These days many young people in America are choosing to move away from the cities and desk jobs and out into the countryside to farm. As a matter of fact the most recent census of the US Department of Agriculture indicates that today there are more and more farmers under the age of 35. What’s more, nearly 70% of these young people have college degrees. This number is significantly higher than that of the general population. It’s clear that a growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs to farm. But which is better for them; the city life or farm life?
What You'll Learn Today
- Fresh Young Farmers Are Needed
- Why Do We Need Mid-Size Farms?
- Can Young Farmers Afford Startup?
- Farming Is More Than A Profession: It’s A Way Of Life
- Which Is Better, City Life Or Farm Life?
- 1. Transportation methods and costs
- 2. Recreation possibilities are quite different
- 3. Farm life is traditionally monochrome
- 4. You can stretch your savings
- 5. Explore the great outdoors
- 6. Experience real privacy
- 7. Make friends
- 8. De-stress
- 9. Stay safe and secure
- 10. Eat well
Fresh Young Farmers Are Needed
Traditional farmers today tend to be over the age of 60 and ready for retirement. Sadly, in this day and age their children are usually not interested in taking over the farming business. Luckily, fresh, new young people seem to be flocking to farm life.
It’s good to see so many young people take up farming, but, the number of individuals who do farm for a living is declining as traditional, established farmers age amount of the profession. Even so, these young farmers who mostly focus on the small family farming way of life can help to keep the concept and tradition of midsize farms alive in rural areas.
Why Do We Need Mid-Size Farms?
Unlike large, corporate conglomerates, midsize farms are both large enough to make a positive impact on mainstream markets while simultaneously being small enough to adhere responsibly to the needs of consumers and the environment.
Midsize farms are a very important part of rural life. A midsize farm will generate jobs for local residents and provide tax revenue for the local government.
Sadly, as traditional farmers have been aged out of the profession, their lands have been quickly snapped up by commercial farming. These types of corporate farms often hire migrant labor and find many creative ways to skirt payment of taxes. The result is reduced services and lower quality of life for people living in rural areas.
Young farmers today typically have farms that are smaller than 50 acres. These new farmers tend to come from non-farming backgrounds, and they mostly focus on organic gardening or natural gardening that sharply reduces the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Can Young Farmers Afford Startup?
Some of the young farmers prefer to find a job and start as farmhands on existing farms to get some experience first. Many others decide to launch their first-time farm right away.
Expenses for young, first-time farmers can be daunting. In addition to purchasing farmland and a farmhouse, fresh young farmers also must buy equipment, livestock, seed, food storage facilities and more. Fortunately, there are a number of government programs that can help them with both farming and personal needs until they get on their feet.
In today’s world, it is quite possible for first-time farmers to get a great deal of help from community supported agriculture programs (CSA). One problem that may preempt that assistance is the possibility that new young farmers may be carrying a great deal of student loan debt. When this is the case, it is not possible for them to get other assistance.
Even so, starting small and practicing frugal living can make the small farming dream come true. Furthermore, natural and organic farmers can usually find good markets for their produce by simply becoming involved in the local farmers markets. Other venues for good sales include restaurants, local markets and online sales.
Farming Is More Than A Profession: It’s A Way Of Life
There are a few things you should keep in mind if you’re planning on moving to the country and taking up farming. First of all, successful traditional farmers will warn you that you cannot look at your move as simply a career move.
The most successful, lifelong farmers realize that they have an obligation to the community in which they live, the quality of the water that they need and the very land itself.
When you are dreaming of taking up farming, you should consider what is known as the 4 Ps;
1. Purpose: What Is Your Purpose? Why Do You Want To Be A Farmer?
There are people who become farmers because they feel it is a calling or a mission. They may feel that this choice of lifestyle puts them in an ideal position to help feed the hungry and/or save the environment or similar pursuit. There are others who long to spend their lives outdoors and still others who want to focus on making money and reaping the fruits of their labors.
Of course it is possible to want all of these things, but you must remember to prioritize so that you can work effectively, efficiently and successfully.
2. Plan: Going Into Farming Isn’t Something You Can Simply Take Up Willy-nilly
You must create a solid business plan that outlines your goals and identifies the steps you will take to attain them. Remember that you should also prepare a contingency plan in the event that things don’t go the way you expect them to. It’s also very wise to have a firm emergency/disaster plan in place. The USDA is an excellent resource to which you can turn when devising your plan.
3. Product: You Must Define Your Product
Scattered effort gets scattered results. Decide where you want to focus your energy and then determine whether or not there is a market for the product you wish to sell. Identify your buyers and your venues to help ensure your success.
4. People: Identify The People Who Can Be Helpful
Identify the people who can be helpful to you as well as the people to whom you can and should be helpful. You’ll need to identify potential labor resources.
You’ll want to get to know your neighbors, befriend them and be at the ready to exchange favors as needed. You should also carefully consider the opinions and the needs of your family members so that you can be realistic about the amount of involvement you can expect from them.
Which Is Better, City Life Or Farm Life?
Many people are unhappy with city life, but don’t quit your day job and run off to buy a farm à la “Green Acres”! It’s wise to carefully compare and contrast city life and farm life and get a little experience in the countryside before you make any life-changing decisions.
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Transportation methods and costs
In the city, you can usually count on public transportation to get around. Furthermore, many of your needs may be within walking or cycling distance. In the countryside, you’ll need to have at least one car per driver in the household, and you’re very likely to need a pickup truck and a trailer of some sort. When you want to go shopping, out for a meal or to the doctor or dentist, you’re very likely to need to drive quite a way to get there.
2. Recreation possibilities are quite different
You’ll make your own fun on the farm, and there is quite a bit of it to be had. If you can be content with time spent in the great outdoors, games with friends and family, local social events and the like, you’ll probably be happy on the farm.
If you enjoy getting out and about and interacting with lots of different people every day, going to movies, museums, plays and art galleries, you will not be happy on the farm.
3. Farm life is traditionally monochrome
If diversity is important to you, and/or if you are a person of color or live a nontraditional lifestyle, you may not be comfortable immediately in a rural setting. Rural communities tend to be Caucasian communities and fairly traditional. Luckily they also tend to be fairly friendly, non-judgmental, welcoming and helpful.
4. You can stretch your savings
On the upside, you can get a lot more value for your dollar living in the country than in the city. For what you pay to rent the equivalent of walk-in closet in New York City, you could rent a nice big farmhouse in the country.
While you might currently feel that you could never even think about buying a home in the city, you may very well be able to easily afford a large home with property in the countryside. Property taxes are typically lower in rural areas, and they are typically spent more on things that make quality of living better for taxpayers.
5. Explore the great outdoors
In a small town or on the farm, you can enjoy a lot of time in nature. Small towns typically have lots of open green space and nice big parks. On your own farm, you can spend time in your own fields, your woods if you’re lucky on the banks of your own stream.
6. Experience real privacy
You can enjoy a private life on the farm. Country folk typically will leave you alone to do what you wish as long you don’t hurt anybody.
7. Make friends
While enjoying your privacy at home, you can simultaneously enjoy active community life. Country dwellers will usually get to know their neighbors and be ready with a helping hand as needed. Local ball games, school plays, church socials and the like keep country folk connected and entertained.
The pace of life is slower in the country, and in terms of health, the quality of living is better. With cleaner air, less noise, less light pollution and more time spent in nature, you can expect to be far less stressed and far healthier on the farm than in the city.
9. Stay safe and secure
Country living is also safer than city living. Even in this day and age, many small communities in the United States still boast very low crime rates and provide an atmosphere where children can play safely and freely and folks can feel comfortable with open windows and doors.
10. Eat well
One of the many perks of being a farmer is food independence. If you’re successful at your job, you and your family can expect to eat well, affordably and organically.