When we bought this land it was always a goal to grow enough food in our vegetable garden to support at least ten families. This goal could feed my wife and I and have some to share with our daughters and their families. Of course the economic goal would be to attract CSA members and grow a network of people that would both help us grow the farm and provide safe and healthy food for them.
My wife likes to say we failed at farming last year. It’s true we did- but we learned so much and did a lot of work to build a better infrastructure. Our first exposure to small farm operations was at the 2014 UT Organic Farm Field Day, by the way one is scheduled later this week. We both quickly realised we needed more training! We have gone to most of the classes offered by the UT Extension and really enjoy the information, the resenting staff and the other farmers we meet.
One of the problems was equipment; it’s all very expensive and do you really need something to till the land? Last year we used our 48 inch tiller and then I shaped the beds with a Hoss Plow set-up. 100 beds at 60 feet makes a lot of pushing dirt! This worked but there were several problems:
- Required a lot of work, needed more than one pass for best results.
- Beds weren’t too high so blended in with the pathway.
- I didn’t leave enough room for pathways, for weeding and harvest.
- Max bed with around 6- 8 inches.
Last year, after a bunch of research, and no thanks to the local tractor companies, who were mostly useless as far as farm information was concerned, I found a better solution. The Everything Attachments.com site had videos that showed me what I needed and how to use their attachments. The prices were good, most of the parts are made in the USA. I had a question and the owner called me back very quickly and told me what to do and fixed my problem. When I used it for the first time I crie
d. This device would save me time and give me a good two foot bed garden beds with plenty of room to weed, harvest and even re-till without affecting adjoining rows!
If building your own sustainable farm is in your future or something you want to do for the sake of your family, do your research! We love going to the classes and learn so much, sometimes we look at each other and think what did we get ourselves into? Information is available and your local AG Extension Agent is willing to help- if you ask and are persistent. Go to these manufacturers and learn how they do things with their equipment. Our small tractor is priceless and saves us lots of time and effort. If you are planning on a small to larger market garden you will need equipment. If you can find a farmer or operation that is doing what you want to do at that scale volunteer to help them to learn first hand the effort and knowledge you will need to succeed. Go to a local farmers market and look for a farmer who you can connect with and share your dreams and you may find a willing mentor!
Yes I failed, there was a lack of education, time, money, infrastructure, experience and more! But this year it’s coming together and I’m excited for the market garden potential of our effort to date.