There was an old saying back years ago when I was a business consultant that goes like this:
Those who can, do.
Those who can’t do, teach.
Those who can’t teach? They consult.
I think of that little refrain as I see an increasing number of email and Facebook promotions from farmers-turned-consultants. It’s not meant as a put-down, because the farmers who are doing the consulting are talented individuals with serious real-world experience, profiled on this blog. No, this emergence of farming educators/consultants has to be a reflection of the growing interest in regenerative agriculture by more folks serious about homesteading. Here are three prime examples:
1.Charlotte Smith. Last time we heard from Charlotte Smith in 2015, her raw milk was in such big demand, she was selling it for $24 a gallon from her Oregon farm. She had just begun her consulting activities. The consulting seems to have taken off—on her Facebook page, she reported in April that she had more than 800 people signed up for three days of free lessons on how to market farm products more effectively, while keeping your personal life together. Her own consulting business model is to ‘graduate’ participants from her free programs to paid individual coaching gigs.
2. Mark Baker. This U.S. Air Force vet-turned-farmer garnered national attention a few years back when the state of Michigan came down on him for farming wild hogs. He spent three years successfully fending them off in court. There was a brief foray into local politics, before pushing full steam into teaching/consulting activities. These include on-farm sessions on butchering hogs, chickens, and other meat sources, along with instruction and support for homesteading and home schooling. There are also video options. Pricing is from $80 for a one-day class on pastured chickens to $650 for a three-day class on raising and butchering hogs.
3. Joel Salatin. The master farmer has long had a national following, thanks to his appearances in various documentaries about farming and his wide-ranging speaking activities and instructional books. Since Covid did a number on his in-person speeches to corporate and nonprofit organizations, he’s made a big push into the teaching/consulting arena with a high professional Facebook marketing campaign, that explains: “Farming and homesteading are very tough enterprises to build. There’s a lot to know, a lot to buy, and land is expensive. This course will make all the difference in your chances of success with your homestead or farmstead effort. Get started today!” It leads prospects to a web site full of endorsements from happy previous participants and videos of Joel. The 18-video course sells for $995.
There are also a number of farmers doing their own one-off conferences and informal gatherings. Canadian raw dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, who spent years battling Canada’s legal system for the right to sell raw milk, offers rooms on his farm via AirBNB, and says he provides farming instruction to travelers, most of whom are eager to learn.
Business experts sometimes argue that the real money during the California Gold Rush of the 1840s was made by the many businesses selling picks and shovels and other supplies to the eager gold seekers. So it it seems to be many decades later in the homesteading rush.