Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Stages of Learning in Farming - Building Your Legacy

Lots of things to think about, and it can be a little overwhelming at the beginning. Farming is running a very challenging small business and that can be complex. But when done well, farming can be a multi-generational business, who's skills can be translated to future generations. Farming involves passion to keep us going when the days are long.

Farming is a business that connects the family both to the land and the community like nothing I have experienced. We have life long relationships and friends both as customers or fellow vendors at the farmer's market. None of us start out to become the expert, but some level of expertness eventually sneaks up on you, at which time you can begin to give to others.

Share your hard won knowledge with an open hand and you will leave a legacy in your community that will be remembered for generations to come. We have tried to become vital not viral to our customers and other farmers. We don't want to be sensational or titillating. We don't need any big names or fancy titles. We aren't inventing any new technology or patents. Only tried and true information that has stood the test of time.

Finally, to be truly successful in farming you must advance the craft, you must do some things on the lunatic fringe. (Note I did not say you need to take high risks financially.) Playing it safe and sticking with the middle of the road approach to products and process is OK. But you will not excel, you will not contribute to the advancement of agriculture that way. One of the ways of doing this is benchmarking. Hint one of the best places to look for weird ideas is the ancient future.

Become a good backer upper. One of the principles of backing a wagon or a truck is to go slow and steady. That applies in farming too.

It takes courage and hard work to be a leader in your field, but you do not have to be a genius you just have to be a little weird. One of the reasons I sought an engineering degree in college was a desire to create and a joy of learning.  In reality I found an equal level of creativity and learning in farming, compared to engineering.

There are infinite opportunities for contribution, investment, community building, teaching, and discovery in farming. We try to do one or two weird things every year. Recent forays into weirdness are making biochar from wood grown on our farm, drying habernaro peppers, making salsa, making pickles and making black garlic. What more could you ask for.

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