Whether or not you consider yourself a green thumb, it isn’t too difficult to start your own hobby farm. Technically, all you need is an ample amount of land, a decent amount of farming knowledge - which you can acquire from experienced farmers and the Internet - and plenty of time and patience. However, if you don’t already have the land, you’ll need to find a good property to purchase with soil that is ideal for farming. A qualified land agent can help you with this task.
What is a Hobby Farm?
A hobby farm can be quite large — the USDA considers a small farm anything that is 179 acres or less. Additionally, while you can certainly sell some of the products from your farm, a hobby farm is not meant to provide you your main source of income. Essentially, the farm is run for your own pleasure, and can go a long way towards setting you up for a self-sustaining future.
It is important to note that a hobby farm is much different than a vegetable garden in someone’s yard. You will need to devote time and effort to keeping your farm operating, as well as considerable expense to purchase the land, equipment, and resources you need to get the farm up and running.
Benefits of Hobby Farming
Hobby farms are growing in popularity as more and more people realize the benefits and seek to move away from crowded cities after experiencing the challenges of the pandemic. Here are some of the ways you may benefit from having a hobby farm:
With a steady crop of healthy vegetables and animal products, you and your family will be able to eat healthier throughout the year. You can choose to make your food as healthy as possible by growing only organic crops.
Hobby farming is also hard work at times, and you’ll be sure to get plenty of exercise working on your farm, another health benefit.
Lastly, gardening and farming have always proven to be great activities for stress relief and relaxation, improving mental health as well.
Aside from gaining a new network of friends who are also involved with hobby farming, you can interact more with the local community by setting up a stand at local farmer’s markets. A local farmer’s market can be a good source of extra income, and you’ll also likely gain a few steady customers that become friends as well. If setting up shop at a farmer’s market isn’t for you, you can also donate extra food to a local food bank.
Self-Sustaining Life and Agriculture
In addition to becoming more self-sufficient and less reliant on purchasing food thanks to a sustainable food supply, hobby farming is also great for the environment. And, it will help you save a significant amount of money as well once you are producing steady crops, as the more food you grow for yourself, the less you need to spend at the grocery store.
How Do I Start Hobby Farming?
The first thing you need to decide is what type of livestock you’ll want to have on your farm and/or what crops you’ll want to grow. Will you have chickens, cows, pigs, goats, or honeybees? Fruit trees and bushes? Herbs and vegetables that grow throughout the different seasons? Perhaps a combination of all of the above!
Once you decide what you want, the next step is choosing a parcel of land that is suitable for your needs. Your best source for purchasing viable farmland is to speak with a qualified real estate agent that has sufficient experience in finding and selling land, not just houses or buildings.
A qualified real estate agent with land experience can help you find a parcel of land with good soil health, and will also be able to help you learn about zoning laws, which can regulate what the land can be used for and whether you would be allowed to have livestock on the land.
Depending on what type of farming you plan on doing, you’ll also need to research what tools and equipment you will need, whether you need to design an irrigation system, and where you can acquire food for any animals you might have.
Before you jump into hobby farming, see how all of the above works with your budget. You may find that you will need to scale back your ambition if the cost of what you want exceeds your current available budget.
It is important to note that purchasing land is different than purchasing a house. A land loan often has higher interest rates and down payments, and must be paid back within 3-5 years. Speak to a qualified land agent to learn more about purchasing land to be used for farming purposes so that you can make an informed decision.
Happy hobby farming!