One way of going into agriculture would most definitely be small-scale farming or a small farm as some would refer to it.
But for this to work, potential farmers need a burning desire to grow things; labour from the heart. Life on a small farm can be intense, wearying, and sometimes boring or frustrating.
One has to have the internal fire that stays lit despite setbacks. It is essential to honestly ask oneself hard questions about personal strengths and weaknesses. Am I willing to carefully plan? Do I organize well? Do I work well under time pressure? Do I work well on my own? Do I focus on and complete projects?
Neither of us had seriously explored the possibility of making a living in agriculture.
Sure, we knew great happiness and satisfaction came from working in the garden — our gardens — but no connection with a livelihood in our gardens was obvious.
It seems that the internal glowing fire is often lit by grandparents long ago, particularly by nature-conscious parents, and may lie smouldering for many years before it becomes obvious and acted upon.
The test for this, or any other potential life passion, lies in the answer to the question, “What activity would I most often enjoy doing if it was totally up to me to decide?”
Most of us do not consciously know the answer to that important question and do not consider relating it to our professional lives. That is a tragedy on a grand scale!
The work required on a very small farm is within the capability of most people, male or female, large or small.
And sometimes, as noted earlier, the work is hard, boring, tedious, frustrating, painful, or all of the above. Sometimes it is glorious, beautiful, spiritual and joyous.
Regardless of what may prevail at any given time, the totality is immensely rewarding to those tuned to the right frequency and well worth the labour of love. But that labour is relatively unceasing; one cannot expect to be financially successful “dabbling” in small-scale agriculture.
Our modern farmer is minimally aware of the complexities of the living soil, spends little time with hands or feet on the soil, and observes few of the many nuances of plants and soil so prominent to his ancestors.
Farm family “farming” skills have been replaced by reliance on technocrats and bureaucrats.
Some farmers understand this; some resent it; to most, it is just a fact of life.
All of this is just a long way to say that there is not much next-door help available to any of us as we work to resuscitate the best of the time-honoured farming skills.
A small farm must primarily sell directly to the consumer. To make a living on a small farm, we must cut out the middlemen who today make virtually all the profit between farm harvest and ultimate sale to the consumer.
A small farm should be within a reasonable distance of potential customers. Towns offer wide varieties of food consumers in a rather dense cluster.
Since everyone’s time is at a premium, logic dictates farming within a short distance of a city or town where one can quickly deliver to the consumers or they can easily come to pick up produce and see the farm.
Your customers will come to consider you “their farmer.” Most will love the opportunity to see — and have their children see — where their food comes from.