Family Farms are not, and may never have been, vehicles to fame and fortune; with exceptions of course. Family Farms have always been a way of life – a life style. Up to the beginning of the 20th century the majority of America lived on farms, or extracted a large part of their livings from farms. Families were large to ensure sufficient help was available to tend to business. The farm produced the basics that the family needed and surpluses were converted, through barter or sale, to obtain things that couldn’t be produced on the farm. Several generations of families lived together, or close by, with everyone trying to contribute. The Family Farm was a self contained life style and business unit. This all changed with the industrialization of the Nation and the migration to the City.
We see the old Family Farm model, with new twists, as being a viable life style once again. In our case the farm itself is on 12 acres of rolling, oak studded land. The land is most suited to grazing, but the property size will not accommodate sufficient amounts of livestock to be self supporting. The soil quality is not good enough to grow high value crops.
The weather and water availability go another step to reducing the selection of products. It is our desire to operate a financially viable business operation and not be classified as a “Hobby Farm”. Again, it is unlikely that our Family Farm can be the road to financial riches, but we believe that it can be the road to self sustainability and Family Life Style. Thus, the need to include multiple activities and generate a combination of niche products.
There is a growing interest in our society for safe, fresh, quality foods. As we expand the product line of The Lamm Farm and consider methods to market our production we are researching the various systems available to us. There is a strong, growing interest on the part of the consumer and the pro
ducer in Farmers Markets. Providing direct contact between the Farmer and the Consumer this is an opportunity to educate in both directions; socialize and to purchase quality products with a known history. Food Cooperatives have been around for a long time allowing collections of consumers to pool their resources and purchase from producers and distributors in quantity, at reduced prices. Growing in popularity are CSA’s (Consumer Supported Agriculture). These organizations call for a collection of individuals to subscribe to a farm’s production, sharing the costs, risks and benefits with the farmer. USDA describes this process in more detail. Of course, the most obvious opportunity for Farmer – Consumer interaction is Farm Direct. Some farmers are willing to and do in fact provide for the consumer to come out to the farm to buy directly and in some cases, to “pick your own”. We hope to explore each of these opportunities in future posts, as our research unfolds for us.
As a side note to our “non-farm” reader, Have you considered developing your own version of a “farm”? You may not be able to cultivate large tracks of land, or be the Farmer at the Farmer’s Market, but you can cultivate flower pots and flower beds to provide some food; you can cultivate local sources to provide for your family’s needs and tastes; you can manage other activities, such as crafts, to generate products and income to support your “farm”. Is there a community garden close by that is available? Give some thought to how you might develop a “non-farm” farm. Could be fun!