What Nobody Told Me About Small Farming: I Can’t Make a Living – DISSECTED – A Case Study – The Urban Farmer – Encore Episode 3

The Urban Farmer Week 43


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In this episode Curtis and I dissect an article that was published on Alternet on January 1, 2016 by farmer Jaclyn Moyer.

An article titled….

What Nobody Told Me About Small Farming: I Can’t Make a Living – People say we’re “rich in other ways,” but that doesn’t fix the ugly fact that most farms are unsustainable

This one is a good one and we cover a lot of business basics such as…

Who is your customer? What is their demographic? And what do they want?

What are you selling? Is that the right crop?

What are you focusing your time on? Is that the right thing?

And are you the right person to be doing this job.

We will break down the article to hopefully help a lot of you avoid some of the troubles that Jaclyn talked about in the article.

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What Nobody Told Me About Small Farming: I Can’t Make a Living

“People say we’re “rich in other ways,” but that doesn’t fix the ugly fact that most farms are unsustainable.”

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Have a question for Curtis?

Leave it in the comment section below.

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The Urban Farmer by Curtis Stone

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The Urban Farmer by Curtis Stone

The Urban Farmer is a comprehensive, hands-on, practical manual to help you learn the techniques and business strategies you need to make a good living growing high-yield, high-value crops right in your own backyard (or someone else’s).

Major benefits include:

  • Low capital investment and overhead costs
  • Reduced need for expensive infrastructure
  • Easy access to markets

Growing food in the city means that fresh crops may travel only a few blocks from field to table, making this innovative approach the next logical step in the local food movement.

Based on a scalable, easily reproduced business model, The Urban Farmer is your complete guide to minimizing risk and maximizing profit by using intensive production in small leased or borrowed spaces.

Get the Book and Support the Show

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Connect with Curtis Stone


Green City Acres on Facebook

Green City Acres on Instagram

The Urban Farmer Book by Curtis Stone

Profitable Urban Farming – The Course

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Have a question for Curtis?

Leave it in the comment section below.

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9 replies on “What Nobody Told Me About Small Farming: I Can’t Make a Living – DISSECTED – A Case Study – The Urban Farmer – Encore Episode 3

  • Donna

    I stopped listening at your discussion of wages. I have no respect for an attitude that you should not expect yourselves to pay a living wage.

    • Diego

      The problem with farm labor is that the public wants cheap food, so that means that farms must have cheap labor. Businesses should pay what they can afford first, then go up from there if they desire. Also the job market is a free market system. People agreeing to take jobs that pay X shouldn’t complain about jobs that pay X. I think that it’s idealistic not realistic to think that all businesses must pay a living wage. Because many businesses, like this struggling farm can’t. And you have to have a business that thrives before you can increase the pay to your workers.

      It’s also a shame that you stopped listening because you heard one thing that you didn’t agree with because you missed out on a lot of other good information.

  • Ella McHenry

    My partner and I have recently started a small farm in South Australia so we got a lot out of this episode. Chris has been doing Curtis’ online course and a big part of our business is microgreens, operating pretty much exactly as outlined in Luke Callahan’s downloadable pdf. The other part is mushrooms and we have wished for some clever person to put out some quality materials about how to do it as a business rather than a hobby. But we are learning!

    I wanted to comment on this episode as I thought it could have been much more informative had you actually interviewed the lady that wrote the article – kind of a live Curtis-does-a-small-business-consult type show. I think there are times when small businesses fail even when people have savvy, work ethic and a sound business plan and there (probably more) times when they fail because one or all of these are missing. As your next guest comments in his project where he collects $$ data from 12 small farms to analyse after a year, it’s often in looking at what doesn’t work that helps others succeed. The speculation between you and Curtis definitely gave me some things to think about but it would have been super awesome to talk to the article’s author in person and hear it from the horses mouth about why that farm business wasn’t working.

    That said, keep up the good work. Glad there are folks broadcasting who are willing to say it how they see it.

    • Diego

      I hear you. In this one we tried to talk about the macro reasons that could apply beyond this farm, versus specifically why this one farm failed. I think that makes the content apply to more peoples’ situations.

  • Todd Randall

    Hey Diego, Bless! This is Todd from Boulder, and from meeting you in S.D at Curtis workshop. I loved this episode! It was one of my favorites of the whole series. So much to learn from someone who didn’t make it.. I listened to it 2 or 3 times the first day you put it out! I think I found their farm on F.B. It looks like they threw in towel last fall. It looks like they were growing wheat to use to bake/sell bread. It looks like the biggest problem they had was their #1 sales outlet was their farm stand, at their farm, sort in the middle of nowhere. With one other small co-op customer. Crazy!!! No wonder it didn’t work out. One of the biggest lessons I learned last year, is that I had to accept that most people are no where near as passionate about farming/locally grown food as I am, they just aren’t. I would drive way out of my way to stop at a farm stand because I love this stuff, but most people are not like us.. At the start of the year last year I had the attitude.. “Oh everybody loves this stuff as much as me.. all I have to do is grow some cool stuff, and people will totally realize how amazing it is, and they’ll flock to me and buy it”… Reality check!! Small scale farming is 99% sales! I sent her a nice message with a link to this episode, so you might hear from her. I hope the conference is going well this weekend! Maybe I can make next year.. (other feedback) I liked the back to back fallow up episodes with John a lot too! Great idea. I hope you do that again next year. And I liked the blog post you read, but only if its in addition to the normal episodes you do. I do like the normal long ones much more. Thanks again buddy for what you do.
    here’s their farm- https://www.facebook.com/South-Fork-Farm-446566642072107/

  • Christopher Sullivan

    Awesome job on this episode Diego. You, Curtis, and all the successful and driven entrepreneurs on PV are exactly the folks I need to listen to while running my tractor to carve pasture out of logged pine timberland. I can’t tell you the fire your show gives me. Please keep up all the awesome work you’re doing!

  • Ebony Ritter

    My husband and I moved to 13 acre property some years ago. Prior to this year I thought it was our responsibility to improve all of it at once. It was killing us to do 2-3 acres last year and the year immediately before that. The thought had never occurred to me that I may have taken on more than two people with no tractor could handle. We also had sheep, goats, and chickens.

    My husband gave up on it long before I did and concentrated his time to just a fraction of an acre for gardening but was still working a full time job. This year my efforts were concentrated to that same area but I have more time than him.

    Listening to the urban farmer and helped me understand why the emmense amount of time and sweat spread out over such a large area did so little. I hope participate in the local farmers markets and a previously etablished CSA that uses many farmers this year for the first time.

    I have been and am continuously being told that no one can make a living farming. So here’s to proving them wrong.

  • Galen Palmer

    Thank you Diego and Curtis. I just learned about your website a week ago and have been inspired, brought down to earth, and moved by the content. It is helping me to move forward. I am grateful!


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