As a post retirement occupation, farming can be an excellent option for baby boomers. The eldest of the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will reach the retiring age of 65 in 2011. There are approximately thirty million belonging to this generation that will gradually reach the 65-year age bracket over the following twenty years. Most retirees being healthy and fit would prefer to be gainfully engaged. This may not necessarily be for financial reasons. It can stem from their desire for doing their part in making the world a healthier, better place to live in.
Many have decided and already made a mid career change to farming. Most baby boomers have been brought up on farms and have been exposed to organic farming and gardening in their early years. They have attained economic stability and possess considerable financial assets. This has allowed them to return to some of the ideals that drove them in their formative years. They have given shape to their dreams of farming.
This is confirmed from the latest Census of Agriculture data of the federal government. It shows an uptick in small farms between ten to forty-nine acres. Twenty seven percent of the farmers have been on their jobs for less than four years are fifty-five years or older. These are baby boomers moving towards their golden years.
Economically powerful, they are interested in maintaining healthy energetic lives and are anxious to connect back to the soil, by adopting a changed lifestyle, giving up smoking, eating less and a maintaining a better balanced diet for a higher fitness level. The passion for good health also rests on the inference that if one focuses on fitness and good health it can result in being around for a long time to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. In pursuit of good health there is an overwhelming preference for ‘fresh from the farm food’ over products that are packaged and shipped from far away destinations. Packaged food remains packed for long periods before becoming available for consumption. Farming provides the perfect answer to healthy living.
Farming as an occupation is also supported by social trends. A confluence of market forces has given rise to the growing number of farmer markets and community supported agriculture (CSA). A CSA farm is a small family owned farm usually located on the fringe of a populated urban area. It is an independent and labor intensive enterprise. Sale of produce is guaranteed throughout the year through customer pre-payments. This helps to finance the farming operations. The farmer can concentrate on quality produce and also have support to counter market forces of industrialized farming. The customer gets healthy fruits and vegetables grown organically throughout the year/season.
Farmer markets provide the traditional way of selling home manufactured and traditional products from small farms. They feature locally grown fresh nutritional products that are organically grown on nearby farms. The growing popularity of farmer markets is due to increased preference of locally grown produce, which is fresher, healthier and comes from small farms, which also help to sustain ecological balance.
© Anna D. Banks, GCDF