All the same though, for both those new to agroforestry, and those not so new. The key to happy future is probably best summed by up Barry Schwartz: keep your expectations low.
If you’ve read this entire series, chances are you have more questions now than before you started. But, that is okay. You should now have the right questions to guide your agroforestry planning. This last article will help guide you to know which questions to answer by yourself, and which questions to seek out others to answer.
Designing an agroforestry production system to fit your goals can be an excercise in frustration.
Firstly, agroforestry can become complex because of the large number of moving parts. Your focus should therefore, be to design for outcomes, not unnecessary complexity.
Secondly, agroforestry is plagued by a word-storm of terminology. This can leave you feeling great if you are trying to build up your Scrabble vocabulary. But, otherwise it just creates unneccesary confusion for newcomers.
With those questions answered first, you should have a short-list of crops or livestock of interest. More homework is now in order. Time to explore if you have a suitable growing environment, and the necessary infrastucture, equipment and other resources in place. You will also need to start the process of investigating your production system at the same time.
Options for agroforestry finance don’t differ greatly from those for other agricultural ventures. But, after you select a target market and outline a marketing strategy, finance is your next most important consideration. And you should have a financial plan in mind before making production decisions.
If you are one of those lucky few for which money is no object, this article is not for you. For the rest of us, money always has some importance in our decisions, and you should read on.
Where and how you sell the ‘fruits’ of your labour is ultimately the most important factor in the success of agroforestry or any agricultural endeavor. Producing the perfect berry crop, or veneer log, or experience, can bring satisfaction in, and of, itself. But if you can’t sell what you produce, you will fail.
And you can’t eat satisfaction, nor make a mortgage payment with it.