The Urban Farmer: More Common Reasons Why Many Farmers Struggle, and Practical Advice On How You Can Avoid Those Struggles (FSFS26)

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Common Reasons Why People Get Into Farming Fail

Taking on Too Much Land, Doing Too Much

  • Spending too much time catching up, versus really learning the process.
  • Consider the value of your time.
  • With too much land you might be growing too many low value crops that don’t justify your time in.
  • More land means you have to grow more stuff, and do it well, and then be able to sell it.  That can be stressful for a new farmer.
  • Look at your first year experiences as an investment in your education in farming.

Combining Too Much Land with Starting Farming on the Side

  • You need to think about what’s going to be the most sustainable path for you, thinking long term.
  • Ask yourself, what’s going to best leverage your experience so you can do this better in the future?
  • It’s really important the first year to start learning and paying attention to the subtleties of your plant species and your area.  If you are always trying to catch up, then you may miss some of these subtleties.
  • If you are starting a farm on the side, then realize that it is on the side.  And set yourself up for success by scaling the on the side to fit the time that you have so you can do it well.  Don’t expect to successfully do a full time job, part time.
  • Start with a small manageable piece of land.  Grow a select group of crops (5 to 10 crops) that you can sell.
  • Don’t take big risks the first year.  Go with what you know has a reasonable chance of working.
  • “You don’t want your entire life to be a grind, there’s more to it than that.”
  • Make sure that you are working smart.  Working hard just isn’t enough.  You need to be smart about the approach.

Chasing a Big Profit Your First Year

  • Don’t get too hung up how much you are going to make your first year.  Focus on your education.  Work to learn, not to earn.
  • You don’t want to go through life chasing a number.
  • Gain the experience first.  Invest time in your knowledge, then look to leverage that knowledge down the line into profits.
  • If your vision of success only involves chasing a number, then you may loose sight of learning and miss some of the subtleties about your biome and plant species which could hurt you in the future because you didn’t notice those things.
  • Don’t discount building social capital the first year.

Trying to Innovate Too Much

  • Start with something that works and iterate from there.  Go with what works.
  • To survive as a farmer, you need a farm that survives.
  • Allocate a piece of your property to experiment and innovate with different techniques and crops.  But don’t heavily experiment with your primary production, which you farm depends on to keep going.
  • Transition in new systems slowly after you know that they work.

Adding on Other Businesses onto the Farm Right Away

  • Get good at one thing first.  It’s very hard to advance several businesses in parallel.
  • Don’t try to go form A to Z in one move.  Achieve the grand vision over time, by going from A to B to C…
  • Focus on what you do best first.  Because that may be a better route towards your end goal than going right after the end goal now.


Learn More from Curtis Stone:

Read The Urban Farmer book

Listen to The Urban Farmer audiobook


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