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Farms with a Future

Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business

By Rebecca Thistlethwaite


What makes a farm sustainable and successful? And what special qualities and skills are needed for someone to become a successful farmer?

Rebecca Thistlethwaite addresses these and other crucial questions in this uniquely important book, which is a must-read for anyone who aspires to get into farming, or who wants to make their farm business more dynamic, profitable, and, above all, sustainable. Over an entire year, the author and her husband-experienced farmers themselves-took a sabbatical and traveled the length and breadth of the United States to live and work alongside some of the nation’s most innovative farmers. Along the way they learned about best practices, and a whole lot about what doesn’t work.

Farms with a Future shares this collective wisdom in an inspirational yet practical manner; it will help beginners avoid many of the common mistakes that first-time farmers make. Just as importantly, it discusses positive ideas that can help make any farm enterprise vibrant and financially profitable. Profiles of more than a dozen representative farms help round out the invaluable information and encourage farmers to embrace their inner entrepreneur. Younger growers, in particular, will benefit by learning about “the right stuff” from both their peers and longtime experts.This book provides a useful reference for beginning and experienced farmers alike. While many other books address agricultural production, there are very few that talk about business management for long-term sustainability. Farms with a Future offers an approachable, colorful take on building a triple-bottom-line farming business.

Reviews and Praise

ForeWord Reviews-
As a farmer and sustainable agriculture consultant, Rebecca Thistlethwaite understands how important it is to share information about small farmers who have redefined success, finding ways to sustain their families, their communities, and the planet. The stories of innovative farmers who have embraced their 'inner entrepreneur' fill this collection and serve as ample inspiration for readers who are dreaming of their own farming ventures, as well as those who are searching for new approaches. With chapters organized around specific principles such as “Identifying Your Market Niche” and “Harvesting and Processing,” the emphasis of Thistlethwaite’s book is incorporating necessary tools for survival and profit in a family-based business. Each chapter contains photographs of the farms and farmers, which helps drive home for the reader that these are real people who have—through sacrifice, planning, and hard work—found ways to farm that supports their values. Additionally, each chapter ends with 'Take-Home Messages,' a bulleted summary of dos and don’ts that affirm much of what each family farm story demonstrates. A superior book for its information, organization, and examples, Farms with a Future is essential for dreamers who intend to be doers, and doers who are seeking more creative dreaming.

Farms with a Future should be handed out to every budding young farmer in America. Thistlethwaite guides us through the daunting process of creating a viable small farm by sharing hard-earned lessons of her own, and from experienced farmers she met while researching this book. Indispensable!”--Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

“What is so great about Rebecca Thistlethwaite’s new book, Farms with a Future, is that it is not a generalized treatment about how to succeed in the new farm and food revolution, but a detailed and complete description of how some fourteen farms of various kinds have done it. This book does what books are supposed to do, that is, it gives the reader on-the-ground experience that would otherwise take years to gain.”--Gene Logsdon, author of The Contrary Farmer and Small-Scale Grain Raising

"Farms with a Future is an important book. If you are new to farming, read it now. If you've been in the business for a while, read it every year to keep yourself on track.”--Shannon Hayes, author of Long Way on a Little and Radical Homemakers

"Farms with a Future should be added to the reading list of anyone getting into farming. Easy to read and full of practical information, it will help those entering agriculture avoid many common pitfalls."--Nicolette Hahn Niman, author of Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms

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