Don't wait until after retirement to start farming

Don't wait until after retirement to start farming

MANY of my employed middle-aged friends, whether chatting online or in person, have expressed a desire to pursue farming upon retirement, like I did. They seem captivated by the pictures of fresh, pesticide-free vegetables and tropical fruits I occasionally share on Facebook Messenger. In posting these photos, I unwittingly portray a romanticized image of farming post-retirement, glossing over the challenges faced by my family and caretakers in producing these crops in the uplands.

However, let me be clear: there are numerous benefits to farming after retirement. It offers retirees a meaningful use of time and a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Engaging in activities such as gardening, caring for animals and outdoor chores promotes physical activity, which is conducive to good health and overall well-being. Moreover, farming fosters a connection with nature, allowing retirees to appreciate the outdoors and breathe unpolluted air, which can have positive effects on stress reduction and mental health. Additionally, growing their own food, including fresh, organic vegetables, affords retirees more control over their diet. Farming can also generate income to supplement their retirement savings or pension.

But there exist significant downsides and challenges for retirees venturing into farming. The occupation is physically demanding, and keeping up with labor-intensive activities becomes increasingly difficult with age. Personally, I feel the strain on my joints when trekking on rough pathways toward the farm. Financial risks abound. These include crop failure; adverse weather conditions such as droughts, heavy rain and strong typhoons; and market instability, which can induce stress, particularly if farming constitutes a primary source of retirement support. Moreover, maintaining a farm incurs numerous additional costs, including labor, equipment, inputs and losses from farm thieves. Time commitment is substantial, which retirees may not always have or wish to allocate to other activities. For those new to farming or lacking experience, a steep learning curve necessitates training and hands-on experience to acquire essential skills and knowledge. Depending on the farm's location, such as in the uplands with limited access to community resources, health services and social activities, retirees may experience social isolation. That is why it is important for retirees to join farmers' associations to build social relationships within their communities.

In general, farming can be a fulfilling pursuit for physically fit senior citizens willing to invest time and effort. However, it is crucial to carefully consider the challenges and lifestyle adjustments before embarking on this path.

In my view, those contemplating farming as a post-retirement occupation would be wise to begin preparations at a younger age while still holding a regular job. Whether one owns farmland or intends to purchase one, beginning work on the property during weekends or holidays is advisable. Maintaining a regular job provides a stable income source, mitigating financial risks associated with farming. Any income derived from farming can complement earnings from employment, enhancing financial security. Balancing farming with a regular job enables individuals to sustain a healthy work-life balance, enjoying the benefits of farming and outdoor activities during leisure time without solely relying on farming for income.

I am acquainted with couples who have acquired or inherited small farms in rural areas while holding high-pressure jobs in business and academia. They tend to their small farms during their free time, primarily as a means of relaxation from work pressures. Caretakers are employed to ensure property security and maintenance. Farming as a hobby or side activity has enabled them to develop valuable skills related to organic farming, animal husbandry and aquaculture, either through direct observation or by attending training provided by agricultural and fisheries experts. Weekend farming can also serve as a social activity, fostering connections with other hobby farmers and participation in community events such as farmers' markets or agricultural fairs. Moreover, it has prompted them to view farming as a business enterprise. Consequently, when these individuals eventually leave their high-pressure jobs or retire, their weekend farming experiences have equipped them with the necessary skills to transition to full-time farming. Over time, the trees and other high-value crops they planted during their youth have matured, serving as additional sources of income. Some of them are operating successful farm-tourism enterprises that cater to various types of clients.

Part-time engagement in farming during one's working years lays the groundwork for a successful transition to full-time farming in retirement. By starting early and integrating farming into their lives alongside regular employment, retirees can prepare for and embrace farming as a meaningful and sustainable occupation in their later years.

  • https://www.msn.com/en-ph/news/opinion/don-t-wait-until-after-retirement-to-start-farming/ar-BB1k10ZX?ocid=00000000

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