Avoid the Pitfalls of Starting a New Farm

Not everyone is built for the urban lifestyle. Having all of that concrete surrounding you can feel like it’s pressing in. For decades it seemed like people migrated from rural areas to urban ones. In recent years, an interesting trend has started. Many people are leaving the cities to start their own new farms! 

Starting a farm can be done for many reasons. Some people do it as a hobby. Others are trying to reduce their environmental footprint. Others believe they can make a tidy profit from the land. However, no matter what the case, people starting new farms almost invariably have a passion for nature and a passion for agriculture. Starting a new farm isn’t easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. 

The Early Stages and Skills Acquisition

The first thing needs to be identifying what kind of farm you’re interested in starting and what kind of training you’re going to need. Farming skills have been passed down for generations. It’s a difficult profession and can be dangerous in many cases. 

You need to have an overall idea of what kind of farm you’re interested in. If you want to grow fruits, vegetables, cash crops, raise cattle, grow herbs, etc. The reason you need a general idea is you need to do research. Farming can be fickle. One or two early mistakes with your yields can be the end quickly. There needs to be a market for your goods. If it’s not local, transport and other costs need to be considered ahead of time. 

From there, it’s usually a good idea to try to get some starting experience. If you were born on a farm or have some experience, obviously this step is skippable. Many farmers will take volunteers or apprentices to provide assistance. Try taking some relevant agricultural courses at nearby colleges to get a different view on how to run a farm. Experience is important. 

The Later Stages and Choosing Land

If the goal is to run the farm as a business immediately, it can be possible to get a business loan for the farm. A business plan will need to be designed and presented to a bank or financial institution. In some cases, financing may take a while. 

From there, you need to find land that will work for you. There’s two main options. The first is to buy land outright. This gives full control as a farmer on doing whatever you want with it. There’s a second option. You can try leasing land. Many people with farmable land aren’t using it. By leasing the land, it’s possible to grow your crops and provide funds to the owner. They can even get tax credits by the land being turned to agricultural use and see their property value go up! There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing land. Some of them include: 

  • Access to Water - A steady water supply is crucial. 
  • Soil Quality - Make sure to get the soil tested. 
  • Market Proximity - The closer you are to buyers, the lower your costs for transport are and the easier it is to sell your yields.
  • Neighbors - neighboring farms compatible with yours are a godsend. Don’t try to start an organic farm beside a location that has to use severe pesticides. 
  • Infrastructure - Not all land has appropriate outbuildings. Processing and storage facilities cost money to build if the property doesn’t have them. 

Hobby Farms vs. Business Farming

Deciding if your farm is intended as more of a hobby farm or a business immediately will determine how you are going to begin your farm. If you are running it as a hobby farm to begin, that allows a certain degree of experimentation. Starting as a hobby farm means that you don’t need to work your entire fields right away. You can start with small batches of things to see how they work and there’s rarely consequences. A hobby farm isn’t intended as a main business afterall. Start small and build up your plans with a hobby farm. 

A business farm is another matter. If you’re running things as a business, then you need to get to work! Take everything you’ve prepared to do and get your first crop into the field (or herd grazing). It can be very stressful when you start your new farm, but take some time to enjoy it. Take a moment out in the fields and just enjoy your surroundings. No ugly concrete buildings in sight!