If you’ve long had a hankering to have your own farm but are not sure whether you want to live off of or profit from it, then a hobby farm could be perfect for you.
A hobby farm gives you a chance to try your hand at farming without making a huge financial commitment or taking a major career risk. Here’s what you need to know about this rising trend.
How to get started
A farm is a considerable investment so it’s important to create a budget. You will need to do research to determine what type of farm would be best for you in terms of your finances, space, and experience.
To help you decide which livestock or plants you’d like to raise or grow, try reaching out to fellow farmers in the area whether they’re hobby farms or businesses as they will have a grasp on the most viable produce depending on your climate, soil and environment as well as the community needs.
A farm can only be as good as the land it’s built on. Here are the questions you need to ask when looking to purchase a property for your farm:
- Is the land prone to flooding?
It will be very hard to grow certain types of crops in a place that has seasonal flooding.
- How good is the quality of the soil?
If you’re buying land that has already been farmed, you will want to learn everything about it. Have the soil’s pH level tested (most plants prefer a pH of 6.2 to 6.8), its composition determined (sandy loam is the best), and its nutrients identified by a professional.
- Does the land have access to water?
If you’re in a very rural area, a well may be required.
What crops should I focus on?
Different crops have different requirements, but many need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Keep this in mind when choosing a location.
The process of preparing a field to be farmed involves plowing, leveling, and manuring. With regard to plowing, if you have a medium to large lot, a tractor will be required; if you have a smaller lot, a hoe might be all that is necessary. Dragging a plank across the plowed land will level the field and nutrients will be replenished in the soil through manuring.
It’s important to consider what equipment will be needed for this work. It’s likely that no matter how small of a farm you build, you’ll need some form of equipment to keep things running smoothly, but that doesn’t mean you need to invest in brand new state of the art machinery. Look for used equipment to buy outright or leases that won’t make a huge dent in your budget.
Greenhouses and high tunnels
Both greenhouses and high tunnels are used for growing crops out of season. However, greenhouses have their own heating and air, while high tunnels need the heat of the sun and require openings to be created for ventilation.
High tunnels are much cheaper and easier to erect. You can purchase one that’s already been made but they’re not especially challenging to make on your own. A high tunnel is simply a curved frame made of PVC or metal that is draped with a plastic sheet.
Once you have this part of the structure, you only need to anchor the frame to the ground and keep it attached to the plastic. You’ll also need to create some flaps for ventilation. Don’t be afraid to get creative when building your farm; this project is your baby so there will always be room to grow and improve!