To help overcome some of the obstacles facing new entrants to farming, the Landworkers’ Alliance is working with member organisations running ‘farm-start’ and ‘farm-incubation’ projects around the UK to develop a network of best practice and encourage the development of new opportunities.
Farmstarts provide an important opportunity for people to test their farming and growing ideas in a protected environment, whilst building the knowledge, skills, confidence and experience to progress to their own farm or market garden. By providing access to land, markets, equipment and training, farmstarts take much of the financial risk and stress away from new entrants in the crucial early phases, allowing them to focus on working out what kind of business suits them best.
Farmstarts are an important entry route into farming, and fill a gap in opportunities for new entrants. For most people, taking on a farmstart opportunity will follow on from some form of training and on-farm work experience, and will give them a few years in which to test their ideas for real before making further steps to start their own business on long-term foundations.
To support the development of more farm start sites we have produced a guideand set of case studies to provide some best practice guidelines, based on the experiences of established organisations. Alongside this handbook we have established a network of farmstart organisations that can share experiences and support one another in the spirit of mutual aid and solidarity.