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  • Matthew & Kata

Without Burn-out?

How to farm long-term without burning-out? Sooner or later this is a question every professional farmer or grower has to face. Few people are so wise and balanced from the start of their farming career that they don't end up having to face the challenge of balancing the needs of "myself and my family" against the demands of the farm or garden to thrive. Organic and regenerative farmers add additional stresses by attempting to farm without undermining nature - if we are not careful this can undermine ourselves.

Dezsényi Zoltán and Judit (MagasVölgy Ökológiai Gazdaság) struggled hard over the first decade of establishing their farm, with challenges of the pressure to repay loans with the responsibility to week-by-week find the money to pay employees. They developed a very strong team approach over time, to reduce stress on the grower family, and look for better decisions by including more people.

Áron Pető (Szigetmonostor Biokert) leads the longest running CSA (community supported agriculture) farm in Hungary. From the beginning he decided to try to share some of the burden (at least the financial burden) of running the farm by including consumers in a shared community, which would season-by-season finance the production, in return for weekly boxes. As the farm matures, Áron is looking to bring his team more into the decision-making process, to reduce all the responsibility being carried on his shoulders.

Nemes Mátyás (Nemes Ökogazdaság, Fülöpjakob) avoids burn-out by centring himself in Nature and tuning in to the energy in Nature to maintain his vigour. He has learnt over the years to let Marika néni (his wife) make most of the daily decisions in the garden.

So both balancing family life with farm life and building a strong farm team seem to be the crucial keys. Keeping inspired and therefore motivated are essential. Bringing on others, especially younger successors has to be part of building a successful, multi-generational farm. The challenge of attracting young, ambitious, talented people into farming is a theme we could continue in future newsletters. Perhaps being ready to compromise is one of the essential qualities we need to develop as farmers - for a tribe of stubborn individualists this is a challenge.

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