Published Apr 15, 2011

Call to END the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” MYTH

By Luke Gran

The cultural myth that is over and over reinforced in our society that folks can simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps must end now.

To be farming, especially as a young person, it is nearly impossible to do so without support of all kinds. From capital – cash to invest in machinery, livestock, seed, inputs and more, to family/friend connections to first access a tiny piece of land, to good help from friends who know how to fix old equipment, people who will be there for you to move hay, get things ready to go, all just in time for spring planting, to customers that want to see the farm succeed. The notion that beginners can do this all on their own is dead wrong. Farming requires connectedness and helpful partnerships.

The complex matrix (economic, social, political, environmental, temporal, climatic) puts the lone wolf farmer (or entrepreneur of perhaps any industry) in a precarious position. To make it sustainable, a beginning farmer must utilize all the resources around him or her, from family who believes in the idea, to neighbors who want to help, to customers who enjoy the product, be it food, fiber, or fuel.

To ensure the next generation of farmers, I feel we need to empower beginners to build their network, crunch the numbers, build budgets and know their profitable system, and perhaps to avoid the temptation to strike out on their own before they are ready.

In the most recent members-only newsletter, due to arrive to PFI member mailboxes this May (download from this webpage soon) we hear from a beginner who was contemplating going into dairy farming on his own when a wonderful share milking opportunity came along. This opportunity wouldn’t have come to him without nurturing his network, being positive, and patient.

Do you believe in bootstrapping? With farming – it may be a recipe for disaster. What do you think about farm bootstrapping? Put your comments below.