You Can Farm: The Entrepeneur’s Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise – A Book Review

In Book Reviews, Joel Salatin by James9 Comments

As I mentioned in my introduction this is the book that has inspired me most to make my decision to begin my farming journey.  I have to admit I was a little afraid of this book. It might sound strange, but I knew before I read it what possibilities awaited. It was sure to destroy many negative assumptions I had about the possibility of farming, and would also clear out any unrealistic fantasies of a farmer’s utopia.  The truth is dangerous, and scary, but more than anything it’s liberating.

What did I find so liberating about this book? 

Learning the fact that anybody can farm and make a decent living doing it. What I didn’t understand before I read the book was that the farming model is what’s important when asking yourself the question – “Can I farm?” When most people think about farming they think about the industrial model. Cattle lots. Chicken houses. Hundreds of acres of corn (genetically modified) as far as the eye can see. The images that accompany these models are smelly farms, polluting farms, and farms of poverty that can only operate with government assistance. The farmer is old (it’s true the average U.S. farmer is over 60 now) and his children have left the farm in pursuit of a “better life.” This is the story we’re all familiar with. But this wasn’t always so. The industrial/mono culture model of farming is fairly new when we consider the thousands of years man has worked with land and animal to produce a harvest. Technology has allowed humans to produce more for less which has spurred the world population and standard of living. And with this industrial boom great economic wealth has been generated. And as economies grew so did governments who reaped the reward of increased wealth in the form of tax collection and payments for making favorable regulation for booming industry. History has shown quite clearly every time economic freedoms are granted to people great economic wealth ensues, and with it government and its bureaucracies grow and increase their power and influence riding the back of economic freedom. We are seeing this today with China and India. The markets have opened up as government has eased regulations. But the dark side of this game results in industries working side by side with government to create protective regulations. Regulations that sound good in a newspaper headline, after a close examination, more often than not are shown to hurt small business people and entrepreneurs, who would otherwise be known in a truly free market as “competition.” As a result farming and industry becomes centralized, competition is severely handicapped, and consumers have fewer choices. And the choices they’re left with are hardly worth celebrating: Antibiotic, hormone injected chicken and beef that’s 20% water weight, and a meat that was fed fecal matter as a part of its regular diet. Sound delicious?
In reality this new Frankenstein model of the farm is really dead and unsustainable just like the monster. Just consider the fact that most of these farms cannot survive without government assistance, and many of these farmers must take a second job in town just to pay the bills. The model is good for big industry, but bad for the farmer, and bad for the consumer. In addition the value it takes from the land, resources, and economy is equally devastating. Fortunately the small mixed farm is making a comeback. People are again starting to reconnect to their food sources and demanding whole quality nutrient dense food. The idea that I can be apart of this movement, that I can not only grow my own healthy food and supply it to others, but I can help people understand they don’t need to buy their food from Frankenstein, that is liberating.

What’s in the book?

The book is rather comprehensive. It’s broken up into five parts: Envisioning Your Future, Examining Your Ideas, Embarking on Your Adventure, Evolving Your Model, and Establishing your market. For details on each part it’s best for you to read the table of contents. The book spans 440 pages.

What did I take away from this book?

The number one thing I took away from this book was the knowledge that I can farm. It’s not a fantasy idea. It can and should be profitable. You don’t have to be a millionaire or be born onto a farm to be a farmer. You don’t have to work every day of the year, 12 hours a day to be a farmer. Farming is a very viable business opportunity for anybody looking to start their own small business. I encourage anyone who is thinking about farming, or simply wants to learn more about what a farm is and how it operates to read this book.

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


The man himself, Joel Salatin.


  1. Kimon Theodossis

    Thanks for that James. Any ideas if I can find this book in Seoul or is it going to have to be an Amazon job?

    1. Author

      Hi Kimon, thanks for stopping by. 🙂 You can get that book from Amazon or order it through What the Book in Itaewon, but both places are the same price after shipping. I like to go through Amazon and order several books at a time, that way I can save on the bulk shipping. But if you’re just in the market for one book What the Book might be a little faster delivery than Amazon. Shoot me an email if you have more questions.

      1. Kimon Theodossis

        Great, thanks for the info mate it’s already in the post. I love your blog man, it’s saving a shit load of time and energy.

        1. Author

          Hey thanks Kimon! I’m glad it’s helping. That’s part of the reason I started it. Hope it can become a one stop shop for aspiring farmers at some point. Still lots to add though.

          1. Kimon Theodossis

            Hi James,

            How’s it going? So, I’m half way through ‘You Can Farm’ and I’m getting really into it. So far, I really like the sound of the below:

            1. Eggs
            2. Grass-Based Dairy
            3. Market Garden
            4. Small Fruits
            5. Honey and Bee products

            I know there is a small section on laying hens in ‘Pastured Poultry Profits’ which is why I will be ordering it very soon.
            I also really like your book review of ‘Square Foot Gardening (also on the list), but I was wondering whether at any point during your journey you have come across any other literature/resources that focus on any of the above because I couldn’t find anything on your website.

            Any ideas? You’ve already been a flipping goldmine of info!



            PS. Any WWOOFing plans on the horizon?

          2. Author

            Hi Kimon,
            I haven’t been on the website for a bit. I just finished a big book and will post a book review about it in the coming days. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying “You Can Farm.” “Pasture Poultry Profits” is a definite must read if you’re going to have chickens. As far as other books on the other stuff you listed I can’t recall anything, but I’m sure there’s plenty out there on all of those topics. As you’ve probably noticed I’m leaning more towards grass farming with animals, specifically cows, pigs, and chickens. I’ll keep the topics on your list in mind, and when I come across something – which I’m sure I will – I’ll let you know. I ordered Joel Salatin’s latest book about internships and acquiring land. I’m really excited to see what insights he has on that, because having some land to work is pretty essential for any of this stuff. That will be my next book review following the up coming one.
            As for WWOOFING I haven’t done it in a couple weeks. The program we participated in ended, but they have a new one where they travel to different places around Korea for a two day trip. They just did their first one last weekend and it looked like fun. I might sign up for the next one.
            Glad you’re pursing this and enjoying it. Thanks for the message!
            Take Care,

  2. Pingback: The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer – A Book Review | I Wanna Farm

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