In the Netherlands, of course, they are already a step ahead. If you ask Wouter Van Heck I think he will agree that you are talking about at least 5 hectares and 20 years. Especially the side activities usually make a food forest affordable/feasible.
Now of course you have food forests, agroforestry with or without animals and everything in between. From short chain sales to supplying larger stores…. Still, reflect before you begin is the message.
I was lucky enough to sit at the table with you at a workshop of Ilvo’s Action Lab Agroforestry. Of course, there is a lot involved in food production and especially sales. A lot of inspiring speakers were featured. Bart Thoulen of Steunpunt Korte Keten was one of them. Your head does get a little dizzy when you hear all the rules of the game. The legislation is quite complicated. How could it be otherwise if food safety is a factor. Still, it’s a tangle and definitely seek advice before you start. You can also get advice and guidance from Ilvo .
In the Netherlands, they have come a long way. There, “Food from the Woods” in particular is a real pioneer. With useful tips and real business models that will help you get started faster. Download the excel template here .
The big problem with marketing goodies from a food forest/agroforestry is the long lead time before your yield is optimal. Still, we see opportunities to bridge that long run. But then you have to think creatively and start providing other sources of income or activities.
If you’re not doing it for the return then it’s a different story but it’s still best to think smartly about who will “maintain” that long-term investment over time. Who will be your successor? What will be your organizational model? Will it be a sole proprietorship, asbl, bv, de facto association?
Would you like to discuss your project? Please get in touch. Then we’ll guide you further along the way.
A little realism
Wouter Van Teeffelens himself grew up on a mixed farm with fruit growing as his main branch in the Netherlands has been at this for a long time. He was always great lover of fruit crops in his own garden and his own orchard. Since 1988 he has been working as a consultant in fruit farming with his own fruit farming activities. Today he works at Wageningen Economic Research but in addition is also active as a Self Picking orchardist.
He also conducts workshops around the economic model around food forests.
Valorizing ecosystem services is the future?
I am a strong advocate of not only looking at the ‘harvest’ as a possible yield, but also at the added value/profit in terms of biodiversity.
Unfortunately, we are now only looking at ‘Carbon’ yield to valorize it sooner or later but that is still developing.
Some more reading