National Young Farmers' Coalition
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I would love some advice!!!
I live in Columbia, SC and we are blessed to have a wonderful community of local farmers who are good stewards of their land and are excellent about educating our community. We also have a wonderful network of chef’s who are active participants in local organic farm products and actively push them in their restaurants. By being involved in this community our love for farming has grown over the past 5 years to an obsession.
I’m at the point in life now where I would like to change my job to farming full time.
I’m just stuck at how to make the switch and what might be out there to help people like me?
Our scenario is that we are married and have 3 young kids (under 6) and a 4th on the way this December.
I currently teach at a private high school and I’m not making a lot of money – enough to pay the bills and save some.
My wife is currently a stay at home mom but has a nursing degree and years of experience.
Here is where I’m stuck.
I don’t have a lot of land for livestock. I do live on an acre in a neighborhood that is outside of the city limits.
My acre was set up for intense backyard gardening/homesteading before we moved in. The soil is amended and grows crops well.
I don’t have “farming experience” with day to day farming decisions. I have plenty of book knowledge and a variety of practical experience in
growing crops and livestock care and breeding. But none enough that a lending institution would count it as viable experience.
I don’t have the funds available where a bank would be interested in letting us borrow the money we would need to start (i don’t think).
Finally, I need my full time job just to pay the bills and don’t know how I could stop cold and focus on farming full time, nor how would
I find time to work as an intern at a farm to gain the experience that a lot banks or other institutions would require.
I was wondering if you had any ideas of how to help me take the next step into agriculture!?
Thanks so much for your time and consideration.
After reading your post, I find it to be a sentiment that a growing number of people are sharing with you.
It is not easy to find the best first step in a new territory, but you can consider doing it one step at a time. For instance, keeping your current job while you gain more experience and try experiments in the land you currently have. Getting an internship can also be a good idea, since it can expose you to well established procedures that you can later practice independently… All the best in your steps…There is room for great enjoyment after you get through the initial steep first step.
Something else that can help you on this effort is creating a personal profile. There is an emerging website dedicated for sharing ideas and fostering collaboration and networking in the farming community. This site is being introduced and currently in beta, but you can sign up and post your comments for inputs from the community. The link to the section of the website dedicated to sharing of knowledge is:
My name is Amanda and I’ve just moved back to the Richmond, VA area after gaining some farming experience (and a Masters degree) in Pittsburgh.
The season is obviously winding down for the most part and all the farms I have spoken to are good as far as labor. My one opportunity that I have right now is working as an independent contractor (for lack of a better term) with a guy who is doing farm stands with local produce. He has a greenhouse he isn’t using and has allowed me to take it over so I can grow microgreens, lettuces, etc. for his market but also hopefully for local restaurants. Like many folks in this line of work, money is hard to come by and I really want to make this viable so I’m wondering if there are any grant opportunities that stand out in anyones mind that I may be able to pursue in order to grow this portion of his business and also ensure that I’ll be able to pay myself. I’ve looked at SARE and I’m not sure if my situation fits neatly into any of their grant categories so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I’m producing a Mini Maker Faire In Charlottesville, VA, April 13th, 2013. I saw Farm Hack at the Maker Faire in NYC and would like to have them represented at the C’vlle Faire. Do you know of anyone who could bring some of the Farm Hack creations?
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