The Urban Farmer: Taking a Smart Approach to Farming. Having the Right Mindset to Save Yourself Time, Money, and Mental Trauma (FSFS20)

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Taking the Smart Approach to Farming

  • Always back up your equipment.  Have two of the same thing, and spare parts, for pieces of equipment that are critical to farm operation.
  • You have to spend money to make money.  Spend money where that money can leverage your time and energy to a greater gain.
  • Value your time.  You have to assign a value to your time when you think about how and why you are doing something.  You don’t work for free.  That isn’t sustainable.
  • Seek out mentors early on and offer them value to try to help your own journey.
  • Source out high grade information.  That can help cut down on trial and error and reduce the failure to success ratio.  A lot of trail and error can lead to frustration and burnout.
  • You have to take measurements and have metrics to know what is possible.  To know what you are capable of.  That allows you to have realistic expectations and set realistic goals.
  • What are you trying to do?  Spend the money that is needed to make you most effective and efficient to do that.  Pay to learn the right ways to do it if you are approaching this as a career, not a hobby.
  • Know if this is a career or hobby and make decisions accordingly.
  • Remove the negative people from your life if you are trying to succeed and surround yourself with positive influences and supporters.
  • Give yourself some financial runway when you go into farming.  Take care of debts ahead of time or get a plan in place and get them under control.
  • “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

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11 replies on “The Urban Farmer: Taking a Smart Approach to Farming. Having the Right Mindset to Save Yourself Time, Money, and Mental Trauma (FSFS20)

  • chris yoder

    I think the whole idea of getting rid of negativity is good but one does need to distinguish between negativity and constructive criticism. I have people in my life that will often challenge me but its never done from a position of putting me down. Ultimately, one has to be emotionally healthy to distinguish between negativity and our own insecurities – because we all know that person that constantly feels like they are getting picked on because of their own insecurities.

    • Diego

      Great point. I completely agree. I think we all need people in our life that challenges our decisions and ask why in a constructive way. And I think it is pretty easy to distinguish between the two types of people.

  • chris yoder

    And I LOVE what he had to say about our culture and the way we raise our kids. When did we ever get the idea that we’re doing kids a favor by making life painless?

    • Diego

      I agree. But honestly, it’s hard as a parent. I have to really withhold my natural tendency to remove pain and make stuff easier. Watching your child fail is hard. But I fully understand that it’s all part of a beneficial process of growing.

  • Rob

    Diego, I really enjoy your show, and this urban farmer special show in particular. The knowledge Curtis puts out there has been greatly helpful to me, and many others I’m sure.

    However…I was a little annoyed with how political this episode was. I don’t need to hear about how sensitive society has become, or how we shouldn’t be looking for “handouts”, or how government programs equate to stealing from people through taxation. That’s not why I tune in to this show. I tune in to hear tips on urban farming from someone I respect, seeking the high grade information as Curtis puts it. Unfortunately, his political views are not something I consider to be a part of that high grade info, and would really appreciate it if in the future he would leave that stuff out.

    To counter this rhetoric, I’ll post a list of useful government programs that beginning farmers can take advantage of. You may be personally opposed to taxation and “big government”, but you shouldn’t guilt those who avail themselves of government programs. Many of these programs, such as the beginning farmer/rancher programs, EQIP, or the greenhouse costshare program, amongst others, can greatly help farmers who are just starting out, and I would advise anyone to start researching these programs if you are considering farming as a career. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is great, but it’s not the only option.

    • Diego

      The point that we were trying to make was more… not getting a handout isn’t what’s keeping your from succeeding.

      I hear it all the time, “I can’t go into farming because I have student loans…” That may not be relevant to you, but I HEAR IT ALL THE TIME. We had to address it.

      I don’t just add stuff to add it, or for filler, or for shock value, or for noise. I add it because it needs to be said.

      While, I am against a lot of these programs, the reality is they exist. And if you can get the money, TAKE THE MONEY. But don’t let not getting the money hold you back or use it as an excuse for why you can’t succeed.

      As far as the show being political, sorry man. Some shows will be like that. By the end of this we will put out 40 episodes. If we are just delivering facts for free each week that can get boring. And if we aren’t excited and passionate with what we are talking about, then why do it? I am not going to edit around stuff because it might make someone feel uncomfortable. I get if you don’t like it, but instead of taking it personally just use it as a thinking point or look past it. Or ask yourself, could this help me in any way. If it doesn’t it doesn’t. But a lot of people it does. Regardless if you want to hear it or not, farming has become politicized, and in a lot of ways that isn’t helpful. So at the end of the day we are going to talk about what we think matters, what’s fun to talk about, and what we think can help people.

      We didn’t create the show to be plain vanilla and appeal to everyone. There is a core audience that we are trying to help. And while 100% of it isn’t relevant any one person, but 100% of it is relevant to at least someone within that audience. Again, it may not be timely, relevant, or helpful to you, but think about how it might be helping someone.

      All in, over the course of 40 weeks it should average out to a lot of high grade information.

      • Robert Meyer

        I was definitely not criticizing the show overall, and I think that the vast majority of what you have put out there is very high grade information. I was just specifically referring to this one guest, and their political views in particular. That’s a very good point about the student loans, and not letting that be an excuse for not getting into it. I’m someone who has $28k in student debt, and yet I am not letting that stop me by any means, so I do understand the point, and it’s great to hear from other people who say they had debt when they got into it, and to see that it didn’t hinder their progress at all. That is very encourage, as is a great deal of what is said on your shows. I really do appreciate it, and I didn’t intend it to come off as a more general criticism. It was really just specific to this episode. You keep doing what you’re doing, you do it great, and I absolutely appreciate it, so I apologize if it came off the wrong way.

        I just had to make it known my personal distaste for Curtis’s political views. We’ve gotten into it before in the past on other platforms, and to see him spouting it here was just too much for me to not call him out on it, especially when I personally know farmers who have used government programs to fund greenhouses, help pay for organic certification, and numerous other things that have greatly aided in their success overall. I know several farmers who were aided by the beginning farmer and rancher program, and are growing on subsidized land that would have been way out of their price range if not for the government helping them out. I know experienced farmers who have been able to be paid as mentors to other young farmers, as well as educational stipends provided to these young farmers to attend events or buy educational materials, thus educating a whole new generation of beginning farmers. All of this sounds like a good thing to me, and I think it’s hard to argue that we now have a lot more farmers seeing much more success as a result of these programs. I can say I’ve personally benefited from them as well, and have a much better idea of how to get where I want to go.

        I agree with the point that you shouldn’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dream, whether it’s debt or a full time job or a family to support or whatever. You can definitely make it work, if you really want it. That’s definitely an important point, and one I appreciate being made, as it helps me stay focused and motivated. Again though, these points can be made in more neutral, universal ways, and I feel the political overtones are unnecessary (tbh, one of the main reason I don’t listen to the survival podcast very often is because of how overt he makes his political orientation). I’m not interested in getting into a long philosophical debate on this subject, and I will understand if these subjects come up again on your show. It is your show after all. I just thought I’d contribute a different side to the subject. I will not be bothering you about it anymore, just wanted to put the info out there so people know that they do have some government support if they wish to take advantage of it, and that pulling yourself up totally by the bootstraps and being critical of government programs is not a prerequisite to becoming a farmer.

        • Diego

          Fair point. I get where you are coming from and I respect what you are saying.

          I am aware of political issues and I try not to let them drift to heavily into anything that I do, because like you said this isn’t a political show.

          And in regards to government programs, you’re right. I am not for them, but again, if you can get the money, take it.

          How is the microgreens business going out of curiosity?

  • Rob

    Thanks for asking. It’s going well. It’s definitely not yet profitable enough to be my primary source of income, but I would call it a success so far. My main markets right now are two farmer’s markets, and I’m trying to add another while the season is still here. Building up a good report with my customers, and I’m starting to get a number of repeat customers. I started selling them cut fresh from the tray at the market, and people have love this marketing angle, since it provides them the freshest greens possible (besides the live cells I have available, which they can take home and cut fresh themselves right onto their salads). Since I started renting some greenhouse space at an abandoned garden center, I’ll have year round production capacity in a legit growing space. I’m going to try to leverage that into winter to get people to start placing online orders with me once the markets end. I’m also working my way into restaurants, currently working with just one vegan place for now, and also starting a relationship with a health food store as well. I’ve found that restaurants are a much harder market than farmer’s markets, due to the fact that you have to go back after your first contact in order for them to consider working with you. Took me a while to figure that out, and I just assumed they weren’t interested. I gave out a lot of samples to a lot of places, never to hear from them again. I now know the burden is on me to build that relationship, and I’m hoping that with the season winding down, demand for fresh stuff will be on the rise, and I’ll be able to start getting into more places, with a bit more perserverence on my part.

    Thanks again for the show and all that you do, and to Curtis as well. The information you guys put out there really has helped in countless ways.

  • Gary Cole

    Robert, you sound pretty triggered there!

    Perhaps your the guy Curtis was referring to… very sensitive and loving the gub’ment handouts.


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