"Make sure you're not climbing the ladder, only to figure out that it is leaning against the wrong wall."

There is nothing worse than when you spend a lot of time and effort doing something, only to realize you hate doing it, and you feel that you are wasting your time. Now, I am in the mindset of, "there is a lesson to be learned from every experience." However, there is SO much to do when you are starting a farm, that you want to minimize the mistakes you make, and maximize the successes.

I started my agricultural career with an assessment of my values. I took the time to sit down and figure out, on paper, what was important to me. While you are figuring out how to begin a farm, you should do the same.

Write Down Your Values

This is the point in the exercise where you have to do a little work. Whether you type it out on your computer, or you take out a pen and a paper and write it down, it's time to do some documenting. It is important to have documentation of why you are beginning a farm, because you are going to want it later on.

I wouldn't ask you do to anything I haven't done personally. That's true with everything I put on the site. That is why I included my answers to these questions below. I want you to see how I answered them as well.

Just because I use a certain format below, does not mean you have to follow it. I wrote in a paragraph, you can create a bulleted list, a numbered list where you put your values in order of importance, or whatever else comes to mind.

What are your personal values?

What are your economic values?

What are your environmental values?

What are your community values?


My Responses When Beginning My Farm:

What are your personal values?

Overall I value good health. Good health comes from a balance of physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. I value the relationships I have with my family and friends, also with my community, both online and in person.

I want my farm and my family to be a large part of my local town community. I do not want to work myself into a hole of stress and loneliness. I value community as the true core of sustainability.

I believe in educating this generation and the next. I feel parents have a duty to raise their kids healthy, and kids have a duty to pass that on to future generations. "For ourselves and our posterity."

I value being authentic, transparent, honest, and fair.

What are your economic values?

I want my farm to cover its own expenses, pay me and my workers an honest wage, and support expansion and growth. I will not compromise quality to make more money. I won't compromise my bottom line because a customer is too cheap to pay the real price of food. I want to get paid what it costs me to produce whatever it is that I am growing.

I value having a cushion both for my personal finances and my business finances so I do not have to borrow from an outside lender should I face an unexpected expense.

I want to make enough money to wear clean clothes, feed and clothe my children properly, provide my family with a secure home, and a reliable vehicle. I naturally do not live extravagantly. I do not need a big TV, a fast car, or frivolous expenditures. However, I do want to have quality practical belongings that will last. I also enjoy a quality craft beer ever now and again.

What are your environmental values?

I want to carry forward the value I learned early in life while I was a Boy Scout. "Always leave a place cleaner than you found it." My production methods will always be geared toward what is best for the plants, the livestock, the wildlife, and the people involved.

My ideal situation would be to farm a piece of conserved land. I want to use my farm as an example of how a piece of land can be conserved and exempted from development, while still being used for agriculture. I will fight to keep off non-native invasive species.

I would like to create wildlife habitat on my farm for a number of reasons. I want wildlife to have sanctuary on my farm, I want to see birds and animals when I am walking my property, and I want beneficial relationships where birds are encouraged to eat pests.

What are your community values?

Both myself and my farm will be active members of the community. "It takes a village to raise a child." I think the same applies for a farm. To educate the public on how difficult it is to start a farm, at least some farms have to be very public with their methods. Otherwise how is anybody ever going to really know, unless they take the time to do it themselves.

I value local economies and and building relationships with other local business. There is extreme value in keeping money local, and ensuring small communities support each other and thrive. It is in that vein that I will ensure I buy my feed for my animals as local as possible, I buy my seed as local as I can get it, I buy my marketing materials local when I can, and I do whatever else I can to make sure my money goes back into the community.

I also want to keep my customer base as local as possible. Food should not have to travel very farm. I hope to encourage people to eat locally by being able to offer them what is in season on the farm, with recipes and education to back it up.