Earl Shell's Eight Acre Plan

More on Earl Shell's success with the small family farm. A dynamic new growing and marketing concept that could well put the small family farm back on the map in the United States.

| May/June 1972

  • eight acre plan
    A plan for small, organic farming.

  • eight acre plan

As you'll probably recall, MOTHER NO. 14 carried a report on The Eight Acre Plan... a dynamic new growing and marketing concept that could well put the small family farm back on the map in the United States. The plan's central idea is that any farmer (even one going under trying to raise row crops on a section or more of land) can thrive growing limited quantities of strawberries, apples and other truck produce on less than 10 acres.

The Eight Acre Plan—and the co-op marketing operation behind it that really makes the idea work—has already been tried and proven in 60 countries of southeastern Missouri, northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas by a self-help corporation called Farm Products Management, Inc.

FPM was founded three years ago in Coffeyville, Kansas largely through the efforts of Earl Shell. Earl is a retired horticulturalist who's long been impressed by the folly of the whole high-pressure, high capital investment, high-risk and low return agribusiness way of farming that big business, big labor and big government have foisted upon this country. He says—and has now proved—that "A family that plants only as much of certain fruits and vegetables as two people can easily care for will realize a larger return on a much smaller investment than the same family can ever expect to receive playing the agribusiness game."

As of right now, 130 farmer-growers in the depresses Ozarks have joined FPM and have learned or are learning that Earl's ideas are sound. A few already credit Shell's growing and marketing plan with saving their farms.

Almost single-handedly then (compared to the monstrous Department of Agriculture programs that only seem to drive little people off the land), Earl Shell has proven that the small family farm can indeed survive—and prosper—today. But is this the beginning of that "best of all possible worlds" that so many of MOTHER'S readers seem to be looking for: is this the start of a trend to small family farms on which all produce is "organically" grown?  

Earl, who was preaching natural farming years before it became stylish, might sometimes like to think so... but he certainly can't guarantee it at this point. "There are some things we must recognize if we intend to make a living raising horticultural crops", he says.

12/29/2015 11:41:20 AM

Has Anyone ever found a copy of Earl's 8 Acre plan?

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