Planting the First Seed

By Baxter Troutman

What is farming? I can give you some dictionary definitions — the practice of agriculture or aquaculture, or the activity or business of growing crops and raising livestock — and I can list some synonyms from the thesaurus — agriculture, cultivation, ranching, husbandry, and agronomy, just to name a few — but I’d rather gloss over that and get to the heart of the matter, the nitty gritty.

Farming is good work. It’s honest work. It’s get-close-to-the-earth work. It’s needful work. It’s satisfying work. It’s hard work. It’s challenging work. It’s gut-check work. It’s humbling work.

Farming is food for the family. It’s food for the community, state, and nation. It’s food for an evermore-populous and hungry world.

Farming is a field calling out for more involvement — for more farmers as their total national number shrinks with each passing year.

The end of 2018 is upon us already. Maybe the holiday season, with its sunset of one year and dawn of another, has you thinking about doing something different with your life and perhaps making a career change. Could farming be an option for you?

For someone who’s never done any kind of agricultural work, jumping into farming would be a bold and courageous move indeed. Good and prudent advice would be: “Don’t jump in; wade in.” Take some time, perhaps all of 2019, to do some quality research and ask people in the know a lot of questions. For the purpose of interviews, the local pool of current and retired farmers is fairly large.

With the world’s informational resources literally at our fingertips, ready-to-absorb research and articles about farming and how to start a farm are plentiful. An interesting and comprehensive article I recently came across is “How to Start a Farm: Your Complete Guide to Success,” courtesy of Bplans (where “B” is for business) and can be found by scanning the following QR code: Based in part on interviews with two experienced farm hands, the article covers the following topics:

  • The state of small farm business in the U.S.A.
  • Why do you want to start a small farm?
  • What to do if you’ve never farmed before (five steps to success)
  • Resources for future farm business owners

If you’re seeking a cure for a boring job or unfulfilling career, farming very well could be it. A farmer is too busy to be bored and the rewards that go beyond income are many. Before you plant the first seed, though, do the due diligence. Your research findings will help you determine whether farming is, in fact, for you.

BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing agency with five locations in Polk, Hillsborough, and DeSoto counties. You can visit his agritourism-ranching operation at A cattle rancher, citrus grower, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges, concerns, and importance of today’s farmer. Together, we can Keep Florida Growing!

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