196: Josh Volk on Compact Farms.

Making the most from small farms for the best viability.

taken during OSU video shoot
Josh is the author of Compact Farms by Storey Press in February 2017. He is the proprietor of Slow Hand Farm in Portland, Oregon, and has been working on and managing small farms around the country for the last 20 years, studying the systems that make them efficient. He travels in the United States and abroad, consulting with farmers and researchers, teaching farm apprentices and new farmers, presenting workshops at agricultural conferences, and writing articles for publications, including Growing for Market magazine. 
Josh didn’t come from a farming background. He grew up on the edges of cities and his parents had vegetable gardens that he mostly ignored. When he went away to college and started cooking for himself, he became more interested in where his food came from and how to grow it. That interest grew, inspired by books on small-scale food production. There weren’t many writers on that topic then, and it wasn’t so long ago

In This Podcast:

Longtime farmer Josh talks with Greg to explain his concept of making small farms the most productive and his background really helps give him an edge for understanding and explaining this to our listeners. It is clear he is driven to help others understand what he learned about making small farms work.

Listen in and learn about:

  • Growing up thinking he was going to go into the bicycling industry and getting a mechanical engineering degree
  • Cooking for his family and loving to eat
  • How this all connected to help him get to his focus on growing food
  • Volunteering in community gardens
  • Learning more about gardening from his local gardening store
  • Meeting Jac Smit and getting advice from him
  • What a compact farm is and strategies to create one
  • Why crop choices and marketing are such important decisions on compact farms
  • Finding the market or niche that works
  • The concept of history when marketing vegetables
  • How creativity can help when marketing to chefs
  • Getting and giving experiment ideas from local chefs
  • Why he thinks his engineering background is still important on his farm

As well as:

  • His failure – He fails constantly but does not look at these time as failures
  • His success – making his day to day and his life to do what he wants to do and work with people he wants to work with
  • His drive – trying to be useful, and trying to understand how things work
  • His advice – Be a good observer, observation is key

Books written by Josh:

Compact Farms: 15 Proven Plans for Market Farms on 5 Acres or Less; Includes Detailed Farm Layouts for Productivity and Efficiency

Josh’s Book recommendations:       

John Jeavons – How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You … (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,)

Ben Hartman – The Lean Farm: How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work

How to reach Josh:   

Websites: Slowhandfarm.com and Joshvolk.com



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