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LH 142: Farming on 5 Acres or Less

Full farming on 5 acres or less!

We all have to eat.

And if you’re into organic, sustainable food, you either have to grow it yourself or find reliable sources from people with the same values that you have.

Chances are…you’ll find those values in your local, small-scale farmer!

In today’s episode, I interview Josh Volk who is a small-scale farmer, farming consultant and an author. He wrote a book featuring 15 small-scale farmers from across the country. It showcased how they were making it in the compact farm world and I found it fascinating.

So if you’ve ever thought about becoming a farmer, you’ll love this episode.


If you’re like me and you have a curiosity about what it takes to grow our food (on a bigger scale than our backyards)…Well, you’ll love this episode too!       


You will learn:

  • Is it possible to start a farm as a “side gig” (part time)
  • What is bio-intensive food production
  • Are there advantages to farming in a small way
  • What are the 3 pillars of sustainability a farmer needs to follow
  • How is “success” as a farmer defined
  • What trait do most organic farmers share
  • How a “sampler share” CSA fits smaller families and smaller farms


Josh Volk:

Josh Volk on

Josh Volk has been working on small farms for the past 20 years. He started as a mechanical engineer with a garden, was inspired by John Jeavons to learn production techniques, apprenticed on a tractor scale farm in California before managing farms and setting up tractor based systems for 10-15 acre vegetable operations.

For the past 10 years he’s been splitting his time between a return to hand scale production, consulting for tractor scale operations, designing tools, and writing articles about farm tools and techniques. He is author of the recent book “Compact Farms: 15 Proven Plans for Market Farms on 5 Acres or Less.” He currently lives and farms in Portland, Oregon.



Resources & Links Mentioned:

Compact Farms* – Josh’s bookCompact Farms by Josh Volk on

Slow Hand Farm – Josh’s Production and Consulting website

Compact Farms – Josh’s site related to the book

Josh Volk – Josh’s website

Farm Hand Carts – a long time side project of Josh’s with a more direct connection between the small scale farming and mechanical engineering

How To Grow More Vegetables* by John Jeavons


Related Episodes:

LH 119: Behind the Scenes of Flower Farming

LH 95: Growing Organic Flowers



Click here for the full transcript for Episode #142

*denotes an affiliate link

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.