Advice for Aspiring Farmers - Interview Series
Name: Kwesi Asante
Job/position Title: The Coordinator of Farm Education and Training at ECO City Farms
What are your major job/position responsibilities?
In particular, I manage the Growing Urban Farms and Farmers. In that capacity, I coordinate educational workshops and on the farm training activities for a cohort of aspiring new urban farmers.
What do you enjoy most about your job/position?
I love working in nature. I enjoy helping others to learn the process of growing food from a seedling to a mature product. Each day, I learn something new.
Is it hard to balance your alternate career with your agricultural career?
No, not really. I am fortunate to work in the allied health field as a certified medical laboratory technician in a microbiology hospital lab. I work every other weekend and farming is my weekday employment.
How did you get involved/interested in the agricultural profession?
I grew [up] in Ghana. It is located in West Africa. There, farming is the primary economic activity. As a young boy, everyone had relatives who worked in farming either growing for subsistence or producing cash crops like cocoa or palm oil. After making a visit to Ghana in 2009, I realized that agriculture continues to be a viable profession. But, I was especially interested in learning new sustainable agricultural techniques to produce organic produce.
What is something important that you have learned from your participation in Beginning Farmer trainings?
Agriculture is all about innovation. Urban farmers are always looking for ways to grow high-yields sustainably but in small spaces. Traditional farming requires big land and machinery. New sustainable urban farming is techniques increasingly pursuing and focusing on high yield on small land while maintaining nutrient dense food. Some farmers repeatedly try and test out new ways of being more efficient--not just to lower cost. They also are looking for ways to grow and market high quality produce without sacrificing too much personal time with reduction in destruction of natural resources.
What advice would you give to people who aspire to farm or are just beginning their agricultural career?
Urban farming requires not just technical expertise but also an effective marketing and sales approach. It is one thing to grow food sustainably and in an urban environment. It is another thing to know how much to sell your food items and where to market them. People interested in commercial farming need to keep this in mind.