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View Diary: Still think Big-Ag is the answer? Read Bittman. (88 comments)

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  •  My friend farms his father's land... (12+ / 0-)

    and I think this is common for the moment. You either have land in the family still or you buy a farm that's way far away from the city and that complicates selling.

    In Hawaii, I'm sure it's next to impossible to buy any affordable land at all.

    Maybe he can marry the right person? (said tongue in cheek of course)

    •  oh, that would be fine by me ... marrying ... (4+ / 0-)

      .. the right person... :)

      Yes, you describe the situation as it is.

    •  There is land to be had (5+ / 0-)

      in many areas of the country that is fertile and fairly easily farmed, and farmer's markets in or near cities all over the place. Sure, you may have to transport farther to a regional market over a local tailgate market, but not that far. For many fruits and vegetables a producer can't sell enough at a local market to keep from having a lot of it go to waste, so the regional market is a better bet where bigger processors and restaurants and such buy in bulk.

      Nobody's going to get rich farming 10-20 acres of mixed vegetables, grain, fruit, herbs and nuts, and if you farm organically on land that isn't suited to the use of big equipment you're not likely to even justify the amount of work involved. Fortunately, there's a ready market for value-added food products a farmer (and family) can produce at home from home grown ingredients that will pay better and are also marketable locally and regionally. Wines, ciders, jams and jellies, sauces, dried foods, canned soups and veggie sides, spice mixtures (fresh and dried), flavored vinegars, chutneys and salsas, brewing supplies like dried hops and malted grain...

      Land with good tracts of forest can also be forest-farmed to produce medicinal herbs and things like acorn flour and sap syrups. It is possible to make a good chunk of living off the land, but again - you won't get rich.

      •  There's land in cultivation that SHOULDN'T BE (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, angelajean, RiveroftheWest

        too.

        Highly erodible land, for example, that must be heavily irrigated to produce.

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 01:45:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right. I plant nothing (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mimi, angelajean, RiveroftheWest

          that needs to be irrigated. We get plenty of rainfall, and I've a hoze that runs from the spring fed duck pond drain to the garden (6 tiers down the mountainside, 12-15 feet by 200 feet. Gravity feed, food and water on demand, also available for fruit trees and grapes. Composted used duck bedding (softwood shavings, untreated) mixed with regular turned compost with plenty of duck egg shells for mulch.

          •  Great. Wow, in which area are you located?/nt (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, RiveroftheWest, Joieau
            •  Southern Appalachians, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean

              south slope of the Black Brothers (Mt. Mitchell, et al.). about 3 miles as the eagle flies to the eastern continental divide along the Blue ridge, a bit east of the Smokies. Land here is pretty seriously graded, so it's sold as "More or Less."

              That means they took an overhead map and put a 1-acre grid over the top of it, and count how many acres are in the plot. We bought 13, but if you actually walk it down here on the ground, it's closer to 26. Average in my county is $5,000 an acre if you aren't a rich retiree buying into a log mcmansion gated development.

              •  log McMansion and ... gated? ... this (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                angelajean, Joieau

                seems not to add up ... :-)

                Now I have to dig into the maps. Do people protect their log mcmansions there with guns? I am scared of lonely gun-owning farmers. :-)

                •  Yeah, log McMansions (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mimi

                  are the hip dip cosmic trip newfangled super-retirement 'statement' these days. Those fancy Big Timber beauties with the 'rustic' appeal on half-acre $85-100K lots. Mostly second homes, of course, since none of 'em really want to LIVE here in hillbilly land. Private lakes, gatehouse guards 24-7, meticulously landscaped faux  deep-forest land and fake waterfalls, golf courses on mountaintops... well, I guess it's a lot better than mountaintop removal coal 'mining', so I won't complain about that... Super-wired constantly monitored security systems that won't let you open a window or door to the crisp mountain fresh air, brand spanking new police/fire HQ across the street from the gate. Only the locals have guns - they're who the gates are suppsed to keep out.

                  ...and yes, the land right outside the gate goes for $5K an acre. More or less.

        •  But I have read that even those soils can (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean, RiveroftheWest, Joieau

          be converted without irrigation. Have forgotten where I read it, they experiment with such in the middle East and desert-like areas in Northern Africa. And you can get it done one little spot after the next just by a certain way to collect the little bit of rain water in ways that serve as reservoirs aside from little soil elevations in which you plant a couple of plants. Can take several years but it can be done.

          •  shouldn't be done, mimi, on industrial scale (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, Joieau

            that depletes irreplaceable aquifers and desertifies more land.

            We need to stop thinking on industrial-scale levels in all our agriculture.
            The things we do to make it easier for big equipment and monoculture are bad for our land, our water, our wildlife, and the quality, not to mention quantity, of our food.

            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Sun Oct 20, 2013 at 09:56:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  no, I wasn't thinking about that at all, I (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BlackSheep1

              expressed myself badly.

              Look at the Green Gold documentary below, the video that shows how Chinese converted damaged eco-systems like washed out mountaineous land and what they did in Jordan with desertificated land.

              I have seen similar videos about re-greening arid land of much smaller scale in Africa, just can't dig for it right now. It was a long time ago. They had a special method which was amazingly simple, just never done before. It had all to do how to collect the rare rain water in a way that it stays in a small elevated plant bed area to serve as water reservoir to the plants. I never forgot it, because it was so amazing that it worked.

              Of course you wouldn't deplete the aquifers. Tell that first those landowners who allow corporations to drill for gas and frack the hell out of it using water like there is no tomorrow.

      •  this comment gets sent to my son ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, RiveroftheWest, Joieau

        I am starting to have my own ideas of value added food products. I wished I would be able to find some people to learn from. It sounds as if you are working in that kind of field.

      •  That's not quite true (0+ / 0-)
        Nobody's going to get rich farming 10-20 acres of mixed vegetables, grain, fruit, herbs and nuts, and if you farm organically on land that isn't suited to the use of big equipment you're not likely to even justify the amount of work involved.
        Actually, you can rich with a 10-20 acre farm devoted to fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts (skip the grain, though, until you're miuch bigger).  Horticulture crops  can produce tens of thousands of dollars of income per acre and many "industrial" farming operations of horticultural crops are, in fact, of this size.  

        The inescapable problem of farmers, however, is the need to constantly grow the size and output of their farms in order to keep their incomes growing at the same rate as city folk.  This is what leads to ever larger farms and ever fewer farmers that can be observed universally during modernity.  

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