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You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farm Enterprise
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You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farm Enterprise

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,055 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Have you ever desired, deep within your soul, to make a comfortable full-time living from a farming enterprise? Too often people dare not even vocalize this desire because it seems absurd. It's like thinking the unthinkable.

After all, the farm population is dwindling. It takes too much capital to start. The pay is too low. The working conditions are dusty, smelly and noisy
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by Polyface
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Jenni Pertuset
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
The value of this book for me lies not in Joel Salatin's prose, which is painful to read, but in a simple question he asks. From my open book post about Wendell Berry's Unsettling of America:

If we can’t return ourselves and our nation to our agrarian roots, what can we do to heal the cultural wounds he describes – wounds that are as much ecological, communal, and personal as they are agricultural? As I read The Unsettling of America, my own answer came in the form of a question: “What are you do
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Though I'm sure some of the information in this book is dated now that it's 15 years old, it seems like a very handy guide to starting a financially viable and environmentally responsible farm. Salatin gives a lot of excellent advice, and he certainly knows his business. He demonstrates a profound respect for the earth as he sees it, and I applaud him for espousing such a positive, "can do" message. I am about to begin my own small farming enterprise, and I'm sure that plenty of Salatin's rules ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I first heard mention of Joel Salatin and his Polyface Farm in an interview with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, and I was fascinated from the start. Central to Polyface Farm was a carefully controlled rotation of animals grazing on the land, with chickens following cows to break up their manure and eat the grubs laid in it, reducing fly problems and providing food for the chickens. You Can Farm gives not only an overview of Salatin's farming methods for raising high-quality po ...more
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Whew, thank goodness I found this book before I bought a farm. I stayed on my grandparent's farm during the summers of my youth. Those were some of the happiest times of my life, along with family vacations and days on the lake in Dad's boat. It was easy for me to romanticize the idea of having a farm. I greatly appreciate Joel's methods - we need more farmers like him. But alas, I am not one of them. This realization dawned on me after reading about the difference between a backyard vineyard an ...more
There is is simply no excuse for any type of agriculture that degrades the environment. I am not a believer in "trade-off" mentality. I do not believe for an instant that in order to produce enough food we need to sacrifice environmental quality. Included in this goal is smell.

Any food production system that stinks up the neighborhood -- regardless of how rural -- is unacceptable. Excusing farm smells with that euphemistic "fresh country air" business is ridiculous. If you ever smell manure, yo
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. Great advice; in fact, a lot of it is probably not what you were expecting to hear. One of the most interesting pieces of advice, which he repeats a number of time in the book, is that if you want to start farming, don't start by farming. Start by getting your kitchen certified so you can make and sell baked / cooked goods at the local farmers markets. Once you've built some customers and established yourself in the market, *then* begin vertically integrating by starting to farm ...more
Nov 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
The crazy sustainable pastured beef and poultry farmer featured in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma has some books of his own. This is one of them. It's chock full of advice and ideas for actually turning a profit in agriculture, long considered a fiscal black hole ("if I had a million dollars I'd farm until it was all gone"). He's been doing it, and he's seen others do it, and he's seen a lot of folks go broke following the conventional wisdom and the best advice of the USDA and Universi ...more
Tim Segraves
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
On page 88 - need to renew
Claudia Yahany
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Michael Pollan me terminó de convencer de darle una oportunidad a Joel Salatin. En The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan vive y trabaja en esta granja en su búsqueda del platillo perfecto. Mi interés en estos procesos de producción son precisamente la búsqueda de los mejores ingredientes (y el corte perfecto), reconociendo que la naturaleza es más sabia que los humanos.

With that said, fuera de algunas posturas/formas del autor creo en su mensaje de forma general (este libro tiene casi 20 años y le harí
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You Can Farm is beyond inspirational for new/beginning farmers. Not only does it encourage individuals with the desire to farm, to farm, but it also talks in depth about starting an succeeding in a farming enterprise. I plan to own this one one day and read it over and over again. I am about to start a farm internship in the spring and You Can Farm helped me feel more prepared for this endeavour. Thanks Joel Salatin!
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: shelved
I had to stop reading this because Joel Salatin needs to hire an editor. His writing is like my dreamlets as I fall to sleep. Inspiring and beautiful for a sentence here and there, but put all of them together and there is no order. PLUS it is really just a book of buzzfeed top 10 lists before there was buzzfeed (published 1998?).

I had to stop reading because the book was a rough draft. Good info in it, but needs more work.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Any book by Joel Salatin is going to be enjoyable as well as challenging. He is a radical to say the least, but his ideas all have something for those wanting to farm or ranch more holistically. This was an early book of his and it goes into great detail every step of a farming business; from dream and plan design to marketing and pricing. I highly recommend!
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
It was a good read, however some of his advice may be a bit dated however, after running a 'hobby farm' for many years he has some very good advice on where, and where not to spend money. It's definitely worth the read to someone thinking of doing this for a living.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Some helpful information, but I believe his new book will be more helpful.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Read this book in year three of our farm journey. Had already learned most of his common sense suggestions, and thought it got a little preachy. Overall, good to know we are on the right path though.
Kelly Herbert
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very helpful, practical, and encouraging.
Johnny Bennett
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Joel Salatin is an American farmer who raises livestock using holistic management methods of animal husbandry. He keeps his Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia free from chemicals and sells his products via direct marketing to consumers and restaurants. He appears in both the film Food, Inc., which I’d suggest viewing, and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivores Dilemma, which I’d recommend reading.
Joel spends the first few chapters of You Can Farm trying to dissuade you from farming. The
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book.

This book has so much information in it that to explain what it is about, well where do i start? In a nutshell it is an encouragement, a guide, an education about ethical, sustainable, profitable farming. Joel explains how if your dream is to be working on the land, that you can do it and make a living off of it, and even eventually a profit. That the old farming models are no longer viable, not just in the sense that they are destroying the environment, pumping the population wit
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: how-to-guides
I found that the book had too much annoying idealism and fluff. Mr. Salatin isn't very critical of the capitalist system at all because he sees it as his own means. Rather than pointing out that it is the purpose of production under the capitalist system to make profits, and that all environmental destruction (direct or indirect) flows from that, Mr. Salatin just wants to point out "bad guys": big agriculture, the USDA, chemical companies like monsanto, and so on. He too wants to make a buck wit ...more
Dave Weber
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book because I want to become a farmer after college, I read the book hoping to pick up lots of knowledge and insight into the real world of farming, and I did! This book gave me all the realistic pros and cons of the farming life style, this book addresses everything from your farming philosophy down to the the tools you will need to get started. It gave me tons of new ideas for my farm such as forest pigs paddocks and catfish farming. The author Joel Salatin has the right idea of ...more
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
I can hardly contain my excitement. Started it on the bus ride in this morning and it was the quickest bus ride ever!

This book was everything I'd hoped it would be. Practical advice.

I am sure I will come back to it many times in the years ahead. The most interesting this to me about Salatin's advice on becoming a farmer is that you don't need land, at least not right away. He advocates renting land first to make sure you can actually make money from a piece of land before spending all your money
Matt Bianco
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. You can too. If you are at all, even remotely, interested in farming, then you need to read this book. Salatin gives a great, fair, and balanced overview of farming. His premise is that farming CAN be a successful enterprise, contra what farmers tend to tell us today. He covers the bases for everything you could possibly wonder about farming. He has chapters on diversity, land, water, feed, equipment, neighborliness, communication, and anything else you could imagine. ...more
Scott Wigginton
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Good reminder of the level of ignorance we have in our food system. He has some good down to earth approaches and clearly shows a passion for what he believes and recognizes he is on the fringe. His methods show a clear focus on what makes a successful farm (making money) and how to best leverage synergistic approaches (don't just sell corn, sell cornbread!) and using animals that make money to perform tasks that typically cost the farmer (hogs to breakup cowpies, not a tractor implement costing ...more
Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
This book was not only a great pleasure to read, I found it exciting and wonderfully engaging. Salatin is an entrepreneurial farmer in Virginia that raises cattle, chicken, rabbits, and turkeys using all natural methods--specifically on the pasture. Each animal fits a unique role in the farm ecosystem. The result is healthy, beyond organic meat and eggs.

The book is all about how to succeed as a farmer using techniques that the government and the industrial food corporations long ago abandoned in
May 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Yay for moving small-scale farm enterprises out of the poorhouse and into the realm of money-making ventures.
The main thing that was helpful in this book was his breakdown of the economics of farming and how creatively a farm can be badly managed and lose money. Likewise, he explains simple ways to keep costs down and productivity up.
He also gives great ideas for how to actually start up and stay solvent all the way through to completely supporting yourself from your farm.
I do have a criticism.
H Grimes
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I could really do without all the god talk, mild sexism, and libertarian politics tossed in throughout the book, but otherwise, as a wannabe farmer who has some offbeat ideas and isn't so interested in a traditional farm, this is far and away the most helpful book on farming I've read. I'm so grateful I stumbled on this one as it's given me a sense of direction and confidence that I can pull this off. There are some parts that are pretty outdated, but the majority of the book is still completely ...more
Aubrey Anne
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: farming
Salatin has create the perfect beginners "textbook." I met him at Wanderlust in West Virginia earlier this year. I had previously heard of his farm, but didn't know much about it. While listening to him speak, I knew I had to talk to him and get my hands on a few of his books. I was in the process of buying 100 acres when our paths crossed. This is one of the books that Joel recommended I read, as somebody that already had an assortment of poultry and was on the verge of moving my farm and start ...more
Dec 10, 2010 rated it liked it
So smack dab in the middle of my farming obsession, I read Joel F. Salatin's "You Can Farm." And I must say he is an enthusiastic farm cheerleader. With definite opinions. And.... I don't agree with all of them.
That being said, his book is very informative, smart, and easy to follow. Salatin encourages his audience to think outside the traditional farming box. If someone wanted to live on a farm and make their entire living off of it, I would whole heartedly recommend this book.
However, after r
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Joel is a nationally renowned speaker on organic farming and "relationship marketing." He is on a mission to develop emotionally, economically and environmentally enhanced agricultural enterprises, and facilitate their duplication around the world. Part of that goal is to produce the best food in the world.

Joel espouses an agricultural paradigm shift that sees plants and animals as partners rather