Farming can be a fulfilling career, and we do indeed need more farmers here in Maine, but the truth is that it isn’t for everyone. Whenever someone tells me they think they would be a good farmer I usually have the following conversation:
Well, how would you like to be your own boss?
I would LOVE it. I am sick of working for the man!
Do you often daydream of green rolling fields and holding baby goats while spring sunshine dapples your barn?
Yeah, that sounds nice. I will name the cutest one Gertrude.
Ever find yourself humming the “Green Acres” theme song to yourself while plugging away at your desk job?
I mean who hasn’t?
How familiar are you with the Maine state laws dealing with air and water pollution, pesticide control, wetlands regulations and the “Right to Farm Law”?
Wait. I don’t want to be a lawyer I want to be a farmer. Tell me how to do THAT.
Do you think you would you be able to handle the emotional repercussions and not to mention the financial burden of telling your family that a disease killed all those cute baby goats from question 2? (Therapy and a brand new herd are pricey)
GERTRUDE DIES!?! *sobbing*
Luckily the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has a much more detailed self-assessment for the farm-curious that won’t make you cry (probably). I spoke with former County kid and present day Sustainable Agriculture Professional, Jason Lilly about the questionnaire and his work at the Extension. “This survey walks people through some of the most relevant questions when thinking about starting a farm operation. At the end of the survey, there is an option to be contacted by your county Extension person to set up a one-on-one consultation. I do these sit-down meetings and try to be as honest with people as possible about what I think is best for their situation. Then I connect them with the right resources to achieve their goals.”
One of those resources is a four part course taking place in Scarbourgh entitled “So you want to farm in Maine?” Put on by the Extension, the course is designed for current farmers and those who are wanting to start a farm. The goal of the course is to provide folks with knowledge and basic skills to “start, adapt and maintain a profitable land-based business.” The course is Thursday evenings and there are still spots to sign up if you want to enroll!
From my understanding, there will be more courses like this offered throughout the state, but if you are seriously interested in farming don’t hesitate to reach out to your friendly Cooperative Extension branch. If you are a new farmer, hoping to farm, or need to up your farming game, they will be able to direct you to your dreams in a very real world way.
PS) I am sorry about Gertrude
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