Gabe’s journey to learning to farm at the CAFF Farm School

Photo: Courtesy, Caff Farm School

Gabriel didn’t initially think of becoming a farmer. The idea came to him while he was researching his interest in homesteading and self-sufficiency. After seeing YouTube videos and reading stories online about students in the new CAFF Farm School program, he realized that he could go beyond just growing food to feed himself and his family. He could learn to farm for profit as a business.

Gabriel was born in California and raised in both Mexico and Texas. His father is a rancher in Mexico with a cow-calf operation. Gabriel enjoyed working weekends and summers on the ranch. Before signing up for the CAFF Farm School, he worked primarily in logistics and customer service jobs. The customer service work was rewarding because he enjoyed helping people and solving problems. These same soft skills are compatible with small-scale specialty crop farming operations that sell directly to consumers or wholesale.

After relocating from Texas to Arkansas, Gabriel fell in love with the Ozarks and the beauty of the Natural State. He discovered the modern homesteading movement and was intrigued by it. It’s experienced a revival in the past decade. Having grown up in the internet age, many millennials and those from Gen Z have a strong desire to return to a simpler life that’s more connected to the land and nature. It’s a lifestyle that most lifelong Arkansans would say is nothing new here. It’s always been a way of life in rural parts of the state. The younger generations are also interested in smaller-scale regenerative and sustainable farming methods.

Courtesy, Caff Farm School

As Gabriel learned more about homesteading and sufficiency, he became increasingly interested in growing his food. Then he ran across the CAFF Farm School and was excited to discover that there is a program in the NWA region teaching people to farm on small pieces of land, one to ten acres, and make a living from it. That’s when things clicked that he could expand his goal to feed others too.

Gabriel researched the CAFF Farm School more, and the stories on the website about students in the program spoke to him. His only hesitation in signing up was that he had never liked school in the past. “It doesn’t feel like school, though,” he says, “I love being outside, and each day is different. Even though you are doing the same things throughout the year, situations can change at any time. It keeps you on your toes, and it’s always interesting.”

When asked what he finds most exciting about farming, it’s the possibility of self-employment with his small farm business. Gabriel likes that he can build it however he wants. “There is not necessarily a right or wrong way. There are guidelines but no rules.” He adds, “I can build it from scratch, and I don’t need as much land as my father has to be successful. “He references a recent visit to Prairiewoods Farm as an inspirational example of what can be accomplished with a small piece of land.

Courtesy, Caff Farm School

For now, Gabriel’s primary goal is to complete the CAFF Farm School program and start a suburban farm in his large backyard. He describes it as a small patch but decent enough size to begin growing what he and his family can eat. Gabriel wants to see if he is good at it and can produce a surplus for sales. After that, he will consider expanding and buying more land.

Gabriel’s advice for anyone considering the CAFF Farm School is to go for it if possible. He believes learning to grow food doesn’t have any negatives and thinks the program is inexpensive for what you learn. He likes being able to fit the program into his schedule while still working at a job. Taking home fresh produce is a big perk. “It’s an investment in yourself.” He says, “You get fresh food, knowledge, and help with putting together a business plan for your future farm. You decide what type of farm you’d like to have, and the instructors advise you on any potential issues with your plan. After the program, you can follow your plan to develop your farm.” In addition to those soft skills that are well-suited to small farming, Gabriel has a contagious energy and enthusiasm. It’s easy to see his bright personality succeeding wildly with whatever type of farm he decides to pursue.

Courtesy, Caff Farm School

Gabriel sums up his reasons for learning to farm by saying, “I think it’s important to be self-sufficient and grow food for ourselves and communities. These skills weren’t emphasized for a while. But I think many people my age realize how crucial they are. We want to learn them and bring that kind of life back.”

Learn more about CAFF Farm School or apply at

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