As part of our Beginning Farmers Booth at Farm Aid I constructed a quiz that attempted to challenge people to think about 'do you have what it takes to be a farmer'.
The exercise was meant to be fun, and was based solely on my own (admittedly limited) observations of 'successful' farmers I have known. The questions couldn't possibly be a completely accurate judge of a person's actual ability to succeed in farming. And the recommendations based on individual scores, similarly, are meant to be anecdotal, and to make people think.
Farming is fraught with uncertainty and risk, and all participants who took the quiz at Farm Aid agreed not hold beginningfarmers.org liable for any decisions made based on the results. Anyone who takes the quiz here is expected to do the same.
There were a couple of practicing farmers who did poorly, just as there were surely non-farmers that don't 'have what it takes' who did well. Still, most participants seemed to agree that their scores were probably pretty good indicators of where they stood. The evaluations are directed towards people who are not yet farming, or at least not doing so as a career, but many existing farmers found the quiz fun and interesting as well.Answer each question on a scale of 1-5 where: 1 = No, definitely not, this does not describe me at all 2 = This is not really, or at least not usually true about me 3 = I’m okay with this, but not totally, not all of the time, and/or not with everything. 4 = Yes, this is basically true of me in general 5 = Absolutely, this describes me perfectly 1) I prefer to work outside no matter what the weather is like. Answer_____ 2) I’m not scared of bugs, fungus, slime, or other things that a lot of people think are gross. Answer_____ 3) I am good at identifying what needs to be done and prioritizing tasks in order of importance. Answer_____ 4) I like financial planning, and am good at taking notes, crunching numbers and evaluating expenditures. Answer_____ 5) I am a good observer, and generally see details that a lot of other people miss. Answer_____ 6) I like tinkering, building things, and am mechanically inclined. Answer_____ 7) I am financially savvy, thrifty, and tend make due with what I have rather than buying new things. Answer_____ 8) When I do buy things, I seldom regret the purchases I’ve made, and tend to use the things I buy. Answer_____ 9) I’m not easily frustrated, and don’t get too upset when stuff doesn’t go my way. Answer_____ 10) Making money is less important to me than accomplishment, and I don’t mind not being ‘rich’ as long as I am happy with the work I do. Answer_____ 11) I don’t tend to wallow in failure. Instead I simply consider it as a lesson and try to do it better the next time around. Answer_____ 12) I like hard, physical work, and don’t mind being tired at the end of the day. Answer_____ 13) I am not easily bored, restless, or frustrated by mundane tasks. Answer_____ 14) I am good at giving direction, and explaining to others how I expect things to be done in a precise and tactful way. Answer_____ 15) I’m better at doing a lot of different things pretty well than at doing only one or two things extremely well. Answer_____ 16) I don’t mind being alone, and am happy working by myself for long periods of time. Answer_____ 17) When something breaks I usually try to fix it myself before taking it to a shop. Answer_____ 18) I tend to ‘roll with the punches’ and can accept when things don’t go ‘according to plan’. Answer_____ 19) I like to get up early, get going with my day, and don’t tend to stop until I feel like I’ve accomplished all the things I needed to get done. Answer_____ 20) I’m comfortable taking risks, and accepting that not everything is within my control. Answer_____ 21) I am constantly looking for new information, and trying to understand how to do the things I do more effectively and efficiently. Answer_____ 22) I don’t need people to tell me I’m doing a good job to be satisfied with the things I accomplish. Answer_____ 23) I am a big picture person, and can see how lots of different small things are related to one another. Answer_____ 24) I’m a good long-term planner, but am comfortable changing my vision when necessary. Answer_____ 25) I love growing plants and/or taking care of animals, and am generally good at keeping them alive and healthy. Answer_____ TOTAL SCORE _______ EVALUATING YOUR SCORE: 25-50: Farming probably isn’t right for you. But this means you should appreciate the people who do it, and try to support them by buying food from your local farmers at markets, roadside stands, or through community supported agriculture programs. The Farm and Market Directories Page on beginningfarmers.org (under Information Pages on the side bar to the left) can help you locate some near you. 51-70: Farming might not be the best career choice for you, but maybe you should learn more about it by visiting some local farms and talking to farmers at your local markets. You also might really enjoy growing some of your own food in your backyard, or better yet, your front yard. And Please support your local farmers. 71-100: Maybe you are ready to try growing food on a modest scale. You could probably handle a big garden, a few chickens, and maybe even a couple of goats or sheep for milk or meat to provide as much of your own food as possible. You might even try selling a little on the side, to see if you like it. Beginningfarmers.org has lots of resources to help with that. So start exploring the site to see what you are interested in and what steps you might take to get going. 100-115: You seem to have what it takes, so maybe you should think about exploring farming as a career option. If you are interested in that, start slow by taking beginning farmer classes, signing up for an internship, or starting to produce crops or livestock on your own land or land owned by a relative or neighbor. You should definitely check out the resources available at beginningfarmers.org to find out more about what you’ll need to get started. 116-125: You are an exceptional candidate, and you definitely have what it takes to farm. If you choose to consider farming as a career, you should begin exploring the steps you will need to get going using the resource links on beginningfarmers.org, by talking with your local extension agent, through a training programs, an internship, or a farm job. Your choices about where and how to start of will depend on your current knowledge and resource level. Be careful to move slowly and deliberately in order to minimize your risk. Recognize that it won’t be easy, and that success is not guaranteed. But if you are interested in going for it, it is likely that you will find farming rewarding and well suited to you.