Welcome to Bepa's Garden!
This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living.
Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews.
I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden!
Happy Gardening!
~Rob~

Friday, October 18, 2013

Searching for farmland...


 
In the past couple of weeks I have decided to take the leap to start seriously looking for land to farm on. I have signed up with the Connecticut FarmLink Program and New England Landlink through the New England Small Farm Institute to try and locate farm land to either rent or buy.


Last week I looked at a potential property, a one acre flower farm about a half hour away. The farm is home to a thriving flower business, with the potential to expand to other crops. I met a very nice woman who runs the business and ended up working with her yesterday, helping to clear the gardens preparing them for winter. What better way to get a feel for a farm than to spend a few hours working in the gardens. This property may not be ideal for my particular visions of farming but it definitely has possibilities. If anything I got a chance to meet a fellow grower and may end up working with her part-time, learning more about her business.

In my search for farmland I have come across a very useful tool to help locate farm-able land, Web Soil Survey.

Web Soil Survey is a website that provides soil data and information provided by the National Cooperative Soil Survey and is operated by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). It is very easy to use, you just enter in the address of the property, use the AOI (area of interest) tool to draw the boundary of the property, and click the soil map tab to get a soil report.
When I entered my current property the report read: 

Soil Type: Agawam fine sand loam
Farmland classification: All areas are prime farmland

The report is lengthy, as well as soil types and farmland classification it gives you components of soil type, properties and qualities, profile, drainage, flood zone, and a lot of other very useful information. It is a great tool to use to quickly eliminate properties that aren't really good for farming.

Ideally we would love to move to Vermont, but with my business, my wife's job and our kid's still in school, it may not be the most practical thing to do just yet. The dream of living on a 10 acre New England farm is very appealing to all of us, but when the thought of uprooting our comfortable lives becomes a real possibility, it becomes a little daunting, so the new plan is to find local land to start farming on now.




My ideal farm plan is to operate a small 5+ acre organic market farm, selling through an onsite farm stand and to local markets and restaurants. Getting my feet wet (or dirty) in actually running a farming business is a priority to help gain experience before I take the big plunge. Gardening at home and managing the school gardens are fulfilling, but it's not the same as  running an actual farm business. We do have plans in the works to expand the gardens on our current property, add an additional greenhouse and talk to the town about getting a license to sell at farmer's markets. I am already licensed to run an in-home business so I don't foresee any potential issues.


I am in the midst of reading, Market Farming Success, which is full of great ideas and inspirations, and am a subscriber to Growing for Market which is loaded with very informative articles and publications on market farming. These publications confirm that the potential exists for market farmers to be very successful, especially with so many people wanting to eat healthier these days.
 
I have so many notebooks full of ideas for my farm business and have mapped out several enterprises that I would love to try my hand at once we find farmland.  The big plan is still to purchase our forever home, that New England Farmhouse with enough land to farm on, room for a few greenhouses, and a roadside stand to sell fresh organic vegetables and cut flowers, but in the meantime I will be happy farming on an acre or two to get some experience under my belt and start doing what I dream about doing every day!

~Rob~



2 comments:

  1. I'm so excited for you! I hope you find the perfect fit for your family right now. So cool that you got to visit the flower farm!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Apprenticing with an actual grower is a smart idea. Coming to Vermont to take advantage of our new food economy is even smarter!
    Lots of small farm properties are for sale in Northern and central Vermont, along the fertile Connecticut River Valley. More and more farmers markets start up every year, now the winter markets are growing as well.
    Come Grow with us.
    For photos of the area, take a look at my ag blog:
    www.tailgait.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete