Taking the plunge: part 1

Written By: Leah Chester-Davis & Mitchel Pridmore

Farming is hard work but it seems to keep calling your name. The pull to work the soil or grow a fine crop of calves is only getting stronger as time goes by. No wonder, farming is one of the most honorable livelihoods. After all, it feeds the world. 

Getting into the farming business requires looking long and hard before you leap, says Mitchel Pridmore, loan officer in the Hendersonville office of Carolina Farm Credit.

Farming is a business and most people who have launched their own businesses will tell you that all of a sudden not only are you having to deliver when it comes to the focus of your business, you also must continually plan, identify customers, market, keep the books, and stay abreast of developments in your specialty. And with farming, you’re dealing with something you have to keep alive, whether it’s plants or animals. It sometimes seems like a 24-7 job. Sometimes it is.

A passion to farm with a healthy dose of determination to do the required work will help set you on the path to success.

Still wanting to take the plunge?

Do Your Homework

Pridmore says that while a degree in agriculture may be helpful, it’s not an absolute must.  What seems to be most valuable is being open to new ideas and learning from others, both what works and what doesn’t. He says that among the most successful small farmers in the state today are those who apprenticed with other farmers to learn important lessons before taking the leap to their own operations.

Apprenticeships or even farm employment on someone else’s farm come with hands-on learning that can be implemented in your own operation. How do you find such opportunities? Network!

North Carolina is home to several organizations that are quite supportive of farmers and a good way to learn what others in the industry are doing. “Consider your interests,” advises Pridmore, “and look to a local organization to help you find established farmers you can talk with to learn more about their operations and whether you might work with them in some way.”

Expand Your Knowledge Base:

§  North Carolina Cooperative Extension has offices in every county of the state and links farmers with the latest research at N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University. Extension offers workshops, field trips and other trainings.

§  Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) is all about helping local farms thrive. ASAP covers a large region in the western part of the state and hosts workshops and an annual Business of Farming Conference.

§  Carolina Farm Stewardship Association advocates for fair farm and food policies, building systems to help farms thrive. They host a Sustainable Agriculture Conference and an Organic Commodities & Livestock Conference each year.

§  Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) has established itself as a premiere center for research, extension and education in sustainable agriculture and community-based food systems. It hosts numerous learning opportunities.

§  N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services hosts field days at research stations across the state, often in cooperation with N.C. State University. Most are free and open to the public. They provide a wealth of research-based information for farmers.

A plentiful harvest of resources is available. Our next post will explore how to build a network and the types of expertise you’ll need in your corner as you embark on your farming business. 

Written By: Leah Chester-Davis in conjunction with Mitchel Pridmore

Mitchel Pridmore has worked with Carolina Farm Credit for over 10 years. He has a passion for serving agriculture and helping people achieve their goals. He works out of the Hendersonville office covering the Henderson and Transylvania Counties. Mitchel and his wife Megan have two young boys and they enjoy being outside hiking, running and traveling. Mitchel considers himself a food which is why running is on his list of hobbies!