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Featured Resource: Farms with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business by Rebecca

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

We desire all farms to have a vibrant, strong future because we know farming is particularly challenging and competitive. Rebecca Thistlethwaite’s Farms with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business provides a solid foundation for how to get into farming and ways to navigate the challenging and competitive nature of farming. The book would appeal to young and beginning farmers but also provides sage advice for anyone who farms and owns a business to read and review on a regular basis. Rebecca covers a full range of farm and business-related topics and shares a case study of a farm to demonstrate how different farmers have addressed and confronted finding and securing land; equipment and infrastructure; soil and water management; harvesting and processing; record-keeping and regulatory compliance; and human relationships and conflict resolution.

At the end of each chapter, a bulleted list of take-home messages is provided to summarize content and actions to take. A sampling of take-home messages from the chapter on soil and water management to build on the four core soil health principles include: 1) Feed the soil, not the plant! 2) Get your soils tested, and update the tests every two to three years, 3) Give back more nutrients than you take from the soil (fill that savings account!), 4) Rest and rotate your fields, 5) Control of disease and parasites begins with healthy soils and how you irrigate, 6) It takes nature approximately 1,000 years to build an inch of soil so don't be nonchalant about erosion. Don't let it happen. If you can see visible signs of erosion, it is already too late, and 7) Consider ways to reduce the physical tillage of the soil, especially tillage that inverts the soil layers or causes a plow pan (compaction layer).

Thistlethwaite, R. (2012). Farms with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business. Chelsea Green Publishing. Available to order online at

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