Any new venture can be a daunting prospect. Endless concerns cross the mind, from financials to family impact, difficulty planning to unforeseen challenges. These concerns are no less intimidating when considering taking on the life of a farmer – just ask Tom Mooradian.
A new member to the community, Tom and his wife, Beth, moved to Bloomington nearly 4 years ago. Before moving, Tom had tried to grow a limited garden, but without much luck. He described the experience lightheartedly, saying, “[we] did a horrible job with it, and got discouraged.” Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of the road. “We moved here, and picked up on the vibe that there were resources to help…which inspired us to really give it another go,” he said. The second time around, Tom worked not only with vegetables and fruit, but also began beekeeping.
And so with his second attempt underway, the question for Tom became where to go from there? He began to consider making it a full-time venture. “I have goals of getting more to living off the land, to create my own wealth, and create quality sustainable food,” he said.
But as he began to consider truly taking on the life of a farmer, concerns began to spring forth. Finding start-up capital, searching out available land, potential legal issues, and whether or not the lifestyle would work, were all concerns. “I don’t want to jump into it, and then find out I’ve put in a lot of time and energy getting here, and this is really more than I can handle. Tom said. Luckily, he heard about an opportunity to discuss these concerns.
The Local Growers’ Guild and local business-planning, non-for-profit SEED Corps, worked together to create an 8 week workshop series, in which several aspects of a grower’s life are discussed in detail. The workshops encompass a different topic every week, covering a variety of issues for new farmers.
But ultimately, it wasn’t just the technical information that sold Tom on the SEED Corps sessions. It was also the ability to sit down and have a serious discussion to understand the overall impact of his decision. “I hope to bring my wife Beth along with me to a few of the sessions, to talk on a deep, honest level about what I think our lifestyle would be like. It would definitely be a change for us.
While the workshops provided Tom with an outlet to discuss his interests and concerns, however, it was and continues to be his personal vision that drives him. Tom said thoughtfully, “I’ve had to travel a lot for my job, so I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, sitting in airports and waiting on airplanes where I’m away from my home and my everyday life, and really missing a lot of the things. It’s made me really realize what’s important to me, and that it’s being engaged in my community, setting down roots. And as I thought about…I really do think that planting and growing, and all those things, would be really in line with my values and my career goals.”
Interested in Attending a Workshop?
Fees: $10 per session
Location: Monroe County Public Library meeting room, 6-8:30 pm
Parking: free spaces available in back of the library or meters on the street until 10 pm
Session 6: Managing your risks/insurance and buying/leasing land (Nov 25)
Session 7: Managing cash flow and Crop Planning (Dec 2)
Session 8: Marketing and Selling (Dec 9)
Contact Shari with SEED Corp for more information and to register: rogfid at gmail dot com or 812-219-7521.
We encourage beginning farmers to visit the New England Small Farm Institute website for extensive resources to explore or plan a farm.