>I'd love to have 175
acres, because I could turn so much of it into wildlife sanctuary. I would
shrink down the worked portion to just so much as meets my monetary needs,
without necessarily providing for the monetary needs of the many off-farm
families you must be supporting.
Of our 65 acres, 15 are in intensive cultivation, 30 in permanent pasture,
and the balance in woodland and farmstead/roads/etc. The farm provides
considerable wildlife sanctuary. Unfortunately much of the larger
wildlife--deer, groundhogs, and rabbits in particular--find their best
sanctuary in the cultivated fields.
Cultivating 15 acres of specialty crops and flowers by hand cannot be done
by two people. So we employ people. I'm very proud that we're able to
provide for the monetary needs of off-farm families, and I'd like to hire
more. We don't farm in isolation here. We're part of the economy of our
>It seems to have gone unnoticed that I have been promoting two to ten
acre farmsteads in my writings ~ designed to produce a satisfactory middle-
class income with low-debt, low-work, low-stress systems, tightly compact,
using intensive productivity almost year round to compensate for the small
I, too, would love to see more 2- to 10-acre productive farmsteads, and our
apprentice program is designed to give practical experience to young people
who have leanings in that direction. But I cannot agree that such a
farmstead will provide a middle-class income with low work and low stress.
Intensive production is, well, intensive. Succession plantings, marketing,
dealing with the daily crises of weather and pests--even over-abundance is
a mixed blessing (what am I gonna DO with all those pickling cucumbers?
People don't PICKLE anymore!)
We start our marketing season in late March and push it to the end of
November. Lion, I do not want to produce "almost year round". By the end of
the season, I've been on adrenalin overdraft for months, and am tired to
the point of catalepsy. I want the winter off.
>A large ten acre farmstead would have more orchard than a five acre or
smaller one. Even the tiniest could accommodate some dwarf trees.
We have 200 dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees, which are totally neglected
most years because we cannot provide the careful monitoring and quick
action needed to manage them organically while at the same time planning,
planting, and cultivating the vegetable and flower crops. On a homestead
farm, there is possibly no limit to diversification. On a commercial farm,
herb farms are measured in half-acres, so we both know it is how smart you
the land, not how much you use which is the biggest factor.
We got out of herbs when too many get-rich-on-a-half-acre people got in.
>A lady publishing
the book "The Flower Farmer" promises you can make $15,000 on half an acre if
you follow her recipe in the book.
Lynn Byczynski's excellent book (Chelsea Green, 1997) offers plenty of
pointers, but she'd be the first to say there is no recipe. Her monthly
newsletter *Growing for Market* is full of useful, realistic articles on
market gardening, the income potential, and the difficulties in achieving
that potential. I recommend it to you.
>Some people never have enough, in fact, don't know what "enough" means. I
know, and I usually have it.
"Enough" for most farmers doesn't encompass jet-setting vacations and new
BMWs. It means enough to pay the bills, enough to pay the help a decent
non-exploitative wage, enough to afford health insurance and a little for
retirement, enough to invest in the farm to make it more productive over
the long term and even more of an economic asset to the community.
I can't quarrel with any of your advice on composting and worms. I'd do it
that way myself, probably, if I had a farmstead aimed primarily at
sustaining myself. But I really want the farm to influence and sustain
other people as well, and because of that I have adopted some practices
with which you would no doubt find fault, and rejected others that you no
doubt employ. Folks who disagree with conventional ag's "cookbook"
approaches shouldn't attempt to enforce them in sustainable ag.
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command