The Journey Begins (About Me)

In About Me by James15 Comments

I’m a wannabe farmer

This means I want to be a “real” farmer, so I’ve created this website to chart my progress and success or failure to realize this dream, and hopefully inspire others who share my dream or are interested in small farming and local food. It’s January 11th, 2013 as I type these words. As of now my experience in farming is zero. I’ve never stepped foot onto a farm, nor have I ever thought about actually farming – that is until recently. Currently I earn my bread working as a public middle school teacher in Seoul, South Korea. I’m an American, living abroad, teaching English. I’ve been here for four years now, and I’ve come to the realization that teaching is not for me. I’ve come to this realization after teaching for the past nine years. Many things led me to this point, but one of the biggest eye openers was reading the works of John Taylor Gatto. His work details a history that should be known and understood by everyone, because it is our history, as he would say – it’s our birthright. (I’m talking about the history of public education if you’re still confused)

 

How did I become interested in the idea of farming?

It started when I began to think about what I was eating. I wanted to “eat healthy” and the more I learned about what exactly is “healthy food” the more interested I became in finding out where this mysterious food came from, and how I could get closer to it. As I began changing my diet to incorporate more of these nutrient dense foods I was learning about, sadly I discovered how hard it is to acquire them at times, and the price tag that accompanied them when I was able to find them was equally discouraging. After a year and half of trying my best to find and eat these foods I came to the realization that the easiest way to eat them consistently would be to grow them myself. But I live in a small studio apartment in the heart of one of the heaviest populated cities in the world. Growing vegetables much less grass fed protein is not a viable option.

So what can I do?

I must own a farm! Yes! Of course. But farms cost millions of dollars and I’m not a millionaire. The idea of growing all of my own food seemed further and further away the more I thought about it. I knew I could get cheap land somewhere in a third world country and grow my own food but surely I couldn’t make a living off it. And a farmer’s life is hard. They work all day and into the night. They never have a day off. There is no word for “vacation” in the farmer’s vocabulary. Who would want that kind of life?

Assumptions

I decided to put all my assumptions aside and actually do some research. I started by reading “You Can Farm: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise” by Joel Salatin. This changed everything. This was a true paradigm shift in my understanding of what farming is and could be for me. I followed this book with “Family Friendly Farming” and “Everything I Want to Do is Illegal” by the same author, Joel Salatin. I also read the classic farming book “The Farming Ladder” by George Henderson. All of my assumptions have been proven false, and I realize that not only can I grow all of my own food, but I can make a living doing it, and share my healthy harvest with others.

What’s the plan?

How can I make this dream a reality? I don’t really know. This website is going to chart this process of turning dream into reality – I hope. Right now I’ve only touched the water with my toes to feel the temperature. It seems inviting enough, now I have to jump in and try my best to swim the rough seas. And despite the choppy surf there is an entire ocean of possibilities ahead as the saying goes. There is sure to be gains and losses. Joy and pain. But that’s the game, and it goes with most meaningful ventures in life. As of now I’m looking at a two year plan before I try to get an apprenticeship working on a small farm. I will read about growing food and animal husbandry and all that encompasses them. I will learn about the types of farming models I am interested in, particularly sustainable, clean, and abundant models like the Permaculture model. I will expose myself to actual farms. I will save as much money as I can to generate a nest egg to start my own business. These are the images I have in my mind. This is my plan. It’s early and the plan is sure to change and undergo modifications. But it’s a starting point. Every dream has a starting point. This is mine.

How can I make this dream a reality?

I don’t really know. This website is going to chart this process of turning dream into reality – I hope. Right now I’ve only touched the water with my toes to feel the temperature. It seems inviting enough, now I have to jump in and try my best to swim the rough seas. And despite the choppy surf there is an entire ocean of possibilities ahead as the saying goes. There is sure to be gains and losses. Joy and pain. But that’s the game, and it goes with most meaningful ventures in life. As of now I’m looking at a two year plan before I try to get an apprenticeship working on a small farm. I will read about growing food and animal husbandry and all that encompasses them. I will learn about the types of farming models I am interested in, particularly sustainable, clean, and abundant models like the Permaculture model. I will expose myself to actual farms. I will save as much money as I can to generate a nest egg to start my own business. These are the images I have in my mind. This is my plan. It’s early and the plan is sure to change and undergo modifications. But it’s a starting point. Every dream has a starting point. This is mine.

Comments

  1. Dad

    I wish you the best in pursuing your dreams. Who would every thought I be a forest ranger from NY.

    1. Author
      admin

      Thank you dad. Your story has always been one of the great inspirations for me.

  2. Forrest Pritchard

    Wishing you luck, and saying ‘thank you’ for sharing the blogs! You are definitely on the right track with self-educating, keep up the good work. It’s what all of us do, even folks who have been farming for decades :^)

    Please come visit our farm when you’re back in the States.

    1. Author
      James

      Thanks so much Forrest. It means a lot hearing that from a farmer like yourself. And you’re welcome too! I’ll keep sharing your great blogs as long as you keep writing them. I’m also looking forward to reading your book in the Spring. I’d love to come see your farm as well when I return to the states. Thank you for the invite. Until then happy farming Forrest. Be well.

  3. Addye Thole

    I’m looking forward to one day taking a tour on your farm & seeing you experience the joy & peace & satisfaction that I have no doubt it will bring you!!!
    May your journey be one hope, awareness, hard work & never ending possibilities come true!!!! Mom

  4. dolbom

    hello 🙂
    친구를통해 iwannafarm을 알게되서 잠시들러봤어요 영어를잘못해서 한국말로써요ㅠㅜ미안; 난 seoul에살고 채소와 과일,자연을 좋아해요 요즘한국에도 젊은농부들이많아지고있어요 꼭 꿈을 이루길바래요^^

  5. Author
    James

    Thanks for your comment dolbom! (I had to use google translate, but I think I figured it out.. 🙂

  6. Ellen

    Love the site. Any suggestions for how an older farmer can find a younger partner?

    1. Author
      James

      Thanks Ellen!
      I’m kind of new to this, but I’m guessing putting out an advertisement that you’re looking for an intern or apprentice would be a great start. That way you’ll have 6 months or a year to see if your apprentice is a good fit for you or the older farmer and then you could go from there. Are you in fact the older farmer you speak of, and if so can I ask what it is you farm?
      Thanks for the comment!

      1. Ellen

        I currently farm 170 hilly acres in SE Ohio. I am a Slatin-esque farmer raising organic grassfed Angus cattle and sheep. I wanted to farm all my life. By the time I got the cash together to get here, I find I am too old to the land justice and there are many more projects which could be done by a younger, stronger parter, so I am searching for the next generation to come and help.

        Younger, stronger, wannabe Farmers, you are being paged!

        Ellen
        (740)343-3255

        1. Author
          James

          Thanks Ellen!
          Sounds like you have a great place. If I were in your neighborhood I’d definitely stop by. Do you have a website by any chance? I’d love to see some pics of your place. 🙂

  7. Peter Chung

    Hi James, I met you this past Aug 2014 weekend at the slow food camp near Seoul, Korea. It was such a pleasure ‘chewing the cud’ with you. Let’s stay connected as I would also like to dip a toe into that proverbial pond.

  8. Author
    James

    Hi Peter, thanks for dropping by the website. Yes, this past weekend was a great time. Nice to have met you. Definitely keep in touch!

  9. Pingback: Thoughts of a Wannabe Farmer – Four Years Later | I Wanna Farm

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