Justin Dispensa is not the typical SCORE client looking to start a typical business. Justin’s business, Eastern Shore Permaculture Institute, (ESPI) reflects his primary passion, but only one of several offerings that he markets. He has studied and installed sustainable, self-sufficient agricultural ecosystems, known as permaculture, here on the Eastern Shore and in exotic ecosystems around the world. The idea is to transform unproductive land into thriving vegetative habitats teeming with native plants that serve as inviting hosts for pollinators while providing perennial joy and tasty organic produce for their caretaker.
Along with Justin’s expertise in permaculture, he is also talented in photography, videography and 3D modeling. He photographs and videotapes local events and weddings, and he designs and creates imaginative containers for succulents using a 3D printer.
Developing a Plan
The challenge for Justin and his SCORE mentors is merging his many skills into a sustainable and self-sufficient business that thrives as well as the permaculture garden he created on his small property in Galena. The garden serves as a teaching aid and a source of income from the fresh vegetables he sells at nearby Cross Street Market. He also sells logs pre-seeded with edible mushrooms that customers grow and harvest at home.
The scenic Eastern Shore is a rural community with rolling pastures, wheat field and bright red barns with shiny silos peering over the treetops like friendly sentinels. Many local farmers share a rich agricultural heritage that spans generations and already understand the intrinsic value of sustainable farming.
That’s why Justin is focusing his efforts on teaching the benefits of permaculture to environmentally conscious homeowners who would like to experience the joy, satisfaction and savory delights that come from nurturing nature in their own back yard. That’s where his photography, video skills and demonstration garden come in. Justin is creating step-by-step training programs that teach aspiring gardeners how to turn even a tiny urban back lot into a thriving permaculture. These residential oases provide refuge for birds, bees and butterflies, and become a self-sustaining air purifier that transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen. The chance to grow their own fresh vegetables, herbs and mushrooms makes the experience all the sweeter.
Partnering with SCORE
Justin credits his local SCORE mentors with helping him formulate a workable financial plan to manage the income produced by his different revenue streams. They also helped develop long-term cash flow projections aimed at making ESPI as self-sufficient and sustainable as his permaculture installations.
Of his experience with SCORE, Justin said, “when you have a big vision for the future, it is sometimes difficult to get from A to Z, and SCORE has been super helpful in helping me hone in my business plan and marketing strategy to spread the ‘Permaculture Gospel’ to my local community and beyond!”