Is becoming an organic farmer right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do organic farmers do?
Career Satisfaction
Are organic farmers happy with their careers?
What are organic farmers like?

Still unsure if becoming an organic farmer is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an organic farmer or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

How to become an Organic Farmer

Becoming an organic farmer requires a combination of education, practical experience, and a passion for sustainable agriculture. Here are steps you can take to become an organic farmer:

  • Obtain a Degree or Certification: While a college degree is not required to become an organic farmer, it can provide you with valuable knowledge and skills in areas such as soil science, crop management, and farm business management. There are also many vocational and trade schools that offer certifications or training programs in organic farming. Examples of degrees are: Agriculture, Agribusiness, Soil Science, Animal Sciences, Crop Production, and Horticulture.
  • Gain Practical Experience: Working on a farm as an intern, apprentice, or farmhand can provide you with valuable hands-on experience and help you build a network of contacts in the organic farming community. You can search for farm job openings on websites such as Good Food Jobs or Farm Aid.
  • Research Organic Farming Practices: Organic farming involves using methods that promote soil health, biodiversity, and sustainability. You can learn about organic farming practices by reading books, attending workshops or conferences, and joining online forums or local farming associations.
  • Create a Farm Plan: Starting an organic farm requires careful planning and preparation. You should create a business plan that outlines your goals, budgets, and marketing strategies, as well as a farm plan that includes details on crop rotation, soil management, and pest control.
  • Obtain Organic Certification: In order to sell organic products, you must obtain certification from a USDA-accredited certifying agency. The certification process involves documenting your farming practices and undergoing annual inspections to ensure compliance with organic standards.
  • Start Small and Scale Up: Starting an organic farm can be a significant investment of time and money. It's important to start small and gradually scale up your operation as you gain experience and develop a customer base.

Certifications are an important aspect of organic farming as they provide a guarantee to consumers that the food they are purchasing has been produced according to organic standards. Here are some certifications that organic farmers may obtain:

  • USDA Organic Certification: The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) is the federal agency responsible for establishing and enforcing organic standards in the United States. Farmers who want to sell organic products must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agency. The certification process involves submitting a farm plan and undergoing annual inspections to ensure compliance with organic standards.
  • Certified Naturally Grown (CNG): CNG is a non-profit organization that provides certification for farmers who use natural methods to grow their crops and raise livestock. CNG standards are similar to USDA organic standards but are designed for small-scale farmers who may not have the resources to obtain USDA certification.
  • Demeter Biodynamic Certification: Biodynamic farming is a holistic approach to agriculture that emphasizes the interconnectedness of the farm ecosystem. Demeter is the only certification agency for biodynamic farms in the United States. Demeter certification involves following specific biodynamic farming practices, such as using compost preparations and planting according to lunar cycles.
  • Certified Humane: Certified Humane is a certification program that ensures that animals are raised and treated according to humane animal welfare standards. Farmers who want to sell meat, poultry, dairy, or egg products must meet specific standards for animal housing, nutrition, and healthcare.
  • Fair Trade Certification: Fair trade certification ensures that farmers are paid a fair price for their products and that labor standards are met. Fair Trade certification is available for products such as coffee, tea, cocoa, and bananas.

Joining an organic farming association can provide farmers with valuable resources, networking opportunities, and support. Here are some associations for organic farmers:

  • Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF): OFRF is a non-profit organization that supports organic farming research and education. They offer resources such as research reports, webinars, and technical assistance for farmers.
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC): NSAC is a grassroots organization that advocates for federal policies that support sustainable agriculture. They offer resources such as policy briefs, webinars, and training programs for farmers.
  • Organic Trade Association (OTA): OTA is a membership-based organization that represents the organic industry in the United States. They offer resources such as market research, trade shows, and networking opportunities for organic farmers.
  • Rodale Institute: Rodale Institute is a non-profit organization that conducts research and education on organic farming and sustainable agriculture. They offer resources such as research reports, webinars, and training programs for farmers.
  • California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF): CCOF is a non-profit organization that provides organic certification and supports organic farmers in California. They offer resources such as certification assistance, marketing support, and networking opportunities for farmers.