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Developing income streams

When it comes to income generation for your project, understanding its character and scale is crucial. The nature of your endeavour will determine which income-generating activities are most suitable. In this article, we will delve into different project types and explore the diverse income streams they can leverage. We will also discuss the evolving nature of income streams and provide valuable resources to help you develop your own strategies.

Small Farms and Horticulture Projects:
Imagine privately-owned small farms or horticulture projects that go beyond food production and land management. These ventures incorporate learning, visitors, volunteers, and demonstration aspects to create a well-rounded experience. They may engage in activities like running a 'veggie box' scheme, operating a farm shop, or selling produce at local markets and food outlets. By diversifying their income streams, these projects can thrive while providing educational opportunities to the community.

Community Gardens in Urban Areas:
In bustling urban areas, community gardens serve as social enterprises that make a significant impact. These gardens primarily generate income by providing services to disadvantaged individuals, schools, or other groups with specific needs. Often, the local authority or public bodies fund these initiatives through contracts or service level agreements. Grant funding is another avenue for financial support. Community gardens serve as vibrant spaces where people come together to learn, grow, and address social challenges.

The Eco-nomics of Permaculture with Bob Mayhew 

Join Bob Mehew from the Apricot centre as he talks us through how he does business planning and forecasting for the many enterprises that they run at the Apricot Centre. Learn about diversifying income streams as a means of running a financially sustainable business. 

Ragaman's Farm Produce

The Shifting Nature of Income Streams:

It is important to acknowledge that income streams can evolve over time. For instance, let's consider Ragman's Lane Farm, a permaculture farm with over three decades of experience. Initially, it served as a bustling course centre and a hub for networks. However, as time went on, it transformed into a host for micro-enterprises and livelihoods. Ragman's Lane now generates income from eco-accommodation, apple juice/cider making, and raising beef cattle. These activities not only provide a backdrop but also elevate the profile of other enterprises, such as the market garden, veg box scheme, and specialist willow growing enterprise.

Ragman's Farm - building resilience 

Ragman's Lane Farm is a 60 acre organic farm in Gloucestershire. Matt Dunwell shares with Permaculture Magazine editor, Maddy Harland, how he's spent the last 30 years building resilience within farm giving it multiple functions and enterprises. 
For more info on Ragman's Lane Farm visit http://www.ragmans.co.uk

Playing to Your Strengths:

Developing income streams also involves understanding your project's strengths and weaknesses. Identify your specialist skills, areas of expertise, and passions. Additionally, assess your business skills, including management, finance, and marketing. By leveraging your strengths and addressing weaknesses, you can create sustainable income streams tailored to your project's unique attributes.

Starting a new venture and turning it into a sustainable source of income requires careful planning and strategy. While not every project needs a business plan, if your goal is to establish a business that supports your livelihood, a well-crafted business plan can significantly enhance your chances of success. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of a business plan and provide guidance on how to create one that aligns with your objectives and secures the necessary support.

Seek Expertise and Support:

Combination planting in polytunnel

If you lack experience in business matters, reaching out to friends, relatives, or individuals with relevant expertise can be a valuable first step. Look for someone who is genuinely interested in your vision and has experience in writing business plans. Alternatively, consider seeking assistance from small business advisors, social enterprise support organisations, universities, or local councils. These entities often offer business support programs tailored for small businesses, and some even provide grants to enhance environmental performance or reduce carbon emissions.

Utilise Examples and Templates:
Finding examples or templates of business plans for similar ventures can be immensely helpful. These resources offer guidance on the structure and content of a comprehensive business plan that suits your business's scale and type. A good business plan generally comprises two key elements:

  • Descriptive Elements: This section outlines the nature of your business, its goals, and the strategies you will employ to achieve them. It should encompass a detailed description of your products or services, target market, competitive advantage, marketing strategies, and operational plans.
  • Financial Elements: Financial projections, cost estimations, income forecasts, and cash flow analysis form the backbone of this section. Developing these projections using spreadsheets will give you a clear understanding of the financial feasibility and sustainability of your business.

If your project falls into the green or low carbon sector, explore specific business support schemes available for enterprises like yours. Organisations such as Clean Growth UK might provide valuable resources and assistance, particularly if your project involves technology or buildings-related aspects.

For social enterprises, numerous organisations within local areas and cities exist to support you in your business planning endeavours. If you are primarily focused on farming or horticulture, seek guidance from organisations like the Landworkers Alliance in the UK or La Via Campesina in mainland Europe, as they can provide specialised assistance.

Cana Dulce - Permaculture and regenerative community development

In this award winning documentary about Cana Dulce, a fantastic example permaculture and regenerative community development in southern Spain, started by Lucho Iglesias and Matricia Lana from an abandoned small-holding in 2000, share their experience of making their life and livelihoods from running a project that expresses their passion for people, place, biodiversity, holistic health and permaculture.

Table of income streams for projects and centres

Business & Enterprise Models

Establishing a Food Hub - local food systems

Community Support Agriculture Projects

Writing a good funding application

Organisation Competencies

Case Studies

Inspiring examples of permaculture places


Regenerative Knowledge Commons

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iACT and Land Centres Handbook

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'iACT iwas co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme. Proj. ref.: 2020-1-UK01-KA204-079285. The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.