----- Original Message -----
From: Alex McGregor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, April 08, 2000 8:44 AM
Subject: Re:Lion's Micro-farming fairy tale
> Andy & Lion,
> Interesting! I've enjoyed reading your debate on the feasibility of
> micro-farming. You have both touched on some important points. I would
> like to
> add to the discussion, based on my experience in this area and some
> knowledge I
> have of other operations.
****I as well
> First, let me say that I micro-farm- 30 family CSA
I also micro-farm, although I had not really thought of what I did in such
terms until this thread. I've been doing this for a little over ten years
(farming/ranching most of my life on and off again), but a while back
decided I wanted to test just how little land I could use and still make a
decent living. I've added and subtracted land as my experiments have come
and gone. I started out on a very small scale initially, growing as ideas
formed and developed.
Although when I started this experiment I did not have to realize an income
as my husband was providing enough for us to get by, I also did not invest
in equipment, fertilizers and other such things that a lot of farmers find
themselves getting into debt over. As I made money I re-invested that money
into the farm enterprise and stayed out of debt. Just before I started this
we sold our properties and have bartered our land and house. We are no
longer land owners which plays significantly into my being able to do what I
do where I do it.
In the last year I have been talking about how much land I use, although I
have actually never paced it off. I did last night and was surprised at how
little land I used last year with the amount of money that came in. I
usually estimate my actual land usage at between 21/2-3 acres for vegetable
and berry production. In actuality I used just 1 1/4 last year with
vegetables and berries and meat birds and another 3/4 of an acre with the
laying flock. The largest piece of farm equipment I have is an 8 hp
rototiller. Almost everything is done by hand, with the management of the
chickens, intercropping and covercropping building the soil. I have done
this by myself, but I'm fast and it does make for long hours during certain
times of the season. I choose not to do that anymore. The last three years
I have had an apprentice and we work 40 hour weeks always with the emphasis
on labor saving means to an end. I supply a 50 member CSA and 3 farmers
markets and my tables are very full.
With all that said I want to say that I have valued Lion Kuntz's essays as
stimulation and food for thought. There have been many good and valuable
ideas collected and put out. I appreciate that and have never felt that his
contributions to a sustainable life on this planet have been fodder for a
compost pile. But of course I am biased, this is why I have chosen to live
and work the way that I do. I find some of his combinations a little too
overwhelming for me to be able to pull off though. Someone else just might
be able to do it.
As I have read his essays (although I haven't had time to thoroughly go
through each one) I have placed them in a folder for reading at a later time
in the season when I have time to reflect and perhaps apply these ideas to
my farm. That is what I have felt them to be--ideas, as everything written
as a how-to is.
However, I do feel that it is important to realize that trying to make a
living on a small piece of acreage is very difficult to do. I had
everything going for me; another income to support me as I developed my
business, a lifetime of experience, parents and grandparents as teachers
when I was a child, an ability to do with very little, and I'm a very fast
worker! Doing something like this is feasible, but I would hate to see
anyone sink their all into it and it become a make it or break it kind of
The amount of money bandied about that can be made is achievable. I know it
can be done. But in the scope of our society, it really isn't that much
money for the amount of work that has to be done to be successful.
Sometimes I contemplate what I would do if I no longer had that second
income. Would I be able to make it? Yes I could, but I don't want to!
Nevertheless, I want to leave the places I have been healthier than when I
arrived, and I will take any thoughts and ideas along to help me do this.
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