Agricultural Incubators Provide Access to Land, Equipment, Infrastructure for Farm Start-Up
Posted: April 26, 2012
Both Edmonds and Shannon enjoyed academia but were looking for something more – to stop talking about the idea of growing wholesome food and actually get out from behind the desk and into the field to make it happen.
The Seed Farm, a new farmer training and agricultural business incubator program in Lehigh County providing a hands-on training apprenticeship in organic vegetable production, was just want they needed to escape the cubicle and dig into the soil. Throughout their one-year learning experience, the duo along with their cohorts enrolled in the program took business-related classes, worked in the field, sold their products at area farmers markets, and submitted a business plan for their own future farm.
Good Work Farm, a partnership between Edmonds and Shannon, was the product from their year-long apprenticeship. “Our goals aligned. We both wanted to produce food for our community,” Edmonds said.
Edmonds and Shannon are now considered stewards of The Seed Farm, leasing land and renting equipment for their partnership, and asking for technical help from The Seed Farm’s director, Sara Runkel, when needed. “It’s like a learning laboratory to run your own business.” Edmonds and Shannon explained they would not have been able to get their partnership started without the training, and very reasonable cost of land lease and equipment rental.
“I would like to own my own land,” said Shannon. Land ownership has been and remains his goal so that he is able to build soil health and not have to wonder if he be able to remain on the land long term. However, The Seed Farm was able to provide him with a lease for his business so he could build equity in the meantime, adding that the Seed Farm is the best land lord he could ask for – one that wants to see him succeed as a beginning farmer just starting his CSA business.
“We were able to make a profit in a terrible year for weather, but we need to save it. We don’t have a tractor or a greenhouse,” Shannon said. Although it would be nice to pay themselves better for their hard work, sometimes other things take priority. “The trick is saving money for the next step.”
When asked if it is difficult to work within a partnership, Edmonds answered, “We have our differences. But the work needs done. We can’t just walk away from it.” The Good Work Farm partnership is hard work, physically and emotionally, but the reward is greater than the cost. “We have built relationships with our CSA members. We don’t want to walk away.”