Growing Food: FAQ & Useful Links
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m interested in planting a vegetable garden; how do I get started?
A garden offers a great many solutions, practical as well as philosophical, to the whole problem of eating well. To the problem of being able to afford high-quality organic produce the garden offers the most straightforward solution: The food you grow yourself is fresher than any you can buy, and it costs nothing but an hour of two of work each week plus the price of a few packets of seed. The start up cost to a garden depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it—building new raised wooden beds, digging up a bit of lawn or something in between. For resources on gardening, see the link page we have set up “For Gardeners” where you’ll find organic, rare and heirloom seed companies, how-to guides on composting and chicken coop building, and more information on small plot gardening. Don’t fret if you live in an urban area and don’t have the space for a garden; many cities have active, “community gardens” where a group of people farm a plot of land collectively. To learn more about community gardens and to locate one in your area go to the American Community Gardening Association website. There are many good books for beginners; I’ve learned a lot from Barbara Damrosch’s The Garden Primer and, since moving to the west coast, Pam Peirce’s Golden Gate Gardening.
I want to be a farmer; how do I get started?
The best way to learn to farm is to apprentice with a farmer. You’ll quickly learn if you have the intellectual, physical and emotional qualities that farm work requires. There are a couple of ways to go about it. You might consider volunteering with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF provides a list of host farms all over the world where volunteers can help out on organic farms in exchange for room and board. If you want to stay closer to home, find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) near you and see if they offer internships. Most small-scale, sustainable farms do. To find a CSA near you type your zip code into the map provided by Local Harvest. Take a look at the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service which maintains a registry of sustainable farming internships and apprenticeships. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) keeps a list of non-profits and universities that provide training in sustainable agriculture here Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture. Finally, the University of California Santa Cruz offers a six-month apprenticeship in ecological horticulture at the UCSC Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden.
The Stockman Grass Farmer information on livestock grazing.
Seeds of Change organically grown vegetable, flower, herb and cover crop seeds.
Native Seeds/SEARCH diverse varieties of agricultural seeds from the American Southwest and northwest Mexico.
The Garden Coop DIY chicken coop designs.
American Community Gardening Association supporting community gardening across the U.S. and Canada.
Compost Guide a how-to guide for home composting.
The American Botanist Booksellers out-of-print and rare books on agriculture, horticulture and olericulture.
Grassworks information on managed grazing.
SPIN-Farming an easy and inexpensive vegetable farming system.
Bakewell Reproduction Center genetics for grass-fed cattle in North America.
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service maintains a registry of sustainable farming internships and apprenticeships.
Educational and Training Opportunities in Sustainable Agriculture United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) list of non-profits and universities that provide training in sustainable agriculture.
Good Food Jobs a listing of food related job postings.
UC Santa Cruz Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden offers a six month apprenticeship in ecological horticulture.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms or WWOOF provides a list of host farms all over the world where volunteers can help out on organic farms in exchange for room and board.
American Community Gardening Association building community by increasing community gardens.
Beginning Farmers resources for new farmers.
Growing Power, Will Allen’s intensive farm model, based in Milwaukee and now national.
The Greenhorns resources and community for young farmers.
The Maine Organic and Farmers Association offers apprentices on organic farms each growing season