Before we dive in, first things first: What is a hobby farm?
A hobby farm is an agricultural operation that isn’t traditionally run as an “agribusiness.” Hobby farms can, and usually are, self-sustaining, and most generate a profit. However, hobby farms are not the commercial farms covering thousands of acres that you generally think of when you consider a standard farm. Hobby farmlands are typically small in size – between roughly 40 and 100 acres – and many are committed to sustainable agriculture, eco-conscious practices, and fair, friendly animal treatment.
Though they aren’t full-blown commercial farms, hobby farms still require a lot of preparation, work, and financial support to run successfully. Before you decide to pursue such an endeavor, cover your bases:
- Determine your farming objectives. What do you want to raise? What do you want to plant? Do you want to be off the grid?
- Check out the zoning laws. Land doesn’t necessarily come with “all rights.” To be sure you’ll be able to do what you want with your land, you must look into this. Using a real estate agent well versed in agricultural land law is a sure way to know what you’re getting.
- Write a business plan. Strategically develop a vision for your farming operation.
- Select appropriate, good quality fencing.
- Test your farm’s soil for quality, texture, and contour.
- Figure out your water management and pasture management plans.
- Determine feeding for livestock (if applicable).
- Assess your target market and market to this audience creatively.
- Determine your farm equipment needs.
- Go green. This can actually save your ag operation money. Limit your expenses by implementing energy conservation tactics that enhance your farm’s efficiency while helping to reduce negative impacts on the environment.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reduce costs and support the earth.
- Become a sponge for information. Read up on all things farming. Know your pastures (what grows, what doesn’t, what is potentially poisonous, etc.). Network with local farmers and other hobby farmers. Watch. Listen. Question. Learn.
- Don’t fear failure. There’s so much to learn! Realize that nothing replaces the real experience of actually following through and starting your farm. Also realize that no matter how much research you do, you will make mistakes. Don’t let mistakes frustrate you too much. Consider them lessons.
Need assistance with hobby farmland financing? Contact Bankers South – an ag lending company – for information regarding our hobby farm loan and other farm loan services.