Q&A

DEAR NEW FARM:
I'm considering moving far south and buying a small organic fruit farm. Are there any books or organizations that may be able to help me understand all the ups and downs of organic farming? I currently read a lot about raw vegan nutrition but need to be more knowledgeable about soil and climates, etc.

Thank you,
Ari

DEAR ARI:
“All the ups and downs of organic farming” would fill volumes (in fact it does; just browse our online bookstore). While the best teacher is experience, thousands of books and dozens of organizations exist to help you grow and market produce in your region successfully.

Out of print but available online from the Center for New Crops and Plant Products at Purdue University, you’ll find the indispensable Fruits of Warm Climates by Julia F. Morton (Florida Flair Books, 1987), which gives comprehensive cultural information for 124 types of fruits suitable for tropical regions. (Also available on CD-ROM at ECHO: Networking Global Hunger Solutions, www.echonet.org; ECHO offers other excellent resources for tropical farmers in warmer climates.) For sheer inspiration, pick up Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring, by organic peach farmer and philosopher David Mas Masumoto (W.W. Norton & Company, 2003). A host of other titles in our online bookstore address the specific topics of fruit propagation, organic farming and soil building, and growing your small-farm business.

You’ll also find a valuable support network at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group www.ssawg.org, where members have pledged to create “an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane.” The New Farm recently covered the group’s annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference in Southern SAWG conference offers practical tools and solutions for sustaining family farms. Heifer International www.heifer.org has also developed programs to assists Southern farmers, and you will find links to other regional resources on the Heifer website.

And in addition to all the other ways you can benefit from our website, we’ll soon be rolling out The New Farm Resource Page, where you can link to other organizations, websites, and printed materials geared toward helping new farmers like you. Finally, our new Beginning Farmer series—focusing on practical issues from buying land to purchasing equipment—will begin late this spring.

NF