What skills/knowledge do you need to become a farmer?
The decision to become a farmer is not one to be taken lightly. It’s hard work, no doubt, and mistakes can be costly. Plus, it’s not a skill that’s easily learned from a book. Much like a foreign language, farming is best learned by immersion. In other words, firsthand experience is the way to go. If there’s a reputable farm nearby, offer to volunteer or shadow the workers for awhile. Some farms, such as Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia, actually offer apprenticeships. For locations currently accepting interns and apprentices, check out this list from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA).
It’s also recommended that you don’t rush the process. Beginning homesteader Jenna Woginrich started by spending time at a friend’s farm, then slowly honed her skills one at a time. You can read more about her experiences in Life on the Homestead.
There’s a wealth of information available online. Read Get Smart About Sustainable Agriculture and Cultivating New Farmers for a collection of helpful resources.
— Alison Rogers, assistant editor