During winter’s grip, my green thumb starts twitching right about now when I long for fresh greens or asparagus plucked straight from the earth.
My Green Thumb
It starts telling me it’s time to gather seeds and orchestrate my garden plot. Planning is everything,and because I always plant too much, I remember the burden that onslaughts of zucchini and tomatoes bring.
If you’re like me, you may have had the itch to turn that thumb towards a working farm. But there’s more to farming than a digital divining rod. It takes a myriad of skills, processes, and commitment.
Here are a few insights I have gleaned from a few of my agrarian friends.
Know what grows best in your area and focus on those crops.
If you’ve got that green thumb, it’s likely you already know what flourishes in your soil and local weather conditions. Those fabulous dry-farm tomatoes or broccolini spears are probably the agricultural products to focus on. But you should also research your market, packaging, and food safety guidelines.
Get USDA Certified Organic
Wikifarmer is a global platform with the mission of empowering farmers through education and market access to sell products at fair prices. You can start by reading Farming 101 – How to be a Farmer – Step by Step Guide.
Consumers are learning that the USDA Organic Seal means theirfood was produced using sustainable methods that protect natural resources and promote biodiversity.
Being an organic farmer prohibits you from using toxic substances that pollute families, waterways, air, and natural habitats.
As The Organic Center reminds us, “Organic is the most heavily regulated and closely monitored agriculture system in the U.S.”So, the learning curve is steep but worth it.
Tap into expert resources at USDA
Luckily, The National Organic Program provides a wide range of free training and outreach materials for organic farms and businesses.
First, check out Is Organic an Option for Me? to learn the basics about organic certification and the organic standards. Additional information about the organic value proposition can be found at Sound and Sensible Certification.
Cultivate your field of technology
Your farm should be a place that’s able to compete, and to do that, you’re probably going to need the right technology at your fingertips.
Agriculture technology or AgTech is increasing with the aim of improving yield, efficiency, sustainability and profitability for farm managers and growers. How do drones, artificial intelligence and software intersect with organic cultivation?
The Organic Center is collaborating in a virtual conference series that examines agricultural technology (AgTech) in organic. The second conference in the series, Equity and Access in AgTech, will take place on Thursday, February 10, 9 a.m.– 2:30 p.m. PT / 12 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET. You can find the full agenda and more information here – it’s open to all.
Infrastructure and land access
You probably already have a toolshed, but you’re going to need a place to harvest, cool and pack your products.
Figuring out how to get your goodies to market will require online tools, transportation considerations and strategy.
How will you address soil fertility and waste? Efficient waste management could mean making use of manure for fertilizationor you could sell it to other farms or gardeners that need it.
If you’re farming in the west, water usage is of tantamount concern. Investing in a good water tank might be one of the smartest things you can do to conserve water and save money. With the right water tanks, you can store water and collect water that’s then used to water fields and crops.
What if you need more land?
USDA’s “Beginning Farmer” has direct and guaranteed loan programs. Farm Ownership loans can provide access to land and capital. Operating loans can assist beginning farmers in becoming prosperous and competitive by helping to pay normal operating or family living expenses; open doors to new markets and marketing opportunities; assist with diversifying operations.
Through the Microloan programs, beginning farmers and ranchers have an important source of financial assistance during the start-up years.
Farming requires dedication, expertise, and passion tosucceed.
It’s hard and often solitary work but well worth it. You will be feeding yourself and your community nutritious food that isgood for the planet.
What does your green thumb tell you?