We recognise the many barriers that face new entrants when entering into the agroecological and sustainable land based sectors and so offer guidance and support to new entrants across the UK. We hope this page will help guide you towards finding the support you need. If you don’t find what you need here and have any questions or want further information, please contact Georgie Styles firstname.lastname@example.org
Am I a new entrant?
That’s up to you! But we define new entrants as anyone from a non-farming background who is thinking about a career in land work, undertaking volunteering, in training or education, starting a business or has been running a land-based business for up to 5 years.
How can the Landworkers’ Alliance help me?
The type of support and guidance we offer new entrants is broad and scopes membership support to policy and campaign work across sectors and geographical regions in the UK. We would encourage you to join the Landworkers’ Alliance as a member, supporter or youth FLAME member, to gain full access to all of our opportunities, guidance and support.
Once a member, you can join any of the Landworkers’ Alliance forums through your online membership account as well as the regional Facebook groups. Both of these online spaces offer a hub of useful, local information and resources, from events, workshops and learning opportunities to farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing, job/land opportunities, mobilisation and much more!
If you’re a member, follow these links to join your regional group:
Through our membership research, we have identified that the main barriers to entering agroecological land work today are access to land, access to finance and access to appropriate training and mentorship. This page will offer you links, resources and opportunities in each of these areas to help guide you towards overcoming these barriers.
Accessing Volunteering, Training, Education, Mentoring, Business Support and Jobs
Please see the Trainings menu on our website to find out more about our training opportunities.
Volunteering can be useful to you as new entrants as well as throughout your land based career. If you have the time and resources, it is a great way to gain hands-on experience in a new area of landwork, network with people with similar interests and get a feel for what type of land work you want to do. Many farms and land based projects around the country offer volunteering days. The best way to find out about opportunities in your area is to search for aligned projects near to you and check out their website or contact them directly to enquire about their volunteering schedules. You could also post on your regional LWA facebook group to ask for current opportunities (links above).
If you are looking for more intensive, longer term volunteering opportunities, WWOOFing (see WWOOF UK) is a very common entry point for those working in agroecology. Hosts across the UK and around the world usually offer you accommodation and food in return for your labour. Placements range from 1 week to a few months depending on the project. Check out the website to find projects that suit you.
On-farm training is a great way to level up your volunteering experience and gain valuable skills and knowledge in a specific area. Many farms and land-based projects around the UK offer traineeships, apprenticeships and internships of around 6-18 months and consist of both on-farm and off-farm learning. The best way to find these opportunities is to search online for projects in your area and contact the farm or land project directly. The Landworkers’ Alliance also offers a range of traineeships, opportunities will be made available to members and put out via our newsletter as they arise. Please see the traineeship section of our website to find out more.
The Landworkers’ Alliance is a part of the government’s Kickstarter programme, placing people aged 16-25 currently receiving Universal Credit on farms and land based projects for a period of 6 months. These are paid opportunities and are there to help support young people into work. Applications for the Kickstarter programme are now closed.
Many farms and land projects also offer day, weekend or week long courses in specific skills and areas of expertise. If you have the resources, this is a great way to gain valuable skills and knowledge from an expert in that field in a short period of time. The cost and availability of these courses will vary project to project and so contact them directly. Many courses will offer bursary or subsidised places.
Gaining formal education can be hugely beneficial if you are looking to delve deeper into the intricacies of sustainable farming systems. Formal education will give you a certificate at the end to accredit your time on the course and certify your level of knowledge in a certain area. The types of educational courses and institutions available to you vary hugely, from colleges and universities to on-farm and specialised educational centres. The levels of education and accreditation can also vary, from NVQ level 1 up to Masters and PhD’s in specialised agricultural and land based topics. We would recommend doing some research into the type of education you should acquire based on your career goals. Many educational bodies will also offer bursary or subsidised places.
Mentoring is a valuable tool for knowledge transference in our sector. The Landworkers’ Alliance offers mentoring opportunities which will be made available to our members. You could also reach out to farmers or landworkers in your area to ask if they would be willing to teach you the specific skills and/or knowledge you are looking for.
The intricacies of starting a business are complex and you may find you need some help and guidance in taxes, business plans, tenancy agreements etc. The Landworkers’ Alliance offers and facilitates business support which can be found yma. This type of help can also be found through our mentoring opportunities. Tyfu Cymru is a good place to look if you’re based in Wales
Finding a job
Many jobs in this sector happen by word of mouth and through the connections you have made, so attending open days, volunteering or becoming a part of the community of the land projects you would like to work at, is a good place to start. Job opportunities are also posted in our monthly newsletters, members forums and on the Roots to Work job site run by Sustain – a great resource for finding jobs in the good food sector. Many job opportunities will also be posted on the website and social media channels of the land projects themselves so make sure you keep up to date with the projects you find.
Accessing Land and Finance
We know that finding land and accessing finance opportunities are two of the biggest barriers to entry for new entrants. We do not offer a land matching service or have land available for you to rent or purchase, however, there are many ways in which you can find land depending on where you live. If you are ready to buy or rent land for your land based business, you can post on the membership forums or on your local Facebook group (links above). If you are looking for finance in terms of grants or loans or in search of financial opportunities to help you along the way to becoming a land based worker, there are a few opportunities available to you. Check out the links below to help you find the right opportunities for your situation and location.
- The Scottish Crofting Federation (Scotland)
- Farming Opportunities for New Entrants programme (Scotland)
- Farm Advisory Service New Entrant Programme (Scotland)
- Land Mobility Scheme (Northern Ireland)
- Access to Land (EU)
- How to farm course offered by Newbie Winner Lynbreck Croft
- NEWBIE Network
- Earth Trust – Farm Step Programme (England)
- RHWYDWAITH FARMSTART (UK)
- Ecological Land Cooperative (UK)
- Farming Connect (Wales)
- Funding Enlightened Agriculture
- Biodynamic Land Trust (UK)
If you have benefited from or come across any opportunities that you feel were useful or helpful, please let us know so we can add them to this list of resources and help other new entrants in similar situations.
Research and Publications
The Landworkers’ Alliance has published many research documents, survey results, guides and policy documents to help inform new entrants, decision and policy makers and the wider public on issues specific to new entrants to agroecology. Below is a list of these documents to help guide your reading and inform your next steps. For further publications about agroecology please see our Publications Page.
- New Entrants to Agroecological Farming: Example Business Start-up Costs and the Case for Public Support (2021)
- New Entrants to Agriculture and Land Based Work: Survey Results (2020)
- Supporting the Next Generation of Farmers (2019)
- Planning Barriers Faced by New Entrants to Horticulture (2019)
- Hand on the Land: New Entrants in Agriculture (2017)
- Start Up Case Studies: Horticultural Units on Larger Farms (2017)
- Training Case Studies: Courses and Apprenticeships (2017)