At a delightful gathering of young farmers mixer last night, sponsored by Concrete Beet Farmers and The Greenhorns, and hosted by Andy and Betsy at Spring Winds Farm, I got to talk with a number of farmers about my vision for our farm in Sogn. When people asked me about what I’m doing right now, I described my job as doing what I can to make the farm as attractive as possible in order to attract the best possible farmer to the land.
Turns out that for 50 or 60 years the place hasn’t really been a working farm. The tillable acreage has been rented – often for conventional corn and beans – and the rest has been either a dump, escape from the city or just ignored. So my job now is to decide what things need doing to get the place ready to once again be an integrated, working and thriving farm. With only so many hours in the day (and limited brain and muscle power) I need to do a sort of triage to decide how to most effectively spend my time and resources to bring the place to a state that an excellent sustainable farmer will see and say, “I want to be here!”
So far, I’ve got the electricity in, am working on the well, have had tons of rubbish removed, begun organic transition on the tillable acres and begun work on a small farm office, repair of the old barn and creating a creek crossing from the farmyard to the main fields and hillsides. But are these the best choices?
I’d love to hear what others think. What are the most important things to do to prepare this place for successful sustainable agriculture? If you’re a farmer and want to pursue the small-scale, sustainable approach, what would want to see that would make you want to commit to a long-term relationship to this land?
All comments, suggestions and opinions are welcome! Just getting this far I’ve had enormous help from folks at the Land Stewardship Project, the Sustainable Farming Association and many helpful friends. Do you have a thought for me?
BTW, Thanks to the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers for the music, dancing and companionship at the mixer – it was great to have you there!