Is Permaculture Expensive?

Permaculture can be a relatively expensive venture. The inputs of permaculture in the design and establishment phase are high. It is costly for farmers to transition from conventional techniques and adopt the processes and infrastructure required to live a sustainable lifestyle in permaculture. However, in the long-term, it is cheaper than conventional farming as you permaculture farm becomes self-sustaining.

You may need to own land, set up an irrigation model, purchase seedlings and seeds, and pay workers to help you on the farm. However, the principles of permaculture encourage starting small and using the resources in hand. So you don’t have to break the bank to start a permaculture farm. A few seeds, water, a hoe, land and some elbow grease is enough to get you going.

man planting plant
Photo by Binyamin Mellish on

Permaculture is designed for long-term benefits, so farmers must invest and wait for extended periods before getting the rewards. 

Modern farming methods can assure significant financial returns in a short time. On the other hand, permaculture will take longer for its benefits to become evident. This may deter some people from entirely investing in the lifestyle, as they may need more financial strength to survive before the system is established. 

Here are the main factors that will determine the cost of setting up your permaculture farm:

Acquiring land

The initial costs of permaculture include fencing, setting up animal housing, purchasing plant seedlings, and purchasing or leasing land. You will need to use the land for a long time in permaculture.

new uncultivated land

Therefore, if you do not own any land, you will buy or lease it for a few years. Leasing may be cheaper, but it can be counterproductive if you do not have complete control over the land. A total purchase is, therefore, the better option, but you will need substantial amounts of money depending on where you live. 


The fencing cost depends on the size of your land and the type of fence used. If you live in an area with a lot of wildlife, consider putting up an artificial fence to protect your crops and livestock. Using wood from local trees and other natural materials, you can minimize these costs. 


Water is also an expensive asset essential for the initial stages of permaculture. You will need to spend more in dry areas to source the water for your land and build an irrigation system.

Drip irrigation on seedlings
Alabama Extension/Flickr

The cost of watering your land will vary depending on the type of crops you want to grow, the distance to the water source, and the planting time. You should begin planting close to the rainy season to offset any costs associated with watering.

Further, you can harvest rainfall water during this period for watering during the dry season. 

Purchasing seeds and seedlings

The type of plants you want to grow will also determine your initial investment in permaculture. You can purchase seeds from the local market at a low price or buy seedlings from a nursery at a much higher cost.

Seedlings will establish faster and therefore you reap the benefits in a shorter period. You have to conduct your research on the difference in prices for indigenous plants and whether the returns will make the whole experience worthwhile.

You can grow seeds in a nursery when setting up a permaculture garden. Sell the seedlings to recoup some of your initial investment. 

Permaculture classes and workshops

If you need to be well informed on the appropriate way to practice permaculture, you must pay for workshops and classes, which can be costly. A well-organized permaculture design course will take a lot of your time and money.

teaching permaculture
Permaculture Association/Flickr

You can reduce these costs by learning as an apprentice from other permaculture practitioners, but you must be patient before beginning your practice. 

Cost of starting permaculture

The labour needed for starting a permaculture garden depends on the size of the land you have and the chosen design. On a large piece of land, you will require labourers to help with preparation, tilling, watering the seedlings, and building animal housing.

The workers also need food if your farm is in a remote area. You will have to include all these costs in your initial budget. The labour costs will decrease as the system gradually matures, and less maintenance is required. 

To set up a successful permaculture system, you must allocate significant time to the land. In the initial stages of growth, seedlings need a lot of care through watering, pest control, and transplanting.

A permaculture garden requires a lot of attention over the course of the first year to ensure that the plant root systems are well developed, the plants receive the appropriate amount of light, and the food crops are grown in the optimum conditions for them to flourish. You will invest a lot of time caring for your crops before they begin producing anything. This will be worth it once you get that first harvest. 

The equipment required can be expensive, especially if you are beginning farming from scratch. It would be best to have tillers, irrigation pipes, building materials, animal feeds, and water storage facilities. 

Is permaculture worth it?

Yes, permaculture is worth it. There are many avenues through which you can make a profit through permaculture. You can recover costs by selling produce, providing educational tours and workshops, and offering consultancy services. The initial costs may seem very high, but if you stick to the journey, the results will be worth it. 


Permaculture requires significant investment to set up, especially in terms of labor and time. However, with proper planning, you can devise different ways to reduce operating costs. Permaculture is profitable and sustainable in different ways, so do not get discouraged by the price.