Transitioning from your economic life like tech talk crossword of frittering away money on consumer goods to an agricultural lifestyle doesn’t mean you are foregoing luxuries. Instead, you’re investing in tools that will help you produce more food and raw materials than ever before. Here’s some advice on how to make the most out of farming with minimal financial investment and time commitment.

1. Invest in quality equipment: 

Forget big-ticket items that are key to setting up a successful farm. Instead, invest in the basics, such as a reliable tractor; a smaller one can be enough to get your farm off the ground but not much else. Get clippers, also called mowers or shaving machines. Pick up a good set of knives, a dehydrator, a hot knife knife, or something else that will improve your output and quality for minimal cost upfront — these things typically pay off after the first year or two.

2. Get to know your neighbors:

You’ll never know if you don’t ask — get to know which locally owned businesses will pay cash for your excess crops. If no one locally can use the apples and tomatoes, who will pay for them? Knowledge is a major component of this lifestyle, and there is no better way to gather knowledge than from your fellow farmers. Be friendly with everyone in the area, help each other out with tasks like clearing brush, and start a bartering system.

3. Plant trees:

There are endless uses for trees, including paper, firewood, food, and natural building materials. Select trees that will be most useful to you. Not only does this replace timber that is lost to unsustainable deforestation, but it can be used to make charcoal and other handy items as well. A woodlot or fruit tree orchard will provide you with an endless supply of material for processing and building, as well as an amazing food source. You will also be demonstrating to the neighbors that you are a serious agriculture participant — which leads us to…

4. Start a community garden:

A community garden is a great way to conclude your own personal transition from consumer to produce-er. By encouraging the locals to participate in the project, you will be demonstrating hard work and dedication. When the garden is successful, everyone wins. Set aside a valuable portion of your land for growing non-food crops (like medicinal herbs). This way, you can partner with your neighbors to work the land, exchange materials, and have a communal garden space.

5. Learn from the books:

The internet is wonderful, but it can be difficult to weed through the bad information and misinformation. Instead, pick up some old-fashioned books on basic skills and farming techniques. They are usually well organized, very detailed, and contain far more information than you would get from a search engine for free. There are a ton of books on farming out there, and they’re cheap. Read these as you go along, and don’t hesitate to ask your neighbors for advice on how to grow certain crops.

6. Start a barter system:

Start learning the intricacies of bartering between neighbors and friends, acquire local knowledge of the area’s crops and resources, establish trade routes with nearby communities or even further afield if necessary. Do this by starting an exchange program between neighbors with that common interest in expanding their individual farming yields — perhaps there is something else you both produce or do that can be exchanged for each other’s goods? Barter system is about building trade relationships on the personal level instead of political levels.

7. Go alternative:

It’s not always possible to grow everything you need or afford it. Keep your eyes open for other opportunities, such as the occasional fruit tree that fell from a neighbor’s orchard. Go geocaching for things like berries and mushrooms, talk with other farmers about medicinal herbs and native plants, explore your area for edible and useful plants that aren’t taught in books and courses (i.e. Chaga).

8. Expand your land base:

This is one of the hardest steps in transitioning to an agricultural lifestyle if you are used to working with both hands towards a common goal — i.e.: buying stuff. It is very often the case that people who fit this profile are the ones to spend money on their children’s college fund or a down payment on a house. Therefore, it can be difficult to give up your current lifestyle and livelihood. But trust me, as you get older you’ll start to perceive your savings account as an asset and will want to invest in something other than paper.


Remember that transitioning to a self-sustaining lifestyle is not a straight, linear path. It is an experiment, and as any experiment (especially those dealing with nature) it has its surprises and uncertain factors. However, with some good information and a bit of time spent on research and reading about the practical details of sustainable living you are bound to achieve your goals.


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