Lifestyle farming refers to farming pursued primarily for personal enjoyment, leisure, and as a lifestyle choice. It’s not for substantial profit or massive production. Individuals or families who want to connect with nature, enjoy the outdoors, and live more self-sufficient practice this farming.
Lifestyle farmers typically have smaller plots of land compared to commercial farmers. Their common activities include gardening, raising livestock (like chickens, goats, or pigs), cultivating fruits and vegetables, beekeeping, and more. Their operations are manageable by a small number of people without requiring extensive mechanization or intensive labor.
Black families can get numerous benefits from lifestyle farming. Here are four interesting things black families need to know about lifestyle farming.
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History of Lifestyle Farming in the United States
Farming, as we know, is popular in rural areas. However, this idea has changed. Today, farming is done as a hobby by urban people. Although it was seen as an activity for the rich-working-bankers, this practice is exercised by all.
In 2007, more than 40% of farms earned less than $2,500. Out of these numbers, 10% had farmed in land less than 5 acres of land. More than half of primary farm operators reported their main source of income was a job outside their farm.
Benefits of Lifestyle Farming
Without a doubt, lifestyle farming has massive benefits for the black people practicing it. Some of them include;
Gives a Sense of Purpose
Black families’ contributions through growing fresh food offer them a sense of pride and purpose. Their small practices make a huge difference in the world.
Children work together with their parents to achieve these farming objectives. This opportunity offers moments of bonding that positively impact parenting and give the children a sense of purpose.
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Teaches Self-Reliance and Patience
When black families grow their food, they gain greater control over the food supply. This reduces reliance on external sources and supports self-sufficiency. Similarly, fixing equipment and caring for plants until harvested teaches self-reliance and patience.
Maintains Healthy Food Consumption
Growing fresh, organic produce at home encourages healthier eating habits. Similarly, it contributes to improved nutrition and well-being for family members. Remember, connecting to nature is also therapeutic and contributes to a person’s well-being.
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Offers Financial Security
You could practice lifestyle farming as a part-time activity. By engaging in this, your family can cut their groceries bill. Besides, if they harvest in plenty, they can sell or share with others in their community.
Offers Entrepreneurship and Skill-Building Opportunities
Lifestyle farming provides hands-on learning experiences for children and adults. For instance, it can teach you valuable skills such as gardening, animal husbandry, and resource management.
At times, a family may have surplus produce. Farming is a learning opportunity, so your kids can learn how to add value to the products and later sell them in their locality.
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Challenges of Lifestyle Farming
Limited Financial Resources
For a family with limited financial resources accessing the necessities such as seeds can be challenging. Similarly, equipment, tools, and infrastructure are capital-intensive.
Lack of Education and Training
Lack of prior knowledge of farming practices hinders many black families from engaging in lifestyle farming. Besides, most areas have no access to extensional services and agricultural education.
To bridge this gap, The National Black Farmers Association offers education, advocacy, and support to black farmers. Also, the Black Urban Growers Collective offers resources and support to black urban farmers. Lastly, the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Ranches Development Program offers financial support and training to beginning farmers.
Limited Access to Land
Historically, there have been disparities in accessing land for black people. For a black family, securing land for lifestyle farming is a huge challenge. The rising cost of property coupled with urbanization cripples such endeavors.
Urban and Suburban Regulations
To practice farming, there are several permits, regulations, and certifications needed. Navigating them can be time-consuming and a bit complex. Similarly, zoning regulations and homeowners’ association rules in urban and suburban areas can limit the farming activities allowed in an area.
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Crops Grown by Lifestyle Farmers
Lifestyle farmers usually focus on growing crops that meet their consumption needs, align with their cultural preferences, and do well in their local climate.
Here are some common crops lifestyle farmers often prefer growing:
Vegetables and Greens
Vegetables provide a diverse range of nutrients and flavors. Common choices include tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots, onions, and cucumbers. Similarly, leafy greens like Swiss chard, collard, and mustard greens are easy to grow and provide a consistent fresh produce supply.
Fruits and Berries
Although fruits require more space and care, smaller fruits like berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and dwarf fruit trees (dwarf apples, pear, cherry trees) are popular choices. Fruits and berries offer delicious flavor and versatility in cooking and baking.
Other plants grown in lifestyle farming include:
- Brussel Sprouts
Lifestyle farming focuses not on maximizing agricultural output or generating significant income but rather on the experience of being directly involved in food production and rural activities. It’s driven by the desire for a closer connection to the land. While it may not always generate substantial profits, it contributes significantly to a more sustainable and fulfilling lifestyle for those pursuing it.
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