Marlow, the executive director of the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), wrapped up his presentation commenting that it was not his intention to discourage anyone from farming, “but I do want to whack your thinking.” It was clear from the lunch conversation that he was successful. All three of the young farmers were seasoned veterans in the fields, each well aware of the physical work and emotional strain of growing a crop and getting it to market. But crossing the line from farmer laborer to entrepreneur is new for them. Raw. And scary when you get real.Thank you, Andrew, for sharing your insight. To read the full post, click here.
Last month, RAFI ED Scott Marlow delivered a talk at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference titled: How to make a million dollars farming (or not!). While Scott’s sarcasm always has a jovial tone, the serious reality of farming in small-scale markets is one that cannot be ignored. As highlighted in the talk, a small farmer must think less like a commodity farmer and more like an entrepreneur. The lecture room included a number of beginning farmers, meaning folks who may not have farmed on their own before and have solely worked as apprentices. Some are ready to take the leap now into farm ownership; others are figuring out a way to make that happen. We recently found a guest post on CFSA’s blog written by a young farmer named Andrew Downs. He writes about the talk and the reactions later at lunch among his peer group of young farmers: