Perhaps you have a farmer in the family to shop for this year, or maybe you just consider your farmer to be
family. Whatever the case may be, we’ve compiled a list of gifts any small-scale farmer would be excited to receive this holiday season—some practical, some fun, but all farmer-friendly.
1. Books And Magazines
Let’s start with the obvious—books. Farmers love books. And farmers use books. Whether it’s a technical tome about permaculture or biodynamic agriculture or anything by Wendell Berry, new books are always a welcomed addition to the farm library. Consider insightful books like Dan Barber’s The Third Plate or classic organic agriculture works like Eliot Coleman’s New Organic Grower. Take your time to poke around your local bookstore to see what’s just hit the shelves that might interest your farmer. If you want some of our food and farming book recommendations, check out Plowing Through, HobbyFarms.com’s book-review blog.
In addition to farming and food books, consider getting your farmer a subscription to a farming magazine like Urban Farm or Hobby Farms—two of our personal favorites.
2. Broad Fork and Other Fun Tools
Small-scale farmers also love garden tools. Take the broad fork, for example. This large hand tool is a lot of fun and can be used to harvest carrots, till, aerate or plow soil. WayCoolTools.com and EasyDigging.com offer excellent, American-made versions.
While on those sites, peruse other fun garden tools: blow torches, wheel hoes, hand hoes, spades. It shouldn’t be difficult too find something in your price range, and it’s hard to go wrong with any of it. Not only will they be put to use immediately on the farm, most of these tools are well made and will last for years and years, generations and generations—think new family heirloom.
3. Conference Tickets
This may seem a bit obscure, but the reality is that there are dozens of great farming conferences across the country that many farmers can’t afford to attend. Obviously, this gift may require you do some nosing around to see what conferences your favorite may like to go to, but with the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference in January, the Permaculture Voices conference in the spring, the Whippoorwill Festival in the summer and the Biodynamic Association’s national conference in the fall, you should have plenty to chose from. Perhaps give your farmer a list to pick from, and if you’re up for it, offer to watch the farm while they’re gone.
4. Locally Made Products
Farmers love to support other farmers. Look around at your local farmers’ market and locally owned stores for products like soaps, hand lotions, cheese and salt to find gifts made by farmers that might be right to give the farmer in your life.
5. Professional Massage
Just about anyone in any profession would be happy to receive a professional massage for Christmas, but when you’re job is picking heavy stuff up and moving it around—i.e. farming—a massage is a very welcomed gift. Look around at nearby spas and see what you can find. Leave it open-ended so the farmer can choose his or her own date, but be prepared to make that farmer very happy.
6. Heirloom-Seed Packets
You can’t go wrong giving any gardener a bunch of unique seeds. Seek out purveyors like Seed Savers and Fedco, which specialize in heirloom seeds, and assemble a package of your favorites. Get creative with it: Include crop varieties your farmer wouldn’t typically order for himself or research varietals that have a good story. You may also be able to purchase seeds from local farmers.
7. Biodynamic Calendar
Calendars always make for a solid gift, especially when it’s as useful as a biodynamic planting calendar. These calendars help farmers know when to plant and harvest in accordance with the cycles of the moon, as well as provide space to keep farming notes. The Stella Natura biodynamic calendar is one of my favorites and can be ordered online.
8. Disability Insurance
OK, this is about as practical as a gift can get, but there is probably nothing a farmer needs more than disability insurance. If a farmer gets injured—and being one of the most dangerous jobs, that’s not unlikely—he or she needs a way of maintaining an income while recuperating. Of course, you should probably be pretty close to your farmer before you broach this subject, but if you feel like it’s something you can do for that person, you should consider it. Hopefully it will never be needed, but if it is, your farmer will never forget this gift.
9. Chore Boots
Boots rarely stick around for very long on the farm. They get holes, ripped up, split or just destroyed. If you want to get your farmer a practical gift this holiday season, consider some good rainproof chore boots—waterproof boots that a farmer can wear in the dewy mornings, in the snow or in the rain. Don’t know your farmer’s shoe size? A gift card to a shoe supplier does the trick nicely which, ahem, brings us to our final gift idea.
10. Creative Gift Cards
Honestly, who doesn’t love a gift card? And what farmer wouldn’t love to get a gift card from a favorite seed purveyor, plant nursery, farming website, boot shop or local restaurant? Listen to what your farmer needs, and if you don’t feel confident you can pick out the perfect gift for that person, buy a gift card so he or she can do the picking out for you.