For those who met Jim Schultz at a farming convention, you wouldn’t place him as a comparatively new farmer. Along with having retired from a profession in training, Jim can also be an absolute fount of agricultural information.
After a couple of minutes of chatting, you’d come away satisfied that Jim is an natural farming educator someplace, versus a farmer who started his personal operation after retiring from a distinct profession.
An Unusual Story
Though many individuals fantasize about leaving their desk jobs to begin a profession in agriculture, Jim not solely took that leap however has discovered success on the opposite aspect. Purple Shirt Farm will not be a small, interest operation (not that there’s something unsuitable with that).
Fairly, it’s a quickly increasing operation with huge plans for the long run.
Purple Shirt Farm sits on 13 acres in Lanesborough, Massachusetts, within the Northwestern nook of the state. The guts of the farm is its no-till vegetable operation, which yields sufficient produce to assist a 130-member CSA, a sales space at a neighborhood farmers market and a number of other wholesale accounts.
The farm additionally grows herbs, flowers, berries and fruit.
And Purple Shirt Farm incorporates livestock into its farm ecosystem. The farm raises pastured pigs yearly and breeds pastured chickens and turkeys for each meat and egg manufacturing. Whereas Jim has been quietly enhancing and increasing the farm for years, increasingly individuals have began to take discover.
ACRES USA just lately profiled the farm in a canopy story, and Jim is a not rare speaker for organizations like NOFA Massachusetts.
Keys to Success
For a lot of growers (myself included), it’s tempting to mine tales like Jim’s for the keys to success. What had been the precise selections that enabled him to defy the percentages of building a profitable farming enterprise? Maybe his use of sure grants to fund infrastructure progress? Or entry to specific markets?
The reality, as with many issues, is that there are not any simple solutions.
I labored at Purple Shirt Farm for 2 seasons beginning in 2017. The farm was totally different again then, but it surely’s future successes additionally felt inevitable. Throughout my time there, the farm constructed its second excessive tunnel, opened its first wholesale accounts, and grew its CSA membership by 30 p.c.
And every of these milestones that the farm achieved took place from numerous hours of Jim’s work. Myself and a number of other different younger individuals labored on the farm each of these seasons, and Jim handily outworked us every single day.
Past simply working exhausting, although, Jim additionally works “good” in a manner that I’ve seen few different farmers pull off. His substantial information of regenerative farming signifies that he wastes little time on duties that aren’t needed. Possibly Joel Salatin was proper when he mentioned you may inform the whole lot it’s good to learn about a farmer by taking a look at their bookshelf.
Regardless of the various (many) challenges related to beginning a brand new farm enterprise, Jim’s story is a testomony to the truth that it nonetheless will be performed—and even after retirement at that.