Wednesday, November 30, 2011
So, how much can you grow on a speck of land?
"Well son, that sort of depends? What are ya growing, and where are you growing it?"
A little back of the envelope (excel spreadsheet actually) tells me that I can plant about 75 trees of all types of fruit and nuts upon an acre and obtain about 16000 lbs of quality foods in a single year once established.
Now it might take ten years to get close to full production, and in years 1-4 the results will be slim indeed. But each year after that third year will get better and better.
So, how does this work on the investment side?
I estimate that in year one, had we the money, we can invest $5000 an acre into the property, including the cost of the land itself, cover crops and 75 Trees at $22 a pop, 50 blackberries at $12 each and a $500 for skid house for chickens (see the link on the previous post with chickens).
If we raise broilers on this acre, perhaps one hundred chicks at a time, 6 cycles at 35 days to "harvest", netting $2/lb, and assuming that we have no other significant harvest, we net $5400 on this acre, a 100% return on our original investment.
Let's say that in year two we double that to 200 chicks at a time still netting $2/lb with a 4.5 lb weight per bird. We then net $10,800 on this one acre.
You could continue to do this for a few years, but then the fruit starts to come in in year 5 and we might harvest 3000 lbs of fruit, which might net $4000, so in year 5, $14,800 net
After the trees are more established, you might run a cow under the system, and then maybe a sow and her happy little piggies.
In a dozen years when everything is well established and in a permanent state of equilibrium, the income from this acre might rise to as much as $30,000 with 15,000 lbs of fruit, 4000 lbs of hog, and one half lowline angus cattle raised on this acre with some chickens run on the property for fertilization purposes.
So, this is assuming pretty good growing conditions, a seven month chicken season, April through early November, and it assumes that we can harvest and pick it all and sell it all.
How do we grow this much food? Consider that each semi-dwarf Apple tree can produce 6-10 bushels of apples, 42/lbs per bushel and that you can plant about 110 of these trees per acre, this can produce 36000 lbs of apples on that acre. Of course I don't want 110 apple trees, the pests would kill us over that. I want 8 apple trees on that acre, spread all around. Then I want 8 each pear, peach and persimmons, five cherries, apricots, filberts and black walnut, a dozen mulberry trees and perhaps 20 or so nitrogen fixing trees spread throughout to help improve the soil, along with a handful of native trees, just for the diversity.
So now it goes to selling this stuff… But I promise to start small and work my way into it…