Sustaining Universal Needs (SUN)
A 501c3 Non-Profit
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Resilient Socially Responsible Investment Fund
SUN Stacking Strategy For Re-Opening the Frontier
Bioneering LLP Ventures
Internal Bioneering Community
Viable Bioneering LLP Descriptions
Estimated Cash Flow (5-year)
Sustaining Universal Needs (SUN) is a USA based, 501(c)(3) Non-Profit, dedicated to wide scale implementation of regenerative agricultural practices, and post-petroleum critical infrastructure for the long-term health of the Earth’s ecosystems and the people of the planet. SUN non-profit operates as a resilient social investment fund, a land acquisition enterprise, and an educational outreach organization. SUN supports and helps to facilitate the community that surrounds it. It ‘gives back’ to the community through teaching others about the importance of farming and gardening and through offering desirable and necessary goods.
SUN hopes to be a beacon for those who are interested in natural living and sustainable agriculture. This is an investment designed to foster stability in an increasingly volatile and unpredictable world. SUN will be a real, live, working farm, with an estimated 250 people who help the farm to thrive. Real-life occupants (those who live on and help maintain the grounds of SUN), volunteers or SUN employees will volunteer to give visitors a tour of one of our many community gardens during scheduled events throughout the year, as well as offer them the opportunity to participate in many of our community outreach educational practices.
Classes on topics such as composting, raising livestock, raising poultry, fermentation, permaculture, aquaponics, medicinal herb identification and implementation will be held. Live (and online), “How To” classes and demonstrations on DIY/ (how to create) skincare items such as salves, lotions & soaps will attract those interested in personal health, style and beauty. Experts will offer advice and instruction about bamboo, plant care, hugelkultur and more, welcoming local citizens and visiting tourists. Local schools will be highly encouraged to bring the youth of our surrounding community to visit SUN on field-trips. Summer camps will also be offered. Art festivals inviting painters, potters, jewelry makers, photographers, knitters, weavers and more will be hosted for community entertainment and support.
SUN will offer demonstrations and tours of large modern Eco-technic community buildings (such as monolithic domes, and natural building), permaculture gardens, rotationally-grazed animals (cattle/cows, pigs, chickens, etc.), and community gardens. SUN will guide visitors through orchards, fruit and nut trees, fruit shrubs and perennials. Visitors may stay overnight in campers, yurts, tents and primitive campgrounds. Examples of greenhouses, wind/solar (etc.) technology, ponds and tanks stocked with fish will be available to walk through and/or visit. The tranquil, peaceful setting will flow naturally with running waters and springs, and the land will smile with myriads of flowering and medicinal plants.
SUN will provide workshops, mini-flea markets, overnight accommodations, bamboo forests, open woods (for hiking, walking and meditation), concerts, song/dancing/festivals and an overall interesting and lively community attraction. SUN will help to boost the surrounding area’s local economy, breathing life back into any troubled economic systems. Drawing visitors and tourists from across the country will greatly enhance the vitality of the surrounding town. SUN will offer a mobile food truck, providing healthy food choices to the local festivals and county fairs. SUN is an investment in people, empowering them to solve the difficult problems facing a post fossil fuel, environmentally degraded world. SUN is an investment in the land. SUN is an investment in community.
Resilient Socially Responsible Investment Fund
Your Money at Work for You and Your Community
As a resilient, socially responsible investment fund, SUN will strategically develop land-based community. In approximate 100 acre increments, approximately 25 acres will be set aside for housing, community buildings and infrastructure. The remaining 75 acres will be dedicated to food, lumber and seed production, and otherwise remaining “wild.”
Residents of the community surrounding the boundaries of SUN will be encouraged and invited to become a part of a cooperative. Food, herbal medicines, ferments, soaps and beauty products, and other items encouraging health and well-being will be delivered weekly or monthly to those who buy into the cooperative program. Members of the cooperative will be encouraged to visit SUN in person, with their families to collect their choice of food item directly from the gardens and grounds of SUN.
Local businesses, especially restaurants, are highly encouraged to become members of the cooperative and will also be offered the opportunity to rent a parcel of land from SUN for their own garden space. Individuals who are interested in the rental of land for their own gardening needs are welcome to invest in this opportunity.
Members will pay a monthly fee to SUN for these goods. This program will encourage residents of the surrounding area to visit SUN for their produce needs, thereby re-connecting them with nature and the land. The option to pay a one-time, yearly fee will also be offered. Those who partake in the cooperative program will also be given a free monthly pass to attend any of our events on site, including concerts, speaking engagements, classes and more. The money collected from the cooperative members will help SUN to continue to provide fresh produce, entertainment, learning opportunities, etc. to the residents of the surrounding area.
SUN’s Stacking Strategy for Reopening the Frontier
SUN recognizes the near and more significantly long term imperative of establishing regenerative agriculture practices, and building critical post-petroleum infrastructure. We acknowledge that significant market barriers exist – specifically, economically viable land access. We therefore present a novel investment strategy to lower land access barriers, and “Reopen the Frontier” for entrepreneurial “bioneers”.
Industrial agriculture, excessive credit and land speculation, have driven the cost of land beyond what the startup farmer or bioneer can support. Furthermore, conventional land parceling such as the single family farm, will not be a successful organizational model in the post fossil fuel paradigm. Interdependent, “stacked” Permaculture, and bio-intensive community styles of farming need encouragement. As the conventional financing system does not recognize this as a legitimate farming model, SUN seeks to open up opportunities for individual entrepreneurs to access the land needed to demonstrate these community oriented, regenerative agricultural practices.
How does this work? “Stacking” is a Permaculture principle, imitating the way ecosystems work. Consider the oak/hazel savanna, endemic to the Midwest (though mostly eradicated). Here you have dispersed oaks, surrounded by a variety of smaller shrub plants and large open spaces with thick, multiple species of grass and wildflower growth. The total caloric production of such an ecosystem is high, as is the natural resilience. The key features of such an ecosystem can be imitated. Perennial tree crops such as apples, hybrid hazelnuts, hybrid chestnuts, and other ecologically suitable varieties are planted in contours, spot planted, or in rows, wide enough to allow for animal grazing or the planting of annual vegetables or annual grains. The space between perennial trees can be used to cultivate berries, flowers and medicinal plants. (It should be noted that such a perennial tree crop – hybrid hazelnuts and hybrid chestnuts – are an excellent starch, oil and protein alternative to conventional GMO corn and soybeans – without the scale of industrial inputs required in conventional agri-business.)
This system, though highly productive, is beyond the management capabilities of one farmer. Alternatively, multiple business ventures (LLC, LLP*) involving many partners, three to four separate entities farming the land, plus support from LLP’s for food processing, marketing and distribution, makes the system viable. In aggregate, LLP’s divide the cost of land rent. Businesses who choose to rent space for their own garden may choose to allow SUN members to plant and maintain the garden space. Alternatively, they may choose to bring in members of their own team to produce and maintain the rented garden space. SUN members will be on staff to provide the answer to any questions the business staff may have about garden vitality.
As noted, this bioneering frontier needs more than just ecologically sound farming. The new farm will be a working community with a full ecosystem of businesses: on site food processing, small store fronts, retreat “cabins”, post fossil-fuel, appropriate technology R&D centers, etc. (see discussion below) – all are examples of the types of on-site businesses possible, to systematically lower the cost of rent, providing a frontier for bioneers to symbiotically interact, as a community and provide resources to the surrounding economy.
* Limited Liability Corporation, Limited Liability Partnership.
Major contributors of the SUN, the board members, or “Elders” may choose to live on site to support the mission of the SUN. Any person living on site will have the opportunity to build their own homes through natural building. These homes will be placed on an un-restricted piece of property. The board of directors will serve as the “SUN Council of Commerce.”
Among those who live on the acreage belonging to the Sustaining Universal Needs Foundation will be:
* the farmers– “Those who rise at dawn to manage the soil, to care for the Earth itself. Those who wield a shovel in the pink early morning light.”
* the caregivers — those who care for the animals and livestock that live on the land. They will feed our cattle, collect the milk, feed the chickens, collect the eggs, and be sure to keep our animals healthy and comfortable.
These residents will help to establish a vibrant, lively, energetic human ecosystem as a home place for young adults, families, and as a potential place of retirement for older investors. Our collective efforts will help to produce a safe, healthy and productive environment for the SUN community and will provide viable resources to the surrounding community.
Phase one of SUN’s land access will be to capitalize a 100 acre demonstration or Hub site “SUN STEAD” for best-in-class, post-fossil fuel agricultural systems, and best-in-class, post-fossil fuel infrastructure systems (this plan models in general, a Midwestern site, but could be applicable to reflect any region.) This demonstration site will be owned and managed by a SUN LLC subsidiary. The SUN LLC will facilitate the bioneering LLP’s on site and provide access to common infrastructure. These legal entities (LLC, LLP) will provide SUN non-profit protection from financial and legal liability, while also empowering individual entrepreneurs in legally recognized forms. (The SUN LLC subsidiary and individual LLC/LLP arrangements are detailed in the Use of Proceeds section.)
Phase II investments will commence after it is clear that this general approach to lowering land access barriers and stimulating entrepreneurial development and community is viable and productive. Phase II investments will seek to replicate this on numerous strategically located properties across the USA.
In addition to direct implementation of regenerative agricultural and post petroleum critical infrastructure systems, SUN will also seek to widely disseminate knowledge gathered from social investments, and to further the dialogue on sustainable agriculture and sustainable non fossil dependent infrastructure. Blogs, Video-logs, social media, the full panoply of interactive means will be employed. We will share with the digital world the gifts, knowledge and learning opportunities that SUN will offer.
An outdoor stage will be open during special events such as theatrical performances, concerts or other public speaking events. This stage may also be used for special events such as weddings and other celebrations. Actors may portray skits promoting SUN’s vision on this stage or on a piece of open ground before an audience for the public. Overall, acting performed on the stage of SUN will reflect the light and vision of the non-profit.
Speakers and experts on ecological topics may give presentations using the same stage. Overall, the stage presentations will serve as educational outreach, specifically targeting the youth, those who wish to learn and grow their knowledge about farming, gardening and sustainability.
We seek to make an investment in SUN as risk free and mutually beneficial as possible. An investment in SUN is both an investment in the reopening of the frontier, and more succinctly, an investment in productive agricultural land, in resilient regenerative agricultural practices.
Primary risk being both the loss of the land and the investment, but also failure to prepare: foreseen and unforeseen difficulties, not least in human relations.
The primary economic risk-mitigation mechanism, is several LLPs generating a return sufficient to maintain the legal standing of the land; with a built-in margin to allow for the failure of one or two LLP’s. However, should the LLP’s not generate sufficient income necessary to maintain the property, and the stakeholders cannot come to a civil agreement as to how the land would be sustained otherwise, the property will be sold with sales going back to SUN non-profit and its original investors. The greatest risk of financial loss lies in market valuation and liquidity of the land, should land prices collapse. We at SUN believe that is precisely the point when one would most desire to have a stake in productive agricultural crop land, (a community of people sustained by low-tech energy systems), to insulate one from the collapse of larger external markets. Prior to liquidation ventures and land, stakeholders would meet for a vote.
SUN seeks to minimize financial risk as much as possible. All LLP/LLC ventures undergo a thorough financial feasibility assessment by the Board of Directors. LLP plans and operators are thoroughly evaluated as well. Particular attention is payed to location, and type of property, selectively choosing marginal, undervalued agricultural land (specifically, but not exclusively); subsequently enhancing the value of that land through regenerative bio-intensive agricultural practices.
(It should again be emphasized; the inherent risk of entrepreneurial activity is handled through separate LLP’s operating on a SUN LLC owned property. Liabilities both financial and otherwise, cannot transfer up to SUN non-profit and it’s investors/beneficiaries.)
The SUN LLC subsidiary will procure property, and build commons infrastructure. The SUN non-profit board will appoint five managing members to this LLC.
Common infrastructure will include a passively heated solar “longhouse,” including kitchen, bath and interior gathering space. Additionally, greenhouses, animal shelters, workspaces and storefronts as needed. These structures will be critical to SUN non-profit on-the-ground outreach, as a kind of bridge between the SUN community and the culture at-large and locally; also assisting LLP’s in lowering overhead; also less cost involved in otherwise legally-required, International Building Code (IBC) single-family housing (which would inflate the cost by the millions of dollars.)
SUN LLC Startup Costs:
Land Procurement: 100 acres @$2500/acre = $250,000
Initial Infrastructure Costs:
Community Owned Passive Solar Longhouse, outbuildings, workshop: $75,000.
Power System: On-demand, biomass fueled, combined power and heat source $7500.
Water: catchment, well: +/- $4000
Septic: Depending on property and zoning requirements. Ideally, a large solar composting system/methane digester; $1000
Universal Field Crop Tractor and Implements: $40,000
Greenhouse/ Hydroponics/Aquaponics: $10,000
Total Startup costs for SUN LLC : $390,000
Bioneering LLP Ventures
There exist numerous, viable bioneering LLP/LLC ventures, which SUN will seek to facilitate; which land rent or access fees remain too high to allow for development, when individually beholden to a single credit base. We are employing a unique land access strategy to overcome this barrier.
There are a large number of necessary and potentially profitable ventures, which fall into a regenerative, post fossil fuel paradigm. To date, conventional market forces have systematically eliminated the possibility of these options, through land-use regulations, a land exploitation/quarterly-to-monthly credit maintenance imperative, an explosion of credit, and financial land speculation. Increasingly, land access is limited to an elite investor/macro-business, with access to unlimited credit.
SUN solves the land access barrier by “stacking” LLP’s under a single land holding entity, providing access to needed financial capital, access to material capital, to empower human capital. “Stacking” limits dependency upon the success or failure of any one venture. This is a kind of “tribal” model in which difficulties in one any one community are compensated by the success of others. To date, sufficient “eco-technic”, “sustainable”, ecologically responsible business solutions have been implemented, to suggest the possibility of transforming the paradigm. But actual efficient implementation seems to be a problem more complex than any one enterprise can handle (while business-as-usual is more-or-less maintained.)
SUN social investment fund will make loans available to qualifying LLPs. Outside investment is discouraged, but not off-limits. Investment by existing lifetime members, and members of the cooperative are encouraged. Guidance will be provided; SUN non-profit as the land owner maintains the right of refusal, if the terms are deemed insufficient to the probability of success. SUN non-profit will assist all interested parties, to help make informed decisions, providing for a more operative decision making process than either SUN, or individual LLP, or investor/beneficiary could make on their own, and to eliminate the possibility of abuse, i.e. the trading of one Money Master for another, or even introducing any Money Master to the community mix.
(Potential LLP ventures with sufficient liquid capital, and upon board and community approval, are free to apply as well.)
Internal Bioneering Community
The pioneering spirit of Americans is not dead; it is merely limited for the many, by economic fiat and by sheer numbers. Land has become inaccessible for most, and while at the time of this nation’s founding, some 70% of Americans were engaged in food production– 1% or less are, currently. The dream of land ownership is still very much alive for many. There are also external realities that weigh heavily, such as the idea that the current social/political/financial arrangement is unsustainable.
Many are seeking a community of like-minded individuals, who would like to “bioneer”, or farm, or inhabit rural land. Few have considered the formalized, financial, corporate structures proposed. SUN emphasizes that this framework is the external framework needed to open up the land, and need not dictate the culture that evolves from within. The only expectation however, is a level of productivity sufficient to meet the terms of the contract, the cultural financial expectations, which levels are considerably easier to attain in aggregate. Indeed, SUN argues that this needs to be a primary goal going forward, if humanity intends to thrive in a post-fossil fuel/industrial landscape. SUN non-profit seeks to empower models of that, for the culture at-large.
The internal culture can and will be very much of the making of the founding LLP’s, as well as any lifetime members who inhabit the land, even partially. It is SUN’s hope that though each LLP and land holding is separate on paper, all are united in the overall goal of bioneering the land, to occupy and to steward, for generations to come. It will be the choice of each community, how the community handles any LLP’s potential or real financial loss; supporting a greater vision, of making something much greater and more resilient than one’s self alone could provide.
The first bioneers will be taking a cue from both American pioneers and indigenous Americans; the first three years on the property, all housing considered “temporary”: in perpetuity as an ideal. There exist numerous low cost, pre-made Yurt options, and similar infrastructure, which SUN will help finance; RV’s and natural building being welcome. Much in line with the rugged spirit that inhabited this country from the start, LLP’s will be encouraged to develop innovative solutions, which will be part of an ever evolving resilience template, that future bioneers can draw from, and evolve in turn.
(“The American Dream” as it has been understood, according to building codes – single permanent housing, rooms for each human, modern kitchens and bathrooms in every living structure, electricity, etc. – would inflate the cost 10x+, beyond the viability of the project. It would also be contrary to the natural, tribal nature of the project.)
Viable Bioneering LLP Descriptions
Any potential community member may choose from a long list of needed or potentially viable LLP ventures, indeed any potential venture imaginable (provided it is responsible to the health of the land and the community, and economically viable.) Any one may partner with any other. Potential members and investors can contact SUN non-profit, introduce themselves to the non-profit board, offer a brief background/history, business plan, and arrange for preliminary interview. SUN non-profit would require of those passing the interview process, of both the SUN board and the relevant LLP community, a trial period on the land, among the community. Exceptional candidates needing funding would be introduced to SUN investors/beneficiaries.
What follows is an assessment of core potential LLP’s, which is by no means an exhaustive or complete list.
Mob-Stock Regenerative Grazing LLP
Cattle or cows are not going to be suitable for every land trust. Smaller land trusts, with pasture under 40 acres, will not support bovines sufficient enough to make grazing profitable. Larger units will find however, bovines can heal the land and be an initial tool to support the community, and to make payments on the land, the first three years especially. Some trust communities may object to the idea of cattle or cows, but they should be considered.
Joel Salatin, numerous small scale bioneers, and even more recently large scale ranchers, have discovered that mimicking natural ruminant patterns regenerates soil and is also profitable. Estimates, Pre-European contact in North America, place bison population @ 50-70 million, total large ruminants where perhaps >100 million.
The practice of this system is relatively simple, merely following the template nature has laid out for us. Optimized per regional patterns – hot, cold, precipitation, soil quality – pasture is harvested in rotational paddocks, when grass begins a final stage of growth prior to setting seed. Paddocks are stocked at a rate of 100,000-300,000 (150-200 animals) ruminant Pounds/acre and rotated at a daily basis. A 25 member bovine operation on 30 acres of ¼ acre paddocks is ideal.
This triggers herd dynamics in bovines: grass and clover is uniformly cut, soil is hoof aerated, and manure (fertilizer) is evenly distributed. It may look destructive, but it is a very old natural dynamic, which triggers not only optimal growth in ruminants – letting cows be cows – but pasture health as well. Properly managed mob stock rotational grazing generates thick lush healthy pastures, pastures that sequester CO2 in a thick root bed, pastures that build organic matter and topsoil in a symbiotic interaction with ruminants. This, in turn, encourages health affects to not only land, cattle and cows, but also transfers better health to people. Grass-fed beef, due to the high level of conjugated lineolic acid (CLA) in grass, has a significantly different fat profile than grain (corn) fed beef. Grass-fed dairy and beef is a very different thing, compared to cows and cattle effectively locked in cages the bulk of their lives. Feedlots are bad for animals and bad for people.
Phase One Startup Plan:
To minimize risk, the mob-stock soil regenerative business will consist of annual “stocker” steers that will finish to 1000lb by December, on “stockpiled” pastures and very limited amounts of outside feed. Or, aged dairy cows given an idyllic last year(s).
Assuming 40 acres of available pasture ground, the venture will sustain 30 steers. Purchase price for stocker steers have averaged $1.00-1.10/lb, 2011-2012. Pasture will vary property to property; worst case scenario, direct seeding is required, thus a later graze-start date. Otherwise, starting with pasture requiring a soil amendment (scattered manure, compost), and an appropriate seed broadcast mixture: Estimated at $100/acre or $4000 total. Mobile watering capability, and fencing, will be the next most significant expense ~$5000. A minimal coral for unexpected veterinarian services and end of the year load-out can be built for $500. As the steers are kept from end of April through December no shelter will be developed. This places total first year startup costs at $27,500. This will be funded through a direct operating loan from SUN non-profit.
Direct sale of 1000 lb grass fed steers @ $2.00/lb “hanging” weight should be readily obtainable. This places estimated gross first year profits @ $42,000. After deducting startup costs and a $3000/yr pasture rent the operation is expected to yield a net profit of $14,500 during the first year of operation.
It should be noted that better sale prices can be expected in subsequent years, as the pasture matures. There also exists numerous potentials to value add to product (jerked beef, pemmican, direct/specialty cut sales, dry aging, etc). Future year profits after three years could easily double.
Big Industrial factory farm cows with regular hormone injections in isolated pens will produce 100 lbs of milk a day, almost every day of the year. Aged cows so abused but with some life left, on healthy, beautiful pasture, will produce 50 lbs of milk a day, for 180 days. If this milk were dedicated to cheese production, that’s 18 lbs/day per cow, 540 lbs/day for 30 cows. 540 lbs x 180 days = 97,200 lbs. Assuming $3/lb on average, 108,000 lbs = $291,600 gross. Other products to be obtained from the milk include kefir, yogurt, etc. The community will be eating and drinking much of these products. There are hidden costs through inputs, payments etc. Assume however, $50,000 – $100,000 net, (possibly considerably more with time), worth of available aged cheeses and increasing artisan expertise. (Dairy farmers sealed their fate when they consented to the commodity markets. They did so willingly, because they could grow the animals and process them, but they couldn’t market and deliver them also. A true community would support sales and distribution.) Cows are remarkable creatures.
(20 pigs follow the cows in the paddocks. They drink the protein-loaded whey strained from the cows’ milk. They forage through what remains of the greens. They pick through cow feces for grubs and partially digested greens, and they will eat whatever greens or kitchen scraps are thrown to them. In the fall they gorge on fallen nuts and fruit. Chickens follow the hogs.)
Tree Crop LLP
Exemplar bioneers such as Russel Smith (1930’s USDA tree crop advocate) have long been pointing out the untapped potential of utilizing trees as potential staple crops. Trees, unlike annual conventional crops, save and produce topsoil, while sequestering CO2. Their genetic diversity is typically10-times that of those grasses civilization has based annual agriculture upon (a tantalizing hint of the productive potential awaiting long term tree-breeding strategies).
To date, unfortunately, most tree crop operations have been restricted to highly linearized row cropping: fruit and nut groves bathed in herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and natural gas derived fertilizer – trees also derived of non-resilient breeding techniques. This is deeply inefficient, particularly too, in the use of space, often considerably energy wasting, maintaining artificially manicured grass alleys – regular mowing. The stacked permaculture approach SUN would implement would mimic nature rather than fight against it. Ruminant grazing and rotational annual cropping manages the alley maintenance symbiotically. Depending upon the chosen tree crop, appropriate polycultures maintain the under-story of the trees in a net energy-positive manner, i.e. maintaining meadows, or even vegetable and fungal production, in between trees.
Though imperative to land health-and-trust sustainability, a commitment to tree cropping is inherently long term. Upfront capital inputs with annual maintenance, with no yield for 4 years (minimum) are to be expected. Once established, however, one can expect decades of yield, with very little to no artificial input.
*Forest Ag Enterprises is a particularly instructive model, mimicking the oak, hazel savanna, with hybrid hazelnuts and hybrid chestnuts, providing essential food staples for people. They are also developing appropriately scaled processing equipment to serve this up-and-coming farming model. These trees provide the needed oil, protein and starch food-staples, we currently get from soybeans and corn, with similar net yields, while radically transcending the mono-culture, linear reductionist trappings of our conventional, agro-industrial, fossil fueled model.
Planting typically is the largest cost for this venture. There are two roads to pursue; tested genetics at $1.5/tree bulk discount for 1000, 100 trees per acre for 40 acres; or a lower cost but higher labor input alternative plus time, producing bare root stock, in the on-site nursery = $6,000 +/-
Subsequent five year average yields will settle in at around 1000lbs in shell or husk for hazels and chestnuts, per acre. These trees would be sold in bulk at a gross average of $2/lb, approximately, averaging around $80,000/year gross, thereafter. Since first and second year yields will be low, expected break-even period will be after the 6 years. Subsequent projected net annual earnings thereafter should settle at around $40,000 or $1000/acre.
Therefore, while essential to the long term health and viability of the land, any Tree Crop LLP will have to arrive at some kind of arrangement, to assure the ability to sustain that initial 4-6 year period before any profit can be realized. It may be, that tree cropping only makes sense as a community wide LLP.
Bamboo Crop LLP
The growth of bamboo may be the answer to sustain our venture monetarily during the 6 year time frame the tree crops will need to grow, thrive and produce. Bamboo has been called “the most useful plant on the planet” by those who understand its culture and value. Bamboo grows rapidly and produces new growth and fiber much faster than trees. Bamboo has been used by the indigenous people for generations for many valuable uses. Bamboo is also an important plant to both the Chinese and Japanese culture.
Bamboo has many uses such as: building and housing materials, piping and aquaponic vessels, flooring, furniture, fencing, staking, basketry, fishing rods, fishing baskets, and last but not least, a source of food. Bamboo has the highest protein count of any vegetable and may be an important food for vegans and vegetarians, especially. It is also an outstanding forage crop for ruminants and other animals, especially during the Winter months when most other plants are dormant or deceased.
Bamboo also has an artisian interest. Sculptures, jewelry, wall art, home décor and more are included in the many ways that bamboo can be made into a craft product.
SUN would seek to profit using bamboo through many of the uses listed above. A bamboo nursery would be designed, introducing many different species to each Sun Stead. Experts would teach the culture of bamboo as well as the farming methods necessary to maintain a healthy grove. Demonstrations of crafting, bamboo splitting and more would be offered to the internal community and to the public.
Organic annual produce is the best established model in the outline thus far. The largest variable for the success of this model will be market and labor availability. To reduce the potential for over-commitment, this model will plan to contract simple annual produce items – peppers, kale, cabbage,and squash – at less than maximal prices. The one advantage is that with ample invigorated mob stocked, inter-row pasture to utilize, we will need far fewer inputs than the conventional organic models.
Conservatively you can expect a $6000 gross yield per acre, @ 3 acres/year, for a total gross yield of $18,000. Rent @ $300/acre for three acres. Final venture rent will go towards equipment use at $2000/year. This brings the net profit to roughly $14,100/year.
Natural Shelter LLP
Every community will need shelter. Ideally however, permanent structures on any one land holding will be limited to a “long house” or community kitchen/dining/living space; a shop, for infrastructure projects; and shelter for animals. This LLP would be the general contractor on site and specialize in ultra-low overhead, fossil-fuel free, natural building and energy design techniques, utilizing local materials almost exclusively. On-site building should be a community supported project; the LLP would be a spin-off for off-site construction, by those taking the greatest initiative in the building of the on-site projects – a capable builder can use the opportunity to build a showcase, at little cost to him or herself.
Utilizing up-and-coming open source appropriate technology, such as Open Source Ecologies’ (OSE) earth brick press, with small footprints and embedded thermal design systems, these solar bioneering structures could be built for a fraction of the cost of conventional techniques. Sitting the farm in a suitable and conducive area for this type of building should keep a steady business stream in subsequent years.
Depending on local building codes, families with children and older residents may have requirements for more “modern” housing. In which case, contracts might be made to build alternative structures; or, build on alternative sites. Permanent “private” housing would otherwise run afoul of local building codes, as well as it becomes a problem of “property law”. In short, any permanent structures exceeding the core three-four community structures must be authorized by the SUN non-profit board. Otherwise, all residents should make arrangements for “movable” housing, with most of the cooking and hygiene (shower, hot water) infrastructure contained within the “long house” community structure.
Any avid gardener understands the importance of composting. Compost is created using organic materials to form nutrient rich soil. Kitchen scraps and other food wastes can be mixed with other natural materials such as leaves, grass clippings or straw, to increase vitality and diversity, thereby adding rich vitamins and minerals to benefit the health of the soil. This rich soil would then be fed to the plants thriving in the gardens located at SUN, as well as delivered to community gardens in our area, such as churches and school gardens.
Local restaurants, grocery stores, produce stands and other companies or businesses who may have an excess amount of organic materials that are past their shelf life, or have begun to rot, are over-ripened or are bruised or are otherwise unsellable to the general public would be encouraged to donate these goods to SUN in exchange for sponsorship and/or recognition at one of our well-toured community gardens or other popular practices of SUN. This would encourage less waste for our landfills and the promotion of re-used material, showing the community that these businesses care about the health of our environment.
School, Church and Community Gardens LLP
Members and volunteers for SUN would go to the schools in our district to teach gardening/composting methods to our youth. We would be on hand to give presentations related to the mission of SUN in the gymnasiums of our local schools. SUN would also volunteer to set up a garden on the school grounds/church grounds, etc. SUN would encourage local businesses to grow food instead of grass. This practice would show our local community that these businesses care about giving back to the community (they could offer the produce that grows to any visitors of the business) and could serves as a way to save these businesses money in the long run, as they would no longer need to pay to maintain a lawn and pay for grass trimming, weed eating, etc. SUN would encourage and promote the un-traditional landscape to businesses, schools, residents and churches in our community. Schools and churches would be offered this service at no charge. Businesses and residents would be charged a small fee for garden implementation and design.
Word is, Johnny Appleseed was engaged in growing apple trees from seed, on the frontier, always three years ahead of the primary wave of settlers. Today most of the land is comparatively devoid of fruit and nut trees, after 150 years of habitat destruction, invasive disease and industrial agricultural methodology. Fruit and nut tree propagation, hybridizing, wholesale and retail, could be a viable business.
Wildflower seed propagation and planting would be implemented. Humanity is in serious danger of losing its edible plant biodiversity. These flowers would also help the dwindling bee population, which is currently facing dangers such as colony collapse disorder.
Fungi propagation will also occur. Shitake, oyster, and other medicinal mushrooms will be propogated.
Greenhouses should be a significant part of any post-industrial community landscape: vegetable starts, exotic plant propagation, baby greens, etc. can all benefit from greenhouse growth.
Open Source Appropriate Technology (OSAT) R&D LLP
The age of the network is in facilitating low overhead collaboration, and development on an unprecedented global level. OSAT takes advantage of the network to aid in the development of appropriate technology that will be needed for post-fossil critical infrastructure. An independent low overhead R&D venture can utilize shop space, and low overhead living arrangements to pioneer tomorrow’s energy and manufacturing systems. In this model R&D dollars come from community funding platforms like indigogo, kickstarter, etc. Sales of kits, expertise, and consulting are also beneficial.
Hydroponics are an integral part of any post-industrial, post on-time delivery global economy. This is particularly true in the northern half of the United States. A very viable business could be made, perfecting winter production of greens, as well as making and installing systems and training people in their use.
Growing Power, in Milwaukee, has established an impressive template for symbiotic greenhouse plant production in cooperation with Lake Perch aquaponics, year round. Lake Perch are considered by many to be the most gourmet of all Midwestern fish species. Fish are also an excellent source of protein for those who don’t have the teeth to chew, including the littlest and the oldest. In regions where fish are not otherwise available in large numbers as part of the landscape, or where the waters they inhabit are too polluted, aquaponics could be a thriving income stream, both the sale of fish and the setting up and maintenance of systems off-site.
Campground Timeshares LLP
Once established, the community will be a draw for those deeply interested in the on-the-ground realities of post-industrial living. Offering a time-share arrangement with either camping space or durable, comfortable, movable shelter (such as a yurt) could be a regular source of seasonal income.
SUN will offer a lifetime timeshare fee of $5,000 for a family. Weekly and daily rates would also be available, and will be typical of primitive campground fees. Such a campground set aside might also be housing for interns and temp-laborers, as well as housing for any attending on-site festivities, such as a music festival, or those attending week-long or weekend long workshops/trainings.
This LLP would be in charge of maintenance and fees.
There are so any things available to ferment. The traditional practice of fermentation is considered by many to be a great blessing – something both healing, and consciousness altering. “Most food and beverage fermentation processes are ancient rituals that humans have been performing since before the dawn of history, yet we have largely regulated them to factory production.”- Sandor Ellix Katz from “The Art of Fermentation” Those who choose fermentation often have a desire to maintain good health, have a large family to feed, exhibit food independence (DIY) and empowerment through creation and are less wasteful with food. Fermentation techniques are slowly diminishing between generations. This lost knowledge is a tragedy.
Consider the possible LLP’s, specializing in: Kim Chi, Pickles, Yogurt, Kefir, Sourdough, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Wine, Cider, Beer, Mead and other distilled specialty drinks ranging from Scotch to Absinthe.
Any one Fermentables LLP might specialize in any one or more of these listed, or any number of possibilities that are not listed. One land trust community might specialize in fermentables; another might have one master fermenter.
The point being, as time goes on and resources become more and more constrained, opportunities will open up, to fill niches left open in the current on-time delivery market; global, trans-national and even regional trade lessening as transportation costs increase.
As a wise man once said, the most popular people in any crisis are going to be those who know how to ferment enough to trade. SUN fermentables will place a focus on popular, quality products.
Mead has already been discussed, under the Fermentables LLP heading. But Mead is only honey fermented, and honey has its own markets, as does beeswax. Bee breeding, the nurturing of queens and hives for sale, is another profitable and commendable practice. With all the wildflowers and vegetables around the working farm, absent the pesticides and fertilizers so common today, a beekeeping LLP might thrive in concert with the bees. (Did you know that bees tell their fellow bees where to find blooming flowers by dancing?)
Natural Medicinals LLP
Some 100 million prescriptions for anti-depressants are filled every year in America. Hardly anyone asks why so many are so depressed. It is speculated that the pharmaceutical industry kills more people than any illegal drug lord ever did. A routine hospital visit can leave you with a bacterial infection that can’t be healed by any known method.
Faith in the current medical paradigm is eroding. An interest in essential oils, in particular, has become almost mainstream in our American society. SUN believes that in the future people will be looking for alternative remedies produced locally. This may be especially so, should the magic pills offered by big Pharma become less and less affordable/available.
“For every sickness there is a plant remedy”, goes an old saying, from long before most people were separated from the land. Modern medicine is good for some things, like invasive surgery. You are unlikely to hear from a typical medical professional that a tea steeped from the inner bark of willow is an exact natural equivalent to aspirin; or that a balm or infusion of the leaf of the widely naturalized Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) is an astringent and anti-bacterial. Anyone well versed in local plant and fungi remedies, is likely to find a local need.
Doulas, Midwives and anyone with a medical certification might work locally in a hospital or clinic, to pay their way while they cultivate a private practice. Such a healer well versed and trained in modern medicine and natural, folk remedies, might find plenty of work, tending to the community, interns and campers, and the outside community.
Natural Healing LLP
This header may seem redundant after the natural medicinal discussion, but there is also room for other aspects of health, such as mental health. A yoga instructor, chiropractor or reiki instructor would be welcome. Perhaps inviting a counselor or one who is particularly versed in trauma, talk and/or experiential therapy would be beneficial to those in need. These health practitioners could schedule classes and courses on site for visitors to attend.
Music has an integral place too. Perhaps there is a band who plays music people like to sing along and dance to… that plays on-site but also travels? Perhaps they have their own recording studio, designed to cultivate and nurture good music?
Perhaps there is a story teller? A rememberer? Teachers who host a day care or home school meetup? Those who teach or organize classes about gardening and fermentables, building and appropriate tech energy solutions, history and economics?
Wilderness Skills LLP
Inviting prestigious speakers such as Tom Brown Jr, located in the pine barrens of western New Jersey, Eustace Conway, in Boone North Carolina., and Lynx Vilden, in the Rocky Mountains and Cascades would significantly benefit the knowledge we would hope to spread about sustainable living to those who reside at and visit SUN. Whatever the region, indigenous skills training could be a viable part of any community orientation.
In this category, we would focus on tracking down waste goods far and wide in organized places such as Ebay, Craigslist, etc. Establishing relationships with conventional contractors of every type, to reclaim windows, dismantle old buildings, collect old machinery and high tech this-and-that, for parts and plugging into existing on-site infrastructure/building off-site would be beneficial to the ongoing projects at SUN.
Someone on site could take the lead in operating a storefront, selling the various products to the public, such as Jams, fermentables, veggies, baked goods, etc….
One thing about business is, not everybody is great at keeping the books. Keeping the books will be essential, to justify to the IRS, etc. that the relationship between the individual LLP’s and the land holding LLC and SUN non-profit is a sound one. Having one or more of these important people on-site, whose primary task is keeping the books, would be very advantageous.
Perhaps there is a book maker? Or a newsletter printer. An antique press, or book bindery?
There is also the task of website administration: one who would help maintain the various websites, blogs, video-logs and podcasts of the various businesses, of the community. This is a skill which would easily be transportable off-site for someone in the local community.
Bioneering infrastructure must at a minimum demonstrate proficiency in three critical systems; energy production, food production and manufacturing of its own infrastructure. It is upon successful execution of these systems that the bioneering ecology can bloom in full. Phase one development will emphasize LLP ventures that can successfully demonstrate those systems within the constraints of sustainable post-industrial principles.
Lending repayment to SUN non-profit from SUN LLC revenue stream comes from LLP’s rentals. These rents are returned to SUN non-profit on a quarterly basis, after a cumulative first year payment at the end of the first year of operation. Maintaining the payment schedule is facilitated by the principle of stacking: several LLPs will be renting access to different functional systems on the land and will reduce individual rents to very manageable levels. It is in SUNS primary interest to not cause these LLP’s undue economic hardship. To further lower financial stress for the bioneering LLP’s, the owners of which will be living in ultra low overhead housing systems which eliminate heat and electrical bills, it also goes without saying that the food bill on the farm will be about 70% reduced.
Five Year Total SUN LLP Net Annual Cash Flows
Based on just five of the described LLP ventures – Cattle LLP, Tree Crop LLP, Produce LLP, Campground LLP and Storefront LLP – a collective LLP Five Year net cash flow estimate.
Based on these estimates, we can expect to stabilize at an annual cumulative net yield of $130,500. This is after land leases to SUN LLC and direct loans to SUN non-profit have been paid, but before any of the individual LLPs have collected their income. This figure suggests that if five LLP’s generated the total net that roughly $27,000 per LLP in average is generated. Given the ultra low overhead living structure of this type of arrangement this should be sufficient figure for families to live on and enjoy a healthy active post fossil lifestyle. Ideally, LLP’s and Lifetime Members come together to purchase more land, to expand the community, to protect from the vagaries of the Industrial/exploitative culture, and to heal.
In 2005, fossil-fuel production peaked globally and has been on a production flat line ever since, only increasing slightly by the extraction method known as fracking (which is only viable with barrels of oil sold above $90.) In 2005, conventional energy analysts were confidently declaring production in the 120 million barrel a day range, by 2030, from the then 85 million barrels/day approximately. Despite assurances that hydrological fracturing (fracking) is a game changer, even a casual look into the real numbers, energy return on energy invested (EROEI), and the precipitous decline rate of new fracking wells, any honest observer would have to conclude that the story told by Peak Oil analysts is the more honest one, that fracking is a speculative bubble. This bodes for increasingly constrained energy supplies, across a global landscape of exponentially growing demand.
Fossil-fuel production peaked in 2005, the global economy collapsed in 2008, and global markets have been in terminal stasis ever since. Indeed, the only place to park cash anymore, with any confidence, is in material, tangible wealth, such as land.
There is currently 8% official employment; more like 16% real unemployment and something like 25-35% underemployment. Meanwhile, the federal government is running trillion dollar deficits, indefinitely, the national debt exceeds GDP, and the Federal Reserve is undermining the dollar with 85 billion dollars of QE to Infinity, on a monthly basis. Executive compensation continues to climb, and real wages for working and retail service people have stagnated or collapsed.
Land that was selling for $300 an acre in 1980 has sold for up to $15,000 per acre, considerably more at the suburban fringes. Prosperous farmland has been sold and replaced with subdivisions, soybeans and corn. Land, for many of those who would like to return to it, to determine ones’ own autonomy in relation to society and the Earth, is becoming increasingly more difficult. The terms have become too dire, uneconomical, and are not easily attainable .
One business, family, or partnership is sure to struggle against current credit demands. Stacking multiple businesses, families, partnerships, upon one credit base alleviates enormous financial, economic pressure. Combine with this a number of people of various expertise with mutual support (both financial and material), with a concern and love for the Earth, community and ecosystems, on land that is capable of abundance and there you will find a people capable of changing the terms of the American Dream, who could be a key not merely to a healed landscape – ecologically, economically, energetically – but key to an entirely new Aeon on planet Earth, for everybody and everything.
Personnel – Sustaining Universal Needs (SUN) non-profit
John Litter – President, Director
John Litter is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York City and did his Undergraduate
studies at Columbia University and the State University of NY, followed by Graduate Studies at
the City University of New York, Queens College. John developed and is Admin, Editor and
Lead Author of the Doomstead Diner Blog & Forum, a website dedicated to Energy, Economics
and Geopolitics. His varied careers include Finance, Health Care, Transportation, Education and
Age Group Athletics. He began the Doomstead Diner project as a means to assist people in
adjusting to a low per capita energy society.
David Ferraro – Vice President
David Ferraro graduated from Duquesne University in 1971 with graduate coursework at the University of Pittsburgh and Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He currently lives in Norfolk, VA. He is Production Manager for ABC Media, the advertising company of ABC Communications, and manages commercial production for the X region. During recent years, his production department has garnered dozens of national awards in recognition of their work, twice winning the coveted X Award of Excellence, XYZ Awards. David has also been deeply
involved in his community assisting the Homeless, through service on local boards and
foundations, as well as being active in his local church.
William Hunter Duncan – Managing Director
William Hunter Duncan graduated High School in Alexandria MN, 1991; St Cloud State University with a BA in English, 2000. He worked primarily in Building Construction for much of the following decade, running his own business for a period of three years. He then went to work for a Fortune 100 company at their world headquarters. After that, he managed two retail businesses including Monster Halloween MN and HD Masks, for three years; working for a time in the bowels of one of the TBTF banks; he now works for another large retail corporation. William has expertise in building practices and gardening.
Aaron McCarty– Chief Financial Officer
Aaron graduated from Dorman High School in Spartanburg, SC in 1998. He attended Spartanburg Methodist College before joining the United States Navy. He served on the U.S.S. Carl Vincent aircraft carrier as a nuclear engineer. Following his service, Aaron formed his own business, Ancient Earth Landscaping, which seeks to design and implement permaculture inspired landscapes for residents of Spartanburg County and beyond. Aaron is currently an intern for Haiku Bamboo Nursery in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He is creating his own bamboo nursery, Kitsune Bamboo Nursery, at SUN headquarters in Boiling Springs, SC.