Beginning Farmers

Grow Your Hobby Farm For Success With These Grower Tips

While the years 2020 and 2021 provided their own set of challenges, small farmers are no strangers to overcoming unforeseen obstacles. When you’re just getting started, these obstacles can be difficult to overcome, and they can even knock you off track once you believe you’ve got it all worked out.

While the roadblocks are unlikely to disappear as more people pursue their interests in food production, facing the unexpected now feels a little less impossible and a lot more manageable, owing to those who have gone before us.

Getting It Out There

“Today, there are so many more resources available for novice farmers,” says Hiu Newcomb, who began farming part-time on rented acreage in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1960 with her husband, Tony. “There were no sustainable agriculture programs in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.”

Potomac Vegetable Farms, which sells veggies from two farmsteads through a CSA and at local farmers’ markets, owes its existence to this aim.

The farm grew through trial and error, with some success thrown in for good measure. And as a result, the Newcombs were able to find the assistance they required in their community, and they quickly developed into the kind of resource for others they lacked when they first started.

Hiu Newcomb explains, “Our responsibility is to be mentors for the younger ones.” “We must work together, and it’s a lot more satisfying.”

Words of Advice

Her #1 piece of advice to others has a similar message. “Don’t farm by yourself. Doing all the farm work by yourself or with [just one] partner will quickly exhaust you.”

She admits that the most difficult obstacle they faced was a lack of funds. At first, they couldn’t afford to acquire land, and finding aid was difficult. You can find methods to receive the help you need early on by connecting with other farmers and working with interns and students eager to learn.

Concerns in the Community

Newcomb also emphasizes the significance of forming a local farming community. “It’s more fun when you have someone to commiserate with, ask questions of, and share your experiences with,” she says. The Newcombs have hosted potlucks, farm games, and talent shows over the years.

These always resulted in discussion and mutual learning.

When it comes to anyone looking to invest in land, Newcomb advises, “don’t be isolated, if at all feasible.” Don’t buy any land that isn’t suitable.” She says that finding good, inexpensive ground near people is becoming increasingly difficult because of the rising cost of land. However, being near people improves the chances of forming a community.

She also cautions against spending 20 years improving your soil. It must have the potential to succeed and be long-term sustainable right from the outset.

Formal Instruction

Katie Hassemer of Moon Chaser Acres in Beechwood, Wisconsin, makes the most available resources to novice farmers. Hassemer works full-time as a farmers market director in Milwaukee and runs a 22-acre sustainable farm with the aid of her boyfriend, Steve. As she works to develop the land, she sells directly to consumers.

Online Education

Keegan Clifford attributes his knowledge and success to the wonderful resources accessible to budding farmers and gardeners. In Middletown, Maryland, he has a hobby garden that supports four local families. It also pleases many Instagram followers who like watching his plentiful crops.

In the City Farming

After taking a seminar on the procedures and concepts of urban farming, Samantha Foxx founded Mother’s Finest Family Urban Farms in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The focus of the class was on how to run a farm as a business. And it ignited her business spirit right away.

She now oversees the two 12-acre urban farms and 5 acres of leased farmed area off-site.

Foxx is a successful farmer who sees the big picture of how land, plants, animals, and our biosphere interact. If you ask her what portion of her farm gives her the greatest personal satisfaction, she will tell you that she enjoys doing anything on the farm that has to do with her daughters.

“By girls,” she refers to her bees, and her farming efforts are primarily focused on beekeeping and teaching.

Find Your Center of Gravity

Foxx helps individuals discover their concentration, a central place from which they may set farm goals. Her concentration is on self-sustainability and self-empowerment, and her beekeeping is an important part of that.

While her farm provides food for her family and others, her whole homesteading approach to success began to emerge during the pandemic and continues to be her emphasis. Her farming encompasses more than just growing food; it also includes food preservation and value-added products.