Here, we highlight some of the most common reasons people start hobby farms and why you may want to consider starting one of your own
Over the last 10 years or so, hobby farming has become increasingly popular. Each hobby farmer has his or her personal motivations for getting into small agriculture, but many people discover similar benefits from it.
Hobby farming can help a person’s health in several different ways. The most obvious of these, of course, is the access to fresh, organic vegetables and animal products that hobby farmers have.
When you’re the one growing your food, you know exactly what goes into it and can ensure that it’s as healthy as possible. Because of the physical activity that comes with running even the smallest of farms, hobby farming is also a great way to get your exercise in every day.
In addition to the purely physical effects of hobby farming on health, running your own small farm can also have mental health benefits. Many hobby farm owners find it to be a source of relaxation and stress relief. Given the fast pace of modern life, it’s perhaps unsurprising that people often discover that slowing down and getting back in touch with nature is a great way to keep stress under control.
A chance to engage with your community
Even if you’re just dipping your toe in the water with a small patch of land and some vegetable crops, farming is a great opportunity to connect with your local community.
The people to whom you sell your vegetables will gradually become your friends, and you’ll derive satisfaction from the knowledge that you’re able to provide access to healthy food to the people in your area. If you have extra crops you can’t sell or use yourself, you can even give them to a local food bank to contribute a better selection of healthy foodstuffs for the less fortunate.
Another aspect of this community involvement is the opportunity to connect with other farmers around you. The people you’ll meet at farmers markets and at local farming events can share useful information with you, but they can also become good friends who will guide you toward success as a grower. For some hobby farmers, this sense of community is one of the most rewarding parts of running a small farm.
The opportunity to help build more sustainable agriculture
Aside from providing healthier foods, small agriculture can also be better for the environment than the large industrial model of farming that provides most of the world’s food at the moment. The chemical fertilizers and insecticides that are necessary for large-scale monoculture can work their way into air, soil and groundwater, often with very negative environmental consequences.
At the smaller scale that a hobby farm can operate at, on the other hand, you can more easily provide your plants with organic fertilizer and do your part create a more sustainable food supply. The more people choose to grow food in this way, the more of an impact small agriculture can make.
Your chance to build a great side business
Of course, hobby farming can have financial benefits as well. If you keep an eye on profitability, grow high-value crops and create a good system for delivering them to paying customers, you can turn a hobby farm into an appreciable second income stream or even a full-time business.
Beyond giving you some extra income, hobby farming can help you become more autonomous and give you a fallback to your current line of work. That being said, for a hobby farm to turn a profit, it must be built out properly and maintained constantly, which often requires equipment to do so. A great way to keep the cost of machinery as low as possible is to lease or buy second hand. While it may not be the newest model, you will gain a big helping hand is running a hobby farm.
Another benefit of hobby farming as it relates to finances is the opportunity to get more fulfilment from the work you do. Many people find their ordinary 9-5 jobs unrewarding or even unpleasant. Farming will give you the chance to work with your hands, get closer to nature and see the results of your labor in a very direct way.
Finally, starting a hobby farm gives you the chance to leave something behind for future generations of your family. Even if it’s very small, a profitable family farm is a great legacy to leave to your children and grandchildren. The farm can also be a fun place for your family to connect with each other and make memories together.
If one or more of these benefits inspires you to start your own hobby farm, there are several steps you’ll need to take to make it a reality. To begin with, you’ll need to research different crops and how to grow them, as well as learn about the proper care of any animals you’d like to raise.
Next, you should develop a business plan, since it’s always a good idea to at least aim for profitability in the long run. Finally, you can find the right piece of land and get your farm underway. Starting your own small agriculture project will take hard work, but the social, environmental, financial and health benefits you can derive from it will make that work worthwhile.