Farms with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business

Overview

What makes a farm sustainable and successful? And what special qualities and skills are needed for someone to become a successful farmer?

Rebecca Thistlethwaite addresses these and other crucial questions in this uniquely important book, which is a must-read for anyone who aspires to get into farming, or who wants to make their farm business more dynamic, profitable, and, above all, sustainable. Over an entire year, the author and her husband-experienced farmers themselves-took ...

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Farms with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business

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Overview

What makes a farm sustainable and successful? And what special qualities and skills are needed for someone to become a successful farmer?

Rebecca Thistlethwaite addresses these and other crucial questions in this uniquely important book, which is a must-read for anyone who aspires to get into farming, or who wants to make their farm business more dynamic, profitable, and, above all, sustainable. Over an entire year, the author and her husband-experienced farmers themselves-took a sabbatical and traveled the length and breadth of the United States to live and work alongside some of the nation's most innovative farmers. Along the way they learned about best practices, and a whole lot about what doesn't work.

Farms with a Future shares this collective wisdom in an inspirational yet practical manner; it will help beginners avoid many of the common mistakes that first-time farmers make. Just as importantly, it discusses positive ideas that can help make any farm enterprise vibrant and financially profitable. Profiles of more than a dozen representative farms help round out the invaluable information and encourage farmers to embrace their inner entrepreneur. Younger growers, in particular, will benefit by learning about "the right stuff" from both their peers and longtime experts.This book provides a useful reference for beginning and experienced farmers alike. While many other books address agricultural production, there are very few that talk about business management for long-term sustainability. Farms with a Future offers an approachable, colorful take on building a triple-bottom-line farming business.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this down-to-earth, business-oriented guide to running a farm, Thistlethwaite gives new and prospective farmers a hard-nosed taste of what it takes to run a sustainable farm and what steps are needed to succeed in this field, drawing on her six years of farming and a yearlong adventure visiting and interviewing small farmers across America. The book covers topics familiar to anyone starting a business—market niches, business plans, financing, accounting, human resources—in the context of farming, as well as farm-specific issues like finding land, choosing equipment, managing soil and water, harvesting, and processing. These sometimes dry subjects are leavened with instructive and inspiring stories about a wide variety of inventive, persistent farmers from Long Island and Vermont to Texas and Montana, ranging from novices to old-timers. Thistlethwaite’s experience teaching beginning farmers is evident in the logical, easy-to-follow, realistic but encouraging text, which will help separate the wheat from the chaff. “If you are not prepared for some serious hard work, inclement weather, dirt lodged in every crevice of your body, and being so dog-tired that you fall into your easy chair at night and don’t wake up until the next morning, then you might look into another vocation,” she says. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

"Farms with a Future is an important book. If you are new to farming, read it now. If you've been in the business for a while, read it every year to keep yourself on track.”--Shannon Hayes, author of Long Way on a Little and Radical Homemakers

"Farms with a Future should be added to the reading list of anyone getting into farming. Easy to read and full of practical information, it will help those entering agriculture avoid many common pitfalls."--Nicolette Hahn Niman, author of Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms

Farms with a Future should be handed out to every budding young farmer in America. Thistlethwaite guides us through the daunting process of creating a viable small farm by sharing hard-earned lessons of her own, and from experienced farmers she met while researching this book. Indispensable!”--Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

“What is so great about Rebecca Thistlethwaite’s new book, Farms with a Future, is that it is not a generalized treatment about how to succeed in the new farm and food revolution, but a detailed and complete description of how some fourteen farms of various kinds have done it. This book does what books are supposed to do, that is, it gives the reader on-the-ground experience that would otherwise take years to gain.”--Gene Logsdon, author of The Contrary Farmer and Small-Scale Grain Raising

ForeWord Reviews-
As a farmer and sustainable agriculture consultant, Rebecca Thistlethwaite understands how important it is to share information about small farmers who have redefined success, finding ways to sustain their families, their communities, and the planet. The stories of innovative farmers who have embraced their 'inner entrepreneur' fill this collection and serve as ample inspiration for readers who are dreaming of their own farming ventures, as well as those who are searching for new approaches. With chapters organized around specific principles such as “Identifying Your Market Niche” and “Harvesting and Processing,” the emphasis of Thistlethwaite’s book is incorporating necessary tools for survival and profit in a family-based business. Each chapter contains photographs of the farms and farmers, which helps drive home for the reader that these are real people who have—through sacrifice, planning, and hard work—found ways to farm that supports their values. Additionally, each chapter ends with 'Take-Home Messages,' a bulleted summary of dos and don’ts that affirm much of what each family farm story demonstrates. A superior book for its information, organization, and examples, Farms with a Future is essential for dreamers who intend to be doers, and doers who are seeking more creative dreaming.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603584388
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/10/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 625,033
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Thistlethwaite is the author of Farms with a Future. She runs a small farm and food business consulting firm called Sustain Consulting and is starting a small homestead in Oregon with her husband, Jim Dunlop, and their daughter Fiona. They previously operated TLC Ranch in Watsonville, CA, where they raised organic, pastured livestock and poultry for direct markets across Northern California. Rebecca currently serves on the board of the Sustainable Food Trade Association as well as the Columbia Gorge Earth Center and writes for blogs such as “Cooking Up a Story” and her own blog “Honest Meat”. Her other recent pursuits include training oxen, holistic financial planning, and learning how to make fermented foods. Her website is http://rebeccathistlethwaite.com/.

Richard Wiswall started Cate Farm in East Montpelier, Vermont, where he has farmed since 1981. Known for his work on farm profitability and appropriate business tools, Wiswall consults with other farmers, and writes and speaks frequently on organic-farm business issues. He is the author of book The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook and Business Advice for Organic Farmers, a practical workshop available on DVD. To learn more about Wiswall and Cate Farm, visit www.catefarm.com.

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Table of Contents

1. For the beginner
2. Identifying your market niche
3. Finding and securing land
4. Financing the dream
5. Farm planning for success
6. Equipment and infrastructure
7. Soil and water management
8. Harvest and processing
9. Marketing and relationship building
10. Record-keeping and regulatory compliance
11. Accounting and financial management
12. Human resources and family
13. Add-on enterprises: agritourism, classes, value-added products, ethnic markets, and more

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