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Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Spaceby Andy Tomolonis
Synopses & Reviews
In Organic Hobby Farming, Andy Tomolonis, a longtime organic gardener, part-time hobby farmer, and award-winning Boston-area journalist, strips down the concept of organic” and explains why natural farming has emerged as the healthiest and most viable method of growing for hobby farms and other small-scale operations. In addition to the improved taste and the appeal of excluding toxic materials, organic farming benefits farmers, their families, and the environment. It offers economic plusses as well. The current consumer demand for local” and organic” food underscores the need for small hobby farms that offer unique high-end goods. Tomolonis explains the basic principles of organic farming and describes how hobby farmers and their families can eat healthier, save money, help preserve the environment, and even turn their passion into a small-scale side business.
Chapter 1 will help you assess the land you live on to determine whether its suited for organic vegetables, fruit, berries, or livestock. Farmers who are looking to lease or buy land will find practical advice on how to evaluate properties and find their best use, taking climate, soil, water and geography into consideration. In Chapter 2, Tomolonis continues with practical advice on how to choose the right tools without overspending—starting slowly with quality hand implements and then expanding as you determine the need for costlier power equipment.
Chapter 3 moves on to the heart of any successful organic farm—building the soil. The Good Earth” brings readers down to earth, i.e., the soil. Youll learn how to evaluate and improve your soil with compost and cover crops and protect it from erosion, chemical contamination and other harm. The author also stresses the importance of understanding the complex relationship between underground soil organisms that play such a crucial role in natural plant health. The best soil, with the right balance of nutrients and a healthy population of microbes, will help your plants survive hardship, resist diseases and produce healthier more bountiful harvests, the author explains.
Chapter 4 walks you through the steps needed to develop an organized farm plan. The chapter presents a convenient month-by-month overview of the farmers year, offering a timeline and detailed instructions for sowing seeds indoors, transplanting seedlings, guarding against insects and weeds, harvesting, planting cover crops extending the season and developing a schedule for successive food crops. Whether you want to feed your growing family all summer long or produce enough food for a small-scale agribusiness, the information here is invaluable. This chapter also covers organic methods for harnessing the power of nature by luring beneficial insects that will help control farm and garden pests.
Learn about heirlooms, hybrids, and eclectic vegetable varieties in the comprehensive directory of vegetable crops and herbs introduced in Chapter 5. Tomolonis reveals his favorite varieties, including many alluring heirlooms that have grown in popularity. Each crop description offers detailed information on soil preparation, sowing, companion planting, and battling weeds and insects without harmful chemicals. The author, a former produce manager for a national grocery chain, also includes tips for harvesting crops, prepping them for display, and bringing the goods to market.
If youre looking for advice on fruits and berries, Organic Hobby Farms introduces new options in Chapter 6, where the author suggests ways to branch out with Asian pears, peaches, and apples, as well as nutritious blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. As he does in other chapters, Tomolonis explains in common terms, how to choose the best varieties for your region, prepare the soil for maximum production, and deal with pests and diseases organically.
Organic Hobby Farming also describes the basics of adding chickens to your farm—for wholesome organic eggs or pastured meat. Select the right breeds, raise a flock from day-old chicks and protect the birds from predators and pests the natural way. Tomolonis also delves into the fascinating world of apiculture in Chapter 8. He and his wife, Valerie, are avid beekeepers with hives that produce gallons of healthy unpasteurized local honey. In addition to bees, the book provides insight into keeping such small livestock as meat rabbits and dairy goats.
Hobby farmers who want to turn their agricultural skills into a money-making operation will find practical advice in Chapter 9, which discusses commercial options. Learn how to sell your goods to local restaurants, at farmers markets, or as part of a community-supported-agriculture (CSA) program. And, once you make a decision to turn commercial, youll find advice in developing a business plan, crafting a mission statement, setting goals, and creating farm budgets. Youll also learn the myriad benefits—and challenges—of becoming USDA certified organic.
Finally, Organic Hobby Farming steers you to multiple sources of additional information with an extensive listing of resources, broken down by subject and chapter. With Organic Hobby Farming, creative-thinking readers will learn ways to increase the profitability of their organic ventures. The reader can decide to transform his hobby farm into a specialty destination for heirloom varieties, organic raw honey, preserves, dried herbs, or a particularly desirable breed of heritage livestock.
As Tomolonis states in the books introduction, eat safer, more nutritious food, learn about your soil and plants, support the local food movement and help save the planet—one acre at a time.”
In Organic Hobby Farming, Andrew Tomolonis, an award-winning Boston journalist, long-time garden writer, and part-time organic hobby farmer, strips down the concept of organic” and explains why organic farming has emerged as a popular and viable method of production for hobby farms and other small-scale and mid-sized farms. In addition to the improved taste of the produce and the appeal of excluding toxic chemicals in our food, organic farming is good for the environment, for consumers and their families, and it offers many economic plusses as well. The current consumer demand for local” and organic” underscores the need for small hobby farms offering unique high-end produce and dairy and meat products. Tomolonis explains the basic principles of organic farming and describes how hobby farmers can get started converting their existing farms or establishing a new farm.
The first chapter of the book discusses the advantages and pitfalls of organic farming, from the health benefits to people to the challenges of agriculture the natural way.” This discussion of Why Organic?” is followed by a chapter on establishing a business plan. The author is pragmatic and straightforward: the readers dream to run a small organic farm can be a disaster without a sensible agribusiness plan, hence an organic hobby farm can literally cost you the farm.” The author lays out a step-by-step plan to compose a mission statement, set specific and tangible goals for the first harvest (and years down the road), assess your skills and abilities, manage farm finances, create a budget, decide upon insurance, and maintain control of the flow and size of your agribusiness.
The chapter entitled The Good Earth” brings readers down to earth, i.e., dirt: how to assess the land and determine the health of the soil. The author explains whats needed for good dirt” and offers remedies to improve soil, ways to test it, and how to nurture, build, and maintain it. These opening chapters also address the selection of the right crops and livestock to complement the farmers climate, region, and local infrastructure. The chapter entitled The Rakes Progress” addresses the kinds of tools and specialized equipment a hobby farmer will require, offering many tips about avoiding mishaps, uninformed purchases, and making the right decisions about the tools required to do specific jobs.
Further chapters discuss seed selection and planting of crops, weed control, preventing and dealing with pests and diseases during the growing season, as well as soil preparation in spring and fall, rotation of crops, and harvesting. For the creative hobby farmer, the book offers a hosts of profit-making ideas and proposed plans for specialized production, including heirloom vegetables and fruits, wine grapes, medicinal and culinary herbs, nuts, maple syrup, Christmas trees, mushrooms, ornamentals, and more.
Organic Hobby Farming covers the selection of the right livestock breeds for a hobby farm, taking into consideration, climate, terrain, and the farmers ability to find or produce feed and the amount of time available to commit to the animals. Establishing a herd of specialized animals, whether its rabbits, ostrich, llamas, ducks, or goats, requires management, breeding expertise, and the harvesting of meat, milk and/or eggs. Other hobby farmer options discussed include raising less demanding livestock, such as chickens, honey bees, fish, or even earthworms.
The book also discusses the advantages and demands of organic certification, how to get the hobby farm certified, the essential recordkeeping and inspections. The author offers excellent advice for marketing and selling organic produce and how to establish cooperatives in surrounding communities with farmers markets, local restaurants, and direct sales. With Organic Hobby Farming, readers will learn to think outside the crate to find ways to increase the profitability of their organic ventures. The reader can decide to transform his hobby farm into a specialty destination for heirloom varieties, organic raw honey, preserves, dried herbs, or a particularly desirable breed of heritage livestock.
A resources section at the end of the book provides a information for hobby farmers looking to establish and improve their operations. The book is fully indexed.
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