Without the support of Big River Farms, its unclear whether someone like Gaabane—whose English, income, and familiarity with U.S. food systems are limited—would be able to break into commercial farming and do so sustainably. The fact is, in a food economy that favors the big and industrial, its difficult for anyone to successfully start a small, sustainable farm.
New farmers make up a smaller proportion of all farmers today than they did 30 years ago. In 1982, 38 percent of farmers had been farming for fewer than 10 years; in 2007 that figure was 26 percent. (The USDA is set to come out with updated numbers in winter 2014.)