What is a
For the sake of convenience, we define 'real farms' as any food production operation that meets the standards listed below. The operations include the production of honey, vegetables, fruit, meats, dairy goods, medicinal remedies, tinctures, fermented beverages, textiles, fermented vegetables, and grain. We also consider 'real farmers' to be wild foraging experts, community gardens and operations that use the byproducts of 'Real Farms', such as wax candle-makers, leather craftsmen, etc.... We apologize to any area we have left out, and please contact us if you feel we may have overlooked an important contributor.
R.A.R.E.'s Standards for Real Farmers
Every single niche of this planet has different conditions, and every single food producer has a mix of different goals, abilities and perspectives, so the methods used on every operation may differ dramatically, but necessarily. We keep in mind that many real farms do not receive organic certification because they cannot either afford it, or feel that Big Ag is using loopholes to take over the 'organic' label. After visiting, designing and working on farms for many years, we have collectively agreed upon the following principles every food producer must adhere to, to be considered a 'Real Farm' and 'RARE Producer'. Note again, 'real farms' include ranches, apiaries, dairies, flower producers, medicinal growers, and other types of food & textile producers.
The use of synthetic and/or any highly-concentrated pesticides, fertilizers, specific biocides and similar substances is prohibited (one-time applications for extreme cases will be considered). Soil & food product samples are taken at least once a year on each farm and tested for agricultural chemical residues.
Real Farms use natural methods to restore the fertility of the land, and thus ensure the nutrient value in their food. Farmers replace and naturally manufacture the critical compounds that nourish the soil, and in turn, or bodies, every year using sustainable & regenerative practices. This includes the quality and health effects of nonedible products.
Every location is analyzed for according to the specific needs of each species. Population size, space to freely roam, water access, feed quality and forage availability, handling methods, and other management aspects are all taken under consideration when evaluating each site. In general, we include the systems that best mimic the animal's 'wild' conditions and allow for it's natural behaviors, resulting in happier and healthier animals.
We recognize that it is impossible for many real farmers to source all their inputs locally for a variety of reasons, but we look for producers that utilize local sources to the best of their abilities, and use methods that minimize fossil-fuel consumption and soil compaction as much as possible. We will be providing assistance to potential producers who desire to transition to more local sources & sustainable methods, but lack the financial means or technical expertise to do so.
The farmers we work with are highly intelligent, extremely hard working people. But in order to support even one farm, we need each farmer to do his or her fair share as well. Real farming is one of the last remaining truly grass-roots movements, and a spirit of passion, humility and perseverance will be needed in the all facets of the relationship between RARE and the real farmers we are committed to helping.
The Education & History of Real Farming
The farms that practice real agriculture overwhelmingly tend to be run by farmers who do not put much stock in material goods. Homes the farmers live in are modest in size, and were worked on, built or salvaged by the farmers themselves. We feel it is important to note that these folks are completely committed to and fulfilled by, feeding real food to their community. Not a single farmer is trying to 'get rich' here, they just want to be able to fairly compete in the food economy that the government has encouraged Big Ag to dominate. These folks are the best of our countrymen and women.
Here is a glimpse of some of the cycles Real Farmers must work with (more below)
A Brief History
We are not historians, but here we will note a timeline of important events in the history of US agriculture that may help explain how we got to where we are today.
Real Farming Required
Almost all farms were diversified (multiple plant and animal species) with complementary interactions. Farmers were skilled in a wide range of trades and had autonomy over how to manage their crops and animals.
Cheap tractors are able to be produced, encouraging widespread use of monocultures
Over 90% of the US Southeast is rural and composed mainly of small farms
Secretary of Agriculture
tells US farmers to 'get big or GET OUT' (via using Big Ag's products & commercial agriculture's methodologies)
The Bayer-Monsanto Merger
A Big Pharma Giant buys a Big Ag Giant, conveniently owning both the medicine and poison that makes humans sick
The First Cheat
The Haber-Bosch Process was invented to create the first synthetic fertilizer
Big Ag Beginnings
First DDT agricultural pesticides allowed for use in agriculture
The 'Green Revolution'
Big Ag pushes farmers to feed the world by using their synthetic agricultural chemicals
1980's US Farm Crisis
'Millions of US farmers lose their farms after racking up debt trying to 'get big' as the government had advised
Real Farming: Required Knowledge
We could not possibly come anywhere close to listing all the many diverse and specialized knowledge domains Real Farmers must employ every day and are constantly learning more about. Here we list just a teaspoon of the kind of ecological concepts a Real Farmer must consider when weighing factors into his/her everyday decisions. Real Farmers today must also be well versed in business, logistics, distribution and many other fields in order to compete with the Big Ag mega-corporations.