The Sunflower Economy

posted on: Monday, 29 December 2014

Not only pretty, but an economists dream

For those who look to Warren Buffett as the ultimate investment oracle, there's a new guru in town - Mother Nature* - and since owning my own garden, I've been schooled in where to find the best returns around. 

Alan Kohler would be proud: simplified nature/finance flow chart

I'm a keen watcher of the Australian and international financial markets and over the past fifty years there has been one standout performer. If you invested $1000 in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway shares when it floated in 1965, and held them, by 2005 you would have $3 million. But even the Oracle from Omaha can't touch the returns offered by the Sunflower Economy, a fund run exclusively by nature. For example, if you buy a packet of 20 sunflower seeds for around $3 and each seed grows a flower, you will have 20 flowers for $3. Already a win far beyond the market price.

If you are clever however, and instead of throwing out the flowers, you dry them and keep the seeds, you will be left with around 50 seeds per flower which makes a total of approximately 1000 new seeds. Plant them all again and you will have 1000 flowers. If you kept all of those seeds, you could have a mammoth 50,000 seeds within two flower cycles. (If that sounds confusing, look at the picture above!) And so it goes on. The best part is that Mother Nature also provides everything you'll ever need to make your investment grow: sun, rain and a bit of dirt.

Dried seeds from a standard sunflower

Of course, the same goes for garlic: plant one clove and you will grow a whole bulb of garlic. And corn: grow a cob and each of the hundred kernels can become another cob. Tomatoes too: squash one so that all the seeds come out and with a bit of rain a tomato bush will appear. While nature rewards those who have the patience to work with it, like a catastrophic GFC-bust she punishes those who break her plentiful system. But I won't go into that today...

I wish this was my garden, but it actually belongs to organic guru Dayne of Farm Dept

My investment strategy for 2015 revolves around the Sunflower Economy - I'm investing in a few interesting crops from super black-skinned Ironbark Pumpkin, multicoloured corn, beautifully pink borlotti beans and an heirloom Cox's Orange Pippin apple tree - and I may be all the richer for it.

*Admittedly she's been in town for quite some time.

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