Stefan is in New Zealand for an entire month from Mar 9th next year (2015).
This Permaculture Voices podcast shows what happens when you bring Biology, Landscape Design and a deep understanding of Permaculture to orchard design and development.
Stefan Sobkowiak of Miracle Farms joins Diego and talks about Stefan’s journey, that began by purchasing an industrial-style commercial apple orchard and converting it to organics. He realized that something still wasn’t right, something was still missing. The system was lacking the biodiversity that you see in nature.
Thus began the process of converting his organic orchard into a permaculture, polyculture based system. Seven years ago he removed most of the original apple trees and replaced them with other fruit trees and support species. This diversity gave him more products to sell, more wildlife and ultimate a healthier, more resilient system that became a pleasure to walk amongst.
Less work, more yield
Stefan’s business background contribute to a wonderfully direct way of discussing the economics of a his enterprise! Just for a moment: How would it be if you had access to land and were able to gross $10.00/Square Metre on it? This is possible based on a polyculture system that offers an abundance of value from multiple yields – poultry, fruit, vegetables, herbs, flowers, etc. And it can be done while regenerating the natural systems and using less labour.
In 2015, the Beyond Organic NZ Tour is taking place from Mar 11 to Apr 9. If you or your organisation are passionate about increasing food security or creating new job and enterprise opportunities in New Zealand, then let’s work together and take advantage of this opportunity.
Some markers in the conversation
11mins Stefan starts describing the opportunities which are available when people collaborate on land based projects, some of which can come from the reality that we have an aging farmer population, and that “starting is 50% of the job done“.
20mins Stefan addresses an issue of coaching, mentoring and the intern system. Firstly he makes the clear call to just start, gather seeds, plants, working with and for people to learn. Then he covers the power of good coaching, and describes the honourable and mutually beneficial intern and teacher relationship.
34mins In this section he shines as a life coach, describing how he has been offering practical encouragement for finding and hold onto our vision for what we want, and being aligned with our life’s purpose. I am so looking forward to hosting him for a few days on Waiheke to kick off the tour.
37mins Yes, when you’re putting in a Polyculture system, it’s a chunk of work. “You’re putting the effort in up front“. Then the work-load decreases dramatically, and the yield grows as “You go from relying on what you’ll do, to relying on what nature will do for you.”
48mins Get ready for some of the numbers. Stefan is skilled at describing the economics of the Permaculture Orchard, and is happy to share the numbers to show how profitable it can be.
52mins One piece of the profitability is what Stefan calls the grocery-aisle model, that resulted in happier customers and more sold to each customer. This is where Stefan talks about managing the yield and the diversity, by having fruits in each row ripening within a 10 day window.
60mins If you’ve got some entrepreneurial spirit you may see opportunities, as Stefan shares more numbers. For more like this, head over to the 50mins mark in the podcast with Jack Spirkow.
Where to go to from here
- Sign me up for Beyond Organic NZ Tour news
- I’d like to collaborate
- The Permaculture Orchard – Film (the Kickstarter referred to is well past)
- Miracle Farm on Facebook