SPEAKER 1: You have to be prepared as well as you can if you're going to get into a farming operation. And that means having as much knowledge about whatever you're going to get into. And you have to have more knowledge than the next guy. You have to have knowledge, number one, about the site.
SPEAKER 2: Does the land have potential for agriculture that can be farmed? You want to know the history of that land, what they've been doing over there before, who farmed it and what they farmed.
First First, you got to know what you're going to do, roughly. Is it going to be livestock or is going to be veg related? That's all you kind of have to know. Go get your soil maps and see what soils are appropriate.
SPEAKER 4: When you start picking the varieties and the species of crops that you're going to grow, soil testing is a key.
SPEAKER 5: There's a lot of times where I'd see a property for sale, it looks beautiful. But look at the soil map before you walk out on it and fall in love with it, because you've got to be realistic about it.
SPEAKER 2: If you can buy a place, make sure that you're making a good investment.
SPEAKER 6: When we'd purchased the farm it had been farmed before. The ground had just been sitting there. I was under the assumption that it must be still good to start growing things on it again, which was a poor assumption. As we began growing, we realized that you might be able to grow hay on a field, but that does not mean you can grow tomatoes in the same plot of ground.
SPEAKER 5: I knew for vegetables I needed deep, well-drained soils. And if they were soils that dried up in the spring in early, that was perfect to extend my season.
SPEAKER 1: And you got to look at weather data to see what the low temperatures in the winter you could expect.
SPEAKER 2: You want to have water, you look for access to water. If there's any way that you can pump it, there's a river, there's a creak, there's a well, ideally.
SPEAKER 7: Extra water sources is huge. You don't want to be on community water, because if there's a drought you want to have your own water access. You need ponds, you need wells, you need water access.
SPEAKER 2: Also in terms of like getting your produce to market, you don't want to be too far from your sales point.
SPEAKER 8: We noticed right away that this road which leads to a very large state park goes right by our farm stand is very, very heavily trafficked in the summer. So we've had a pretty good feeling that the farm stand would be viable.
SPEAKER 7: We're on a secondary highway, which really helps. So as they say, location is everything.
SPEAKER 9: Both dairy barns had collapsed roofs, so I wasn't able to salvage any of the buildings. So ultimately, I started with a bare piece of abandoned farmland.
SPEAKER 6: The old barn was in poor state of repair, so we built a 24 by 40 pole barn.
SPEAKER 2: You know, some type of shelter. If there's not a barn, you need somehow any space indoor where you can like protect your tools and all the things that you can get wet. Like you need a place where you can put boxes to store things from the rain like when you are harvesting.
SPEAKER 9: I had to put up a couple barns. I decided to go with hoop structures, partly because of simplicity and partly because they're nontaxable. They're not really a permanent structure.
SPEAKER 6: Another large investment for us as far as the infrastructure was or our walk in cooler.
SPEAKER 2: Ideally, you need a cooler to keep things cold before you go to market.
SPEAKER 6: We also realized we needed to have a washing facility.
SPEAKER 1: Big salesroom, which we've added to this year because we have customers come directly to the farm.
SPEAKER 2: Tractor.
SPEAKER 11: Drip irrigation.
SPEAKER 1: Fruit grading equipment and packing equipment.
SPEAKER 9: Fortunately, with larger infrastructure purchases, you can spread that out over several years.
SPEAKER 3: I think you really need constant infrastructure to actually make a viable farm business, whether you're renting or whether you own it.
SPEAKER 4: Going out and purchasing a farm or lease to own or just renting, it's an interesting concept. I was ignorant enough just to go and buy a farm. But if I could counsel somebody or coach them a little bit, I think I'd take the safe route. There's plenty of open barns, good barns that you can rent.
SPEAKER 2: There's a lot of land that is available for lease. And it's not that expensive, it's not that hard. Because a lot of land owners, let's say they get taxes benefits by keeping the land actively in agricultural.
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Farmers talk about considerations in evaluating the agricultural capacity of your land and buildings. Knowing what kind of land you need to buy/lease for the farm you have in mind is critical to your success.
In the Voices of Experience series from the Beginning Farmers Resource Center, you'll find the kind of dirt-under-the-fingernails advice that can only come from someone who's been there.
The NY Beginning Farmer Project is led by a team of Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators in partnership with the Cornell Small Farms Program. The project, launched in 2006 in response to increasing interest in farm start-ups, aims to enhance the likelihood of success of new ag enterprises by making the best resources and training available to new and diversifying farmers.