The summer is over and growing your own food in the garden has been fun and rewarding. If you have the land and inkling to move forward to actual farming, you’ll need some tools and tips to graduate to a full-fledged organic farm.
As exciting as it is, you need to work on making your farm as functional and profitable as possible. Organic farming is a big task that requires know-how, business acumen, and the right tools to get it right. Having a green thumb doesn’t hurt either!
From farm barn sheds to vehicles, you need to look at the nine things below so that you get it all right and your farm can run well.
- Get acquainted with USDA Organic Certification.
USDA offers a portal that connects you with programs, services, and educational materials that can help your organic farm flourish. From how to become certified organic, training and resource materials to financial resources – it’s all there for you.
If you want to be part of the $55 Billion organic industry, you must become certified by USDA.
- Find a mentor or training – just keep learning.
The National Young Farmers Coalition serves up a formative list of farmer training programs submitted by farmers and service providers. All new organic farmers should research local and national training programs and mentorship options.
- Composting is a must to build healthy organic soil.
Conventional farmers use fertilizers made from fossil fuel-intensive petroleum that can pollute local water supplies and harm wildlife. Organic farmers rely on inputs like compost instead.
Not only does compost drastically reduce an organic farmer’s need for chemical inputs, but the process of creating compost recycles farm materials, too. The aerobic decomposition of many of your farm’s waste materials, including food scraps, animal manures, leaves, straw, and more, create nutrient-rich compost.
Rodale Institute is an excellent resource for learning how to compost successfully.
- Raising animals on your farm can provide fertilizer, pest control and habitat restoration.
Incorporating animals onto a farm as part of the larger farming and land stewardship system can have a powerful impact. Piles of manure build up with animals, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it to your advantage.
Anthony Reyes from 21 Acres campus was most recently at the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz. His blog, The Role of Animals on a Regenerative Farm, is an excellent place to begin thinking about how to incorporate the animal kingdom into yours.
- Make sure you have the right tools for your farm to succeed.
Will you need a barn or a shed? A place to cool and wash your fresh produce, refrigeration on the farm and then getting it to market.
If you’re erecting fences to keep out the deer, you’ll need saws, drills, wrenches and screwdrivers.
As well as the handheld and electrical tools you need, think about the garden tools you should invest in for the outside. From gloves to pitchforks, spades, trowels, rakes and hoes, organic farmers don’t use herbicides to kill weeds. You’ll need all these tools along with sturdy legs and a strong back.
- Invest in a Pickup Truck is to move things around.
If you’re going to start an organic farm, you must first realize you will be working hard. Hauling around compost and tools, and finally harvest your crops. If you don’t start with a sturdy truck of some sort, you’ll wear out that green thumb in no time.
In some corners of the world, they use donkeys or horses to carry every manner of farm gear around. While the four-legged version can add nitrogen to your soil, it isn’t as efficient to operate as a utility vehicle. It also uses fewer fossil fuels than your truck and can get you from one place to another with great agility and speed.
- Handcarts work in any farm setting, and you can move tools, food and more from one side of the farm to another. They are smaller and are omission-free, as you’re using your own strength and stamina to power it.
- Learn to be an organic businessperson as well as a farmer.
It takes more than grit, tools and your green thumb to be successful at farming. You need to understand the profitability of your farm right down to each crop of radish or radicchio.
Create a business plan, know what growers best in your region and understand your market before planting a seed.
You can learn all about successful organic farming from the soil up on The Balance Small Business website. They provide tips about finding organic farmland, choosing the best crops, writing an organic farm business plan, and other organic farm basics.
Also, check out their How to Become an Organic Farmer page. It’s rich with resources that will keep your pockets and fields as green as your thumb.
As the Organic Trade Association points out, “The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic this year has had dramatic consequences for the organic sector in 2020.
As shoppers search for healthy, clean food to feed their at-home families, organic food is proving to be the food of choice for home.”
You can be part of this burgeoning trend by becoming an organic farmer. No actual green thumb needed.
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