What’s an eco-niche?
An eco-niche includes all interactions with the biotic and abiotic factors of its environment.
A niche is an opportunity.
In business, the word niche is used often, and it’s a well-known fact that writers and most other creatives need one in order to be financially successful. In that context, niche refers to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.
And if you do a search for niche blogging, you’ll open a wormhole filled with people in every corner of the multiverse.
In science, an ecological niche has a deeper definition, which includes the role and position a species has in its environment, how it meets its needs for food and shelter, how it survives, and how it reproduces.
In the permaculture community, however, it’s very common to be a generalist and to have this “save the world”, “save everybody” attitude. And while that’s sort of a beautiful notion, it’s not very attainable. It’s not measurable.
When you try to do everything and help everybody at once, it’s very easy to dilute your work into a watered down, generalist approach, that might be inspiring and helpful on some levels, but is unlikely to bring in much in the way of specific rewards for you as an individual.
But if you can find your eco-niche, as a member of the permaculture community, and also as the creative and unique individual that you are, and bring forth ideas, products, and services that solve problems for a specific group of people, you can have a huge impact on their lives, bring in big rewards for yourself, and free up more time and resources for helping non-human species too!
Take a moment to imagine the myriad of ways you could turn your passion into a profession…
Niche Ecology Examples
Going green has become a priority in our society today, and starting a sustainable business can be a great way to do your part in helping the environment. Whether you are looking to start a business from scratch or convert an existing business to be more sustainable, there are many eco-niche examples that can inspire you to get started.
Here are a few eco-niche examples to help you get started on your green journey:
Organic farming is a great way to begin your sustainable business journey. It focuses on using natural techniques to grow produce, without the use of synthetic chemicals or GMOs. With organic farming, you can grow a wide variety of products, from fruits and vegetables, to eggs and dairy.
You can find your niche within organic farming by growing a specific crop, like strawberries. If you own a farm, you can also provide an on-site marketplace for your produce, and sell to both consumers and restaurants.
Sustainable agriculture is a big category that can be more specific to your location. Sustainable agriculture businesses can include growing traditional crops, like wheat, or they can focus on growing specialty crops, like mushrooms.
If you are growing specialty crops, you will likely need to work with a permaculture designer to create a new sustainable growing method.
Composting and Gardening Services
Composting and gardening services are great ways to make a living while helping the environment. As a permaculture designer, you can help people create sustainable gardens without using synthetic chemicals.
Composting services can also provide rich soil for gardens, and vermicomposting is a great way to compost indoors. You can sell compost and soil to individuals, and you can provide gardening services for both individuals and businesses.
Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
Eco-friendly cleaning products are a great example of an eco-niche that utilizes your passion for the environment, and creating a business around them is a great way to reduce your personal carbon footprint.
You can sell your cleaning products to individuals or businesses, and you can even offer your cleaning services while selling your eco-friendly cleaning products. You can also choose to specialize in a specific type of cleaning product, or you can go a more general route and sell cleaning kits for different types of cleaning tasks.
Long before “permaculture” was a thing, farmers knew that finding an eco-niche was a great way to make farming a much more viable profession. Here are some videos with very interesting case studies:
Eco-Niche: Marketing for Hippies
If you’re doing any sort of freelance work, or running a business, or even just running a community project that you want other people to know about, you need to learn something about marketing.
Ethical marketing is a HUGE rabbit hole on its own, and if you want to go the Heather Jo direction with it (#ecofeminist) then for sure sign up for the free eco-niche class mentioned below.
Meanwhile, check out Ted Hargrave’s work. It’s fascinating to consider how a simple set of tools can make such a huge difference in both the yield and the impact of our work.
Here are a couple of videos, focused on the “find an eco-niche” theme:
Niche biology is a field of biology that focuses on the study of how organisms interact with one another and their environment. It looks at the roles, interactions, and relationships between species, their habitats, and the resources that they rely on for survival.
It also examines the structure of ecological communities and the impact of environmental change on species and ecosystems.
In permaculture, the eco niche is defined as the relationship between species and their environment. Niche biology is the study of how species interact with their environment, including how they compete for resources, how they cooperate and how they evolve in response to changes in their environment.
Relevant Links and Resources about Eco-Niches
A few more articles from the PWG faculty:
- Harvesting Abundance: Another Twist on the Third Ethic of Permaculture, by Karryn Olsen
- 7 Things Ethical Freelancers Need to Know, by Heather Jo Flores
- Why Teaching is my Jam, by Lucie Bardos