Part time farming

Finding land, working a small plot or anything else countryside related
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Funasshi
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Part time farming

Post by Funasshi » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:43 am

Hi all
So...now I have used 1,5 years of gardening/growing veggies for my own use in a just below 300 sqm plot to learn some lessons and feel more secure in my "farming" abilities.
Now taking care of the garden takes less and less of my time and effort, and I guess it will soon be time for me to move on to the next step and learn more serious farming.
To understand what kind of time and effort I need to commit to, I want to ask those of you who are already farming a big area, or even do so for a living: How much time and frequency do you think will be enough to take care of a plot of a couple of thousand square meters? Will it be enough to work the land full time for a couple of days a week (say weekends) if I don't do everything manually?
Sorry if the question is silly to you but I really don't know what kind of additional tasks/work farming involves, compared to gardening...
Any tips or explanation will help me understand more what I am getting into.

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Re: Part time farming

Post by Shizuman » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:13 pm

Gday mate

sounds awesome!
Im not a production person by any stretch, im doing the same as you are!
Ive been checking out alot of the market gardening people out there and those guys do really well for themselves but put in a fair bit of work by the look of it. I have about 800m2 and that takes most mornings and a day on the weekend currently, but im going bigger soon.
Ive recently picked up a few machines to speed things up. I got a Jang JP1 seeder, a weed burner and im seriously looking at a paperpot transplanter too.

Ive been following curtis stone, richard perkins and JM fortier on youtube.
(i guess youve seen them eh!) if not, interesting stuff.

whats your plan mate? Itd be good to talk and share notes! Im in the process of submitting documents to the city hall and nougyou inkai myself. Lots of grants available around my area.
all the best mate!

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Zasso Nouka
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Re: Part time farming

Post by Zasso Nouka » Wed Oct 31, 2018 7:03 am

Funasshi wrote:Sorry if the question is silly to you but I really don't know what kind of additional tasks/work farming involves, compared to gardening...
It's not a silly question at all. I might have to answer this in several stages as I'm still trying to clarify the answer in my own mind.

Firstly, a lot would depend on the weed load. How much is already there and how much can blow in once you've established the plot, during the summer that's the job that takes most of my time and on our plot a good part of every single day is spent attempting to (and often failing) to control weeds. Farmers that use weed killer has a very serious advantage over those of us that do not.

Not speaking from personal experience but I think if you could combine the BioIntensive methods of John Jeavons with the permanent No Dig beds style of Charles Dowding and maybe some of the ideas of Jean-Martin Fortier then it might be doable. However there is a fairly big 'But' as I think at the beginning it would require a lot of work to set up and keep maintained.

To get a better idea of what you are aiming for I'd be interested to understand whether it is going to be a plot to provide food for yourself and friends or if you intend to sell some of the produce and if it will be a stepping stone on to larger things or if you will keep your growing area this size. A couple of other questions spring to mind as well, would you set up a vinyl house on the property ? Does it have a water supply ? What sort of growing style are you thinking of adopting ? What has the land been used for before ?

As for the amount of time a plot that size would require to maintain I think Eric (as well as Shizuman) might also have some valuable input to make as he also maintains a plot on a part time basis.

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Re: Part time farming

Post by Funasshi » Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:48 pm

Thanks both ZN and Shizuman, and sorry if my question was too vague...
My aim is to sell the produce from the big plot.
I guess hat may mean I don't need to go for a wide assortment of crops, and that would save some time.
The plot would be one of the typical "hatake abandoned by owner due to old age", which I would borrow, so it has been worked before and has the prerequisites for growing veggies. However, probably the weeds have taken over after a couple of years.
I don't have a specific field in mind yet. There are many fields of this sort around where I live so I just have to talk to the owner if I find an interesting plot. I definitely would set up vinylhouse, at least for half of the area.
No immediate plans of quitting my day job though, so timewise I could put in up to 3 days a week, with the aid of some machinery.

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Re: Part time farming

Post by Zasso Nouka » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:12 pm

It's not too vague at all man, just wanted to get a feel for what you are trying to achieve.

As probably a lot of your time at first will be spent wacking the weeds down and then massacring the next and subsequent waves I reckon that could be done in a couple of days a week, leaving the next wave to sprout and grow in the intervening days. Spending a good amount of time on that at first will pay dividends later on, particularly if you can turn the soil over each week and bring new seeds to the surface and kill them after they've sprouted. If you can turn the soil over each week you can also use that time to improve the soil with lots of organic matter and other supplements. Doesn't some of your land have bamboo on it ? You could thin that out and turn it into bamboo charcoal over the winter if you have time, that would help improve the soil no end. Also Cainz Home sells crushed oyster shell for chickens that is an excellent source of minerals that can be added to the soil while you are doing this.

If you are lucky enough and friendly enough with the previous owner they may well have an old tractor you could use to do that job. Do you have any animal farms nearby looking to get rid of manure ?

When looking for land if you are going to have some vinyl houses then a source of water will be necessary, ideally a well but a stream might do in a pinch but you might not know what agro chemicals are in it if you are intending to be organic and it passes through other farmland. You can either use a petrol driven pump if there is no electricity on site or you'll have to get ToDen to hook up a supply if you want to use an electric pump and automate the watering for days you are at work but a lot depends on what you intend to grow.

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Re: Part time farming

Post by Eric in Japan » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:31 pm

My advice would be to keep adding on until you reach something you are comfortable with.
Sounds like you have a 300 sqm base, I would just try adding on 100 sqm a planting season until you can't keep the upkeep.
Better safe than sorry I say from bitter experience.
If you already have the couple of square thousand square meters available, just keep it mowed, use the clippings for mulch or making compost, and expand into that gradually.
I am actually doing that in reverse, since I got a morning job now and have no time to farm anymore. So I am planting berries and fruit trees in previous beds, using a lawnmower to keep it looking nice and mulched, and severely downsizing my veg. Actually I now have only 9 120x120cm raised beds, and two of them are fallow.

Best of luck! Look forward to hearing about your adventures!
"... so, the cucumbers said to the cabbage, `Lettuce Go.`"

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Re: Part time farming

Post by Shizuman » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:24 pm

Hey Funasshi

How’s the farm going?
Any news mate?

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Funasshi
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Re: Part time farming

Post by Funasshi » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:44 pm

Hi Shizuman

Well... mainly what has happened is lots of overtime work at the office, haha.
The forest plots I own need a lot of preparation to actually be good for farming, so I have promised myself to do that slowly even if it takes years. In the meantime I am asking around among the farmers in my town if I can borrow a bigger hatake, which has been abandoned because of old age etc, and work it in order to become a farmer in the eyes of the city. That way I get to practice first hand how much time is needed to farm part time, and if I fail it will not be a disaster. If I succeed, when the time comes I may even be able to buy my own hatake land.

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Re: Part time farming

Post by Shizuman » Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:00 pm

Sounds really good mate, how’s the locals going? Pretty stoked you want to be a farmer?
I’ve had really good reactions so far. What size roughly is the hatake you have your eye on? I just got 800m2 to try selling at markets next year so I’ll see how that goes. You haven’t thought about bees in your forest plots have you?
Sorry to hear about the overtime!

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Re: Part time farming

Post by Funasshi » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:08 pm

Hi man!!!
Sorry for the late reply, it has been Xmas and new year and all that.
I finally borrowed a plot of about 1000 m2 to work on, for free. So let's use it as a measure and see how much time I will need put in.
The locals are happy to see a "young" guy give it a shot (even though I don't consider myself young exactly, but everything is relative I guess). The owner is excited that someone actually wants to do anything with his land, which otherwise just lies there....He said he will give me tips and hints along the way. I hope I don't let him down.
Still not done anything though cause I have been busy cutting down trees in my own forest plot all holiday season... you can see the details and pictures in my blog (link is in my post signature below)
Actually for my forest plot I am thinking of making an orchard, and while the saplings are growing I want to keep bees in between them. If all goes well I can maybe keep some of them...
Not sure yet but since there are still bamboo rhizomes in the ground and young take can pop up randomly and grow quickly up I think I need to cover the ground where I want to put a hive with for example a thin concrete slab (smaller than 1mx1m, and just an inch or so thick). That way I can secure the hive to the ground as well so it doesn't tip over when it blows.
Just thinking loud...