit. They have to be run like a corporation with proper accounting, reporting, and regulatory compliance,

                However, they too must be self-sustaining and not dependent on the next round of donations. At the end of the day, the number must work.

            2. Hi Richard, great remarks! I have read all your comments on this post and I believe you´ve hit it on the nose. In short I too feel permaculture has to become more professional for it to gain mass appeal.

              Any chance I could sign one of those NDAs and have a look at what you´re working on? I believe it could be a great source for inspiration in making my own businessplan.

              Thank you.

              Chris

  3. Would love an opportunity like this on the North West Coast of Tasmania. Have lots of idea’s to share and have put in loads of research for the area, more than i have talked about in my blog. If anyone is considering doing something down here and has the land, please get in contact with me or ask around at this years Australasian Permaculture Convergence as I will be there. Even if you are considering coming down to Tassie and purchasing some land to start something I know of a 375ac property in a beautiful north facing valley that is only 200m above sea level, only partly pasture, has access to most parts of the property via a internal gravel road. I have done an assessment on this property and it has plenty of resources and potential and is quit affordable for the size and being only 3 minutes from a small country town with post office, service station, General store/ supermarket and hardware, 1km of the west coast/ Cradle Mountain tourist route and less than 20min from the seaside city of Burnie.

    1. Hi Grant, we are Brisbaneites who have been planning to come back to Tasmania after spending 6 months down there several years ago. Ideally we would like to start a permaculture farm and combination Farm Homestay type retreat for disabled/disadvantaged children. It would be nice to talk to someone regularly who’s already down there and researching land and areas suitable for this. You can email me at [email protected]. Cheers Jules

  4. I would love it, but am too old; maybe grandchildren would have an interest; my grandfather homestead 30 miles south of Portales many years ago. He was successful when many others were not.

    1. Hi Laverne, my dad was 74 and in very poor health when he joined my brother in a similar project. After a month of living in nature and spending most time in there outdoors, he looked 5 years younger, walked without a stick for the first time and reduced some medications he had been taking for various aches and pains. He loved and is planning on going back again.

  5. Hi EJ, I’m in McIntosh. Sounds like you’re a little bit south of me. Haven’t had the permaculture class, but am a willing learner. My goji are acclimated here and not named variety, more a leaf type goji, but when pruned does have a lot of nice berries. Have milk goats acclimated and love weeds. They’ll be kidding end of May/beginning of June when the cocha gets to growing. Hens are self producing and eggs year round.Have geese too and all are used to being handled.

    Been here in central NM for about 15 years and do keep records. Am familiar with what it takes to grow stuff here. If you come to visit you can see some of the stuff have done. Have experimented a lot and basically found what works. Have seeds saved from crops grown here. Also have a bunch of skills and would like to learn more.

  6. Dear EJ,

    Hello, my name is Samuel Houston and I’m very intrigued by your proposition. I would like to discuss this in more detail if at all possible.
    I have been looking for property and some mentoring to develop my agricultural projects. I’m looking to develop a multipurpose agricultural plan that would integrate livestock, vegetables, fruit, and medicinal vegetation. I only want to produce organic products.
    My experience in agriculture involve a organic alfalfa farm in Northern Nevada that also maintained a flock of churro sheep, a small herd of Mustang and farmed chicken. Though my experience is limited to the single agricultural farm I came to love this work. Unfortunately it was on my mother in laws Farm. The divorce from my wife at the time also included the divorce from employment on the farm. I have spent the last 7 years devouring every bit of literature that I could obtain in order to become educated on farming practices and livestock management and husbandry. Most of my work history has involved construction and maintenance of residential and commercial facilities. This experience would integrate quite well with your overall vision of this project.
    I also believe in spreading awareness about all natural organic lifestyle, so I see agri-tourism as the most effective means to facilitate this. This would obviously be a future endeavor after the establishment of the infrastructure for the farm.
    If you would be willing to discuss my vision, please feel free to contact me via email or by phone. My phone number is 702-633-4034.

    Have a blessed day,

    Samuel Houston

  7. Hi EJ- i emailed you, but wanted to leave a message here too. I am *very* interested in speaking with you- I am in development of Eco-Expressions: Healing Arts Center- i have a growing and passionate team that shares this vision…. (and we are always looking for more people- so if you stumble upon this comment- the link brings you to our current FB page)…. :) <3 Have a blessed day!

  8. Dr. Richard – what you describe sounds like exactly what needs to happen to effect rapid global change. I’m involved in making this happen. Could I have your email address to correspond more? You can email me at [email protected]. Hope to hear from you, Jan.

  9. My passion is nature and leaving a sustainable world for my children and now their children. My main asset is LOVE and I have no fear of work. My only fear is not leaving a solid role model for my children which I feel would be possible if I could help raise the awareness for the reality that a sustainable, replenish-able, healthy life style can be had, but only at the cost of some serious rethinking about our place on earth. I’m educated, retired but would love my epitaph to read only four words. “Renaissance Man who Loved”. P.S. I’m real tee-pee orientated.

  10. I’m doing something similar in Buttonwillow California but on a much smaller scale 10 acres it is near Bakersfield and I need help I am by myself I already have a converted Green RV and a river canal but the local authorities cut the water off. I am committed to making this a long term project and looking for people in this area in central California that I can work with.

  11. hey i just moved to alb i have a lot of farming experience ive lived on several sustainable farms in ca and HI ally gave me your information im very interested in the projects your undertaking feel free to email me or call me have a great day best regards veronica 678-673-7989

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