> Do we need to learn more about selling what we sow, or about sowing
> what we can sell - locally?
> Our farm operates on a learn-as-you-grow basis...
The underlieing question being, should we spend time trying to get the world
to conform to us or should we spend effort conforming to our neighbor's needs?
Coming from the aerospace world, everything I've been rewarded for doing had
to do with requirements; if it doesn't make sense just spend more money. On
the scale of the global ecology, you can't spend your way out.
The second point being that you *won't* get it right the first time. You have
to do it wrong to do it right. Action first.
> Land near adequate markets is expensive, land that is affordable for new
> farmers is off the beaten path and far from potential markets.
This looks like a serious problem but in fact its a real opportunity. That
low value land (based on proximity to population), acts just like other land.
Lessons learned about what works there will apply any place (fundamentally).
Given that it takes mistakes to make knowledge, where would the mistakes best
be made? On the most valuable land?
This is exactly the problem faced by agri-business today. How can a farmer
sitting on a million in machinery and a mortgage of equal ugliness make
mistakes? Only a crazy person would embrace these yield-risky sustainable
ideas when he or she has so much in it.
So the question is where to go to make mistakes so that the knowledge can be
applied to the big problem. That's a fairly conventional economic question
relating to operating costs and overhead. Maybe we can think of something if
we put our heads together.
Bob Kane, North American Coordinator
Institute for Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics (SIAT)