“If you can get it where farm equity is now not in stationary highly capitalized infrastructure, then your equity is now loaded in management and customers. And when the equity of your farm is in your ability to manage something and market something, then the farm becomes portable.”Joel Salatin
Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm joins me to talk about his new book Fields of Farmers which focuses on the next generation of farmers. How young people can work with existing farmers to transition into farming.
He talks about young people can do today to take advantage of the huge opportunity that is out there.
Topics range from leasing land to forming synergistic, non-competitive enterprises on existing farms. The whole key is that you have to start. Movement creates movement.
Joel touches on the cultural stereotype against farming. So many people get “forced” into a job that they hate to satisfy their parents only to do that career for a few years and realize that they hate it. All along that person only wanted to do something with their hands. So why not encourage the youth to follow those passions and pursue them with all of their skills and talents.
This episode also has a very heavy entrepreneurial component. Hopefully it will motivate some people to get out there, stop thinking about farming, and actually start farming.
You can read this podcast via a transcript in pdf form:
Key Takeaways from this Episode:
- Invest in hydration. Get water into the landscape.
- You don’t have to own land to farm. Look for land to lease. Look to add another enterprise onto an existing farm. Focus on mobile infrastructure.
- Insource carbon instead of outsource carbon. So many farmers start out bringing in fertilizer at the beginning. Start building up your soils at the beginning to lower your long term input costs.
- Grow what you like to eat. You may have to eat through your inventory.
- Be willing to do whatever it takes to make it work. That might mean putting in a lot of hours, making a lot of sacrifices, cutting expenses, and taking some odds jobs.
- Make use of what you have first. Don’t buy anything. So many people want to run out and buy things when they first start out. Access what you have, use that, and only buy what you absolutely need.
- Better to become 80% self reliant that get analysis paralysis and not doing anything while trying to become 100% self reliant. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
- Stack multiple enterprises on a single land base whenever possible.
- “Movement creates movement.” It is better to start something, than to do nothing.
- “Bloom where you are planted.” Don’t think you have to move somewhere. Often times the best opportunities are at home.
- “We all look at other people and assume it had to be easy for them.” Everyone has their own struggles. Everyone has to work hard. Create your own unfair advantage.
- “Innovation is very expensive. You cannot innovate in every facet of your life or you will go bankrupt. You have to pace yourself. Get one enterprise up and running and then let that enterprise finance the second, and so on and so on.”
Joel on taking a 1 acre home into an income producing homestead.
- Look at your biggest expenses first and then try to minimize those. Think heating, cooling, water, and food.
- Start with what you can do.
- Look to extend the season in temperate climates with a solarium on the South side of the house.
- Employ greywater, small scale aquaponics, chickens.
Joel Salatin discusses the inherent inefficiencies of CSAs and farmers markets.
- Spend 50 days a year doing hardcore marketing instead of going to farmers markets and compare the results.
- Unless you are taking in something like $2000 per farmers market visit then you are better creating a direct customer base.
- Successful direct market farms don’t go to farmers markets.
Joel Salatin On the Next Generation of Farmers
Joel Salatin on Economically and Environmentally Sustainable Farm Businesses
The backyard poultry book that Joel recommends.
More information about Joel Salatin & Polyface Farms:
Polyface Farms on Facebook
Support Permaculture Voices
You can support Permaculture Voices through a one time or reoccurring donation at permaculturevoices.com/support