For many country kids, becoming an owner/operator farmer can be nothing more than a dream. If don’t have a farm handed down to you through succession, it’s incredibly difficult to find the capital required to own and operate your own farm.
Making Farming Dreams A Reality
We need to establish new opportunities for young people – without capital – to get their foot into the door of a career in agriculture.
Pioneering the way is a New South Wales based organisation, Cultivate Farms, who pair retiring farmers with young families who want to be on the land.
They are essentially the Tinder hub of the farming industry. Although admittedly less creepy than the dating app.
Complications in succession traditionally come from generational transitions that occur when farms are passed from parent to child – but what if there is no one to pass the farm onto in the first place?
Typically, the (very simplified) process that farmers following in terms of succession are as follows:
Cultivate Farms provide a fresh approach to succession. An option that allows farmers, who have not identified a successor, to support a new young family into the agricultural industry, grow their existing farm, and help sustain their local community.
“People don’t know what’s available,” says Cultivate Farms Co-Founder Sam Marwood. “Firstly, this is all about empowering retiring farmers with their farm and their future. It's to say to retiring farmers that anything is possible, and there are plenty of organisations out there like Cultivate Farms that would fall over themselves to chat about their farm's opportunity, as there are literally hundreds of young people out there that would love to be on their farm. It’s simply a matter of them figuring out what they want. Farmers aren’t given the ability to dream big enough during succession planning”.
Sam, and his co-founder Tim, established Cultivate Farms through their own personal experiences with farming succession.
"When I was 8 years old my father said he wasn’t going to give me the farm because he and Mum were going to sell – how else were they going to retire?” explains Sam. “I knew I wanted to be a farmer at eight, so I went off and studied environmental science, intuitively I knew I wasn’t going to be a millionaire so how was I going to buy a farm? I worked in natural resource management in relation to farming when one day my mate Tim – who is co-founder – his wife and I were chatting about some ideas when he said, “What if there was a business that brought together farms and young people? All I want to be is a farmer, but I don’t have 5 million dollars.”
For Sam, it was a light-bulb moment. “It took me straight back to when I was eight. Imagine if someone said, “Ah, your mum and dad are selling? That’s fine just go to blah blah website, and they eliminate that barrier completely”. And that’s how the idea started. How do we eliminate the biggest barrier – capital – and match them with people who either have the land, the money or both.”
Cultivate Farms aims to do just that. So far, they've successfully matched one retiring farmer with one prospective family. It’s a long process – you’re dealing with people’s lives and that’s not something to be trifled with.
Currently, Cultivate Farms have 20 retiring farmers signed up, over 500 aspiring farmers registered and a slew of corporate who want to be involved.
Why We Need Organisations Like Cultivate Farms
We can't continue to look at succession through a narrow lens. Much like every other industry, we need to create different pathways and avenues for you people to get involved and exposed to careers in agriculture.