Good afternoon everyone, it is official: we’ve crept passed eight hours of technically available sunlight here in the Helsinki area and that means the gardening season will be upon us in a few weeks. The so-called “Persephone Period” ends on the 25th of this month: with more than ten hours of potential sunlight, all other factors being conducive to growth, many plants will begin growing again at an appreciable rate. We’ll still be a good two months away from being able to successfully plant outdoors, but it is a symbolic moment when you just might notice that the sun on your face actually feels warm.
So I’d like to take dedicate this day to the sun’s return to “normal” working life of 8 hours. Welcome back.
Bad gardener jokes aside, this post is to share announcements as they relate to my company proper and what services I intend to offer this year. I’ll make a separate post to announce the basics on how you can order food from the farm since this is quite lengthy.
First, the official changing of the company name is still a few days away. I know, I know, but I’ve got some international orders coming through and I don’t need any miscommunications regarding VAT and invoicing to occur. So let’s wait for my seeds to arrive from fabulous Italy and then I can get going. Besides that, I don’t have the new site ready, so kinda silly to launch the new company here on Facebook when one thing I want to do introduce a new protocol of putting my content up on my own site first, then posting to social media. Healthier. When that happens, I’ll be sure to announce it here for you all and post some of the rationale behind the new name and what it actually means.
Second, I’m really holding out hope that the coronavirus measures work to begin reopening our society soon. As you may recall, I wanted to do more teaching last year but I had to even cancel one Introduction to Permaculture course after signups were closed. The measures are important for public health, but I’m not entirely sure how much longer small businesses are going to be able to keep open, especially if they are centered on services and not simply products. To hold courses, tours, and workshops, I need the restrictions to be lifted in order to make it financially viable for all but the most dedicated students.
Third, and this is quite related to the second, here are my thoughts on offering courses and services. I’m going to be totally changing the approach to what I offer. I have scale of services that starts with the least amount of effort on my end (which is still considerable) and ends with the most effort:
Tours -> Half day workshops -> Whole day courses -> Multi season consulting / coaching.
This scale is particularly useful as it allows a pretty good overlap with cost to the individual in time and money, my input level, and the number of people I can reach with each category.
Tours. My hope is that I will be able to organize at least two, probably three-four tours of Lillklobb each month starting in May and ending in October/November. I can reach the greatest number of people with tours as they will last approximately one to two hours depending on the theme. I’d like to organize tours of the whole site at Lillklobb, which will be focused on learning about the whole place as well as tours specifically geared towards either the “public oriented design” around Lillklobb and the budding forest garden or the “commercial oriented design” in the market gardens. So you can learn a lot about the whole or even more about one or the other. The tours will no longer be free of charge, but rather cost a nominal fee depending on how many people are allowed in a group when spring comes. Whatever the fee is, please remember that all services must include 24% VAT so the price you’ll see includes that important aspect of running a company. If you have any suggestions regarding how much you’d be willing to pay for tours, leave a comment below.
Half day workshops will be dedicated to no dig/no till gardening. These workshops will focus on tangible skills and methods that are useful to know if you’d like to begin using these kinds of methods. My idea right now is that these will last for approximately 3-4 hours with perhaps one small break. I want these to be accessible to people without needing to book an entire weekend. There may be overview courses to introduce the idea as well as specific workshops related to garden creation, compost making, nursery production, maintenance, etc. Whatever you come to learn, you should actually learn it by seeing and doing. These will cost more as less people can attend each one. I’m thinking in the 50-75€ range per course.
(I want to hold off on forest gardening courses until perhaps next year as that project isn’t far enough along yet to meet my needs for even half day workshops).
Whole day courses will get further into first principles related to agroecosystems or in depth no dig gardening. These will last approximately 6-8 hours and include multiple breaks. Although all the other services are based on the same principles, they will be structured to “cut to the chase” and leave out the methodical examination of the fundamentals. If you are interested in knowing the theoretical and scientific underpinnings of some of these methods in order to tie everything together “big picture” style, then a full day course could be of interest. Similarly to the idea behind a half-day workshop, these courses are meant to take up a portion of your day and not require you to make arrangements for an entire weekend.
One thing that I didn’t like about my unique Introduction to Permaculture course was that I tried to cram too much into a single weekend. While the feedback from was overwhelmingly positive, I also paid close attention to the critical comments and decided that I was overly ambitious with the spread of content. Attempting to jump start people’s holistic design framework in two days was a bit nutty. I thoroughly enjoyed each one of those events, but I think this new direction will be better.
The cost per workshop will again increase by a fair bit in order to continue to make it economically viable as well as increase the value for the further limited number of participants. Say in the 100-125€ range.
Which brings me to multi season consulting / coaching. This is probably what people think about the most when they consider hiring a “permaculture designer.” I am available for hire on specific projects, but I can only take a few per year. This is in part due to needing to ensure proper time management for each project and client, but also because I have a tendency to get deeply involved in each design I do, regardless of how much time and effort I can truly spare.
I do not charge per hour, but rather by the scope of the project, the budget of the clients, and the potential value that I believe I can help bring into being. Ball park figures can range from a minimum of 500€ for a whole day farm consult and 1000€ for a longer project that I truly believe in. When you consider that a well thought out and conducted site analysis can span over 30 pages of text and diagrams, you’ll begin to understand the amount of work that is required to reach the design phase. A proper design turns into a small book which will hopefully not only guide your actions for at least a decade, but will stand as a testament to help people in the future understand your context. It is about intergenerational communication, something that few other creatures we know of are capable of.
This year I have time for one or two more highly motivated clients who need long-term coaching, training, and education to help their design along.
While each client enjoys client:designer privilege, I am looking for ways to respectfully share parts of their experience with a larger audience so that more people can benefit from their investment.
So, that’s a lot. And if you are one to read between the lines, you might be able to make an educated guess as to what my new direction is going to be but I won’t spill the beans on that until things are official.
The very last thing to say is that sign ups for services or preordering of vegetables will not be available until I have the admin stuff of a new company up and running. I don’t want to mix communication channels and invoice details.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at Lillklobb (or somewhere else 😉 ) one of these days this year!