Hobby Farming: A Modern Movement

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Here’s why hobby farming is becoming more popular – and how it can help you lead a more satisfying and sustainable life.

Homesteading and hobby farming have experienced a surge in interest in the past few decades, as more people become aware of the modern problems facing our world (over population, pollution, resource depletion, waste, etc.), and realize that taking responsibility for certain aspects of modern life that many Americans have relinquished can bring a sense of peace, satisfaction, and self-sufficiency that many of us feel are lacking in our lives.

Those who have returned to simpler ways of living – whether simply becoming more self-reliant in cooking and growing their own food, or by moving entirely “off the grid” – have found themselves feeling a sense of fulfillment in life that they previously were missing.

Many people who choose a homesteading lifestyle or start a hobby farm started out from this simple interest in becoming more self-sufficient in one area – such as gardening, cooking, or knitting.

These folks fall into the set that is more commonly known as hobby farmers, and while their exact numbers are not known, the category of small farms, of which hobby falls under, is growing.

For example, in South Carolina, the number of small farms is a significant piece of the agricultural landscape. The 2012 agricultural census, the most recent available, shows that of the 25,266 farms in South Carolina, 9,285 farms, or 36.7 percent, are classified as small farms, or less than 50 acres.

“As long as this local food movement is still seeing this big nationwide push, hobby farms are going to continue to rise,” says Emily Joyce, fruit and vegetable marketing specialist and small farms coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

And that’s a good thing, Joyce says, particularly as interest in buying local is driving demand for more local food. These hobby farms, which are generally smaller, have potential to fill a niche market.

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Hobby farms are a perfect example of a shift in farming, says Rebecca McKinney, director of the sustainable agriculture program, part of the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College.

Whereas the larger farms tend to focus on row crops — items like oats, barely, wheat and corn, these smaller hobby farmers are more often growing edibles, McKinney says, which has direct impact on the food supply chain.

“There is a lot of thought that the way to save the planet is to migrate to microfarms,” McKinney says.

The result is a lower carbon footprint and improved access to fresh local food.

To read more about hobby farming – and some inspiring folks who are making it work for them – check out the full article at www.greenvilleonline.com.

 

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