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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Potential Permaculture Business

Potential Permaculture Business

Max B
user 3988625
Portland, ME
Post #: 1
Hello everyone, for my senior project here at College of the Atlantic I am creating a business plan as a Permaculture designer. It is an idea I am thinking of starting sometime in the future after I graduate. It would be a business based out of the Portland area, doing design work, implementations, consultation, and workshops. Similar to ecological landscape design yet with a Permaculture and sustainability twist. Am I correct to assume that the Yelton's are the only people in the state who are currently practicing such a business? I was hoping that I could receive some feedback and ideas/ thoughts from all of you permaculturally minded people about whether my business has potential, what are some issues I should be considering? or words of advice.

David H.
Westbrook, ME
Post #: 206
I know it will be a business, but don't forget the role of equity and advocacy in permaculture planning. Such a business in the greater Portland area could be very successful. Though, the client list could lead to some gentrification. I have recently done some extensive research of farming co-ops in Vancouver , B.C. Many of the business that have sprung out of co-op land use and have led to successfull businesses. Some of which grow flats of living greens and specialty herbs. The clients are high scale restaurants. While these types of sustainable agriculture and four season gardening are great, much of there original intent was to feed and build community. This has not entirely been the case.
I applaud your efforts and enterprising nature of your eco- business venture.
A former member
Post #: 8
I second the concern regarding business vs communities. Unfortunately, business structures exist to make money not to take care of individuals. It is also very challenging for any sustainable practice to compete against the globalization model that externalizes the consequences of poor choices. Ultimately the impact comes home, as with the melamine tainted pet food. Unfortunately our society is too short sighted to act in advance of such problems. Going local, sustainable, and organic usually prices out the little guy in short order.
Max B
user 3988625
Portland, ME
Post #: 2
I understand your concerns in this matter, it is something that I have thought about and has been brought up in various discussions I have had. My strategy to avoiding the capitalistic nature of the business is my educational responsibility: The knowledge of permaculture is not something I intend to keep to myself. It is our role as a permaculturalists to spread awareness of the subject. As part of my educational goals for the business I intend to target poor urban or rural communities to help bring vitality and health to the certain neighborhoods. Success stories of this nature can be seen in many major cities around the world. Offering workshops and lectures is a way for the public to get involved in my projects, bring together potential clients, and is another way for my small business to generate income.
Thank you for your thoughts and input,
David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 35

Avoiding "the capitalistic nature of the business" will certainly doom you to failure. Sorry, but you are going to have to get used to money. No one on this list is doing without it.

Being idealistic is a good thing. When I graduated fron college I wanted to be a freelance photographer. I failed the first time around because I knew and lot about photography but nothing at all about business. It required me to get a bunch of shitty jobs doing someone elses trip to learn enough about business to restart. People rode to wealth on my back. So I did not get myself righted until my thirties. I don't recommend it. I have not had a "job" in 21 years BTW. I have a hard time explaining what I do actually. I am part forest gardener, mycologist, forager, farmer, naturalist, etc. I also buy and sell antique photography which is what pays the bills (sort of). In any case I am good at making it up as I go along. This is no kidding around though. I am a self employed single parent. I have a child (presently in baseball). I have a mortgage. Reality needs to exist.

I have a lot of forest gardening projects going on if you want to visit. This ain't no back yard garden believe me. I'm seeing how densely I can pack 12 acres of mostly woods.

Most of what I would want to convey to you would be off this list. Give me a call some time 8452124.

David Spahr
A former member
Post #: 48
The ENVIRONMENTAL & ENERGY Technology of Maine held a packed meeting on LEED home building technology at the Audubon center in Falmouth last week.

Permaculture design concepts were featured in one presentation.

You will have to join this group to have an influence on the growing community of architects who are designing homes and commercial bldgs. to meet LEED criteria.

It is a hot field, somewhat complex, and results in homes costing up to $350/sq. ft. ....


Katahdin Energy Works
Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 125
LEED certification is a very interesting area indeed. In fact Tom & Lee's house in Gorham is very close to being rated "platinum" under that rating system (do I have that right guys?) though the process is still in play I believe.

The interesting stuff is those folks trying to do green & affordable at the same time. New building codes are being introduced and Dale McCormick and the Maine State Housing Authority is doing some very important stuff in this area...trying at least!

I am also interested in the business model for someone who would specialize in helping to green existing homes rather than build new ones (i.e. "the greenest home is the one you don't build.")

At our business we're really trying to push this stuff....
A former member
Post #: 51
The impression I got from the conference presentations was that LEED certification was really most cost effective for a new design; and not a remodeler.

My neighbor does remodeling of oceanside 'cottages' and he's interested but reluctant because there are so many elements of the house to consider.

For example, they integrated heated slabs even on second floors and constructed solar gain elements on the house using computer models.....not too hot; not too cold.

The other element that stood out was siting the house for solar and other gains. Lining the cellar is a daunting expense for a remodeler; but easy with a new house; let alone constructing a utility core.

Another interesting recommendation was a "MANUAL" for every house built because they are so complex--why you shouldn't pierce the various vapour barriers, etc.

How many of you have a manual for your home or grounds?
Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 126
Yes, LEED is much more cost effective for new construction (plus most architects/designers/builders probably prefer that to "fixing" something done by someone else). However, realistically most people are not going to be able to build a new LEED-certified place so [me just wishing] it would be great if green remodels -- with some certification or not -- became more prevalent so more people could get the advantages....

Siting to take advantage of the sun is a no-brainer ... it's amazing to drive around and see these "state of the art" new homes with 80% of the glazing facing the north or, better yet, sited on a north facing slope. Yikes! (esp from a peak oil perspective).

I like the MANUAL idea! That makes alot of sense.
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