Farm Master Plan
What is this document?
The purpose of this document is to elaborate in detail, the business & management model as well as the implementation phases of this farm enterprise. Both the Business plan and Whole systems master plan are living documents and as such are continuously revised and updated as we learn and grow with the integrated farming operations here at Marrakesh Organics.
This document provides a clear and transparent line of communication between the client and the farm manager to avoid possible misunderstandings, especially as it pertains to:
- Holistic context & Project aims
- Design considerations
- Management model
- Work breakdown
- Revenue projections
- Long term results.
Who is this document for?
This document is open sourced to benefit consultants, start up farms and sustainable farms managers.
Part I: Business overview
I. Management model
- What is Permaculture?
- Determine current issues
- Project objectives
- Main Enterprises
- Holistic Management
- Work breakdown & Time stacking
III. Market Study
IV. Income generating schemes & projections
- Phase One (1st year) 2014/15 revenue projections
- Phase Two (2nd year) 2016 revenue projections
VI. Subsidies (Drip Irrigation, Green House, Solar)
VII. Legal (Documentation, Business registration, Permits (well, buildings), Topography, Building code)
Part II: Whole Systems site Design
We are using Doherty’s Regrarian Platform as a reference to guide our Design consideration:
Part I: Business model
I. Concept overview
- The Farm will serve as a model of Profitable Drylands Regenerative Agriculture, showcasing the different principals and techniques that reduce costs, improve quality and increase profit. We aspire to convince people that regenerative agriculture is not just environmentally viable but also economically profitable.
- The Farm is a Regenerative agriculture research site where important observations and successful experiments shall be documented and open sourced for the worldwide community.We also seek to develop a context addapted profitable business model that could be replicated elsewhere.
- The farm produces fresh, nutrient rich, beyond organic fruits and vegetables, animal products, as well as aromatic plants and medicinals. We intend to seek out new customers via occasional tours, tasting events and a good word of mouth reputation. We seek to develop mutual trust with our clients by providing the highest quality products, open communication, open doors, and by conducting our business in the most genuine and ethical ways.
- The Farm also serves as an occasional training center for local and international students via Permaculture Design Courses (PDC), Permaculture Internships, Natural building workshops and other sustainability and personal growth oriented workshops.
- The Farm shall adopt and develop a Holistic Management framework for its management and decision making processes. This will ensure clarity of purpose and prevent shortsighted decision-making and conflicts.
2. Whole systems regenerative design
Our farm entreprise is gradually trying to integrate a number of tools for its regenerative agriculture operations. Among which we find Permaculture Design, Keyline farming, Holistic management, Bio intensive gerdening, No till cover crop farming, Rotational grazing and Carbon farming.
Permaculture is a Holistic design science that consciously integrates sustainable human settlements with regenerative ecosystems, mimicking the stability, autonomy and synergy inherent in natural systems. It is simply put, the wisdom of setting things in their right balance and place. Good design is one that recognizes then emulates the synergies and patterns of interaction which naturally exist between elements, therefore reducing input, time and labor.
To do this, permaculture uses a diverse set of principals some of which are:
- Working with rather than against Nature.
- Polycultures provide a stable and robust diversity as opposed to Monocultures.
- Agricultural practices that regenerate soils rather than degrade them.
- Water conservation through water harvesting, heavy mulching, composting, water recharge, anti evaporation strategies.
- All waste is recycled, outputs of each element in the system are used by other elements, and all inputs are provided by more that one element.
- Eliminated dependency on Big-Agro products (Hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, Feedstock)
- Ethical conduct: Care of the earth, care of the people, sharing surplus, fair trade
- Energy efficiency, appropriate technology and relative location
- Plant stacking and accelerated successions
Carbon Farming is simply farming in a way that reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions or captures and holds carbon in vegetation and soils. It is managing land, water, plants and animals to meet the Triple Challenge of Landscape Restoration, Climate Change and Food Security. It seeks to reduce emissions in its production processes, while increasing production and sequestering carbon in the landscape.
Carbon Farming can range from a single change in land management, such as introducing no-till cultivation or grazing management, to a whole-of-farm integrated plan which maximises carbon capture and emissions reduction. Carbon Farmers have many practices to choose from to develop their plan, including:
This list is constantly growing. The benefits of Carbon Farming include Carbon Sequestration, reduced erosion and soil loss, improved soil structure, increased soil fertility, reduced soil salinity, healthier soils, vegetation and animals, increased biodiversity, buffering against drought and greater water efficiency.
3. Determine current farm issues:
- Lack of good design
- Negative cash flow
- Degraded soils as indicated by the emergence of pioneer species
- Expensive, wasteful and inefficient flood irrigation practices
- Vulnerable and unproductive Monocultures (Olives, Wheat…)
- Very labor intensive practices
- Land erosion
- Wind exposure
- Lack of animal fodder and bee forage
- Lack of proper animal infrastructures
- Need for additional facilities and hosting conveniences (Dorms, Tool shed, Nursery, Green house, Compost toilets, Showers, Hot water).
4. Project objectives:
- Research and develop successful arid climate strategies
- Regenerate landscape
- Display practical Permaculture techniques
- Be financially profitable
- Create an abundant and healing space for family and friends
- Inspire local community
- Create an oasis for sharing and learning
- Showcase an alternative lifestyle
- Be a training center for local and international students
- Main Enterprises:
- Olive production
- Organic shop & cafe (Future), Organic vegetable production
- Farm products (Honey, Milk, Eggs, Soaps, Cheeses, Essential oils, Medicinal and Aromatic herbs, Preserved foods, Jams, Dried fruits…)
- Cash crops (Watermelon, Saffron, Peas…)
- Courses, workshops, retreats (PDC, Internships, Natural building, Spiritual retreats, Summer camps…)
- Holistic Management
6.1 Statement of purpose
Marrakesh Organics exists to transform a damaged arid landscape into a lush and abundant ecosystem that is ecologically sound and economically viable. This space shall serve as a peaceful sanctuary for family, friends & community and as a Permaculture demonstration and training site.
6.2 Quality of life statements
We aspire to see the project evolve into a vibrant environment that holistically nurtures the whole spectrum of human intrinsic needs, necessary for full, genuine expression and fulfillment, some of which are:
Experiential: Trial & error, creativity, curiosity, problem solving, observation, interaction, natural wisdom, pattern literacy, growth, invention, reinvention, fluidity.
Financial: Abundance, sharing surplus, growth, trust, gratefulness, Co-operative
Healing: Healthy foods, supportive people, vibrant environment
Esthetic/leisure: Pleasant landscape, comfortable spaces, playful activities, inspiring environment, cozy dwellings, life quality
Intellectual: Good library, Research & observation, stimulating conversations, lectures & workshops
Spiritual: Peaceful space, meditation spots, spiritual retreats, lectures, conversations
Ecological: Land regeneration, conscious design, recycling, water management
Social/Communal: Communal support, Art of hosting, open communication, conversation, sharing knowledge and surplus, inspiration, organization
Educational: Children summer camps, school tours, ecological awareness, permaculture trainings & workshops, demonstration site for farmers
6.3 Forms of production
- Solid business Plan
- Good Design
- Great working team
- Good organization, task schedule, competence
- Good reputation
- Quality products
- Inspiring, friendly environment
- Stimulating conversations, events, lecturers, workshops
- Positive attitude
- Strong ties with local community
6.4 Future resource base
- Consensual decision making
- Good team dynamics
- Customer satisfaction
- Continuous improvement and fluidity
- Visionary decisions
- Good sense financial practices
- Work breakdown and Time stacking
Work breakdown and implementation phases are directly related to:
- Start up capital
- Consensual priorities
- First year income projections (Short term return on investment)
Only once the start up capital is clarified and consensus is reached over budget priorities, a more realistic first year income can be projected, and suitable work breakdown and time stacking can be devised.
II. Budget (Only tasks & costs are disclosed)
|Gaz||2000 Dh||3.5 water hours/ Canister|
|Tool Shed||4000 DH||Adobe bricks, Roof materials, windows and door|
|Tools||8000 DH||Cart, Blower, Chipper, Machetes, Sifters, Wheelbarrows, secateurs,…|
|Diesel Pump Maintenance||650 DH||Oil change, Filters, maintenance|
|Well||56.600 DH||Hand dug @ 1700 Dh/m (incl cement, iron bars)|
|Drip Irrigation||12000/ Hectare||Tubing @ 1.5 Dh/m (Price for DIY )|
|Animals||30.000 DH||Chickens (100), Ducks (10), Bees (2 Hives), Sheep Rabbits (20), Cow|
|Animal Shelters||10000 DH||Sheep shelter, Chicken system|
|Compost Toilets||400 DH||Reed structure|
|Swales & Access roads||2400 DH||JCB @ 250 DH/hour (Also to transplant trees)|
|Irrigation Pool repair||2400 DH||Cement, Labor|
|Cash Crops||1500 DH||Seeds & cuttings ( Green Peas, Courgettes) 15′
|Car Costs||3500 DH/year||Insurance, Registration|
|Perimeter Fence||850 DH||250 m perimeter + Irrigation Ditch + Seedlings & Seeds|
|Parking||350 DH||Bamboo screens, Plastic tarp|
|Tractor Hire||120 DH/ hour||Cereal field Plowing 2.5 hours/hec|
|Adobe Bricks||400 DH/thousand bricks|
|Mulch||4800 DH||Second quality straw (800 DH/ Ton) + Strawbale @ 15 Dh/bale|
|Manure||4000 DH||900 DH/ Truck load|
|Barrels||800 DH||220 L Drums x 4 (200 DH each)|
|Tanks||800 DH each||One Cubic meter tanks for Compost tea & Bio fertilizer|
|Cover Crop Mix||2000 DH||Clover, sunflower, lucerne, broad bean, Grasses|
|Green House||5500 DH||70m metal structure (Plastic not included)|
|Labor||5000 Dh/year (Expected)||80-120 DH/hour – For occasional hire (Pruning, harvesting,…)|
|Electricity||6000 DH/year||Electric well pump (Mainly for Cash crops)|
|Wooden Poles||2000 DH||Sheep shelter – 32 pcs @ 60 DH/Piece|
|Tree Seedlings||2500 DH||Fruit trees (100 pcs) + 200 Forestry
|DIS Filters||2000 DH||Drip irrigation|
|Organic Seeds||Free||(Colis Kokopeli)|
|Soil Tests||450 DH||Soil Lab|
|Shop Structure||20000 DH||Adobe Course 15′|
III. Market Study
- More and more people are waking up to the dangers of conventional foods deficient in nutrients and full of chemicals, toxins and other detrimental agents; yet, organic alternatives are few on the Moroccan market and often too expensive and difficult to trust. We intend to fill in this demand by providing wholesome, organic foods at affordable prices.
- The farm is privileged to be only a half an hour drive from Marrakech. This will make delivery of farm products easier and cheaper. It will also provide the opportunity for people to visit often and pick up their baskets directly from the farm.
- More and more hotels are also catering to their customers’ request of organic products, making them a good niche for our products.
- The recent emergence of Organic health food stores also affirms this trend, making them a viable market.
IV. Income generating schemes & projections (undisclosed)
- Phase One (1st year) 2014/15 revenue projections
- Phase Two (2nd year) 2016 revenue projections
V. Marketing (Strategy, Website, Social media, videos, events)
VII. Legal (Documentation, Organic certification, permits (buildings & well), topograph, Business registration)
Part II: Whole Systems site Design
• Precipitation patterns
• Seasonal temperature. Highs, lows, averages etc.
• Fire history
• Extreme events in regional history: floods, droughts etc.
• Brittle rating: local evaporation/precipitation and soil/atmospheric moisture
• Growing days
• General site slope, aspect, elevation, and orientation
• Meteorological Data
• Native animals & plants that inhabit the site, including introduced pasture & weed species
2. Geography (Location, Landform, Topography)
Research into and description of local and regional demography, psychography, character, history, markets and culture at large.
Detailed and accurate topographic information is essential for WHS design and is obtained by outsourcing to local surveying contractors. This is a foundational element in the greater design process.
Analysis of Soil
outsourced to soil Lab.
Site soil testing is strongly suggested. Such tests offer invaluable information on the nature of the site, it’s future potential land uses in biological and engineering applications, and any necessary amendments due to deficiencies or toxicities.
3. Water (Storage, harvesting, reticulation)
As an absolute fundamental to agriculture (and life) the size, location and nature of WHS on site is both extremely important to the project and also potentially risk laden. It is for this reason that while we design the broader water systems in-house we commonly outsource the engineering of dams and roads to specialist contractors.
• Collection of observations of the relationship between site geology and hydrology.
• Location of potential water holding bodies as high as possible in the landscape to facilitate
gravity feed to the greatest area.
• Establishment of Key-point in the landscape to define design for movement water through
• Calculations of WHS based on:
1. Projected water needs based on intended forms of production/consumption.
2. Local precipitation models and projected future trends.
3. Local catchment area, quality and projected change in surface runoff coeficiency due
to pasture improvement.
• Design reticulation for farm irrigation and stock watering, including pumps, tanks and
• Calculate for and maximise roof/rain catchment for domestic use.
- Well number 1 (South side)
- Depth is 59 m
- Recharge capacity is 57 m3/day
- Outflow debit is 25 m3 per hour
- Well number 2 (Center)
- Depth is 42 m
- Recharge capacity is 20 m3/day
- Outflow debit is 12/ m3 per hour
- Available during rainy season
- 16 hours of good continuous flow
- Frequency (Once a week from Mid-November through mid-May)
- Irrigation Pool (Holding capacity is 118 m3)
- Drip Irrigation (Filters, Pipes, Pump, Installation)
- Water Tower (4.5 m3 holding capacity)
- Well digging (Depth, company, Geological data, Permit, Phase 2)
- Well Pump (Fuel Type, Outflow rate, Efficiency)
- Anti-Evaporation strategies: Windbreaks, mulching, Ground cover
- Rainwater Harvesting off existing buildings
- House (Catchment calculation)
Design of Water Harvesting & Storage Systems (Earthworks)
Implementing water harvesting swales and water storage dams will have the following critical benefits:
- Reduced land erosion
- Ground water recharge
- Rehydrate the landscape
- Catch and store excess water
- Re-establish vegetation throughout the land
Earthworks Design Considerations
- Earthworks Consultation costs
- Implementation costs
- Swale & Dam Design
- Collection of a large set of observations of the property, looking at natural features.
- Establishment of key point in the landscape to define design for water movement through the Paddocks.
- Site soil testing and analysis around Swales & Dams to determine design and construction of swale systems.
- Design and application of Keyline design and deep ripping to the grazing paddocks to speed up pasture succession and soil carbon creation.
- Design & locate animal watering sites for trough tanks, plumbing locations.
4. Access (Roads, Tracks, Trails, Utilities)
Access refers to the way or means of approach of traffic. This can be roads, tracks, lanes, paths, foot, stock, vehicle, wildlife etc. It also refers to relative proximity and ease of approach to towns, markets, neighbours etc. Also to wether or not services such as Utilities can be provided to a building site. In Regrarian farm design roads double as Water Harvesting Structures, mitigating the loss of water catchment otherwise experienced as pastures improve due to good land/animal management. Design and set out of all road and access according to the farm topography, drainage, dam placement etc.
• Planting species to minimise maintenance and bank stabilisation.
• Type of road construction based on quality and quantity of use.
Zone 5 perimeter fence species:
1st line: Opuntia cactus
2nd line: Reeds, Carpobrotus edulis
3rd line: Agave, Casuarina, Didymobotrya, Grevilia robusta, Carob, Moringa, Melia, Paulownia elongata, leucaena, Jacaranda, Parkinsonia, Almond, Pecan, Albizia lebbeck
- Irrigation Type: Acequia
- Dimensions (270 m, 6m)
- Type: Living fence
The typical North-African food forest oasis contains Palm trees as the high shade overstorey, then multiple fruit tree varieties such as Olives, figs and pomegranates, then a cover crop in between tree lines such as wheat, barley, corn and sorghum, to be alternated with legumes such as fava beans, peas and beans. This model works well and is resilient and productive, adding nitrogen fixing legume trees such as Leucaena and ground covers would accelerate and highly benefit the emergence and productivity of such a model. These models can be replicated throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
Also see Classical Palm Intercrop (Intro to Permaculture pg. 189)
- List of Food Forest Drylands species
Guilds & Observations
|Olive||Lavender, Tomato, Clovers, Inula Viscosa – Shallow roots – Nitrogen deficiency|
|Nitrogen fixing Trees||
|Acacia orida/nilotica||Bee forage – Live fence – Soils builder|
|Tagasaste||Fodder – Bee forage – Windbreak – Tolerant of poor soils, drought and wind|
|Leuceana||Excellent high-quality forage – Fast growing – Fire wood – Good timber|
|Casuarina||Mulch production- Windbreak|
|Parkinsonia||Good mulch- Nitrogen fixer|
|Acacia saligna||Nitrogen fixer|
|Tipuana Tipu||Nitrogen fixer|
|Acacia leucophloea||Nitrogen fixer|
|Prosopis cineraria||Salt tolerant – Fodder – High yield – Syrup and flour by product|
|Legume family shrub|
|Acacia deccurens||Nitrogen fixer|
|Sesbania||Poultry fodder – Forage – Fast growing, Drought tolerant|
|Pasture improver – Deciduous, fast growing, hardy – Erosion control – Windbreak – Bee forage – Good timber – Seeds fed to poultry|
- Trees (By function)
|Forage Trees||Timber||Windbreaks||Living Fence|
|Carob||Sugary pods used as chocolate substitute – Large animal feed – Durable quality timber – Bee forage|
|Neem / Melia||Biological pest repellant, Leaf litter increases earthworm count|
|Honey Locust||Pods high in sugar – Excellent stock fodder|
|Albizia lebbeck||Nitrogen fixer, bee forage, erosion control, quality timber, shade, Medicinal|
|Moringa||Fast growing – High protein content – Human food – Stock fodder – Medicinal|
- Guilds: Olive production being the main enterprise, special attention need be given to Olive trees, mainly thru a supportive guild of species that include legumes to compensate for nitrogen deficiency, lavender and Sage. Also, Inula Viscosa attracts a predator that feeds on Olive tree pests.
- Design Considerations for Trees
- Design & specification of Arboricultural tree planting systems, Succession planting, Spacing.
- Develop and design tree planting systems for:
- Water Conservation – Trees conserves soil moisture by reducing evaporation from the sun and wind.
- Erosion Control – Well designed systems incorporating diversity in planting species prevents the soil drying out and becoming less permeable to water penetration.
- Herbicide Elimination – With weed growth inhibited you can eliminate herbicide applications by cycling nutrients back into the ground through mulching.
- Windbreaks – Will greatly reduce heat waves and frost. Will also slow down water evaporation rate.
- Species Selection: Planning and research of the climate around the Ghmat area will determine the habit and vigor of local Species. Selection of large and fast growing for fuel wood or pole timber.
- Design and placement of tree systems in relation to soil type, nutrient flows and water availability.
- The design of tree systems with the integrated animal systems.
- Analysis of species planting that will increase wildlife, birds, which will be important in controlling pest and disease on the farm through the introduction of diversity.
- Types of Trees and plants to consider: Nitrogen fixing trees, Wind buffers, Aquatic and edge plants for Dams, fruit trees, Bee fodder trees species, forage hedgerow species and conservation and reforestation trees.
6.Buildings & Structures
- Tool Shed
- Animal Shelter
- Green House
- Compost Toilets
- Irrigation Pool (Repair work)
7. Fences (Permanent, Electric, Cross, Living)
In generations past fencing was a major undertaking involving countless, gruelling hours of work to install and then maintain. As a result paddock design was usually a matter of locating the shortest path between two convenient points. This approach saved time and money but failed to take other factors into account such as topography, hydrology, access etc. and even today farms experience many resulting inefficiencies. Nowadays we are blessed with increasingly affordable, lightweight effective electric fencing options for both permanent devisions(paddocks, forestry plots etc) and moveable in-paddock cells as are used in Holistic Management and Management Intensive Grazing.
• Design fencing allowing for maximum function and flexibility while minimising cost.
• Consideration of living fences as regenerative, low term option for paddock divisions.
Soil Lab Tests
- Soil PH test
- Soil Fertility and Soil Chemistry tests to determine lacking elements and to set a benchmark to test against in the future.
Compost: Compost is a vital element for soil life and plant health providing the perfect habitat for high diversities of beneficial soil organisms, which work to break down organic matter and minerals, making them into plant available nutrients. Compost or Humus also acts as a sponge to hold moisture longer and has a great water infiltration rate, which prevents run off during heavy rains.
- Bacterial Compost for Vegetables
- Fungal Compost for Trees
N2 fixing trees, Chop n’ drop
- Aerated compost tea
- Rock Dust
Green Manures & Cover Crop Mix
Alfalfa, Winter Pea, Singapore Daisy, Cowpea, Clovers, Summer Grasses, Millet, Rye, Sunflower, Abyssinian Cabbage, Phacelia, Buckwheat, Fava beans, Vetch, Lupinus Alba, Mustard, Soybean, Sorghum
- Sweet potato
- Carpobrotus edulis & succulent family
- Solar hot water
- Research photovoltaic systems
- Existing solar panels
- Solar pump research
- Holistic grazing planning
- Incorporate animal management into permaculture design
- Animal infrastructure must preferably be mobile
- Animal nutrition management, feeding & health: Forage/fodder selection, feeding evaluation, feeding cost analysis and recommendation.
12. Food production: Food production can be divided into 4 main areas, each one utilizing a different agricultural technique:
- Organic veggies & plants ========> Bio-intensive
- Animals ========> Rotational grazing
- Fruits & forage ======== > Food Forest on Swales
- Cash crops ========> Cover crop soil preparation
Local resource assessement: Agreements need to be worked out with nearby hotels, restaurants, nurseries and shops to collect:
- Kitchen scraps for compost making and as poultry feed
- Fish remains for making fish emulsion bio-fertilizer
- Wood chips to use as mulch and for composts
- Dry palm leaves from nurseries to use as rough mulch
- Weeping willow branches to use as root stimulant
- Manure from nearby cow farms
- Rock dust from nearby rock crushing mines
- Organic materials
- Humans resources
- Direction provinciale Agricole Marrakech (0524449313)
- Organic, Permaculture Projects
- Agence du Bassin Hydraulique du Tensift (0524448964)
- Drip Irrigation company
- Solar Pumps: MineSol (0661087317)
- Specialist nursery
- Co-ops, NGO’s