If we are to ensure that those that follow us on this earth have good food to eat and take care of the valuable top soil then we must train young farmers. This is a very important issue for many of us.
Today I am part of a panel at the Eco Farm Conference at Asilomar on California's central coast. The session is hosted by California Farmlink which helps young farmers, landowners and retiring farmers get together.
There are opportunities for young farmers to gain farming experience but many lack the business skills which are so important. A farmers work in his or her office and interaction with customers is vital for success. Over the past six years at Eatwell Farm we have given five young farmers the chance to work in our office experiencing the day to day activity of running a farm. They have been given responsibility and four out of five have done very well, the other lasted only a few weeks.
As many of you who are in business know good customer service and communication are not skills everyone has or are developed enough to run a real world operation. It is not enough just to be able to produce the goods or services that you sell.
Unfortunately we seem to be one of a few farms that open up to young people. Us farmers tend to be a very private group who do not want anyone to know how well or how poorly we are doing. I want to encourage farmers to open up and help young farmers gain the vital experience they need.
We will see how many turn up for the session. There are 1,300 people attending the conference and at least ten different options at the same time.