At one point, all of us have dreamed about leaving the hustle and bustle of the city to start a new life in the middle of nowhere. Many of us have daydreamed about staying at a farm and living off our own produce, never having to rely on corporations and the outside world for survival.
It’s a wonderful dream—and one that is worth seriously considering. For one, organic agriculture is good for the environment. Should we choose to produce our own food, we lessen our carbon footprint and the damage we cause to the world’s natural resources. For another, only consuming locally-grown, nutritious foods is good for our health.
If you’re a young adult who’s considering this path, don’t hesitate to take it seriously. There are plenty of benefits to being a farmer, not just to you but also to society and the world at large. Here are some pointers and tips for aspiring farmers.
Do your research.
The idea of being a farmer may sound like an idyllic life, and it is in many respects, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Like every undertaking, it will come with its own hardships. Dream big, but be realistic as well. Here are some questions you can ask yourself during your research and market analysis:
- Aside from self-sustainability, what are the consumer needs in the area that you can see yourself meeting? It may be fun to think of being a farmer just for your own sake, but realistically, you also need to think like an entrepreneur so that you’re able to sustain the costs of living on the farm.
- Think of an “elevator pitch” or a 1-to-3-sentence summary of your farm business concept so that even people who know next to nothing about agriculture will be able to understand it in one go.
- Do you have the skills and competencies needed to start this endeavour? If not, what are the steps you need to take to address these deficiencies? It’s good to ask these questions early so that you have the foresight to address potential problems before they even arise.
Develop a business model.
Running a farm is not much different from running your own business, especially if you plan to sell agricultural products and produce. You need to list down your goals and objectives and plan for the business’ various functions, even if you’re planning to start small. The three primary functions you need to plan for are finance, operations, and marketing.
Your operations plan should address your production system, which includes inputs, outputs, and the processes through which your inputs will transform into outputs. It should be able to identify your input suppliers, transportation and storage needs, and the state, local, and federal regulations that you need to educate yourself with and how you will be able to comply. Your marketing plan should describe your target demographic, the needs your business is positioned to meet, and how you will reach your target market. Your financial plan should project what your farm will look like in three, five, or ten years, how it will attempt to create profit, and steps to fund the first phase. Your business model should also be able to sort out your personal finances from your and business costs, and thorough risk analysis and exit strategy for when things go sideways.
Partner with and invest in trusted resources.
A huge part of finding success in the farming industry is the right relationships and connections. Build networks with other farmers, agricultural service providers, and extension agents in your community. Fostering genuine connections with those who have been farming for generations can be an invaluable resource for aspiring farmers and farm entrepreneurs. It would help if you had a network where you can ask lots of questions about the production side and the financial side of farming. Building these connections also entails being generous in your support for the local farm industry. You also need to invest in the proper equipment and build relationships with reliable suppliers like Wearparts Limited, who can provide you with a complete range of high-quality agricultural machinery parts.
If you want your farm to succeed, investing in the right resources and connections is crucial.
Don’t Be Afraid of Small Beginnings
Just like in planting and gardening, laying the foundations of your farm will take a long time and be some of the hardest years. But no matter how big your vision and ambition, you can always start small. The first few years will be hard, just like in many enterprises, but it’s also a wonderful time to learn from mistakes. Don’t be afraid to take things slow, and all those lessons will be worth it in the end.