Off-Farm Income


On the Off-Farm Income Podcast, I like to talk about how people in agriculture can use their problem-solving abilities, mechanical aptitude, and farm equipment to create a small business.  Ultimately, I think that too many farmers turn to the rigid, inflexible work schedule of an employer when they could be using everything they already have at their disposal to create a much more flexible and lucrative small business.

But, this is just one side of the coin.  This philosophy only looks at people who are already farming, who have already purchased equipment, and who have already developed certain skills and aptitudes that go with farming that can be used to serve others.  What about the person who wants to transform their life to farming, who has got a degree and several years of work experience in a field that doesn't obviously translate to an agriculturally related business?

Today's guest, Wil Crombie, answers that question.  Wil grew up around his family's farm in Minnesota, doing some farm work with his grandfather, like cutting hay.  But after high school, Wil decided to take his life in a different direction and pursued a career in film production.  He got a degree in this and went into this career focusing on the music industry.

Some years later, Wil had, shall we will say, a moment.  He realized that he wanted to return to his family's farm in Minnesota and create an awesome organic and regenerative farming operation.  However, all of his experience, education, and network contacts were in the film production and music industry.  Wil had this realization while he was in Hawaii.  Moving from a life in the music industry and working in Hawaii, to a life farming in Minnesota couldn't be a bigger change.

What was Wil to do with this hard-earned tool kit of skills and knowledge that he had put together through his film career?  Should he just abandon it, and start over from scratch?  You have probably already guessed, but that is not what he did.

Wil returned to the farm.  He and his wife started the operation that he had envisioned, and they, like 90% of all farmers, needed off-farm income.  Will used his skills to obtain, what he calls "W-2 Work" or a job, at a local non-profit.  At the same time, he was scanning for film-making opportunities in the world of agriculture.  Finally one came Africa.

Wil took this project and filmed an agricultural project on what was once referred to as "the Dark Continent".  The project was met with success, and his reputation in this space grew.  This propelled him and Man Alone Media to be a much more significant part of his off-farm income portfolio.

Since then Wil has been able to leverage his "tool kit" and his growing reputation into more and more work.  But, money is not the only form of payment that he is receiving.  Wil is frequently able to choose work that will not only pay him but will educate him on a concept of agriculture that will help him on his farm in Minnesota.

Many of you have a skill set that you don't quite know how to transition to farming right now.  But as you look deeper into that skill set, and you identify what it is you really do, not just what it says on paper, you can do the same as Wil!

Connect with Wil Crombie & Man Alone Media: