[Video] Farming For Life, Part 3: Growing Your Farming Career

Reader Contribution by John Clark Vincent
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Growing a business is a trial-and-error process, but there are a few areas of focus that many farmers point to as being key to successfully growing your farming career. In this video, we hear from a variety of farmers who share some of the lessons they’ve learned about how to successfully expand a farm business. What are those lessons?

Mechanization, hiring help, designing efficient systems, reinvesting profits, thinking strategically, and planning for expansion are only a few of the messages they convey as they talk about their varying approaches to doing business as farmers.

Are Internships Required to Become a Farmer?

Do you have to be an intern in order to farm? No. Do you need farming experience to start a farm? Yes, if you expect to succeed. People come to farming from WWOOFing experiences, from years of paid farm labor, and from formal internships and apprenticeships.

Training takes many forms, but the key is learning the varied tasks involved with farming, and coming to understand how to integrate and manage those tasks as part of a larger agricultural system.

Do Farms Differ From Other Small Businesses?

All businesses begin with an understanding of what type of product or service they are providing, why they’re doing what they do, and how they intend to continue doing what they do. In that sense farms are like any other business. But when variables like the weather are added to the mix, farming successfully and sustainably becomes more complex than many undertakings. But at its core, farming is about growing and providing good food for your families and communities.

For more information on advancing your farming career, contact these organizations:

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project – Tufts University

National Young Farmers Coalition

Rogue Farm Corps

Production Credits and Thanks

A special thank you goes out to farmers Jack Gray and Chris Overbaugh (Winter Green Farm), Emily Cooper (Full Cellar Farm), Lili Tova (Flying Coyote Farm), Jonny Steiger (By George Farm), and Katie Coppoletta and Tayne Reeve (Fiddlehead Farm); to farm employees and trainees Mary Koppes, Daphne Gill, Stephen Lewis, and Piper Krabbenhoft; to EMSWCD Land Legacy Director Matt Shipkey; and to the staff members of Rogue Farm Corps for their support and participation. Selected video and photo files were provided by Rogue Farm Corps.

The four-part Farming for Life series was produced for MOTHER EARTH NEWS by Farming Is Life Media Services (FILMS), with writing and directing by John Vincent, and videography and editing by Paul Manda.

John Clark Vincent is a writer and author who lives in Portland, Ore. His most recent book, Planting a Future, presents a view of what’s happening within Oregon’s rapidly growing movement toward sustainable farming practices. In an effort to provide a glimpse into the many different aspects of such a surging movement, he uses profiles of 18 different farmers and farm supporters to represent the different elements of Oregon’s farm community. Find John online on his website, and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


With practical tips and techniques, Farming on the Wild Side is both an expert guide and an inspiring story of how and why the Haydens turned a former conventional dairy farm into a biodiversity-based regenerative farm. It’s a story about their farming practices and how they built a relationship with the land and all its inhabitants by working to heal and restore as co-creators with nature. Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

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