There are just a host of these multi-speciated, symbiotic, stackable, complex, relational, synergistic enterprises that young people can build on an existing place.
Diego, Permaculture Voices:
What would you say to someone that is 18 years old and wants to go into farming today?
There’s never been a better time to go into farming. The number one thing to realize is that you don’t have to own the land to farm. That’s the huge issue right now. People think they’ve got to buy land in order to farm. With the portable systems that we have now, from tools to nursery shade cloth to hoop structures, portable animal shelters, poultry shelters, turkey mobiles – we’ve done a lot of these, but we can now have portable farms. Because we now have an information dense infrastructure that is not mass oriented, it’s information oriented. Information being the technology for example to make electric fence or hoop structures or water pumps or plastic pipe. These are very low cost, low capital infrastructure. The reason young people have felt excluded from being able to get into farming is because the price of land, infrastructure, and equipment is so capital intensive that it becomes prohibitive for a young person to get in.
And when young people can’t get in, old people can’t get out. And what we have to realize is that the average age of the American farmer is 60. Its an unprecedented opportunity for an 18 year old to partner with a 60 year old farmer who is waning and with the portable farm concept you can stack an additional enterprise on an existing farm. So you can take an orchard and do pastured poultry under it, you can take a wheat farm and put the wheat through chickens and direct market pastured poultry or eggs. Or through pigs and sell pigs. You can take a vineyard and grow vegetables between the vineyard rows. Instead of cultivating it and leaving it fallow to wash away, grow garlic and produce in between the trellises. There are just a host of these multi-speciated, symbiotic, stackable, complex, relational, synergistic enterprises that young people can build on an existing place.
The final part is that to create these partnering collaborative relationships it takes a track record. And so the young person has to understand that just like you would invest in a college education or investing in any new career opportunity or any learning situation, that you as a young person are not gonna get a whole package dropped in your lap. Your going to have to invest in it. That means quit partying on Friday night and go find a farmer and dig fence post holes for him. Invest your time, energy, and heart with that mentor, that farmer and that faithfulness will be rewarded better than any Wall Street investment than you can find. But you are going to have to spend a few years building a track record, building a relationship that will make the whole package come together.
This is an excerpt from an interview that I did with Joel Salatin on May 22, 2013 in Big Bear Lake, CA. The transcript is verbatim. A complete transcript, audio, and video will be available at a later date. For now enjoy these small bites.
Read Part 1 of the interview: Joel Salatin on the importance of running a profitable, yet balanced agriculture business.
Read Part 2 of the interview: Joel Salatin on Converting Conventional Farms to Organic, Salatin-Style Systems
Read Part 3 of the interview: Joel Salatin with good herbivore management, a perennial system will out compete an annual system of any stripe