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Chris Guerre is an example. To get to his land, you drive down a long lane, past million-dollar homes on multiacre wooded lots, in the wealthy community of Great Falls, Va., just outside Washington, D.C.

Then, unexpectedly, you come to an old barn, a couple of chicken coops, and 2 1/2 acres of vegetables. During the winter, the vegetables are covered by a kind of blanket, to keep them from freezing, that still lets water and sun through.

"We're one of the few farms left in the county, let alone one that grows and picks every week of the year," Guerre says. "Every week, even in winter, I'm growing and picking crops.

Guerre didn't grow up on this farm, or on any farm.

About five years ago, before he arrived at this spot, he ditched what he calls his "career job" to grow and sell food. He and his wife expanded their garden; they started selling vegetables at a farmers market and opened their own store selling food grown on other local farms. One day, at the farmers market, a woman came up to them.

"She approached my wife, and wondered if we might be interested in living on her family's farm. There was room to grow vegetables, or have animals. And we said, 'Yeah!' " recalls Guerre.

It turned out to be this farm. Guerre and his wife moved into the house. They're renting the land, and there's no guarantee that the family that owns it won't someday decide to sell it to a developer.

But Guerre doesn't seem worried. "They've been just very kind to us, and very encouraging, and helped us get to where we are," he says.

Guerre has built a new chicken coop; fixed roofs and plumbing; turned an old milk room into a washroom for vegetables.

He says, even if they did have to move someday, and leave all this behind, it wouldn't be the end of the world. He's pretty sure he could find land somewhere else. "If you walk a couple of miles in any direction, there's hundreds of acres."

In fact, he says, "Acquiring land is honestly probably the easiest part of doing all this. It's the commitment, the stamina, learning how to do it and doing it every single day: That's the hard part."

If you're ready to do all that, he says, you really can make a living. As for finding land, start hanging out with farmers, ask questions, and chances are you'll eventually hear about places where you can grow some food and start your own farming business.

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