Becoming a New Family Farmer (video)

A lot of us have dreamed about chucking our city ways and living on the land as a small organic farmer. Here’s the story about Michael Paine, a man who went to college in the Bronx, then joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Lesotho to grow trees.

He concluded that growing food was more pertinent than forestry and when he came home he decided to be a family farmer. The bank wouldn’t lend him money to buy a farm, but based on his wife’s earnings they would lend money to buy a country estate.

It’s an inspiring story and while most of us won’t end up as small farmers, we can appreciate those who do.

Photo credit: Dwight Sipler

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David Nuttle
Past Member 3 years ago

The banks have become the primary enemy of beginning farmers. Our charity, NPI, helped train a group of Hmong (Asian) refugees who desired to start farming in the U.S. (in the Ozarks). A few local banks discovered that USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) would provide 90/ 95 percent farm loan guarantees to help these refugees buy their own small farms. Thus, the banks created a fraud scheme based on inflating the fair market value of farms being purchased, by refugees, while also greatly inflating the estimate of income from these farms. The objective was to make the refugees & USDA believe false numbers on value and farm income to help justify extra large farm loan guarantees. The refugees could not provide debt service because projected farm income was false. These banks acted to speed planned foreclosures on these farms by using ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) interest that quickly went from 2.5 percent to 12.5 percent in a matter of months. The fraud was against USDA & taxpayers in a scheme to very quickly collect on farm loan guarantees. At last count 33 Hmong refugee farmers therefore lost their farms in bank foreclosures in less than two years. This bank fraud was discovered, and 5 banks paid court ordered fines in the range of $1.5 to $2 million. As an example, Regions Bank reportedly paid a fine of $1.7 million on just over $30 million on profits from their fraud. All this is to say that beginning farmers should generally avoid the banks. (I regret to say that

Melinda K.
Past Member 3 years ago

this is my dream, thanks!

Susan S.
Paul Stephan3 years ago

This is a great story. Inspiring. Good luck going forward.

Andrea A.
Andrea A.3 years ago


April B.
April Brown5 years ago

One day I'll be doing this , guaranteed. We are trying to do the self sufficiency thing as much as possible right now but we are in a subdivision, so things are a bit limited. But we do have chickens, a kitchen garden, fruit trees and a compost pile. We're on our way.

Erin  No news please
Erin R.5 years ago

Thank you!

ruth a.
ruth a.5 years ago

Not a luck with growing right now but I keep trying and hopefully get better.

Betty C.
Betty C.5 years ago


Cathy Mounts
Cathy Mounts5 years ago

what an awesome story! i hope to transform my life to something similar in the future! good for this family!

Yassin ki
Yassin ki5 years ago

very good for others