Green Jobs Spotlight: Farmer

We may need to reconceive the notion of what a farm is. (Photo: Linda N. [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

An unlikely job made the top of the green jobs for the next decade list, farmers. Admittedly, when I first think of green jobs I think of environmental science and not farmers. However, after reading the Fast Company article, their placement at the top of the list makes sense.

“America has only two million farmers, and their average age is 55. Since sustainable agriculture requires small-scale, local, organic methods rather than petroleum-based machines and fertilizers, there is a huge need for more farmers — up to tens of millions of them, according to food guru Michael Pollan.” Source: Fast Company

That's right, tens of millions of farmers in the United States alone. In order to meet this need, the traditional view of a farmer needs to be changed. One planned community, Agritopia, located in the Phoenix metropolitan area, is working to meet this need.

Agritopia is a housing community that is centered on an urban farm. The community has completed its construction phase and several hundred families reside in homes around a fully functioning urban farm. This is a true urban farm; the fields contain a variety of specialty crops instead of miles of a single crop. “All of the produce grown on the farm is grown under a protocol at least as stringent as the USDA organic protocol.” Source: Agritopia

Another non-traditional farmer is MNN’s own correspondent, Farmer D. Farmer D has helped create farms in prisons, at summer camps and in backyard gardens. If you want to get started on your own hot green career in your own backyard, be sure to follow Farmer D’s channel here at the Mother Nature Network.

If, however, your ambitions are a little higher and you want to make farming your profession of choice, there are several specialized sustainable agriculture higher education programs to help you meet this goal.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service has a list of university and college programs across the U.S. offering sustainable agriculture education programs. The Ohio State University offers an agroecosystems management program, while the University of Florida offers an undergraduate organic agriculture degree program.

If you are not near a school offering a sustainable agriculture program, Washington State University offers an online organic agriculture certificate. The certificate “is ideal for professionals working in agriculture or related fields who require in-depth knowledge of organic systems, those wanting to pursue a career in organic agriculture, anyone interested in beginning a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, home gardeners...” Source: Washington State University

By changing what we traditionally view as farming, Michael Pollan’s estimation that tens of millions of farmers will be needed does not sound so unreachable.