Advice sought by new organic farmer

by Tom
(Florida)

I am looking to start an organic farm in 5 years when I retire. I am looking for feedback on a good area to look at farmland west of the Rockies but with a view of the mountains. My preference is the northwest states. Right now I am leaning towards starting a small diversified homestead and expanding into an orchard from there. I will seek out a mentorship just before making the move. Before everyone tells me to avoid farming because of the expense, I plan on doing this in stages mostly debt free because it is something I will enjoy. I will be looking for at least 20 acres and would like some recommendations on areas in the northwest to look at. Preferably fertile land that would not require several years of costly land preparation. I will be spending the next few summers scouting the areas while on vacation. Also what is the average first year startup costs, excluding the land and home, for a small homestead? I know this is a vague post but I am hopeful it will lead to some informative conversation.

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Jan 30, 2017
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Welcome Tom.
by: Anonymous

Tom, You have a good plan there. Retire to a few acres and become self sustainable in your retirement.
Soil which is good could be hard to find, but soil can be built up using organic methods, adding clay and organic matter where needed, to make loam. Of greater importance is whether any potentially toxic chemicals have been used on the property in the past. Many of these have a residual effect and can poison your produce for many decades into the future. The history of the property may be a clue as to what may have been used. (eg DDT, Malathion, and others)
Soil testing may be worthwhile if contamination is suspected.

What would you like to grow / raise?
Flowers, vegetables, cereal / other crops, fruit trees, etc. Chickens or other poultry, sheep, goats, alpacas or llamas. I advise against anything larger if you plan to handle them yourself. I am 66 years old and can handle a 100lb sheep, from slaughtering to butchering ready for my wife to put in the freezer as roasts, chops and mince. A young steer of 150lb would be well out of my abilities, even with a winch to hoist it for skinning / gutting.
ps: I am near Perth in W. Australia on 4 ac, with 13 sheep and 3 dozen chickens. We have a 'Mediterranean' climate.

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