Well folks it looks like Runamuk will continue to bootstrap it’s way into business. 20 years ago we could have easily gotten a loan for our start-up venture, but the game has changed and investors today want to see that you can start a business with nothing before they’ll give you money. My business counselor suggests we take out a construction loan to build our house first, and then borrow against that once we have built up the Runamuk enterprise.
Now that the option for a business loan has been ruled out, I’m more inclined to do without it anyway. I like the idea of not having a huge loan payment to deal with every month. Bootstrapping it means less pressure, and it also means that we would be part of an elite group of new young farmers who are willing to start small and work their way into the farming world.
Bootstrapping is a form of self-reliance. In the business world it’s also known as self-funding. Through careful budgeting the business owner (and farming is a business like any other) can retain a greater percentage of ownership in his company.
According to this article from Food, Nutrition & Science, Dr. Garry Stephenson, the coordinator for the small farms program at Oregon State University, “We will see continued growth in the numbers of young farmers.” and he expects to see more women and minority farmers among them.
USDA’s agricultural census shows a rise in women farmers; today there are 80% more women farmers than there were 20 years ago, sites this New York Times article called “Out of the Kitchen, Into the Field“.
I believe it’s women’s natural affinity to mother, to nurture and protect that’s driving this shift in farming. Providing food, and creating a meaningful lifestyle for her family is simply a woman’s maternal instinct at work. That instinct is being extended to the community where these small farms are located, so that the local economies are in turn being supported and nurtured by this new generation of farmers.
As a bootstrap farmer, the path I take to create Runamuk as I envision it will certainly be a longer route. Where we’re at now looks nothing like where we’re going; but I know that dirt under the fingernails and sweat on the brow means self-sufficiency, and that’s a future worth working for.