Advice for a beginning farmer
Great to find a link which will allow contact with those who are
'making it happen,' so to speak. My grandmother has a small 50 + acre
farm she is wanting to sell. We are trying to coax her into keeping the
farm a "few more years"--she has had many offers from "developers"
who have big plans for her property.
Her property was never sprayed, and always grown naturally, organically.
What is your opinion for us, a new generation of new farmers trying to
hold on to the farm? What crops would you recommend which would possibly
yield us the ability to help hold on to her farm and survive the hands
of the hard working novices which will be attempting to keep this farm!
We have always grown for our own consumption and my generation has
not grown commercially. When she farmed her land, the market was obviously
a bit different. She grew a variety but it was mostly trade or barter.
If you have a spare moment it would be great to hear some inspirational
words from someone who is making it work! We are located in Western Pennsylvania.
Thank you for your time and congrats to you in your rewarding accomplishments
and your many years of work!
Good morning, Melissa,
Keeping a family farm, for those who are not professional farmers, is
always a tough decision. While it is true many developers will be glad
to profit from your sale, once gone it will be gone forever. Lost to all
the future generations of would-be farmers. Obviously, with 50 + acres,
you won’t be looking at growing corn or soybeans if you are looking
to make enough money to live on. If your goal is to work as few hours
as possible and still generate sales, then grain crops might be the way
to go. I can’t really tell from your brief letter how many people
are involved, what your financial goals are, if your plans include full
time energy or part time hobby, or even what you like to grow. Are animals
in the farm’s future, or only crops? Many farm families are able
to generate livable incomes on farms smaller than yours (check out the
many stories on the New Farm web site). I suggest you do some more research
on possibilities, join up with PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable
Agriculture). This organization holds a great
winter meeting at Penn State in February (February 5-7 in 2004) where
over 1000 farmers like yourself meet each year to share ideas.
If you decide to move forward and save the farm, you will be starting
on a venture that will last for generations. It will be a trip well worth
the taking. As most people in your situation tell us years after they’ve
been farming – It’s more work than I ever thought, but I love
it more than I ever though I would.