All farming requires farming ahead to some degree or another: the act of planting a seed in anticipation of a harvest weeks or months later involves looking out months in advance and taking action now based on what you want to be true in the future.
But the farmers I’m talking about are farming ahead in much larger ways:
- Rotating fields out of vegetable production for one year for every year they are growing vegetables (sometimes two years in a row), planting and managing cover crops to build soil and control weeds.
- Cleaning spaces until they shine so that those spaces only take minimal maintenance during the production season.
- Maintaining equipment in the winter so that when spring comes around, they just grease a few Zerks and they’re ready to go.
- Building the biological and nutrient cycling in their soils to levels that don’t require amendment for multiple subsequent crops of vegetables.
- Thinking through systems ahead of time so that they have the checklists and procedures clearly laid out before an employee steps on the farm, so that they don’t have to think about what to tell people and how to tell them.
- Thoroughly planning planting and tillage schedules and maps so that in the rush of summer, they simply execute.
- Making conscious decisions about scale and income goals, rather than always scrambling for more.
What can you do now to get ahead for next year? What can you stage now to work on this winter?