Farmers who cultivate more crops on less land are becoming famous for providing a sustainable alternative to big agribusiness and environmentally harmful monoculture. Whether you encounter micro-farm fare at the Farmer’s Market, your CSA, or your local grocer, both you and the planet will be better off eating food farmed small.
When you imagine a farm, you might think of a pleasant pastoral scene including a barn, a mill, a house, and a cheerful farmer in overalls. It’s an image that seems inherently right and good – food should be raised by someone who cares. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case with most of the food you find in the supermarkets. There’s light at the end of the tunnel though, as the traditional farming model, complete with friendly farmers, in fact exists! Welcome to the micro-farm movement! More and more agriculture professionals are taking back the farm by growing more crops on less land, planting smart, and connecting with people who care about good, sustainably raised food.
So, what’s a micro-farm?
A micro-farm is a small patch of land, usually two acres or less, where a farmer raises a variety of foods in an efficient, mindful way. Prior to the 1950s, having a tiny farm wasn’t just common – it was VERY common! Unless you were quite wealthy, you needed to grow most of your food. Even if you didn’t make your living as a farmer, you knew something about berries and bean poles.
Micro-farms either feed the farmer or make a profit at market. To satisfy the food requirements of their family, a micro-farmer might take advantage of sophisticated growing methods, including close cultivation, that are less harmful than agribusiness models. Micro-farm businesses might focus on supplying a CSA or Farmer’s Market with organic produce. The main strength of these operations is that they raise a wide variety of crops and livestock, taking advantage of every nook, cranny, and all the land has to offer. Unlike factory farms, micro-farms waste nothing. For example, a pig that generates manure on a micro-farm might also be allowed to range among the crop and eat weeds.
Micro-farms are a return to healthy roots and traditions
Modern micro-farmers avoid monoculture and generally sell their crop close to home, meaning they produce less carbon waste. But their biggest advantage is that there are real people behind everything a micro-farm produces. Someone personally cares about the chickens, the spinach, the kale, and all the other veggies and fruits. That’s a heck of a lot more than a factory farm can say about its produce. So far, about 15% of the produce available on the market is micro-farmed. That’s a great big start for a movement that thinks little!
Micro-farms and you
Micro-farms can give you more access to healthy, high-quality food than even the most progressive supermarket. As we already mentioned, CSAs and Farmer’s Markets are great places to buy small. However, if you have a way with plants and just a little space of your own, you might want to try micro-farming yourself! Following our organic garden starter guide, you can begin small. Ease into micro-farming by cultivating a handful of companion crops in a single raised bed. Then, once you feel confident, add a chicken. And another bed. Soon, you’ll be growing enough for your entire family – and then some!
Whether you grow food or buy micro, you’re a part of this movement. You’re making a difference!
Featured image credit: regiodom.pl