I recommend that you consider aquiring some skilled labor training from a local community college. That way you have a marketable skill with which to support yourself while working on the farm plan. Developing a business of any type, including farming, requires capital-- most small businesses fail due to lack of capital funding. A good place to start with agricultural education of any type is basic sciences ( biology, chemistry, botany) and soil science. Here on this forum Bryant Redhawk has excellent information on these subjects.
Here is a closer look at some of the fastest growing careers in horticulture, agriculture, forestry and other plant related industries:
Agricultural Business Manager. ...
Agricultural and Food Scientists. ...
Conservation Scientist. ...
Environmental Engineer. ...
Environmental Scientist. ...
Grounds Maintenance Worker. ...
Oh to be 17 again... You have lots of time in front of you and a wonderful ride ahead. I can see many ways to get from point A to point B. You probably have a good idea of where point A is (your current status). Defining or thinking about all the various point B's is worth thinking about.
Once you know what some of those end points are, there are a bunch of different ways to get to each of them. Hopefully many of the paths overlap on their way to the destinations.
Your vision is to run a permaculture/regenerative farm.
"Running" a farm can mean: Property manager, owner, hired farmer, etc
A "farm" can mean: Ranch, monocrop corn/soy, diary cows, milk goats, farm to market, CSA, farm to store, 2 acres, 20,000 acres, etc
You don't need to narrow it down at this point, but if some types of farm management and farming style really don't line up with your goals, then you can eliminate/avoid/de-prioritize some paths.
Start an urban farm in other people's back yards and sell the food
Buy a farm
Find an old farmer and work for him/her in the hopes of being in their will
Go to ag school
Go to school for something technical that will help on a farm (or pay the bills as you start one) like mechanic, plumber, carpenter
Get a "normal" career and save $ till you can buy land to farm (bonus if the career can be done remotely part-time)
Many of those paths can be joined together. Many more paths exist that I didn't think of. Some of those paths, by themselves, are likely to fail. For instance, buying a farm is great but you may want to know how to farm first. Going to ag school is great but they probably won't give you a farm when you graduate. Wwoofing teaches you a lot but if you don't have land to farm, do you wwoof forever?
Just some rambling from an old timer. My particular path was getting a "normal" career and saving money to retire young. Then homestead. Then grow food to sell. If you know farmers of the style you'd like to be, ask them how they did it or what they'd suggest.
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"
Number one advice I've found is don't assume anything about a career or area of study. Go find out if its really what you imagine. The classic example is someone getting a biology degree to find cures for diseases, but they find the day to day work is dissecting mice and filling in spreadsheets. With agriculture, talk to experts and find opportunities to visit farms and lend a hand. You will know real fast if this is awesome or if you'd like to try something else instead.
Consider your personal flaws and what you need to improve, or work around. Farming and homesteading requires being slightly competent at everything, so to really get ahead, knowing what you are and aren't good at will help direct your funds and efforts because: you need other people. Few farmers can do everything professionally, you may find you aren't the best mechanic, or you really need an accountant.
Social skills. You need to sell stuff, or find others who can sell stuff for you. And the biggest advantage is having a bunch of friends and neighbors who are happy to lend a hand because you are the one who is always ready to help them out. This is where the biggest advantages come from, when you can call someone and get some timely advice, or they call you with a "hey you've got to get over to this yard sale, there's a tractor here that's way better than your stupid tractor".
Be willing to talk to, work with people outside your comfort zone. Commercial farmers, organic activists, university researchers, local politicians, religious groups, poor criminals, and wealthy retired landowners all have support networks, unique resources, and opportunities to form symbiotic relationships, especially if you are looking for land, equipment, permission and markets.
You might find a high paying cash job as you explore your options. There are lots of support jobs if you can coexist with commercial industrial ag (parts, installation, soil sampling). Plenty of marketing niches interfacing with the grocery industry. Land grant universities have loads of information, experimental farms and education minded staff that are good to talk to.
And something worth trying: Set your browser homepage to Investopedia for a while and learn enough about trading stocks, forex, crypto, grain commodities, playing professional poker (its all the same skillset) to see if you have the knack or if you are should steer clear.
Thanks for the ideas. I'm thinking about owning/running a small regenerative permaculture farm. I know that I like gardening and chickens. Will definitely find a place for cattle, pig, and aquatic experience. Do you know of any farm -apprentice matching websites. I've found beginning farmers.org so far.
We are surrounded by nearly insurmountable opportunity -- Bill Mollison
Huxley Harter wrote:Thanks for the ideas. I'm thinking about owning/running a small regenerative permaculture farm. I know that I like gardening and chickens. Will definitely find a place for cattle, pig, and aquatic experience. Do you know of any farm -apprentice matching websites. I've found beginning farmers.org so far.
There are a lot of different types of farm apprentice/intership opportunities out there. You'll get the most out of any potential arrangement by more clearly defining the skills you want to build, farming methods you want to learn more about, the type of organization you want to learn that with (i.e. small diversified family farm, large scale corporate farm, etc.), etc.
The best place to start is to identify organizations in your local area/state that support farmers in some way. Many of these organizations have job or internship listings or may point you to a place that does.