Dreaming of the day that you can leave your job to start a farm and create a meaningful life in harmony with nature?
The day where you’ll be able to put your hands in the soil, grow your veggies, and provide them to your community.
A peaceful lifestyle and a simple life worth living.
Is that too far-fetched?
Or is it possible?
Our no dig market garden in France
What if I told you that if you want to start a farm, you should NOT quit your job (just yet).
Tell me if this sounds familiar to you…
He works an ordinary job that provides for him and his family. It pays their bills, they have food on the table and their kids go to school.
But John isn’t happy with his job. It’s not that he hates it, but it doesn’t give him much fulfillment. A purpose.
And he has a dream of being closer to nature. To reconnect and to live a simple life. A complete different lifestyle.
He wants to become a farmer.
So John does what many people do and he goes online. He wants to know if it’s possible, and if so, how he can achieve this.
He reads blog post after blog post. Watches video after video and buys a bunch of different books on the subject, only to be left with more questions than answers.
“It seems like every farmer is using a different method.”
Some tell you to buy 100 tools, others tell you to only use a handful.
Some tell you to till, others tell you not to till.
But John doesn’t have any experience, so he doesn’t know who to listen to.
He is confused.
He wonders whether he will be able to actually make it, or it’s simply a stupid dream that he shouldn’t pay attention to.
“What if I start and I fail?”
“What if I leave my job and I won’t be able to continue to provide for my family?”
John decides to leave it at that and doesn’t make the jump.
“Maybe one day”, he tells himself.
And like John there are many people experiencing the same thing.
They want to get into farming, they dream about it, but they don’t take action and move forward.
Because “what if…?”.
But imagine, that instead of not taking action, or even worse, quitting your job and going all-in only to realize that you’re not going to make it…
What if we did it differently?
What if instead we constructed a winning plan based on the assumption that you don’t have to immediately make a living of the farm in year 1.
Not even in year 2.
Most people getting into farming don’t start making a living until year 3!
That’s a totally different approach right?
In other words, let’s develop a plan that allows you to fail, that allows you to make mistakes, AND STILL allows you to pursue and realize your dreams.
Doesn't that make a lot more sense?
Why this mentality of “it’s all or nothing?”.
Why betting on one big decision that’s either going to make it or brake it.
Because you’ve seen others do it?
This is real life. This is not a casino.
Going into farming is not a bet you want to risk your life on.
In the real world, we want to develop a plan-of-approach that allows you to learn.
That allows you not to be dependent on your farm income from day 1.
It allows you to experiment and gain confidence, skills, and important know-how that will allow you to do it full time.
In one word: Transition.
You can transition from your job, reconnect to nature and start a thriving market garden.
And you can even do it with less work inputs, fewer tools and more profits with the right strategy and methods (we’ll cover those later on...).
Sounds too good to be true? Yes, it probably does...
And in many ways, it doesn't paint the full picture.
Farming is hard.
Making a consistent living out of it is even harder.
And if you think there are any shortcuts, then you're in the wrong place.
Farming is not for the faint of heart.
But if you consider making that transition from your current job, and you consider starting a small-scale market garden, then read on.
We often get lured in believing that it's all rainbows and sunshine (though they are a part of it – sometimes!).
We read about the lifestyle. About the ability to reconnect to nature. Simply putting our hands in the soil, eating the veggies we produce and making a living off the land by providing our local community with the crops we produce.
Sounds like a good deal right?
But the reality shows that many farmers simply don’t make it.
Whether it’s due to a lack of experience, lack of mentorship, lack of funds, whatever…
Too many aspiring farmers get into farming and approach it with the wrong mindset. Following the wrong approach, making it much harder on themselves…
The reality is, we all have to start from somewhere.
And most of us dream of farming whilst working some kind of a job.
You might work the traditional 9 to 5, a corporate job, or a side job.
It pays the bills, but you’re not happy.
I was in that situation once.
I felt stuck. Unsatisfied. Working the same job, day in, day out. It’s what made me decide to eventually quit my job and travel to the other side of the world.
You might feel the same way. Maybe not necessarily the need to travel to the other side of the world, but in need of a change.
A change of scenery. A change of lifestyle.
The main problem is, it’s difficult to realize such a shift.
It’s difficult to leave your comfort zone and securities behind. It’s difficult to leave your job behind that you and your family might depend upon.
When my wife and I came to the conclusion that it was time for us to start our own farm, we were scared.
Worried and nervous.
Leaving the security behind of getting a monthly paycheck required a big mental shift.
We were left to fend for our own. With no one and nothing to turn to if things would go wrong.
“What if this fails?”, we asked ourselves.
The fear of not having the ability, skills and know-how required to manage all the moving parts of the farm was real.
But our desire for a sense of purpose and a simpler life in harmony with nature was enough to push us through these times.
We knew what we wanted: a fulfilling and simple life.
And we were willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to achieve it.
But hard work alone is not enough.
You can work as hard as you want, but if you work on the wrong things you’re going to experience an even harder time.
But what if we can put the entire approach upside down and take all the time we need to create this new lifestyle?
It doesn’t only allow us to make mistakes and give room to learn, but we can also experience whether this is actually the lifestyle we really want, without having to depend on it financially.
Just because you like to grow some vegetables in your garden, doesn’t mean you’ll like to grow hundreds of them rotation after rotation.
What if instead of burning the boats, we take our time and move closer to our goal every day.
We start our farm, on the side, and work in our own tempo.
We start to grow a bunch of different crops.
We start to spread the word.
We start to grow a tiny customer base and sell some of our first produce.
We experiment. Some things work out, others don’t.
People start to talk to each other, referring new customers to your farm.
You’ll have to increase your production to cater to those new customers that want to become a part of your world. Your farm.
You build up connections, you gain more confidence, you start to understand how this can work out for you.
You get validation and feedback from your customers telling you what they like and want more of.
And before you know it, you need to scale down the working hours of your job so you can spend more time working on the farm.
And you continue this process until you can comfortably say: “I can support myself (and my family) with the income from the farm”.
Until that moment arrives, you keep working at it every day.
I share this with you because I know it is possible for you to start your journey.
Unfortunately, somehow we believe that it’s an “all or nothing” decision.
We either jump right in or we don’t even try.
And that’s a huge misconception and potential mistake that can cripple you in your journey to obtain this beautiful lifestyle.
“Because why even try if we can’t get it done immediately?”
That’s the wrong mindset.
Starting a farm is a journey
You don’t just wake up a full time farmer one day.
It’s the hundreds of decisions and steps you’ve taken that lead you to become a farmer.
It’s the ups and downs and the trial and error that will make you a farmer.
A farmer that is able to fend for his family and himself (or herself!).
Why, instead of making it hard on ourselves, we embrace the fact that it takes time.
Why not make it easier on ourselves and start it as a ‘side hustle’?
This way we can work on our dream, step by step, before diving in.
In fact, I can share with you three important reasons why you should consider starting a farm on the side.
Reason 1 – Loss of income
I often get emails from people, telling me that they would love to start farming, but they’re just too afraid of getting started.
They’re too afraid of it failing and not having enough income to support themselves and their family.
And this is a valid concern.
If you have little to no experience with either running a business or growing crops on a commercial level, you’ll have a steep learning curve ahead of you.
Farming is not something to take lightly.
But, rather than thinking of it in a way where you should quit your job immediately, if you start your farm on the side you’ll be in the comfort knowing that you continue to earn your salary from your job.
At the same time whilst you’re doing your regular work, you can then slowly, but steadily, get your farm started.
Start doing some research.
Start creating a couple of beds.
Start growing some stuff and start selling them.
Starting small like this, will not only allow you to get started, it will also allow you to not lose any income you currently may have.
And on the positive side of that, you will be able to take the first steps forward to realizing your dream, without having to depend on it financially.
So if you’re currently working a 9 to 5 job and you’re the breadwinner of the family, I highly recommend you keep that job, and start small on the side, so that you don’t have to be in fear of any loss of income.
Reason 2 – Limited experience
Same goes for experience.
Which is the second reason why you should start a farm on the side.
Chances are that you have very little to no experience with farming.
You don’t necessarily come from a background of agriculture and you haven’t followed a formal education on the subject.
Having no experience and limited knowledge about farming is a valid reason to be concerned if you consider starting a farm.
But just as is the case with the previous reason, if you start your farm on the side you have nothing to be afraid of.
You can experiment until the cows come home and test and try a bunch of different things.
This is going to give you the needed experience, but more importantly, the confidence that you can actually pull it off once you’ve gained a certain level of expertise and feedback from your trials.
If you’ve never grown anything before, start growing something.
If you’ve never asked people if they would be interested in some of your veggies, just ask them.
Worst thing you can do is not get started at all and look back at a later age with regrets that you didn’t even give it a try.
Keep things simple.
Grow a couple of things.
Consume them yourself, ask if others are interested and get the ball rolling from there.
Experience can only be gained through practice.
Reason 3 – You can start on a smaller budget
The third reason why you should consider starting your farm on the side, is the fact that you don’t have to invest a large sum of money into the required tools, infrastructure and setup.
And that’s something a lot of people seem to struggle with as well.
You might be in the same situation.
You simply struggle to get the funds or can’t get the required funds to get everything you need to start a full blown farm.
But if you start your farm on the side, you don’t need the same amount of initial investment as someone that will do it full time.
Think of it like this.
If you go all in, you’re required to make a substantial amount of revenue to support you.
That means automatically that you need quite some growing beds to support this.
With each growing bed your upfront costs will increase.
You’ll need more compost, more seeds, more fleeces, insect netting, irrigation, harvest crates, cooling space, and a whole bunch of other things.
Whereas if you simply start small on the side, you can do it with a lot less.
Imagine starting with only a fraction of what you would need if you’d do it full time.
It allows you to get started with just some of the basic things you’ll need, and allows you to grow overtime.
Like this you can invest a little bit, make some money, reinvest it, make some more money, and continue like this.
Starting your farm on the side is THE way to go if you’re afraid of loss of income, if you have limited time, if you have limited experience, and if you’re on a tight budget.
But those are not the only reasons why transitioning is the key to starting your journey into farming.
We now know that this approach is able to give us the needed time and flexibility to start experimenting before deciding to go all-in.
We know that following this method you are allowed to make mistakes and allowed to learn on your own pace.
But when you decide to make the move, there are 5 commonly made mistakes by new farmers that can ruin your farm dreams.
5 additional reasons why, if you want to start a farm, you should consider transitioning into it and start it on the side.
And that we'll cover in more depth in Part 2.