Starting an organic farm is a big undertaking, and there is a lot to know. There are many moving parts in a working farm, and making sure that you know as much as possible is the best way to guarantee that you are prepared for any situations that you might encounter.
Obviously it is a learning process, so there are always going to be curveballs, and things are going to change with the technology the longer you are in business. There are thankfully a lot of resources out there to help you along the way, which will help you have the best possible experience with your organic farm.
Learn the Basics
As with any business you need to start at the beginning, and once you have the basics nailed you have a solid foundation on which to build.
You need to know about the crops that you want to grow, the best soil to grow them in, any kind of pests that they are going to attract, and how to handle them, and when the best time to grow them is.
If it is not a landform that you are working on setting up, and maybe a fish farm you are going to need to know more about salmon farming.
Location, Location, Location
This is going to affect a number of things. What is the weather like where you are going to have your farm, and what are the best growing seasons? Do you have to worry about ground frosts or periods of extended rain or lack of rain?
What is the soil like, and is it going to be a good option for the crops that you want to grow?
The other thing that you need to think with is, are there a lot of organic farms around you, and are there any initiatives to support the kind of farm that you want to start?
Match the Land And The Farming
If you like the location of a particular farm, you may find that it is not going to be good for what you initially wanted to grow. Different parts of the farm may be better suited to different crops and purposes so you are going to have to tailor exactly what you want to do to the environment in which you are going to be operating.
Understanding the land and the farming that is going to work best on it means that you aren’t going to waste your time trying to grow crops in an inhospitable environment.
Understand Your Market
Following from location, and knowing what you can grow, you then need to think a lot about what you are going to be able to sell in the local market, and any other marketplaces that you want to move into.
Not to say that you shouldn’t grow something just because someone else has it as their primary crop, but if someone in the area is well-established you may have trouble breaking into that particular corner of the market.
If there is a niche that hasn’t been taken and you can provide the product, then that may make a lot of sense, rather than going for something that already has a lot of competition.
Prepare Soil and Compost
How you prepare your soil and compost is going to depend on what you are growing, and also on what kind of soil you are dealing with. A soil that is mostly clay is going to require different steps to one that is primarily sand. The acidity of the soil is also going to be an important consideration, both for what you grow, and what kind of compost it is going to be best for you to use.
You may also have to recover the soil from any past practices that have been used if it was a farm before. You are also going to have to learn about any requirements you need to be certified organic.
Take Care Of What You Plant Or Grow
Beyond the basics, you need to know how to take care of any crops or animals that you have on your organic farm. This is another area where you are going to have to do due diligence and make sure that you have the best data that you can get, and you are going to want to invest in continuing education to make sure that you are up to date on what the latest technologies are that are available, and what the current opinions are on what you need to do to have a successful organic farm.
Seek a Mentor and Network
The great thing about something like organic farming is that there are people out there who are already doing it, and they are often very community-minded because as well as being a business, a lot of people in the organic community are very interested in making sure that the whole philosophy is adopted by more people.
In the same way that mainstream farmers have unions and work together to better the whole farming community, there are similar organizations that are dedicated purely to organic farming. Within that community, you may be lucky and find yourself a mentor.
Patience Is Important
Your farm is not going to be a success overnight, and you need to have some kind of plan in place to last out the times when you do not have products to sell, and to get you through that initial period when you are getting everything set up.
This should be part of any business plan, and especially where you are going to be growing something, and there are a number of things such as classes that you can give to people to provide you with other sources of income until you have the products that you intend to sell.
If you are looking to start an organic farm, whether it is one that is based around growing crops, or raising animals, you are sure to have sat down and researched a lot of the ins and outs of farming, but there may be areas such as being certified organic or business issues that you are not so sure of. The data is out there, and there are other organic farmers; persistence and willingness to work hard really are going to pay off, and your dream farm can become a reality.