Saturday, June 19, 2021
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What does it take to grow a farmer?

Like growing any crop, you can sum it up simply with basics: land, equipment, knowledge and experience. But it’s so much more.

Growing farmers has become critical. The average farmer in the U.S. is a 57-year-old white man, and new farmers don’t crop up overnight. It takes time and nurturing.

It’s not uncommon to hear people worry about who will be the next crop of farmers, where they’ll come from, if there will be enough of them, whether they’ll be able to withstand droughts, storms, pest pressures and other disasters.

In this series, we explore what it takes to grow the next generation of farmers.

Farming is not for everyone, but it can be rewarding. If we reorient our perspective, it wouldn’t be so daunting for others to follow in our footsteps.
Today, the world looks very different than it did in the early 1900s. And yet, some of the same obstacles to farming remain: capital and land access, knowledge, discrimination. In some cases, they’ve gotten worse. Getting into farming, especially as a first generation farmer, is complicated.
Farm transitions are one way that new farmers get into agriculture. But with family, money and changes in who is taking on leadership roles involved, transitions aren't easy.

Week 2

Land is central to the culture of U.S. farming. It’s also central to what keeps people out of farming. It's expensive, scarce and completely inaccessible for some.
The Sheplers started farming "without a farm" but they soon found a home of their own. The way they got their land was the opposite of a traditional real estate transaction.
Ohio State University researchers spoke to farm families all over the country to find how exactly health care and child care needs hold back young farmers.

Week 3

Living City Farms started out as an urban farm for Ms. Julie’s Kitchen, a vegan restaurant, in Akron. It’s growing bigger than that, now. But it’s still relying on connections to the restaurant and community.
Some would call farmers the ultimate jacks — or jills — of all trades. But when it comes to farming, it’s not just about what you know — it’s who you know, and what they know.

Week 4

Half of all new businesses will fail by their fifth year, and that includes farms. How do beginning farmers decide when to take a step back from the industry they love.
It's not easy to be a beginning farmer. But for Black farmers and others who face discrimination, past and present injustices add another layer of challenges.
Rebecca Miller writes about how her parents got into farming, and what those early roots mean to their farming journey today.