Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Review #2: Market Farming Success by Lynn Byczynski

Right now, I'm taking a Market Gardener Training Program through the OSU Extension office. Our first textbook is "Market Farming Success" by Lynn Byczynski. After reading the book at a rapid pace akin to a crack binge, I let my thoughts stew a bit. It's been several days now, and I simply love this book.

First, the book is extremely thorough taking the reader through site selection, crop selection, season extension, watering, marketing, etc. Being extremely thorough however, Lynn still knows how to show restraint and resource out the details of this book that would make it cumbersome. For example, Lynn goes to great lengths to extol the virtues of hoophouses, and then provides a website with all the necessary schematics to build a hoophouse. This allows the reader/farmer to focus where the reader/farmer wants to focus. If you can't tell through this example, I'm very interested in hoophouses.

Second, I love the real life examples and stories. These tales come early (like page 1)in the book with profiles of market gardeners along with their respective salaries and acreage. I feel this initial detail is critical because it basically sets the stage for the reader to decide if they want to continue reading the book. Apparently, the micro-farmer can net anywhere between $15K and $50K on acreage of 3.5 acres. That's enough for a house payment in Cleveland.

Third, the book fills in gaps that I personally needed filled in. I know I'm able-bodied, but I still didn't know what kind of acreage standard one person could realistically work without hired help or major agriculture machines. It turns out on average one person is able to work approximately one acre. Another example: I know I'll be needing insurance in the future, but exactly kinds, types, and amounts I wasn't so sure of. Of course, Lynn fills this void and for about $300 a year I can be relatively secure.

If I had to gripe, what would be my gripe? My biggest gripe is that the book is written in 2006-the golden years when everyone's houses were ratcheting up 20%-30% gains and $150 jeans seemed kind of reasonable. However, local food movements have appeared to have gotten stronger, especially here in NE Ohio. So my gripe is more of a concern to consider when planning and budgeting future realistic income.

I totally recommend this book for anyone who wants to start a market garden or farm, or anyone who is at all interested in the aesthetics of the local foods movement.

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