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Farm Mentor Needed

October 30, 2008

barn on the fourth of july, originally uploaded by tearapen.


If we ever have our own farm I (N.) want to paint our barn eggplant purple. I’m not sure why, I’m not a particular fan of the color purple. For some reason the idea of a deep purple barn is stuck in my psyche and every time I think about owning our own farm I think about the barn. I found a couple of “purple” barns on flickr but none like the one I would have…

Anyway! That’s not what this post is about. Like most people J. and are concerned about the economy and what it means for us long term. Granted we are rather lucky to both have jobs and our combined income is enough to insulate us for now. But we don’t want short term protection and we don’t want to spend 14 hours a day (him) and 10 days every month traveling (me) working to make all that money but not do anything meaningful. We’ve toyed with the idea of farming before but I really think we need to have some basic skills before we dive in with no safety net. (I’m a worrier, I get it from my father. If you give me a scenario I will think of a thousand things to worry about). I also want to be able to buy the land outright and a house outright. We don’t have that kind of money or those skills yet. In the meantime we are trying more homesteading skills in Philly. We are eating local, buying less processed stuff, I’m polishing up my sewing skills and J.’s working on a bow. And depsite our incomes we are trying to live on as absolute little as possible. So no going out, no eating out and yet we still have fun. I don’t want to be miserable today in the hopes of a happy tomorrow. I want to find a sustainable happiness for today and tomorrow. So if that means are fun for the week is making soap together or tending the garden I’m okay with that.

What I’d really like though is to find an older farming couple (or single individual we don’t discriminate) who has a farm that they have no one to leave too. We could live on it and learn from them and then buy it. That way we have the benefit of their experience and they know the farm will continue to exist. And I’m not saying we kick them out after two years. We could build a little house of our own and live with them until they want to leave. I have no idea how to make this happen.

I did find out that you can apprentice which sounds cool but it’s temporary. It would also depend on us finding a farm that could take two people or at least two of us living there and one us working the farm. The apprenticeships don’t pay much, generally offering room and board in exchange for work so if we were still looking at buying our own farm we’d need to make actual money towards that goal. The link though is amazing. You can google farm apprenticeship or internship and get a bunch of different links for individual programs but this site has listing from across North America and has them organized by state so it’s pretty neat.

I realize that living on a farm isn’t the only way to learn, in addition to internships and apprenticeships we could just get jobs as farmhands (lots of training needed) or volunteer at a CSA. We’d still learn ALOT and we’d be contributing to sustainable farming. Even if you don’t want to be a farmer volunteering helps keeps these programs going and growing which ultimately benefits us all. A lot of nurseries now are offering some basic classes in vegetable and herb gardening and that’s a really great place to learn some basics and meet up with other like minded people. You can form of tomatoe support group 🙂

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    November 5, 2008 1:54 am

    Mom hangs out with farmers and said she’d be happy to take you to some farms next time you’re here. Granted, they aren’t organic, but I bet you’d get something out dairy farms, besides petting cows.

  2. December 5, 2008 7:00 pm

    I don’t know if you’ve seen s.o.i.l. stewards of irreplacable soil. (google it) or if you’d be prapared to come to canada. But there are lots of opportunities. Heck I’d take ya on.
    I like your blog
    good luck.

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