a reply to: Boadicea
If/when you have the time (and inclination) would you expand on this for me? Skool me please??? I know about gardening on a small scale -- like
Unfortunately, home gardening techniques do not scale very well.
The typical life of a farmer starts before sun-up. As soon as there is enough light during the growing season, they have to be in the field working.
Yes, they have huge equipment, but someone still has to drive it. Their yearly schedule runs something along the lines of: prepare the ground before
the temperature warms enough for their crop (plow, fertilize, disc); planting; weeding (typically by using a chemical weeder like Roundup); harvest;
plan for next year. All that big equipment tends to break down a lot under continuous use, so any spare time they usually put into doing maintenance
and repairs, often until well after dark. That's the only way they can keep up. The sun is their clock.
And of course, there's the rainy days when they can't get into the fields. Those are also spent on maintenance and repair of their equipment, as well
as actually taking time to spend with their families. Weekends mean little to nothing (except for church). A farmer's rest day is the day when it's
raining too hard to get in the fields and every piece of equipment is in perfect operating condition. Then they get to spend some time with their
The amount of assets a farmer uses is astronomical. A home gardener might have a tiller. They use hoes and shovels, maybe a wheelbarrow if the garden
is big. A farmer can have literally millions of dollars worth of equipment, in addition to millions of dollars of land. They make pretty good most
years, but a lot of that is eaten up with repairs and supplies... leaving just enough to raise a family on. The financing is so extreme, as a matter
of fact, that most have trusts set up to handle it.
I have a cousin who owns thousands of acres and leases more than he owns. His has three truck scales on his property, and several huge equipment drops
where he stores the equipment. He hires several work hands full time and pays them around the calendar; there's always something for them to do. In
return, he brings home enough to comfortably raise a family... in a good year. In a bad year, the trust can actually lose money, which is about the
same as someone living off savings and loans. All this to work 16 hour days of hard labor, taking days off only when Mother Nature and the workload
That is why the privately-owned farms are disappearing. Less and less people are willing to put up so much and work so hard for so little. I have
asked my cousin why he does it, and he will just shrug and say "it's who I am." He loves the freedom from management and the country life. As long as
he can make a decent living, the money means little to him.
But I'm a big proponent of increasing local agriculture -- from homes and schools to community gardens -- so what kind of things should I be
wary of? My purpose is to increase self-sufficiency and resourcefulness in individuals and communities. But I know govt critters can ruin
The biggest thing to look out for is any government interference. The whole idea of agriculture is based around freedom from that sort of thing. If I
grow a garden, I am free from the demands of the grocery stores on my budget. I can eat squash, okry, melons, maters, carrots, greens, taters, all
year and not spend a dime on them.
I at one time had the idea of starting a communal garden in this area, for those who didn't live in the country. My idea, and you can feel free to use
this if you desire, was to provide people with a small tract of land already prepared for gardening and allow them to use it as their own for that
I planned on setting up a few acres of garden surrounded and separated into small lots by portable fencing. Once a year in the spring, a local farmer
could be paid to plow, fertilize, and till the soil, then the fences could be erected. People could then lease lots for use as gardens. They supply
the seeds (a secondary market if you wanted to sell seeds as well), they supply the labor, and they can either supply their equipment or lease it from
the landowner. At a certain date a few weeks past the end of the growing season, the leases expire, the fences come down, and the land is plowed under
again to start preparing for the next season.
You might want to make a list of what types of plants you will allow. For instance, kudzu would ruin the whole thing; it takes over everything and is
virtually immortal. You could also offer classes on how to grow a garden; that likely seems second nature to you, but to a lot of people they have no
idea how to put a seed in the ground.