One thing that is not helpful is a ‘them and us’ attitude between farmers and vegans. Of course, many farmers grow vegetables and others are gradually letting animals graze out their lives to become farms to grow oats for milk instead. Also, most people do still eat animal products. So even if you don’t agree with this, offering and finding help for farmers who do use animals ensures more free-range over factory farms, and also brings financial help to farmers, who can then use profits for better welfare and medicine etc. So here are resources to help.
Financial Help for Small Farmers
Here are places to find financial help for small farmers. Many farmers live on very small incomes, and so finding help can not only help yourself and your family, but means you can also help your animals via free feed and help with housing and welfare.
- If you can’t afford to certify with Soil Association, it costs just £30 a year to do so through Wholesome Food Association (run on a trust basis, with occasional audits).
- Also try Community Supported Agriculture (locals pay in advance so you can get on with farming – they get ‘shares’ as food).
Charities That Help Small Farmers
- Farming Help, Farmwell & Farming Community Network all offer free helplines.
- Addington Fund is another charity, which also can find cheap rent, and gives free feed if necessary (as does Forage Aid).
- Royal Agriculture Benevolent Fund and Prince’s Countryside Fund both offer grants.
- WWOOF gives food and housing to temporary volunteers from around the world. Just give them room and board and some free food, and they will do a lot of the work for you.
Books for Small-Scale Organic Farmers
These books for small-scale organic farmers are ideal, if you want to earn an income, using organic no-dig techniques, but have little money. Rather than go big – stay small and reap the benefits of feeding your community.
Find heaps of info on no-dig gardening (earthworm-friendly) at Charles Dowding. See make your garden safe for pets, for toxic plants/mulches to avoid. Use humane slug/snail solutions like Grazers (a nontoxic spray) or Molluskit (invented by a garage tinkerer).
- The Lean Farm and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables are both by a man who (with his wife in the USA) makes a good profit from their local small organic vegetable farm. His methods are gleaned from production methods in the Japanese car industry, which give good yield and profit.
- Gardening For Profit is a book that not just shows how to grow your own produce, but also has to sell it. UK-written, all information is relevant from crops to tools to doing your books.
- The No-Till Vegetable Farm is a method of growing crops without disturbing the soil. This is a worm-friendly way of growing food that is also easier and produces good soil, so that and worms do most of the work for you. Also read No-Till Intensive Vegetable Culture by veteran organic grower Bryan O’Hara and The Living Soil Handbook (by a Kentucky farmer).
- Compact Farms includes 15 plans for small-scale farmers. This illustrated guide shows how to have a profitable farm on 5 acres or less, using an area’s water supply, orientation and geography. Suitable for both urban and rural settings, these real-life plans can equip you with all you need, to turn your hobby into a career.
- Agritourism has ideas to diversify income by renting holiday lets through Farmstay. Ensure your farm is free from toxic plants (above) and other hazards (some may wish to not accept pets, if they have livestock). Some farmers make more money this way, and keep their animals alive instead, for children to get to know and learn about barnyard friends.