Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's easy to underestimate how useful and profitable the Common Wealth Farm concept can be, until more hardworking honest folks lose their jobs and their homes. To get a better idea of the benefit I see in the CWF (Common Wealth Farm) concept, just consider that:

1) There is a dollar value to cities in getting the homeless people off the streets and feeding themselves and occupied in productive work. What will cities or counties be willing to pay for this social service? What foundation would be willing to fund an expansion of this demonstration project?

2) An entrepreneur could buy several properties and pay his mortgage, taxes, and insurance by negotiating with a farmer to coordinate employing formerly homeless men and women to grow, harvest, and sell the crops. The "employees" would live on the farm, eat a portion of what they grow, and sell the rest to pay for other needs and earn a share in the profits.

3) Workers would only spend part-time hours cultivating crops; the balance of their workday could be spent in doing roadway maintenance for the county and noxious weed removal for the Forest Service, for example.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Second Jobs a Waste of Time Usually

In my reading of "Mini-Farming for Self Sufficiency", I love the part where Brett Markham shows that it is more profitable for one member of the average American family to stay home and tend a moderate-sized garden than it is for them to spend time commuting to work, paying for gas, lunches, drycleaning, childcare, clothes, and the other expenses that are required to hold a job! (It's on page 20, if you have a copy.)

I have been noticing for many years how the stresses of the workplace take a toll on the health and happiness of those in the workforce. Premature gray hair, growing obesity from sitting at a desk and in endless meetings, and family disharmony are all signs that this is not a natural or an ideal practice. It is made worse when we work for others, often at work we don't enjoy. We are slaves to our need for money - and we know it.

It has occurred to me that the breakdown of the family, with children in open opposition to their parents in many American homes, began when government-caused inflation forced women into the workforce and away from the critical job of raising their own children in the 1970s. Many factors have contributed to the rebellion and loss of parental direction in our kids, but foisting them onto a childcare provider so that Mom could go to work was a major factor.

A closer look at the economics of working outside the home shows that, for most of us, it doesn't make sense. Now, in this time of mounting layoffs and rising food costs, it is timely to consider how we can stop undercutting our Health, our Family, our Peace of Mind, and our Income by correcting this situation.

Mom or Dad can set themselves up to grow 85% of their food, plus earn another $10,000 in income selling their produce - all in a part-time venture that will let one of them stay home to properly raise their kids. Obviously, this is not for everyone, but if you see the value for your family, I encourage you to check it out.

Here is something else that getting Mom or Dad (whichever earns less or is markedly more unhappy with their job) out of the workforce can do: Turning your backyard into a minifarm can cut the ammount of wages that are necessary solely for the purpose of paying TAXES. If you can read the writing on the wall predicting big tax increases coming in the Obama administration, this is another good reason to consider pulling out of the workforce and growing your own food, which is not subject to taxes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CWF is moving along

I am moving forward with my planning for the Common Wealth Farm. Here are some recent thoughts on what I need to make it a reality.

I welcome your donations, comments, and suggestions. I can't do this by myself, but I will find a way, with or without help. If you want to take part in this exciting demonstration project of how a group of people can pool their resources and talents and actually prosper in a Depression, let's talk.

Common Wealth Farm, by the way, is not a place for homeless people who don't want to work. It is for those folks - homeless or not-yet-homeless - who want meaningful work that won't go out of fashion with the next recession. Food never goes out of style, although it may go out of supply when - for whatever reason - the trucks that bring it into our cities don't run for a while.

War abroad interrupting oil supplies, distrust of inflated money, civil insurrection and riots in the USA, weather emergencies: many factors can disrupt food shipments that city-dwellers depend on. The Common Wealth Farm model offers security and even prosperity in troubled times. Think about it.

A lot of folks would prefer to live in a quiet rural setting, if only they had a secure income. I know, I was a rural economic development coordinator for the US Economic Development Administration in the early 1990s. After that, I worked for my small-town chamber of commerce. I talked with a lot of city folks who wanted to move, but they needed a job. At the time, we didn't have any jobs to spare. Common Wealth Farm was conceived to solve this problem - and it works near any community with a population of 50K or perhaps even less.

The community where I intend to introduce Common Wealth Farm is Corvallis, Oregon, a college town in the heart of the fertile Willamette River valley. The town, population 50,000, is a county seat and the home of a regional hospital with a very good reputation. Hewlett Packard has a well-established manufacturing center there which, while it has already felt some job cuts, together with the college and county and city of Corvallis jobs, as well as other successful farmers, will provide a climate of economic stability and a market base for our produce.
Corvallis is a very desirable place to live. It is rated as #x among small towns in the nation for X, Y, and Z. I do not discount the negative effects of a severe recession or even a Depression will have on EVERY community, but I would rather live among highly educated, prosperous people with lots of savvy and political pull, than near any major city with a large population of marginally-employed, possibly thuggish, welfare-dependent people who are hungry and angry at those who are not so miserable as they.

Corvallis is a center of study for alternative energy generation and transportation methods. It is very familiar and friendly to organic farming and Community Supported Agriculture, as well as farmers' markets. These are well-established and proven, even preferred sources of foodstuffs. Both the "Slow Food" and "Local Grown" concepts are enthusiastically welcomed in Corvallis. CWF will be in alignment with these local trends, which should help our acceptance in the community.===============================================================================================================