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Questions and Answers

How do I start a small organic farm?

I live in Denver, Colorado and I would like to know which crops would grow best in the climate I live in and also when I should plant my seeds, what type of soil I should use, and natural ways of dealing with pests.

Posted by Daniel
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Daniel, if i were you I would get a job for a season on the kind of farm you wish to run. You question tells me you do not know enough to start a farm of your own without failing badly within 2 years. You should already know how to select crops and when to plant seed and what kind of soil is best in your area.

Working for a farmer for a season will allow you to quickly learn what you need to know

You also need to learn how to market what you grow as it will not sell itself. I suggest doing farmers markets before attempting a CSA or selling to restaurants

And if you want to sell your crops as organic you will need to get your land certified organic which takes 3 years of transition (and is a great way to learn how to farm using organic methods). I assume you do realize it is against the law in the USA to sell food as organic unless either you are certified organic or selling under $5000 in gross sales AND you are following the regulations as if you were certified organic (which includes keeping a lot of paper work on a daily basis).

Some links
Http:// (these guys started the US organic farming movement, tons of info)
Http:// (an amazing amount of information about sustainable farming)
Http:// (the best magazine for the market grower, an essential publication if you have been a market grower less than 13 years)
Http://… (the best list serve for market farmers, period)
Http:// (the USDA National Organic Program)

How can I get support and funds to start a small farm?

No one I know wants me to be a farmer, why is it so hard to get support.

Posted by peaches
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Peaches your story sounds familiar.

Try this question and my answer. Http://;…

Unlike most answers here I will say that your goal is VERY achievable VERY admirable and I will tell you how. With the right setup and knowledge 2-3K per acre income is very realistic. Not initially of course but in 5 or so years it is.

First, stop thinking of buying a farm or land just yet. Instead you need to learn what kind of land/farm you are looking for. So the only way to do that is to learn about farming. You have 3 basic approaches here.
Buy a farm and learn on the job. Not very smart, not likely to succeed. Think about it. Would you go start a restaurant and just learn on the job? I didn't think so. Farming isn't just about taking care of animals and growing stuff, its a business. Its one of the toughest businesses to make money at because of the enormous amount of knowledge needed to address everyday problems.
You could also rent a house in a small rural community, find a job there and work for some elderly farmers in your spare time or as your primary job. This would be better than the first way but it will take finding the right farmer and several years to get where you need to be.
The best way is to apprentice at a farm. You can find some excellent opportunities in this area. In sustainable agriculture circles there are some very very good farmers to work for. These types of farmers (sustainable agriculture) are true agrarians. They will show you how to make a living off the land while improving it, they will show you how to find markets for your products, they will show you how to manage your business. Here is a link to locate one Http://
I would focus on the ones that deal more with "sustainable agriculture" and avoid ones hung up on the term "organic". I say that because usually the "organic" farms its more of a anti pollution religion than a true understanding of nature.

This is a list of a few very excellent books that I recommend you read to give you an idea of exactly how encompassing the term "sustainable agriculture" really is.
You Can Farm – Joel Salatin
The Contrary Farmer – Gene Logsden
Introduction to Permaculture – Bill Mollison
Making Your Small Farm Profitable – Ron Macher

Really any book by Joel Salatin is worth the read,

Here are a few magazines

Here are a few more websites
Http:// -this is Joel Salatins farm site
Http://… – good description of sustainable agriculture.

With the knowledge you gain by reading those books and doing an apprenticeship you will be able to confidently go out and purchase a small farm, provide all of your necessities, make a profit from your work and be able to pay double what most people pay for land to expand your farm. I say this because I am doing it NOW.

One last thing I forgot to mention. I would avoid any and all advice given by the USDA. Think about it, they have been advising small farmers for decades now and look how many of them are left. The one thing you might consider hitting them up for is a USDA beginning farmer loan. I dunno much about it but I have a friend that used it to buy 120 acres and so far he says it was a snap with them. Http://…

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Of course that answer was in response to someone who had no farming experience. Maybe you do and some of that info might not be as helpful.

Pay close attention to what Bohemian_garnet says also. She is speaking from experience and its easy to see she knows what she is talking about. She touches on alot of the same topics I did in that answer.

1. Get the knowledge BEFORE you invest.
2. Diversify to protect yourself from down years that can and will happen
3. Start small, and expand. Its slow, hard work but it will be worth it.

Email me and I will help you, encourage you, answer questions if I can and then you cant say "no one I know want me to be a farmer?" lol.

Anyone from Brazil?

Is it possible to get employed on a farm without speaking Portuguese? In which seasons/cities? Thx.

Posted by peter_erdei
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Unlike Europe and a few other countries, where it is very common for holiday makers to work their way into travelling through unskilled labour such as fruit-picking or harvesting crops, the socio-economic reality in Brazil is really different. Unfortunately, the plantation model has predominated and trade is unfair, so most wages in seasonal rural work are below humanitarian standards. There have even been recent cases of slave-like conditions. It is not really an alternative.

And to my mind, no, it would be pratically impossible without speaking Portuguese. And I cannot imagine how you could be given a visa in those terms.

Even then, if for some reason you would still like to give it a shot, my impression is that the three southern states have more sustainable and/or family-based farming – unemployment is high all over the country though, unless you have specific skills to advertise. Globo Rural, a magazine and a TV show, could give an overview of agribusiness in the country.

Sorry for the harshness, but hope that helps.

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