Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for nearly two decades. Pritchard's first two books received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and NPR, and his latest book is set to debut in 2018.

30 responses to “How To Start Your Own Farm”

  1. Sandra


  2. Emmy

    This was so great to read! I really love number 8. As a young family trying to raise and grow as much as we can for our family we are often reminded of how little we know. There is no generational knowledge hidden deep in my memories. Having people like you, who are willing to share their wisdom is huge! Thank you.

  3. Steve Ault

    You all hit it right on the head. We have made our fare share of mistakes and learn from each one. You just have to keep on adjusting to each situation as it comes. You all keep on keeping on.
    Steve Ault
    Aults Family Farm
    Pamplin, VA

  4. Ellen Strickler

    Thanks for the great reminders…your timing is impeccable!

  5. Luke Chambers

    Loved your advice on failure I’ve always said there are only two ways to fail. By giving up or being to afraid to try. each “failure” is just a step to success. I’ve learned more from failure than anything else.

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  7. Bob Welch

    I loved the article, and I find information like this liberating, but I always get hung up on the financial picture. Item #1 is an important point for maintaining the future of a farming enterprise (or any enterprise, really), but it always leaves me begging the question, How? How do I get started in farming without debt? I’ve got a very deep hunger to try it, to farm just as my family has done for generations, but since I don’t have access to land, or the money to attain land for myself, I just don’t know how to move forward at this point beyond dreaming and reading.

  8. JIMMY

    I really like this and am inspired to start a farm, am in Uganda.

  9. Sara

    Do you think it would be possible to start up a small farm for the purpose of being self-sufficient, ie not for profit?
    I’m sure it sounds really naive, I’m a city girl but I’ve always dreamed of living off the land… I just don’t have the funds/knowledge for a business.

    1. Samantha

      I too have this dream, and I too am a city girl and for a long while thought that I never could achieve it, but I persevered. I volunteered at a organic farm every weekend two and a half hours away from where I attended school, work a part-time job during the week ad saved up enough money to by a few acres. Where over time I slowly bought the surrounding land, I raise goats with is great because they love to forage in the abundant forests in my land- with is cheaper where I am then cleared farmland- and where I grow food for my self and local community. I don’t feed the entire province (I’m Canadian) but I do my part, doing what I love. If this is what you truly want don’t let anything hold you back. P.S I also live off grid, which means I have no hydro bill, which helps a lot with the money issue.

  10. Alfredo Barriga

    Hi Forrest, thanks for the tips. I live in the US but my dream is to return to my home country Chile and start a farm there. God willing I will be able to do it soon and raise my kids (My first one is on the way) in a farm. Thanks for inspiring us all.

  11. adalynfarm

    It does take time. And debt is a killer. We’ve been in our place 6 years and we are just finally getting to the point of having an established (very small) customer base. We are committed to debt free growth, and are working on refining what we want to do with our tiny little farm. One Step At A Time…..

  12. Janelly

    Hi Forrest,

    Your list could’ve come at a better time; I am at a major crossroads in my life. I am 27 years old, with a beautiful 4 year old daughter and wonderful husband. I am at the point in my life where, I am confused about where my life is going and where I want to take it. Food and eating organically is an immense passion of mine, this happened after I found out I was pregnant with my daughter and I wanted to give her a fighting chance at life to live long and healthy. I started to read everything! Educate myself on the foods I was consuming. I read and watched Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do about It. It changed my entire world, something so beautiful and honest happened that day I watched it, how real the world became for me. I decided than I was done with processed foods and organic was the only way to live. With that being said being 27, being married and raising a 4 year old, financially it’s straining and stressful. My husband and I find ourselves eating bad so that our child can eat better, because sometimes we can’t feed a family of three a pure organic meal. So sometimes I’ll skip eating organically so my daughter can eat it. Than I start to imagine, if I start eating badly and only feed my daughter organic food, than who will be here to raise her, if I can’t make it past a certain age because of what I am putting into my body. So we sacrifice everything to eat well, we budget accordingly and we try! But sometimes we just can’t do it, and it brings me down. I’m a firm believer of astrology, some people find it silly, but it speaks to me. I find myself seeing this quote every time I do read my horoscope.
    “If you are not one with the earth, you will never truly be happy”.
    These words play over and over in my head, it took my sometime to get to this, but after I read your blog, I realized I need to listen to myself and do what I really want and not let other people tell me I’m crazy or tell me it can never be done!. . . Damn it! I want to be a farmer and I want to raise chickens 100% vegetarian feed, no added anything just pure organic, humanly raised, free roaming happy as can be chickens! Sale to my local markets, eat my chicken, feel proud, offer the exact chicken I am selling to the markets and offer the community who can’t always afford that $17 dollar chicken breast and offer them an affordable price. They will be happy knowing exactly what’s in the chickens, where it’s coming from and be happy feeding it to their families. I guess I just want to know, how the hell do I start?? Ha!


  13. Yepez

    Beautiful.From Venezuela.

  14. darwin

    I am from Philippines, I love reading this and I know I can start my own farm in a little.

  15. Basudev Neupane

    Hi Forrest,
    I am from country Nepal and I am dreaming a cow farm. I want to start from very minimum level ( say from 4-5 milking cows). As my case is similar to Bob Welch and your suggestion for Bob really meets to me too. In my location, the market is potential and can use some minor proportion of debts too. I the main problem in me is; I only have an experience of traditional methods (low productivity) where hard physical works and less returns. I want to scale up from this experience to modern techniques. 🙂

    Really, I surely request you to provide me a volunteer opportunity in your farm for some months, but I know this is not possible as the context is totally different (US and Nepal).

    No matter, you can suggest me how could I obtain the technical skills as well as the major area of sensitive. My educational background is Busness studies and specilation in Finance, Currently I am working in one of the INGO as administration and finance Officer. I have also worked with Heifer International (INGO) in Nepal in similar position.

    Now onwards I want to do something myself and is in the field of Agriculture………..

  16. Lee @ Lady Lee's Home

    This was so great to read. I am getting ready to start a small organic vegetable farm in the Spring and all your points are a great reminder of the right path to follow.
    God help me, I hope to make a decent living from farming. But even if it makes me no money, I know I’ll be the happiest person working in the field with my kids everyday and feeding not only us but others too.

  17. The Start of a New Farmer | santilatino
  18. Siobhan

    I just started reading Gaining Ground and I love it. I hope to start a farm with my husband soon, maybe maple syrup and pigs. It’s just a dream for now, but reading what you write about farming makes me think we could do it. Thank you!

  19. K Pac

    Mr Forrest, yours is one of the few blogs on internet that is actually inspiring young people like to start farming without being scared. Most blogs and advises are only words on discouragement. They all say farming is hard work and not for city dwellers, luxury loving , sedantary ppl (like me). True, it is hard work and capital intensive, it isn’t something non doable. I am in technology sector looking to gain some farm experience first by doing a few farm apprenticeships. Having a hard time here in New Jersey even to find an apprenticeship on a farm for someone who has no prior farming experience and doesnt want to work with animals. It is hard for me to make a decision to quit my day job (a high paying job) and work on a farm as a farm intern. I am still determined to get started this year.

    I loved your blog. Farming is one sector which is not very glamorous to say, but certainly a very promising field where young people with creative ideas are needed to make a difference.

  20. Andrew F Mooers

    Patience, staying positive, being resourceful with what you have to make the farm prosper. Breaking even is considered a very good year. Adopting that attitude with hard work will help you make it work!

  21. touristico22

    Great article! The main thing in my experience is to have a passion for farming and a love of animals, along with buckets of common sense and patience. If you have these you will have half a chance.

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