It's all too easy to have a rosy outlook of the future when you begin farming. You're doing what you love - the money will follow, right? Isn't that what the books say?
Many new farmers face tough realities. Mother Nature can have her way with your crops. Competition is getting fierce as small and micro-scale farms pop up everywhere - farming is catching on as a trend, and although local, sustainable food is as well, it's often easy for supply to outpace demand, especially in some areas. And investing in infrastructure and building distribution and markets can require a hefty supply of both money and time, up front - and time can be a precious resource for a beginning farmer.
Two recent news pieces underscore both the challenges of farming, and the "new farmer" - young, mid-to-late-20s, with no family background in farming, and with a "strong social justice ethic." That is, today's new farmer wants to help communities connect to local food and help people access healthy food.
- Growing Pains: New Farmers Break the Mold by Julia Scott
- Small Farms Find Big Competition by Hannah Guzik
If you get a chance to read them, I'd love to hear what you think - please comment! How has your experience as a new farmer been? What have you learned? What obstacles have you faced, and how rosy do you think the future is?
Photo © Stacy Grinsfelder