Farmer Burnout: A Real Problem

You’ve heard about the profitability of urban farming, and maybe you’re raring to go at this point. But let’s slow down a bit and talk about something that not many people discuss in the farming space: burnout. 

Burnout Seasons

Urban farmer Curtis Stone says he experiences burnout every season: spring, summer, and the grand finale: the fall burnout. 

The spring burnout comes from rushing the last of the transplants, fixing irrigation, pushing long hours to get infrastructure set up, and clearing land in preparation for the coming season. 

Thankfully, things calm down a little by the middle of the growing season because things start to get predictable and routine. Despite the heavy cycling Curtis experiences — having to harvest daily except on Saturdays and Sundays — he says that farming life is definitely manageable. 

Dealing with Burnout 

Although Curtis denies being qualified to give sound health advice, he shares what works for him: making an effort to maintain healthy eating habits and taking time for himself. He acknowledges that sometimes you are going to have to work Sundays — that’s pretty much inevitable — but do try to take some time off the farm. 

He suggests doing something fun on the weekends like meeting up with friends or spending time with family. Go out and get away from the farm a little bit to reorient yourself. 

Lastly, get into good, steady eating habits. As a farmer who grows good, quality food, wouldn’t it be a little ironic if you didn’t eat proper meals yourself? 

Prioritizing and Re-prioritizing Your To-Do List 

It’s understandable that farmers occasionally feel a little overwhelmed by the mountains of work they feel they have to do. Here’s a little trick: take a good, calm look at your to-do list and see if there are tasks that aren’t too urgent that you can put off for tomorrow or the next week. 

By the time you decide which tasks are urgent and which ones aren’t, you’ll be surprised by how much shorter the list looks. Before you know it, you’ll feel like you weren’t even overwhelmed in the first place. 

Take a Break

Yes, it’s important to farm, and it’s important to make a living. But you know what else is important? You. Taking care of yourself is important as well. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and say “I need a break” when you really need to. 

Because what’s the point of having a profitable farm if you’re too burned out to enjoy it?

Listen to more episodes with Curtis in The Urban Farm.

The Urban Farmer Podcast with Curtis Stone

And you can find all our market gardening podcasts at Farm Small, Farm Smart—the longest-running podcast on market gardening in the world.

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