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What to Know Before Starting a Farm

What to Know Before Starting a Farm

While most of the food production in the United States today is done by agribusinesses utilizing huge warehouses, artificial lighting and genetically modified seed, the traditional farm has by no means gone out of vogue. Anyone with the will to get his or her hands dirty and the knowledge of how to plant, care for and properly harvest crops can find some land and start growing. In farming, like anything else, if you don’t know what you’re doing then your outcome is going to be very far from optimal. This is what to know before starting a farm.

First and foremost, unless you’re working out of a warehouse yourself, the odds are good that your farm of choice will be some distance away from the rest of civilization. Living on farm land is kind of a necessity since you need to be there to watch out for the health of your crops, build fences to keep critters out and do everything else that needs to be done. If you want access to things like TV and the Internet though, your best bet will probably be some sort of satellite connection. Consider this heavily before you commit to any move to any farm.

If being out of the loop doesn’t bother you so much, then that last point won’t be such a big deal for you. However, no farmer can ignore the specific needs of the crops they’ve chosen to grow. Before you even buy the seeds for planting, you must research a few things, like what crops are in demand in your area (cash crops), what kind of special care they need to reach maximum yields, and what sort of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and other tools you can use to boost your bottom line without killing off your crops.

Different plants have different needs, which means the tools that work for one type of plant may not work for another, or might just kill it outright. Having access to the web would make all this research much easier, so again, we want to stress that first point about having some sort of Internet access at your farm. Once you know what you want to grow, what the specific needs of those plants are and what you can do to meet those needs, then you will finally be ready to actually start growing stuff. The next thing you need to know is the where.

Like with many businesses, location is very important to a farmer. If you must haul your harvest farther to get it to market, then that will cut into your profits more and more for every mile you have to carry your produce. Look for land which is close enough to a major city that you will have easy access to a wide market, but not so close that you have to deal with things like pollution, violence, noise and other woes. Finding the perfect spot which has the balance you want will take some time, and again, some research.

Making money should be the ultimate goal of any farmer, just like with most other businesses. That means you want to give your crops the best possible chance of survival, which in turn means that you need to stay away from heavy sources of smog, like congested city streets loaded with cars, trucks, vans and other vehicles. If you want to raise livestock as well, then you will need to look into crop rotation and how you can grow multiple different crops on different sections of your plot, rotating those crops every few months so you don’t completely deplete the nutrients in the Earth.

Using crop rotation and the four-field rotation system specifically, you can grow a couple of cash crops as well as fodder and feed for your animals, all at the same time. The wheat, turnips, barley and clover system was developed in Great Britain back during the 1500s and it is still used today, but you may want to change up the specific plants you grow based on your needs. Also, remember that some crops simply do not mingle with other crops. One great example of this is tobacco, because it kills practically every other plant it touches.

Because it can be difficult if not impossible to turn a decent profit unless you are running a mega farm that rakes in government subsidies, you have to diversify the production while cutting costs on your farm if you want to come out ahead. This might mean foregoing livestock completely, and instead installing several artificial beehives on your property so you can start producing honey, royal jelly and wax. All of these items command a good price on the produce market, and the bees more or less take care of themselves, all the while fertilizing your crops for you and promising bigger, better yields.

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How to Make Money with Your Farm

How to Make Money with Your Farm

If you’re wondering how to make money with your farm, you’re not alone – figuring out what crops are in high demand in a given season and finding buyers for the things they grow is a difficult thingn for all farmers to do. If you want to be profitable and not just grow a barn full of stuff that you can’t find anyone to buy, then you’ve got to be smart. For starters, investing all of your land into a single crop is almost always a bad idea. Just like market investors with their portfolios, you will have a better chance of financial success if you diversify.

This could mean growing things you normally wouldn’t even consider, like mushrooms for instance. Mushrooms used in medicine, as well as those which find their way into gourmet recipes and high-priced restaurant dishes, can be a very lucrative crop for any farm. Many mushroom types will give you 2-3 crops a year, every 4 months or so, and some of these can sell for obscene amounts of money, like the truffles some people love so much. Compared to things like corn or tomatoes, mushrooms have very specific needs which must be met, so as always be sure to research before planting.

Another way to make money with your farm is to get out of the ground entirely. Not that you shouldn’t be taking advantage of your available land, not at all; but there are other ways for farmers to make money besides just growing things. For instance, honey and other bee products tend to command high prices, much like the mushrooms mentioned above. Installing several bee hives in a quiet corner of your property will give you a steady supply of honey, wax and other bee products, and on top of that you’ll have your own little fertilization crew working for you.

The truth is, some 90% of small farms make the majority of their income through activities besides the actual farming, at least here in the United States. That means you may want to open up your farm to the public, if you think there’s a way to make money out of it. This could be something as simple as renting out parcels of your land for campers to use, or opening a bed and breakfast and renting out empty rooms in your home to people who can afford to pay for them.

Breaking into as many markets as possible is key to making your farm a profitable one, regardless of its size. You could easily put together seed packages with dozens of seeds from a handful of different plants, then sell those through the Internet to avid gardeners and would-be farmers all over the world. This is a much better use for all those seeds left over at the end of every growing season than just throwing them out or using them for animal feed, plus you will increase the knowledge of your farm with every package you sell. Happy customers will lead to more customers, you know?

What It Takes to Live on a Farm

What It Takes to Live on a Farm

You may be thinking about going into farming for yourself, but also rightfully wondering what it takes to live on a farm. It’s definitely not the same thing as living in a big city, that’s for sure. There are good and bad points which can be argued for both rural and urban life, but that’s not what we’re here to do right now. If you’re thinking of becoming a farmer yourself, then there is a world of knowledge you need to pick up before you get started, not the least of which is what to expect from farm life.

Perhaps the most important thing to know is that there are no vacations on a farm. You may think the winter season would at least give growers a few months of peace during the year, but winter happens to be the perfect time for aerating soil, collecting seeds from the crops which were left in fall to go to seed, chopping trees, breaking rocks and clearing land. If you really want to be a farmer, you need to realize you’ll be doing the farmer thing for (probably) 12 hours a day, every day, with only the occasional day off. No week-long vacation for you!

Isolation isn’t necessarily a part of the farming lifestyle, but you’re definitely going to notice fewer people around you if you move from an urban area to a rural one. This probably won’t bother you if you actually enjoy peace and quiet, but social people may suffer for living on a farm. Thankfully, you can make up for decreased human interactions with all the phone calls you’ll be making to nearby restaurants, grocery stores and other food vendors, all of whom you’ll be trying to sell your farm products to in order to make a living.

Animals die for all kinds of reasons, and nobody knows this fact better than the farmers who raise those animals. If you want to live on a farm, you’re going to need to be able to not get too attached to your livestock. It sounds simple enough to look at a cow and see a couple hundred steaks rather than a living, breathing thing, but some people will struggle with this concept. You can always hire someone else to butcher and process your meats for you, but that’s more money you could hold onto and save, and every little bit counts when living on a farm.

A level of mechanical aptitude is also crucial if you want to live on a farm. Equipment breaks down even when treated with care, and knowing how to repair a broken piece of machinery can be the difference between continuing to use it and needed to buy something entirely new. You don’t need to be a certified mechanic to live on a farm, but it sure helps. It should go without saying, but a willingness to get your hands dirty is also a sort of prerequisite to living and working on a farm.

How To Start Your Own Garden

123Do you distrust food sources like supermarkets and grocery stores? Well that’s smart; you probably should be a bit skeptical! Places like Kroger’s and Shop-Rite often treat their foods with pesticides, which can cause serious harm to the human body if ingested too often. The solution to this is to start growing your own food, in a garden of your very own! You will be able to eat vegetables that are grown right next to your house, and you KNOW they have no pesticides because you grew them yourself. Here are some tips to help you grow your own healthy food, guaranteed to contain 0 pesticides!

First, decide if you want a traditional in-earth garden or a raised bed garden. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and their own sets of struggles. With an in-earth garden you will need a way to till the soil. You can do this two ways; you can rent a tiller to move all the earth and make it ready for growing food, or you can do it with a shovel. If you’re really strong and don’t want to spend money, use the shovel method! However, if you’d prefer to have more fun while you garden I’d go for the tiller. It’s much simpler all around.

If you opt for an in-earth garden, you need to pay much more attention to weeds. Just tilling the soil will not get rid of all of the weeds; if you leave it alone too long all of the grass will grow back and you’ll have a grassy patch of earth again, and all your edible plants will die. Just set aside some time each day to do some weeding, and then it will never get out of control. But that’s the advantage of a raised bed; you don’t need to worry so much about weeds. But the best thing about a raised bed is that you control the soil that goes in the bed. If your soil is not naturally very good, get a raised bed and buy some better quality soil! That way you don’t need to worry about the acid content or the amount of limestone in your soil; you have the best growing soil money can buy! With great quality soil like that, you’ll need pallet collars from Kronus Collars to ship away all the vegetables you’ll end up growing!

After you’ve created your bed, it’s time to get some plants! You can either use seedling, small plants that are already grown a bit, or grow them from seeds. Seedlings are more reliable, but seeds are cheaper. Whichever one you want! Once you’ve planted your seeds, make sure you water and tend them. Plants don’t grow well when you leave them on their own! You’re on the home stretch now; once you’ve looked up how each ripe plant is supposed to look, it’s time to harvest! Now the only hard part is figuring out how you want to eat them!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKIAoKHkss0

Why YOU Should Get Involved In Community-Supported Agriculture

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One thing the internet has done well is to give a voice to people who are not normally able to promote themselves much. For example, you’ll notice that more and more independent musicians, filmmakers, and artists are able to sell their amazing and often customized products. The same has been true of farming! Because of the internet and the power that it offers people, many more people are able to buy “shares” in a farm and get their own fresh-grown food.

There are several ways that you can get involved in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). You can pay a monthly fee and get a big box of home-grown food either delivered to your or available for pickup at certain locations.

This box has all kinds of things in it, depending on the season. During the spring you can get some vegetables that are just starting to come up, or some fresh chicken. During the summer you can get more berries and fruits, because they are starting to mature and ripen.

During the fall is when most of the really good stuff comes; you can get apple cider, turkey, chicken, tomatoes, pumpkins, and all sorts of squash. You can also sometimes get fresh cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pies, and fresh bread. My family typically makes a Thanksgiving feast completely out of things from a CSA box. The food tastes so much better than food from a grocery store; you can taste the difference, and other people will taste it as well!

why-you-should-get-involved-in-community-supported-agriculture-1Another way you can get involved in CSA is to purchase your share through farm work instead of through money! Some farms let you get a box for free if you come and work for an hour or two each month. This is a great way to learn how a farm works, and where food comes from. It gives you a much greater appreciation for the food that you eat if you had a hand in picking and caring for it.

You always care more for something that you helped create, and food is no exception. It’s like the difference between watching someone playing awesome drums and learning to play a drum for yourself; it’s much more satisfying to be involved in the process!

Eating CSA foods not only gives you a greater appreciation for the food industry in general, it is better for you! Most private farms that offer food to the public like this do not use harsh chemicals to treat the food; therefore, it is much more healthy to eat that kind of food instead of dangerous, chemical-filled foods from the store.

So there you have it: CSA benefits you not only by giving you a glimpse into the food industry, but also by giving you better health from better-quality food. Wouldn’t you rather eat meats (or vegetables) where you can TASTE the difference between them and store-bought foods? CSA farms are a perfect way for you to support your local farmers.

How to Stage a Successful Protest

how-to-stage-a-successful-protestSuccessful protests are not just as simple as getting out into the streets and chanting you causes. You need to organize it carefully well before the event.

Despite the unfolding political landscape to which our country struggles to adjust, the Food Fair Nation remains unfazed in its advocacy of bringing equality and justice to local farmers. Over the last weeks, we’ve heard each new headline from Washington more outrageous than the last. But this noise does not deter the movement from its commitment to farm labor justice.

Just a few weeks ago, thousands of farm workers in Florida and consumers across the country have taken to the streets to voice out their message: Every individual in the world deserves and demands a dignified life, respect for fundamental human rights, and a voice in determining the course of their future.

The Food Fair Nation has staged numerous protests – of varying scale and types. They have staged walk-outs and boycotts of large food establishments, particularly Wendy’s. They have organized street protests, rallies and even outdoor concerts. In one of the concert rallies, they have invited a jazz band that delighted the protestors with their skillful playing of different wind and musical instruments such as the ones here at Wind Plays.

Time and again, these mass actions have caught the attention of the media and have brought to fore the main issues at hand. Though these demonstrations seem spontaneous and uncomplicated, organizing them doesn’t come easy. There are a lot of logistical considerations and things done before, during and after the protests.

Here we take a look at the intricacy of staging protests and how to make it a success.

Why people protest?

Protests are considered necessary and essential part of our social movements. These mass actions are a way to assert power, to pressure authorities, to take power, and to get what a group needs. Doing things rights achieves the purpose of the protest.

What are the things to consider?

First is to get a valid and clear reason for the protest. Why are you staging a protest? Depending on your advocacy, you will know what type of demonstration or protest to organize.

Second, who are the groups or people involved in your advocacy? You need to reach out to these people or community to rally them into action. Know also who are the targets and decision makers to whom the action would be addressed.

Thirdly, identify the best place and occasion to conduct the protest. Most of these protests are held in open plazas or streets where the authorities would likely notice them. Some choose an event or day that is related to the mass action, example Labor Day protests.

How to reach out to others?

Once you’ve identified the type, date, venue and target of the protest, start reaching out to the public. This is a crucial part of a successful protest. Getting people involved and taking them to the streets. Some things you can do to reach out include:

  1. Person to person campaign: flyers, posters, door-to-door, outreach tables, call or text your friends and relatives
  2. Web outreach: set up social media accounts, post on free news sites or blogs, create an email list, post in petition website, post YouTube videos, take your advocacy to the alternative media sites
  3. Create hype: Do a social media stunt or organize smaller events leading to the main protest

Who are the responsible people?

Once you’ve got people to join the demonstration, you need to organize a team who will cover some basic roles. These include:

  1. Main organizing team or decision makers
  2. Speakers and Master of ceremonies
  3. Marshalls
  4. Appointed spokesperson
  5. Street Medics and police liaison
  6. Accessibility
  7. Documentation team
  8. People gathering contacts and flyering

Once everything is covered and set, you can have your protest. Meet up again to assess how the event went and if you have achieved your goals!

 

Food Production: What You Need to Know And Why Get Involved!

food-production-why-you-desperately-need-to-know-and-get-involved

People rely on food as a primary source of nutrients. Being informed on how food is acquired, processed and distributed is important. Doing so is helpful in decision making and improves lifestyle.  The food industry is a multifaceted community of various companies that provides food for majority of the global population. Farmers and indigenous groups who depend on their own agricultural proceeds are often left out of the cycle and even relegated as minority. This is the advocacy that the CFA NYC has long been crying for.

Crucial to understanding the farmer’s plight is an appreciation of how foods are produced to our tables.

Before reaching home consumers, food undergoes a process called food production chain. It comprises of the following steps:

  1. Production – The first stage takes place at farms, where plants are grown and animals are domesticated. For plants, modern science is used to boost growth while animals are fed with supplements to increase body size.
  2. Processing – It is the part when raw resources are transformed to food. It may include several procedures. After harvesting, some plants only need cleaning, arranging, and cutting into certain sizes. Animal processing is more complicated. First, animals are slaughtered and then are cut into pieces. Sometimes, beef and pork are ground. Processing also include freezing and smoking. This part also involves putting on additional flavor and altering into crafty shapes for nuggets or sausages.
  3. Distribution – Finished product is then delivered to grocery stores or any other food service store. Consumers usually purchase goods from grocery stores or market. Direct transportations from food processors to restaurants occur occasionally.

The food industry includes several stakeholders, namely: primary producers, distributors, business industry, and consumers. Of all parties involved, the primary producers are often at the margins. They suffer the most injustice the current state of the industry. Farm workers experience cruel working circumstances without being adequately compensated.

Work begins earlier than the sunrise. They have to endure the elements, freezing climate at night as well as the sweltering sun in midday. Sweaters and rain jackets are used for protection from the cold breeze and early morning drizzle. The sun comes up only after two hours of working. Farm work does continue until noontime despite extreme heat released by the sun. Imagine strenuous physical activity for five or more hour’s straight, not to mention changing environmental stress. The only time famers could stop work is their noon break – and this does not last long. Workers barely have time to get enough rest to recover from the morning work and prepare for the remaining work left for the day. This is the work that our brother farmers do day-in and day-out, seven days a week.

During some off-season, the famers find time to entertain themselves by sharing stories. Playing music is a way of relaxation for the farmers. Many farmers are not only good at agriculture, they are skilled musicians too. They play wind, percussion and string instruments. Sometimes, a story comes along a guitar accompaniment or a mouth organ. Others are also skilled at digital piano, and it’s not surprising to find them someone play a modern digital piano like the ones at Digital Piano Judge.

In the protests staged by CFA, I’ve seen a number of farmers perform musical numbers. They have coursed their grievances to music. It’s a perfect way to get the message about the injustice in the food production process.

Making Use of Cellar Space

Making Use of Cellar SpaceOn many farms, a storm cellar or root cellar exists where certain plants can be stored until they will be brought to market, where farmers can take cover and hide out during periods of inclement weather. Whatever you call the basement beneath your farm, the odds are good you aren’t maximizing the profit potential of that space. Making use of your cellar as more than just a means of storage can help your bottom line every month by increasing your income, but only if you know what to do; fortunately we’re here to offer up a few solid pointers on the topic.

When you think about a cellar, what comes to mind? For most people, it’s a dark, usually cold, often damp space that doesn’t seem too habitable. But those are exactly the kind of conditions that mushrooms love, which means you could start making better use of cellar space as soon as today if you build and install some growing boxes. You should have no shortage of organic matter to use as compost for feeding those fledgling shrooms, and because certain gourmet mushrooms like truffles are almost worth their weight in gold, it’s plain to see how this could quickly turn a profit for you.

Growing mushrooms takes some specific requirements, but thankfully it is easier to create an artificial environment when you are working in a smaller space, like a cellar. Mushrooms need now light conditions, so you’ll want some weaker growing lights, but you will still need to be able to see when doing other things in your cellar, like stashing crops. Light Bar Report is a great place to go for the general purpose lights thanks to their wide selection of LED bars that can be set up anywhere, but you’ll be better off doing some research and shopping somewhere else for the growing lights.

Even if you don’t use your cellar space for production, it should still serve a very important purpose for you and your family if natural disasters like tornadoes and other terrible weather are common in your area. Every storm cellar should be equipped with enough water to make 1 gallon for every family member for every day for a month, as well as enough food, medicine and other supplies to last around 30 days. These items can be swapped out and replaced as needed, but to save yourself some grief, go with lights that don’t go bad over time, like gas-filled bulbs. Click here for more information on LEDs.

We’re focusing on making use of your cellar here, but as a general rule, if you aren’t maximizing the production capacity of every inch of your farm, then you’re probably doing something wrong. Like practically all other small businesses, the vast majority of farms will cave within a few years of being established, and it will often be because younger, less experienced farmers did not get the most they possibly could out of the resources which were available to them. It’s up to you to figure out how to accomplish this, but we’ll sure try to help you.

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