Last year I attended a fantastic seminar by Joel Salatin, the American farmer renown for his innovative Polyface Farm - a diverse community-connected small scale family farm which has become successful because he is doing things differently.
One of the key inspirations I took away from his presentation was a comment he made about how his children all started their own enterprises as part of the farm when they were around 8-10 years old.
I raced home and told my 9 and 7 year old all about the talk and about Joel's children. Within an hour both Maia and Hugh had come up with their own business names, projects and plans. I was absolutely amazed at how this real-life eco-entrepreneurial opportunity sparked such a creative buzz, and continues to do so.
Hugh started Hugh's Bike Shed. He now fixes 'squeaky breaks, clunky gears, flat tyres' and generally services and cleans people's bicycles. He has a steady flow of customers from around the neighbourhood. He is also receiving donations of bikes that he can restore and hire out to visitors to the ecovillage. His next project is the restoration of a tandem bike which will be great fun.
Maia started Southern Cross Guinea Pigs and has already designed her own website and business card. She designs and makes guinea pig clothing out of old clothes and organises guinea pig fashion shows at the local market - they have been so popular with kids and adults alike. A modest entry fee raises significant pocket money, and she is now trying to breed guinea pigs for sale. Another part of her plan is to make guinea pig herbal supplements and ointments from our garden. Already she has made comfrey superfood and comfrey salve.