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10 Steps to Transform Yourself from an Urbanite to a Farmer

How to Become a Farmer

Illustration © Zoe More O'Ferrall

The transformation from urbanite to farmer doesn’t 
happen overnight. First you get the itch for the countryside—more space, bigger closets, green grass outside your front door, neighbors who bring you pies. Then the dream takes hold. You spend weekends admiring barns. You find cute towns, and even cuter country stores and farmers’ markets. Then you start the real estate hunt. 
Here, your 10 steps to a new life.

1
. Find your house. It’s a big old farmhouse with orchards and 
some outbuildings. (“OMG, we’ll renovate a barn!”) 
You visit on weekends. Very soon (I give it six months), 
you’ll never want to return to the city. 


2
. Go out to brunch as often as possible before you leave the city. 
You will never do it again once you move to the country, 
because you’ve paid for an amazing kitchen and it would be dumb not to cook in it. And you won’t have time. 


3
. Throw away your nice clothes. OK, don’t throw them away, 
but pack up anything you would hate 
to get covered in dirt, grass stains and dog hair. 


4
. Buy a vehicle with four-wheel drive. Use it to move to your new country home. After you’ve unloaded your city things, fill the trunk with what you’ll need in case you get stuck in mud or snow: gloves, blankets, hand warmers, an ice scraper, a pair of muck boots, bungee cords, a flashlight and a shovel.


5
. Plant a small garden. Small is the operative word. 
There are two errors that will peg you as a newbie. One is planting too early in the season (the days may be warm, but it doesn’t 
mean there won’t be frost at the end of May). The second is overplanting (you will never be able to eat everything). 


6
. Prepare cute baskets of your excess zucchini and basil—since 
you didn’t follow Tip 5 and have overplanted—and deliver them 
to your neighbors, who also have too much zucchini and basil. 


7
. Volunteer to man a booth at the local farmers’ market. 
Go so far as to make your own pesto and label the plastic container with an adorable logo and name, like the 
Gardner Brothers’ Pesto or Ann Marie’s Famous Pesto. 


8
. Disappear into the kitchen. Once the pesto develops a following, you will spend all your free time whizzing basil and cheese in the blender. How did you become a walking pesto machine? 


9
. Staff up. The buyer from Whole Foods Market, who read about your pesto on a local food blog, calls. Can you produce enough for them? Not unless you rent a commercial kitchen and hire a team.


10
. Reassess. So much for a relaxed rural life. It’s time to move 
farther north to where the growing season is shorter and you can get some much-needed rest and a weekend off.

Related: Build a Restaurant, Revive a Town
The Coolest Butcher Shops
Parker Posey Dreams of Being a Mushroom Farmer, Thinks She Can Beat the Cronut

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