The Female Farmer Project™

documenting the rise of women in agriculture

ask a farmer series: advice for the new farmer


Originally published: March 09, 2014

The Female Farmer Project is fortunate to have a series of great conversations happening on our Facebook page.  The information and advice that is being shared is too valuable to let it slide further and further down on the page.  This series is hopefully a way to capture and preserve the valuable advice.  Thank you to all the farmers that contributed to this conversation!

If you could pass on one piece of advice to up and coming farmers, what would it be?

Take care of yourself physically. Without your health you can't farm at all and it helps in dealing with the stress that comes with the occupation.  - Marie Lincoln, Chocolate Flower Farm, Langley, WA

I second Marie's advice! Get in good with your local chiropractor. - Dana Anastasia Hubanks 

Take good care of yourself by not getting too attached to any one way of doing things. The holistic health of the animals, the land, yourself, and your experiences is fluid and getting trapped by how things 'must be' or 'should be' only causes friction. Try not to polarize yourself with stasis. Grab a wave...and a life vest! - Janya IntheCountry

 Grow organic ...Danny Kapson

A good business plan is key, even before buying land. make all necessary investments in equipment and supplies, set up all your infrastructure (irrigation, ditches, FENCES) before welcoming livestock to your farm. start with a detailed plan of the layout of crop areas, gardens, orchards, pastures. i can't emphasize enough about putting up good sturdy fences if you plan on having crops and animals, mostly to protect said crops from animals. above all, planning is everything. this is coming from a farmer who put the cart-before-the-horse (or cow before everything) and learned all this the hard way. - Blair Prenoveau

Selling is just as important as growing. If you want to make a living - Siri Erickson-Brown, Local Roots Farm, Duvall WA 

 Pencil it out...everything..from sales projections to bed feet etc etc etc - Amy Moreno-Sills

Watch and learn, ask questions without being a pest, and don't be afraid to pass it on when the next person asks. Don't be afraid. - Shelley Pasco-Verdi 

Don't quit your day job (JUST KIDDING!) Make sure you have a market before you plant those seeds. Find a mentor or two. Get to know your extension agents. Get into beekeeping. Read books (I recommend Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson) and attend farm conferences (Acres is my favorite!) And lastly, enjoy the absolute miracle of Nature! - Amy Nicole Fiedler of Spring House Farm

Enjoy your work! - Lynn of Glendale Shepherd

Be prepared to work harder than you ever have before. Build trusting relationships with everyone you do business with. Always tell the truth. Those relationship could very well save your farm. Eat healthy & make sure to actually eat! It is going to be a roller coaster of emotions & don't give up! - The Farmer's Wifee 

And then some advice came across our Twitter Feed @femmefarm2table

@LiveStockSeller: "be open to new ideas and new ways of improving your operation" 


And then an impromptu conversation about flooding.  

Katherine Stewart Thanks for all the suggestions everyone!! I've just started my farm this year and am very excited! 
Any advice on flooding? 

Susan Melton-Piper trenches, maybe a holding pond or underground storage tanks for runoff to use on your crops later. We are looking at options, imagination and creativity is key in farming

Siri Erickson-Brown Re: flooding. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. When it happens, accept it, and get back to work.

Blair Prenoveau regarding flooding, look into permaculture. creating on-contour swales and storage ponds can harvest and keep rainwater to use, as well as ease erosion and flood damage.

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