In the last decade farmers have been hit hard by financial difficulties, and small local farms are becoming progressively less common. Although the larger farms are being hit too, they have more survivability to get through the rough patches. Both kinds of farms are essential to our well-being, and in order to maintain the amazingly consistent food supply that we enjoy today, we need all of our farms to continue successfully.
We know that we cannot afford to lose any more small farmers, as they have been the life source of our country for hundreds of years. Small farms offer benefits to our ecosystem that the bigger farms are sometimes unable to. Small farms tend to have a more sustainable approach to farming, with less reliance on changing the land, and more ability to work with it. They also tend to produce more crops per square foot of land than the larger farms, possibly because they fit a variety of crops into a smaller space.
Many smaller farms use a method of farming called crop rotating. This means they will plant a different crop after each year than what was planted before. Since different plants require different nutrients this assures that the soil is able to naturally feed the plants for a much longer time without needing loads of fertilizers and plant foods. This is healthier for the soil over time, and keeps the soil in a natural state.
Farmers of small farms also have the advantage of being able to keep a closer watch on their fields. They usually have more flexibility in choosing which crops will grow where, and they can change their strategies based on how the land is doing. Many small farmers have an emotional attachment to their land, and they fully appreciate the history behind it. This provides a certain level of connection to their farms, that can’t be replicated on larger ones.
Although at the same time we don’t want to discriminate against all large farms. Many of these larger farms are family run, and provide lots of jobs to their counties. There are many larger farms that are pushing towards sustainability, and greener farming practices. Even though the smaller farms are having a the roughest time, some of the larger farms are having a pretty hard time too. Ideally we should focus on keeping both kinds of farms alive and thriving.
The best way to help would be to support farms local to your area whether big or small. If we support the farms close to us, we are pouring resources directly into the communities we live in. This is sure to help your county out the most! Produce found close to home is also fresher, so you will see a difference in taste and quality compared to the produce you buy that is shipped long distances.
Consider doing some research about the farms around you. See if the products you usually buy at the store are from local farms or not. When you start noticing which farms you are buying from, you will start to feel connected to each purchase you make, because you know where your food is coming from. Another way to support local farmers is to check out your local farmer’s market. These are usually very beneficial to farmers because this allows them to cut out the middle man and take all the profit from each sell.
We need to support our local farmers, and yes that includes the large farms too. We should all make an effort to support the farms around us. If we do so maybe we can help slow down the decline of small, local farming! This will help to maintain the wonderfully balanced system we currently enjoy. This way we can sustain our thriving food supply for many years to come!