Family Friendly Farming: A Multigenerational Home-Based Business Treatment – A Book Review

In Book Reviews, Joel Salatin by James2 Comments

After reading Joel Salatin’s You Can Farm book I tried out Family Friendly Farming. In many ways it proved to be even more inspirational than You Can Farm. It was quite liberating and encouraging to discover that I could indeed farm, but nobody wants to farm alone. Up-heaving the image of the old lonely farmer whose children have left him and his only companions are a cranky wife and an old cow was quite important for me to buy into the idea of being a farmer. What “Family Friendly Farming” does more than anything it shows how farming is a lifestyle, not a job, and it can and should be shared with family and friends, and if done correctly can turn into a multi-generational venture.

It is no secret that the modern family is not much of a family when compared to families of only half a century ago. Today’s modern family has both parents working Monday through Friday, nine to five. The children if of age spend their days in public school, and if not yet old enough spend their most vulnerable years away from mom and dad at a daycare center. The only time family is together is when they’re tired and far from their best. It’s rush to wake up, get ready for school and work. That’s not quality time. In the evening it’s rush to make dinner, do your homework, clean up, and off to bed. That’s not quality time either. Growing up my sister and I were both lucky enough to have our mother stay home and take care of us in our early years, while my father worked a full time job. My mother did later take a job as two growing children will break the bank of any middle income family, but having her home in those early years I’m sure benefited us in more ways than we realize. The science on this is actually pretty clear, along with the sociology statistics.

When it comes to parenting every generation gets better. We as a civilization are evolving. For proof of this just take a look at Lloyd Demause’s book The Origins of War in Child Abuse. Today’s parents have virtually all the information they need to raise a well adjusted, healthy, and happy child. There really is no more valid excuses. When you’re living in the information age, where everything you could and should know is a click away not knowing becomes less and less of a valid excuse. It’s called willful ignorance, and it’s nothing to be celebrated.

So how am I tying this into Family Friendly Farming ? Well the family farm when approached the right way will provide one of the most family friendly living environments imaginable. Mom and dad are home all day, every day. The children alike are home as well. The topic of homeschooling is actually a viable discussion in this environment. Knowing what I know from my years as a student and a teacher in the public school system I couldn’t think of a greater gift to give my own children than to have the option to be home schooled. The modern family with both parents at work all day can’t even consider this option. And it’s the separation that ultimately divides the family. This family divide is where the gang culture sprang out of. Humans are designed to live in groups. Our DNA yearns for this connectedness with other humans. And we will adapt to our environment. Sadly the adaptations most make turn out to be more of a mutation in the form of gangs and other destructive relationships. As a result unhealthy dependent relationships are formed, rather than healthy interdependent loving ones.

Mr. Salatin opens up Chapter one by pointing out this culture change:

“When we look at the historical norm spanning human history, we see distinct groups of people with cultural and familial identity practicing trades multi-generationally. Non-industrialized cultures today still exhibit these characteristics:
1. Tight-knit family groups
2. Small business
3. Multi-generational business, trade or land control
4. Elderly usefulness, reverence and care

An anthropologist would probably have a longer list, but this is enough to get the picture. The industrial revolution and its offspring, the World Wide Web and globalization, fundamentally changed the loyalties, size and makeup of human identity. Perhaps the word identity is too strong, but what I’m getting at is that the daily fundamentals of life on which people put their attention are radically different. Consider a short list:
1. Geographically distant families
2. Multi-generational corporations and the global economy
3. Job-jumping and vocational short-timing
4. Elderly obsolescence, retirement, and disrespect

If you look at both lists, you’ll see that a fundamental cultural change has taken place. It has happened a little bit at a time, like the frog in the slowly heating water, but looking back we can see a definite shift.”

Personally I think the first list looks a lot healthier and sustainable.

Let’s take a closer look at what this book has to offer.

Section One. Perspective:

subsections include – (My Vision, Growing up on Our Farm, Money: Cultivating a Proper View, Goal Setting, Appropriate Size: Growth has a Down Side, Making the Break from Outside Employment, and Restoring Community)

Section Two. 10 Commandments for Making the Kids Love the Farm:
subsections include – (Integration into Every Aspect, Love to Work, Give Freedom, Create Investment Opportunities, Encourage Separate Child Business, Maintain Humor, Pay the Children, Praise x 3, Enjoy your Vocation, and Back Off from Personal Domains)

Section Three. Romancing the Next Generation:
subsections include – (Pleasant Farms: Aesthetic and Aromatic, Creating Safe Models, Multiple Use Infrastructure, Complementary Enterprises, and Creating a Sense of Plenty)

Section Four. Family Development:
subsections include – (Greenhouse Kids, Socialization: No Hermits Here, Baggage: Dealing With It, Noble Literature, Balancing Stimuli: You Can’t Do Everything, Family Council, 10 Deadly Destructive Deeds, and Nutrition and Lifestyle)

Section Five. A Sacred Work:
subsections include – (Industry vs. Biology, Developing a Sense of Ministry, and Business Charity)

Section Six. Multi-Generational Transfer:
subsections include – (Retirement: An Alternative View, inheritance: Performance Distribution, and But We Don’t Have children)

Final Thoughts of a Wanna Be Farmer

This book covers all the angles on what a family farm is and can offer. I wish I could go into all the details to why this book hit the mark so accurately, but I’d end up writing another book in the process. The biggest thing I got from this book was the knowledge and understanding of what a family farm can be – the fruit of a properly ran family farm if you will. When I considered exploring the idea of farming I knew this meant I’d be exploring more than a job opportunity, rather I’d be exploring a lifestyle opportunity. Thankfully after reading this book it became quite clear that the family farm can be the very environment I’d hoped it could be. A place where you not only cultivate healthy food, but cultivate healthy relationships. This is a big selling point for me, and I suggest anyone who’s thinking about farming or thinking about starting a family business to give this book a read.

I’d like to end this post with an inspiring passage from the author. This can be found in the book’s summary section:

Most of us choose our own shackles. We choose our own shortcomings. Goodness knows, the shortcoming buffet offers a diversified portfolio. Want a better marriage? Work on it. Want a better relationship with your kids? Work on it. Want a change of lifestyle? Work on it.
The changes might not happen all at once, but the cumulative effect of many things done right will culminate in success. Remember that the opposite of success if not failure, but depression. Successful people fail just as much as unsuccessful; they just get up one more time. And nothing is more empty than being successful at the wrong things.


Buy the book via Amazon by clicking HERE (It’s an affiliate link so I get a little kickback if you buy. Thanks!)



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