How should a farmer retire?
As farmers get older, they start thinking about what is going to happen to
the living farms they have worked a good part of their lives to create after they are gone. Historically,
many farmers passed their farms on to their offspring, but today many farm-raised
children want nothing to do with the farming life. This leaves many working farms without a traditional path
of succession, without a discernable future as a farm. Some farmers sell their farm to developers who
break it up into house lots, and the land moves out of farming permanently. This
provides those farmers with money for retirement, but at the cost of liquidating a life's
work. In the bargain, the community loses precious farmland.
At the same time many younger people unrelated to farmers would like to become farmers
themselves, but the lack of know-how and/or the capital necessary for starting a farm.
This plan attempts to address these two dilemmas simultaneously by allowing a
farmer to transition out of full time farming at their own pace while keeping the farm
intact, and by suggesting routes into farming for younger people eager to farm. It is
targeted at the small vegetable farmer, because that is who we are.
Young people are assumed to be those under 40. Any farmers over 50 ought to be
thinking about retirement, since implementing a transition plan may easily take up to a decade.
Beginning the process during the last year or two of active farming is courting trouble
with both finding the right person and transitioning properly.
Farming is a way of life, an agrarian culture, a style of living which few of our
increasingly urban society can imagine or appreciate. The astute farmer sees that preserving their
own farm into the future is also preserving farming as a cultural activity.