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If you ask the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Resource Service, neither the celebrity nor my operation would qualify as a farm. USDA defines a farm as “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.” I know my two tomato plants would not have produced enough fruit to put $1,000 in my pocket. While I can’t say for sure, I don’t think one chicken could produce enough eggs to meet that monetary amount either. If we don’t quality as a farm, I don’t think we should be called a farmer. 

I have toured.5-acre tomato farms. I have toured 200-acre tomato farms. I can tell you that growing two plants didn’t begin to compare to what actually happens on a farm. I recently visited a North Carolina produce farm on a food bloggers tour I coordinated as part of my day job. The farmer invited us to join her tomato picking crew. The farm is GAP (Good Agriculture Practices)-certified: This is a yearly food safety audit that verifies a farm is following best practices to minimize food safety risks. Before entering the field, we had to disinfect our shoes and wash our hands. Each of us strapped on a basket that could not touch the ground. You can see me wearing a basket earlier in this post. Any tomatoes that fell on the plastic or ground were left there. Per food safety guidelines, once a tomato hits the ground it can not become part of the food chain. Even if the ground is covered with plastic. 

I can tell you that if I dropped a tomato on the ground at home, it would still go in my harvest bucket, because the five-second rule applies in the house and in the garden. My bucket, or box, would be sitting on the ground. My shoes never get disinfected. 

If my tomato plants didn’t produce, I could go to the farmers market or grocery store and buy some. If a farmer’s plants don’t produce, he or she doesn’t get paid.

When I get the chicken coop in my backyard set up and order the three chickens it has room for, I won’t consider myself a chicken farmer. I’ve visited farms that raise chickens using different housing methods, and having three birds will not put me on par with any of those farms. 

Is someone with one chicken being called a farmer even important? I think it is. With all the discussion about how food is grown and food animals are raised, connecting with farmers is more important than ever. I might have thought I understood tomato farming after raising my two plants, but I can tell you after talking to a tomato farmer for five minutes, I didn’t have a clue. I was growing those plants as a hobby; farmers do it for their livelihood. for more information

Location: Alaska
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Created by Janet Kohl Oct 23, 2010 at 2:40pm. Last updated by Janet Kohl Oct 23, 2010.




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