Farming is No Longer an Unrealistic Dream (Here are 4 Reasons Why)

Thousands of people across the world have dreams of farming. But for most of them, that dream has been blocked. The result is that while the farming dream lies dormant in their hearts, they are forced to move on to other pursuits.

This often means working a job for which they have no passion.

Aspiring farmers sit at their computers looking out onto concrete from their city office, daydreaming of open spaces, dirt and grass. A young lawyer researches under office fluorescents when he would rather be sweating through a fencing project. A corner store manager sorts supply logistics when she would rather be on the other side of the supply chain, filling the store with fresh food.

For too long, those beautiful dreams have been pushed into lonely corners of their minds. Real obstacles and limitations keep those dreams subdued; the average blue-collar worker doesn’t have access to millions of dollars to buy a farm, hasn’t gained the experience required to run a profitable business, and lacks the overwhelming amount of knowledge needed to farm. The result is that many Australian farms (99% of which are family farms) are having trouble passing on the legacy to the next generation.

Fortunately, many of these roadblocks are perceived to be greater than they are. Hundreds of farmers across the globe have learned how to overcome them and start small local farms in the last decade or two.

This means that the limitations to starting a farm can be easily overcome. We at Cultivate Farms have been working with farmers to help them live their dream. We want to shout and declare that:

You CAN start a farm.

Cultivate co-Founders Tim and Tegan Hicks with their 4 kids on their leased property in southern Australia.

But first, there are four big perspectives that need changing.

  1. I need a million dollars or more.
  2. I need to have grown up on a farm.
  3. I need to know everything about farming.
  4. I don’t know where to start.

1. I need a million dollars or more

Farms are expensive. They always will be.

Although some turn to government handouts or concessions to get money, we believe that there’s still plenty of potential for innovation in farm funding.

Thanks to better lending programs, funding methods like crowdfunding, and innovative partnerships like those forged at Cultivate Farms, you don’t need to be a millionaire to become a farmer.

People think that because a farm is a multi-million dollar asset it is out of their reach. The key thing is that those who are investing in farms or those looking to step back from farming still need people to look after the farm for them.

You no longer need to be the one who forks up a chunk of cash all on the front end. Instead you can align with farmers and investors who have the money but who don’t have the time, skills or passion that you do to run the farm.

There are hundreds of people and organisations looking to buy farms. They have the money and the strategy, but they need someone to run the farm. Finding a clever, adaptable, passionate farmer can be tough for investors. Luckily, this person looks and sounds a lot like you.

We recommend you throw in some of your own cash as equity so it shows that you are dedicated to the cause, but it is nowhere near the millions that most people think they need to get started.

For example, you might have $30,000 in your piggy bank. You would inject that into the farm. You would arrange with your investor to receive a wage, but also to receive incentives when you meet targets so that you build your equity over time. You might also have the chance to buy more equity over time as well.

2. I need to have grown up on a farm

Not anymore. This attitude implies that the only way you can own a farm is if you inherit; however, the world is changing and this just isn’t true anymore.

If capital is no longer a barrier, then what is? Skill, passion, hard work, and energy. If you’re willing to pursue those, then you are ready to start pursuing your farming dream.

Here at Cultivate, we can’t wait for the day that we start poaching baristas, butchers, builders and bankers to come work as farmers. The best people for farming are the people who want to farm, and we want to place the best people in Australia onto the land.

Still nervous about learning?

You’re not alone. Thousands of people with no agricultural background are learning to farm. There are heaps of courses and people that can help you get farm ready, build your skills, build your practical knowledge. With time and patience you can be just as good as any aspiring farmer out there.

Now that you know you don’t need the cash or the bloodline, you should start working on how you get your skills up to scratch. Maybe a few after work online courses or better use of your holidays on farms learning the trade.

If you need a place to start, check out a few of these resources:

  • Upstart University offers over thirty different online courses, as well as eBooks and articles to get your head in the game.
  • Local government offices have access to a library of resources on management, plant and livestock care, certifications, and more.
  • Facebook groups and other social groups are a great place for peer-to-peer learning, questions, and resource sharing.

3. I need to know everything about farming

You need to know a bit, but farming is a complex business and no one expects you to know everything.

Any new job has a learning curve, and farming is no different. Fortunately, learning how to start a farm has never been easier than it is now. Along with the learning resources mentioned above, there are incredible opportunities to have mentors and advisors along the way.

To start, pick the field of farming that you are passionate about. Learn all you can and get all the practical skills you can, then work hard with mentors to learn on the farm. Marketing, agronomy, budgeting, animal husbandry — whatever you need, there are experts ready and willing.

4. I don’t know where to start

Starting your farming journey can be overwhelming at first. Many aspiring farmers find themselves looking ahead, thinking, “Where should I start?” Do you just drive into a country town and ask at the pub?

There are two things you can do to get started: meet people and start learning.

To start meeting people, get on your computer and Google. Trawl Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Read stories of farms, farmers and farm issues. Find out what you are passionate about and find out who you agree with in their farm practices and values. The point is that starting anywhere will work; follow links in articles, collect phone numbers at events — whatever you can to learn about farms.

Then reach out to them. Get to know them and ask questions.

To start learning, Google some courses that you want to start. A great place to look is on UpStart U if you want skills on farm business and in the hydroponic and aquaponic areas.

Also reach out to Cultivate Farms (if you’re in Australia — but we’re happy to chat to anyone). We want to hear from you and back you all the way to your farm. It might take 1–5 years to get you on your farm, but if you have passion it will happen.

Who is Cultivate Farms?

Cultivate Farms started with three aspiring farmers. We were frustrated that we couldn’t be farmers, so we set up a business that made it possible for anyone with a farming dream to acheive it. To do this, we connect an aspiring farmer with a retiring farmer and investors to own and operate a farm together. (Think of it as a dating website for farms.) We get people together to have great discussions about how they can transition land in a win-win way for everyone.

Get in touch by visiting www.cultivatefarms.com or contacting Sam Marwood (co-founder) sam@cultivatefarms.com

Don’t stand there like a stunned cow — go make your farming dream a reality!