Welcome to 2018: The Year of the Farmerpreneur
What does the word “farm” mean to you? If you close your eyes, what scenes come to your mind?
Maybe you picture billowing clouds of dust trailing behind a tractor as it plows through a cornfield.
Or perhaps you think of a middle-aged man donning worn overalls as he squints at a lazy collection of cattle, grass resting between his teeth — just as he’s done daily for decades.
Though these stereotypes may have roots in reality, they aren’t truly representative of all farming today.
The industry is shifting in a big way, in part because of the farmerpreneur movement.
Indoor Tower Farm at Chicago O’Hare Airport
What Does It Mean to Be a Farmerpreneur?
The number of employment opportunities in agriculture is growing, according to research from Purdue University and the USDA. But the most exciting one, in my opinion, is that of the farmerpreneur.
Farmerpreneurs approach agriculture with an entrepreneur’s mindset. Quite simply, a farmerpreneur builds a business by growing food.
The Washington Post recently published a pretty descriptive profile of the average farmerpreneur. They’re often young, college-educated city-dwellers. And they recognize the opportunity to help fix the global food production system while also addressing the scarcity of good, nutritious food.
In other words, farmerpreneurs aim to make a difference while making a living.
They tend to be relatively inexperienced when it comes to agriculture. But an enthusiasm for newer growing techniques, technologies, and tools that enable them to work smarter (rather than harder) makes up for that.
Tower Garden is a prime example of such a solution. With a soil-free, vertical design, the growing system allows you to grow food almost effortlessly in unconventional spaces, including rooftops and urban greenhouses — instead of endless stretches of rural acreage.
Agrotonomy Tower Farms, a Tower Farm on a Spanish Island in the Mediterranean Sea
5 Whys for the Rise of the Farmerpreneur
Tower Garden — and by proxy, its new commercial division, Tower Farms — has certainly lowered the barrier to entry for farming. But I think there are five other reasons we’re seeing such an uptick in the number of farmerpreneurs.
When you start a Tower Farm, you have the opportunity to:
1. Increase the availability of real food.
Have you heard of “food deserts”? The USDA defines them as “neighborhoods that lack healthy food sources.” And there are more of them than you might expect.
The people who live in these places often have to travel several miles just for a fresh head of lettuce. Ironically — and sadly — processed convenient store snacks and fast food is usually much easier to find.
Fortunately, Tower Farms technology allows you to grow inside a concrete jungle and provide fresh, real food to those who need it. And in so doing, you contribute to the betterment of your community and our society as a whole.
2. Contribute to a healthier society.
You may know the quote (often attributed to Hippocrates), “Let food be thy medicine.” Though there’s certainly a place for actual medicine, what you eat does strongly impact your health. And eating whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, is one of the best ways to ensure that impact is positive.
In fact, good nutrition can help prevent illness and disease — a fact that compound pharmacist-turned farmer Troy Albright knows well. By growing nutrient-dense produce on his Tower Farm in Mesa, Arizona, Troy is able to offer his patients (and community at large) nourishing foods that could help prevent health problems rather than just treat them.
Inspiring stuff, huh? And Troy is only one example. Many physicians, personal trainers, and other health professionals use farming as a vehicle for enhancing the quality of life for others.
3. Protect the environment (and the future of humankind).
Experts predict that the dwindling availability of key natural resources, such as land, water, and energy, will soon limit food production, creating severe food shortages by 2050.
But these same experts also propose a solution: “More efficient technologies and crops will need to be developed — and equally important, better ways for applying these technologies locally for farmers — to address this challenge.”
The good news is that “more efficient technologies” (including one that grows 30 percent more food, three times faster, with 90% less land and water) already exist. And now, with Tower Farms, it’s easier than ever for local farmers to apply them.
4. Support yourself doing something you’re proud of.
Since “farmerpreneur” has direct ties to “entrepreneur,” I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention financial benefits. Many farmerpreneurs believe in mission over money. But making a little green while growing greens sounds pretty great, right?
And it’s absolutely possible. After all, the demand for local food is at a record high. Just look at farmers markets, one of the primary sources of local food. The number of USDA-registered farmers markets has grown from 1,755 to 8,678 — almost a 400 percent increase (!) — in the last 23 years.
By all indications, this upward trend will only continue. And since Tower Gardens can grow virtually anywhere (including airports, bunkers, and beyond), Tower Farmers often grow food inside the communities they serve. Does it get more local than that?
All this to say that urban farming is a viable business (one you can feel good about) — whether you plan to sell direct to consumers, grow hyper-local ingredients for restaurants, or serve some other audience.
5. Grow your own independence.
Running your own farming business means you don’t have to answer to a boss, sit in a cubicle, or commute during rush hour traffic. Put simply, it provides you freedom — the freedom to live life on your terms.
And Tower Farms automates or eliminates many farming tasks, enabling you to grow up to 50 towers (which equates to about 2,200 plants) at once, all by yourself. That’s right: you could grow an entire farm without having paid employees.
Gotta love that low overhead. Plus, it’s hard to beat waking up every morning knowing that you are in control of your life.
Farmer Troy Albright inside the 5,000 sq. ft. True Garden greenhouse
Join the Farmerpreneur Movement
As hundreds of Tower Farmers have already shown, you don’t need to be the son of a farmer (who was the son of a farmer, and so on) — or, frankly, have any agricultural experience at all — to start a farm in 2018. And, believe it or not, digging in the dirt isn’t even required.
What do you need?
Well, a passion for making this world a better place is a pretty good start. Then, offering proven growing technology, educational resources, farm financing, and more, Tower Farms can help with the rest.
So, are you ready to make a living while making a difference in the world?
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