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Year One

Before the pandemic hit, Modern Farmer spoke to farmers who had accomplished their first 12 months of farming and had been gearing up for his or her second season. They informed us about a few of their largest challenges, how they overcame them, and why it was all price it in the long run.

Here are a few of their tales, which we’re sharing in a collection within the hope they may also help these fascinated with quitting their desk job to leap into farming. 


For new farmers, merely making the choice to start out a farm might be one of many hardest steps to take. It’s no secret that farming is extremely robust work, and there’s plenty of danger concerned in quitting a gentle job to launch your personal enterprise. 

Jen Browning received the chance to make that call when she took a go away of absence from her desk job working within the nonprofit social companies sector in Seattle to foster twin infants in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She was burned-out, and the break gave her an opportunity to determine what she wished to do along with her life. The considered going again to work in entrance of a pc didn’t appear interesting, however giving up a steady wage to start out her personal farm was a scary concept. 

“There are so many unknowns and so much to learn that it can be overwhelming to get started,” she says. 

Without that pause in her work life, she says she doesn’t know if she would have constructed up the braveness to alter her profession path. 

Browning hadn’t actually thought of producing meals on a bigger scale till a few years in the past. She had seen the impacts of the damaged meals system on the shoppers she served in her earlier profession, and had at all times been serious about meals, and gardening. She simply wasn’t fairly positive if she wished to function her personal enterprise. So she took a variety of small steps to substantiate she was actually serious about farming. She enrolled in courses to study in regards to the enterprise facet of farming, and skim a variety of books. After she completed her fostering stint, her ultimate take a look at was engaged on a neighborhood farm for 4 months. 

When she completed, she requested a variety of native farmers within the space if she ought to get extra expertise on different farms, however the consensus appeared to be that she ought to simply begin her personal. So she did.

Browning made her first 12 months work with a private funding of just some thousand {dollars}. She purchased a two-wheel BCS tractor, and tools. She was fortunate she might begin her operation—Juniper Layne Farm—on her mother or father’s property outdoors of Portland, as entry to land generally is a huge barrier for brand new farmers. 

Jen Browning harvests greens on Juniper Layne Farm.

In her first season, she grew quite a lot of greens, and saved chickens for eggs, which she offered by way of a gift-card CSA program and at a farmers market. Browning was beneath no illusions of how laborious farming could be, however she says that you just don’t actually perceive what it seems like till you expertise it. 

“There’s very little you can control in farming. So you do your best to prepare and plan, get things in place, and nature does the rest,” she says.  

When Modern Farmer spoke with Browning within the run as much as her second season, she had secured a microloan from the USDA and was making ready to double her acreage. 

She was nonetheless working remotely in her previous job for about 30 hours per week till February, however now devotes all of her time to farming. Working outdoors has been therapeutic for Browning, and he or she says she would have regretted merely returning to her previous job and never even attempting to farm. For aspiring farmers, she suggests studying as a lot as they will earlier than really beginning, as it may be an costly pastime if the enterprise doesn’t work out.  

“I would encourage people to jump in, but also to jump in with some amount of knowledge, whether that comes from classes, books or working on a farm,” she says. “I would not encourage people to jump in with absolutely zero experience.” 

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