Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’re getting a hobby farm in our neighborhood. (If you haven’t read my article about hobby farming, you definitely should.)
Already the media fanfare has started! Check out this article in our local “newspaper“:
|Click to enlarge if you *really* want to read it all.|
So we have the typical situation. Couple of people living in the city manage to grow a couple pepper plants, perhaps a couple tomatoes. And guess what — they didn’t have to use any pesticides or fertilizers do it!
They sell the big expensive downtown flat and head to the country. They invest in a small farm and now they’re going to show all those old farm families how to do it right! All those other farmers in the area are too busy polluting the Earth and poisoning our food. They’re going to be “organic” and “natural.”
I’m sure Karen and Jody mean well. I mean, after all, they can’t possibly realize that by promoting organic produce, they’re promoting an agricultural system that would only produce 2/3 the amount of food we produce now, which means that a whole lot of people would starve. Who cares about starving people when you can live a morally superior life while you show the old hillbillies how to do it?
I’d also like to point out that Karen and Jody are not certified organic yet. While I have no doubt they will get the certification, they really can’t claim they’re selling “organic” produce. You actually aren’t allowed to call yourself organic, market yourself as organic, or label your produce as such until you’re certified. Oops. Better figure that regulation stuff out pretty quickly, we deal with a lot of it in agriculture.
Besides all of that, how nice would it be if your farm had a cash infusion of $24,000? Sorry, but that’s not how this whole thing works. Eventually, you have to make it on your own. Your farm has be economically sustainable (read: profits!) if you’re actually going to make the farm work long term. Feeling morally superior won’t pay the bills.
Although I certainly don’t wish anything bad on anyone, the whole thing has me incredibly skeptical. The article above reads precisely like a manual on hobby farms. Moving to a location that already has a bunch of roadside stands, apple presses, ciders mills? Maybe not the right move.
You want to sell organic? Good for you.
Want to move from the city with absolutely no experience in agriculture and make a go of it? Good for you.
But eventually the money will run out, the grants will go away, the media fanfare will die, you’ll realize it’s hard work, you’re going to be over regulated, and maybe those guys down the street knew what they were doing when they told you it was a business. Playing around on 10 little acres might not be enough to make it through the winter.
That’s when it really counts.
That’s when you realize that the people farming around you know a little bit about what they’re doing, because they’ve been doing it their entire lives. They aren’t a bunch of uneducated, unsophisticated nobodies that are being played by big seed and chemical companies. They’re business people and you’ll have to figure out how to keep up.
Otherwise, you’re still just playing in the dirt.