Farmers markets are also a great place to meet producers. Not only do you have an opportunity to purchase their product to try out at home, but to also talk with them about their own farming operations. They may appear to specialize in one particular thing (i.e., goat-cheese making, or jam-making), but you don’t know without asking them first. They may even allow you to come out to their farm to talk with them more and get a personal tour.
Read books that discuss the kind of farming you want to get involved in. The library is a great place to start, and ideally a library of a post-secondary institution will give you more resources than one at a local elementary, secondary school. A bookstore is also ideal if you want to start your own collection of farming-related books that you can reference any time you like through purchasing and/or ordering any book you need. On-line book sites are also good to look through.
Search the Internet for various articles that cover the many topics of the particular enterprise you want to get started in. In the United States, the Center of Rural Affairs also offers online PDF documents that contains lots of information for beginning farmers and ranchers. A PDF link here gives some advice for those wanting to get into agriculture. There is also a beginner farmers website called Beginning Farmers that contains a lot of information for beginner farmers. Quite frankly, if you search Google with the search term “beginner farmer” you will find a large number of links to look at that caters to those wanting to get started in farming.
Look for and read some online discussion forums that contain various topics on agriculture, from cattle to goats to crops and machinery. Online forums are great places to discuss a number of topics in farming and ranching with other producers and agricultural experts.
In your research, find out every aspect of farming that you need to know about, from skills needed to accomplish various jobs (basic mechanical aptitude, how to operate machinery, knowing animal behavior, growth stages of crops, etc.), market potential for your product (where, how, what, when, to whom, and even why), environmental conditions and changes of your area (soil type and quality, vegetation [type, above-ground biomass, natural biome], topography [flat or hilly, high elevation or low] and climatic conditions [precipitation amount, storm frequency and type, drought/flood frequency]), and things you need to know about how to perform the many duties on your farm.
Attend some informational sessions held in your area or within your state or province (or, if necessary, in a different province or state in your country, or even in a neighboring country). They will give you the information you need to run your farm. Such sessions may be on farm economics and finances or how to grow and harvest a certain crop. They may be even on the advancing technologies of your sector of interest, or even on improving management on your farm to be more sustainable and environmentally-conscious.. Some sessions are free, others may require an entrance fee or admission to attend.
Watch how people do their tasks and ask them to teach you if you feel you won’t be able to learn it by yourself. You may also find that you will have to ask why quite often, so don’t be afraid to do so! You will go through a steep learning curve the first month or two that you are a part of the farm’s operations. You will also learn to do many tasks including how to change oil in the tractor, fix the combine, get the cows prepared for milking, how to manage pastures and the livestock that graze them, make feed for livestock, and even simpler things like how to tell the difference between wheat and barley.
You must be willing to perform any and every task that needs to get done on a working farm as equally as you are willing to learn more about it. Many of these activities will take practice to sufficiently master, as well as a good deal of manual labor. If there is something you’re not willing nor comfortable doing, let your employer know (and state why), while also understanding the possibility that you may not have much of a choice in the matter. However, if, for instance, you’re uncomfortable with having to euthanize a sick and dying animal, you may be missing the point in understanding that you will actually be doing the kindest thing for that animal in ending its suffering.
This may sound superficial, but if you walked into a law firm interview dressed in a pair of scrubby blue jeans and work boots, it’s as inappropriate attire as walking onto a farm to start work wearing a suit and some classy shoes. It’s highly recommended that you wear a T-shirt, jeans, and work boots, particularly those that are safety-standard approved and have steel toes.