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Two For All

 

Two for All Blog Photo

 

Just 2%.

The percentage of our North American population that works every day to provide the rest with one of our most basic needs to sustain life – food.

Our global food system is the single most powerful force unleashed on the planet today, yet a rapidly swelling population means we have to find ways to double our food production. Our footprint is large as the food system continues its significant and complex effects on our environment, our economy, and our rural social fabric.

 

So Where Do We Begin?

Farmer’s are an easy target as they grow the food. Increasingly society is demanding sustainable agricultural practices yet have little understanding of the impact they themselves have on the food system.   Farming practices develop to meet the demands of the system. Consumer’s expectations for cheap food, huge variety, desire for convenience and not having to grow their own food has been the number one driver in the creation of this food system impacting our world.

Sustainable agriculture means the efficient production of safe, high quality products in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of farmers, farm workers and local communities and safeguards the health and welfare of all farmed species. There are some challenges as we move to a sustainable food system.

 

Economic Sustainability

The economic realities of farming make it extremely difficult to attract young farmers as we lose them to higher paying careers. It would seem that an aging farmer population provides a window of opportunity for young farmers however, each generation is in a state of continual refinancing for the same property to ensure the outgoing generation has enough money to retire. The cost of the land and the equipment is so astronomical that even those who want to farm don’t have the means to. Input costs have soared, while profits have not, forcing many farmers to take second jobs so they can feed their own families. On average, farmers today receive, on average, 16 cents of every food dollar, and that’s BEFORE expenses. In other words, a farmer’s work has become more humanitarian in nature as making a living solely from farming becomes more and more difficult.

Now we are asking farmers to fix what’s wrong and save our planet and resources by employing sustainable practices that can make a difference. The simple fact of the matter is that we cannot put all of the burden and expense on the shoulders of the 2%, who are already being crushed by the weight and demands of the whole as they are barely staying afloat. One misstep, one wrong choice or the implementation of one ineffective practice can mean disaster and the risk of collapsing their entire operation, essentially gambling their family’s future and home. We cannot ask so much without offering to assist and support those who hold the land in their hands to become economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.

 

What Can We Do To Help?

FarmOn has committed to bringing context to the story by bringing together the best and the brightest to share knowledge, generate new thinking and inspire bold solutions. We owe it to ourselves, our farmers and our planet to check in and become an active part of the solution for a food system we all had a hand in creating. We can do better. Because we must do better.

You too can support our mission.

 

DIY: “Flock Block”

Here’s a recipe to make your very own “Flock Block“…

2 Cups scratch grains (a commercial or homemade mix of cracked corn, oats, barley & other mixed grains)
1 Cup layer feed
1 Cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 Cup sunflower seeds (I happened to have unshelled sunflower seed/safflower seed mix so I used that)
1/4 Cup wheat germ
1/4 Cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 eggs
1/2 Cup Blackstrap molasses
1/2 Cup coconut oil, liquefied

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Pat into several small baking dishes or casseroles, so your blocks are approximately 2″ thick. I used four 6” round cake pans, and would probably only use three the next time to make slightly thicker blocks. (Optional, use a chopstick & make a hole in each block so you can hang them in the run.)

Bake for 30 minutes, then cool completely. Run a knife around the inside rims of each pan and invert to remove the block. Serve to a flock of very happy girls.

Leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen and then defrosted as needed.

Originally posted on:Sunshine Acres: The Home of Perfection Poultry and Wild N Woolly Rabbitry

Link Photo courtesy of Tc Morgan

Apprenticeship and Farmer Ag Education

In almost every farming culture around the world, farming was traditionally learned via the apprenticeship model. Essentially this means an exchange of labor and time for the housing, food, and an intensive educational opportunity. In many cases there is also a small stipend or pocket money paid, usually not enough capital, however, to begin one’s own operation. Therefore it is often the case that a farming career will move from apprentices, to farm-staff, and then eventually to farm management–not always ownership.

The word apprenticeship can be traced back to the guild system of the middle ages. Apprenticeships were used to teach a craft, trade, or form of art, which may be a good way to understand what farming should be. Unfortunately, ‘apprenticeship’ has also been synonymous with ‘indenture’ over the years, and at times modern farm ‘apprenticeships’ are simply used as a form of cheap labor. At their best, apprenticeships are positive and productive social relationships between the learner and the learned, and an effective way of passing on knowledge and experience. For those seeking to become farmers, hands-on experience and hard work is an essential part of the learning process, and one for which there is really no substitute. Yet it is also essential that apprenticeships offer an engagement with someone who is interested in the the process of ‘teaching’ or ‘cooperative learning’, and not simply looking for labor at a bargain price.

The trick is to figure out exactly what you want to learn, and configure your apprenticeship, or sequence of apprenticeships accordingly. In many cases your first farming experience will be the best way to answer those questions. Are you an animal person, a vegetable person, a cut flower person? At the end of the day at least some of your farm-design will reflect what you can best “sell” to make the finances work in your area. If you live near the suburbs, you might want to consider fresh vegetable shares in a CSA. If you are distant from a metropolitan area it might instead be livestock, potatoes, jam or other less perishable wares. And of course, don’t forget to consider what you most enjoy doing.

What does it take to make it as a farm apprentice, and eventually as a farmer? You must also be willing to work hard, be self-motivated, attentive and disciplined. You must be able to derive satisfaction from work that is not always adequately valued by the market economy. Just because your effort yields delicious food, doesn’t mean that it will yield a retail price commensurate with that effort. It is important to be prepared for this reality, and not take it too personally. At the same time we can focus on advocacy efforts both locally and internationally to change this equation that has haunted farming for the past century.

Often those coming from a non-agricultural background are not quite prepared for the discipline of farming–of the careful handling of equipment, the extra precautions with animals, or the need for constant observation. These things are quickly learned on a farm, almost through osmosis–but expect to work hard, and outside of the physical labor, take notice to the goings on of the farm’s business, management, maintenance, planting schedules etc. There will be weeding and somewhat monotonous work–but it will be purposeful, and will likely give you a chance to do some deep thinking, planning, and digesting.

Education is never-ending. If you have already gone through the apprenticeship process, there are still many options for continuing learning in a structured and planned manner. Farming courses are often helpful not just for their content but provide a forum for information exchange between participants. Extension services often produce materials useful for setting up the processing, cooperative marketing and disease management aspects of farming.

One thing that often surprises apprentices the most is the ability of farm enterprises to absorb ‘failures’. Because farming is a constant learning process, and because it is often subject to external forces or environmental factors which the farmer cannot control, small catastrophes are a constant reality. Yet if a farm is run well, and the work is done diligently and intentionally, ‘failures’ can often be an important part of the learning process, and can be absorbed within diverse enterprises because they are almost always accompanied by ‘successes’. A bad melon year, can often be a great tomato year. And mistakes can often teach experienced farmers as well as apprentices both how to do things better, as help them to understand that farming is not a simple practice that one can ‘perfect’. Rather, it is an art form that requires constant exploration, patience, and diligence, and one which allows the artist/farmer to develop personal ways to craft a working whole in the face of constant challenge and change.

Article courtesy of Field Guide for Beginning Farmers

Link photo courtesy of Photopin

20 Ways to Make Money from Your Small Farm

Learn great and easy ways to make more money farming. Getting extra cash on your farm can go a long way to a successful farm business.

Article by Blond Logic

There is no doubt about it farmers have an enviable life. If you are a farmer you may think that statement isn’t true. You work all the hours you can, for very little money. You may feel like a prisoner to your buyers and wonder how much longer you can keep going.The weather seems to be against you and you may feel like you are working for nothing. This unfortunately is how many small farmers feel.

I can’t think of anyone, who loves an outdoor life, who would switch to a job and a life in the city. So how do you get the best of both worlds? If you run a small farm, you may be wondering what is the best way to maximize profit from your land. It could be growing crops as it always was in the past, but don’t stop there. Through diversifying your activities you can achieve a much higher yield from farm whilst keeping the lifestyle you love but profiting more from your work.

Of course some of these ideas will be more practical than others for your farm. If you are farming for example in Minnesota, raising tilapia isn’t a possibility for you due to your winters.There are also restrictions both federal and state that need to be looked into before beginning some of these activities. But farmers are a determined breed and with a bit of planning, you can turn your small farm into a joy again.

 

1. Start your own bed and breakfast

If you have spare rooms or a barn that can be converted into rooms, consider opening a bed and breakfast. This is one of the most popular avenues to take for earning more money from your farm. People who are raised in cities love to experience life on a working farm. They love to see the animals and also help on the farm. It is an exciting time for both adults and children.

The level of accommodation can vary depending on the type of customer you wish to attract. Even offering simple sleeping rooms as a youth hostel could bring you in extra cash.

 

2. Organize a swap meet

If you have a field that is being left fallow, consider using it at the weekend for a large swap meet. People still love to wander around a field to see what bargains they can find. Charge the vendors a small fee, perhaps $7 per car and $15 per truck. This will develop into a profitable weekend venture and can be moved to a different field each season

 

3. Turn your field into a campsite

Turn a field into a campsite. You will need to construct a simple shower and toilet unit for your campers. Some campsites are quite basic and don’t provide electrical outlets. Others have installed electricity for the campers to use. If your farm is near a tourist area, this is definitely one to consider. It is necessary the ground is fairly level which ensures the campers can correctly erect their tents.

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 – photo courtesy of sunbeer

4. Conference and meeting area

Do you have a barn that could be easily converted into a open space. This could then be used for activities such as business meetings, a classroom, or even hire it out to a local exercise group..

There are always people looking for usable areas for meetings. This could be earning you money during the day. evenings and weekends. The availability of parking is always a bonus for some.

Depending on the level of involvement and improvement you want to do, you could supply chairs and tables if needed. For the exercise classes, perhaps yoga mats.

Again refreshments if requested.

 

5. Metal detecting

Between plantings, you could allow metal detectors to scan your land. They may find a bounty that as the land owner would be half yours.

Alternatively, you could bury metallic objects in your field and hire it out to metal detecting clubs. They are always looking for places to test and improve their skills. Contact a detecting club to find out just what they would require.

Remember supplying refreshments to the detectors, even if it is out of an ice chest from the trunk of your car, can earn you money.

 

6. Snail farming

It is easy to think of snails as only pests, but they can earn great money. Snail farming has been around for many years and in some developing nations, it is becoming an important export crop. The term for raising snails is heliciculture. You will need to construct a pen, shelter plants and provide with them with food. Below is a video of one way of doing this.

 

7. Raising worms

Raising worms to sell as bait to fishing shops. The worms can be raised in tubs, bins, or barrels and .you could be harvesting your crop in just 90 days. But it isn’t just the worms that have value, as the soil left behind is full of worm casings and provides some of the richest sources of nutrients for your garden. This will bring in a secondary income stream as compost for gardens. This is an easy low maintenance way of earning more from your farm. It is completely Eco-friendly.

8. Raising tilapia

Raising fish, such as tilapia can be a very profitable business. You will need to be in an area where the water temperature stays about 20°C (68°F). If your temperature is lower than this, you may need to heat the water which of course is costly. Your harvest could be ready in approximately 6 months depending on what size you wish to sell your fish at. This is one of the ways we make money from our farm here in Brazil.

 

 

9. Private fishing lakes

If you have lakes, you can develop them into public fishing lakes. Normally there are two types. One is a catch and release and is solely for the enjoyment of fishing. The customer would be pay as they enter and they can stay there all day.

The other type is fish and pay. They catch the fish, these are then weighed and paid for. Either way can become profitable. You will of course need to stock your lakes and ensure you have parking facilities fairly close by.

In addition to these, if you had refreshments for sale you would be earning from those as well. Not everyone brings their own food and drinks.

You could also run a small bait and tackle shop on the premises to cater for your customers.

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Photo courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt

10. Growing flowers to sell

Growing flowers may not seem like an obvious choice if you have been growing crops such as wheat, potatoes or sugar beet. But consider the different avenues from growing flowers.

  • Growing flowers for florists (cut)
  • Growing flowers for nurseries (potted ready for resale)
  • Selling direct to the public
  • Dried for arts and crafts
  • Dried for potpourri/ confetti

Growing flowers can dramatically increase the yield of your land. Take a look at the link below about a farmer in the UK who has done this in conjunction with the rest of his farming activities.

 

11. Real flower confetti

  • Real Flower Confetti
    Read about a UK farmer who has 650 acres and makes 20% of his income on just 8 acres of flowers.

 

 

12. Dog Breeding

Is there a particular breed of dog you like? Consider becoming a breeder. A few simple kennels is all you need. If they are also going to be pets then as long as your grounds are secure you could allow them to roam freely.

Consider breeding small dogs, or an unusual breed. As the return on investment will be better. Large dogs of course cost more to feed.

Don’t forget to factor in the potential cost of veterinarian bill.

 

13. Rent your land for an antenna or turbine

Is your land at a high point? This could potentially bring you the bonus you were looking for. Consider contacting cellular phone or internet companies to have them place an antenna on your property. They pay handsomely. You may be concerned about the potential cancer causing problems. Do some research.

Another idea is for wind turbines. Are you in a windy area? Are there turbines already near-by? A farm near us has sand dunes, which aren’t suitable for growing anything. He now has a few wind turbines (Korean owned) and is raking in a small fortune for doing nothing. Go now and check your wind. We also know of farmers in the UK who have these in their fields. They continue to farm but they make more money from the turbines.

 

 

14. Sell feathers

If you have any feathered friends on your farm, be they wild or domesticated, consider collecting and selling the feathers. People love to include them in crafts such as jewelry making, hat making or even hair accessories.

Take a look at what is currently available on Ebay to get some ideas.

 

15. Growing mushrooms

If you are going to look at growing mushrooms, opt for the specialist types . There is more money to be made from growing types either for medicinal use or for the restaurant market. Depending on the type of mushroom you choose, you could harvest in 15 weeks and expect a harvest of up to 4 lbs. per square foot.

Prior to harvest, contact local restaurants and take orders for a quick sale.

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Photo courtesy of hardworkinhippy

16. Sell seeds over the internet

If you grow any unique or different types of flowers, fruits, or vegetables, consider selling the seeds. Many people feel bound by what the commercial ‘home garden’ seed companies provide but there is so much more available. So whether it is an enormous pumpkin variety or a dainty flower, keen gardeners are always on the look-out for something new. Remember to get a photo of it when it is looking its best, it will sell much easier. Ebay or the equivalent would be a good place to advertise your seeds.

These can be sold over the internet easily. The one thing you can’t do is send them abroad. There are strict laws in some countries about taking or mailing seeds or plants to a different country.

 

17. Wedding venue

Consider renting your land out as a wedding venue. Your level of involvement could be as much or as little as you wish. You could either have the marquees and toilet facilities in place or the party planner could do this. Catering is another option available to you or caterers could be hired.

 

 

18. Bee hives

Bees are in demand. Not only for honey but for the pollination. There has been a dramatic decline in the bee population due to colony collapse disorder. There are many theories as to why this is happening, but the demand is great for these little miracles of nature.

If you have hives and take these to fields for pollination, you can expect to earn $136 for each hive you provide. This is based on figures provided by UC Davis, Bee-conomics and the leap in pollination fees.

 

19. Open your farm to the public

There are many successful farms open to the public. Some of these generate more money from this activity than from farming. Providing a safe environment for adults and children to see animals up close. Each person is charged upon entry and some families make a day out of it . Sell feed for the animals so children can feed chickens, goats and other animals. Some offer petting zoos as well. Although most of the time, your work will be at the weekends, and school vacations, many schools love taking children on field trips to local farms.

Again, serving refreshments and even light meals can bring in even more money for your farm.

 

20. Publish articles online

Besides farming you could also write articles about your farming activities. It is easy to get published online. I write here on Hubpages and Bubblews and am seeing my monthly income from my pages increase steadily each month.

Unlike some sites on the internet, these are free to join and you can earn money by writing articles about a wide variety of topics that you choose.

It isn’t a get rich quick scheme, like anything, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. For me, it fits in nicely with my lifestyle here on the farm and provides a additional stream of income.

Link photo courtesy Gabriel Gonzalez

 

 

 

Hydroponic Gardening in Your Apartment

This book will teach you how to build a hydroponic system to grow plants, herbs or vegetables in your apartment. Using IKEA components that are cheap to buy and easy to find, anyone can follow the instruction manual and get farming in their apartment fast, efficiently and and for a very low cost.

Check out ELIOOO for more info!

 

What are your thoughts on hyrdoponic sytems for indoor veggie gardens? If you have one or have some thoughts, please share!

If you’re interested in urban farming, permaculture and growing your own food, you should also check out the interview we did with Ron Berezan a while back – The Urban Farmer