Getting the right land for your smallholding

Getting the right land for your smallholding

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture

No matter the size of the smallholding you’re looking to buy in the South West, choosing a property that has suitable land is essential to ensuring your farm and rural dream has the best possible start to life.

We take a look at why you should always bear in mind what it is you want to do on the land and whether the land you’re viewing is completely suited to allowing you to do it.

Purpose

Whilst property may all be about ‘location, location, location’, if you’re buying a smallholding or farm then there’s an added layer of complexity and it comes in the form of terra firma. Coastal areas will have completely different soil qualities to the foothills of the moors, and soil conditions can sometimes differ significantly within a 20-mile radius of a location.

The start of every search should always begin with what you want to do with the land; you’ll not only focus your mind on how much land you’ll need, you’ll also be steered toward the areas most suited to fulfill your dreams.

Acreage

You know what you want to do, so you should know how much you need. Or that’s the logic anyway!

When it comes to acreage, budget and availability may also come into play.

Land prices across the country have stayed relatively stable in recent years, and in the medium to long term have seen a decent rise in value across the board.

It may therefore be tempting to dive in for lower quality land to get more for your money. If you’re thinking about doing this then make sure that your productivity is going to be as high as it would be with a smaller acreage of higher quality land, and indeed that this lower quality land is still suited to your purpose.

Whilst sheep may be happy to graze on such land, it’s probably not going to cut the mustard if you’re looking to grow crops and alike.

Soil

If you’re planning to grow crops, fruit or vegetables, you’ll want soil that’s relatively fertile and can be easily cultivated. Although there’s no easy way of determining the perfect soil for your smallholding, soil testing is commonly used to work out the acidity level of fields and which fertilisers will be needed.

Testing kits can be bought from most agricultural stores, so there’s no need to get the men in white coats out to do it!

If you’re new to the agricultural world then following in the footsteps of the current land usage is a good way of ensuring you know exactly what you’re getting!

Drainage

If you’re wanting to grow crops or keep a large dairy heard, you’ll need land that’s relatively dry with good drainage. Although the South West is made up of wet clay loam, the majority of smallholdings will have drainage techniques in place to manage surface run off.

Poor farmland drainage and soil levels can influence the yields you get from both crops and cattle and the last thing you want, is to be stuck in a muddy bog!

Remember there’s something for everyone!

Devon and Cornwall is home to land of varying levels, from the rolling hills of Dartmoor and Exmoor to rugged the North Cornish cliff lines, with low lying patches in between.

Whether you plan to keep a few hill sheep or need a paddock for ponies, thanks to the South West’s variety of terrain, it allows all types of farming to take place; great news if you’re looking at smallholdings in the West Country.

Searching for a smallholding?

If you’re looking to buy a smallholding in Devon or Cornwall and want a stress-free solution, West Country Dream can carry out a land and property search on your behalf.

For more information email Helen at Helen@westcountrydream.co.uk or call her on 07816 514667.

A guide to farming’s national open day — Open Farm Sunday

A guide to farming’s national open day — Open Farm Sunday

Farming and agriculture West Country Life

Smallholder or farmer in the West Country looking to raise the profile of what you do and share your farming story? Every year hundreds of farmers across Great Britain break their usual routine to open their gates to the public as part of Open Farm Sunday.

What is ‘Open Farm Sunday’ we hear you ask?

Here’s a handy guide to one of the industry’s ‘biggest success stories’…

About farming’s biggest public event

Open Farm Sunday was set up by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) over ten years ago as part of an initiative to build a better public understanding of food and farming.

Since the first open day was held in 2006, millions of people have visited farms across Great Britain.

This year marks its 11th event, when farmers will once again open their gates to the public for one day only, giving them a unique glimpse of life on a farm.

When is it?

This year’s Open Farm event takes place on Sunday, 5th June 2016.

Last year, more than 250,000 people visited 389 farms and LEAF is attempting to top this by incorporating a theme, which will be ‘Discover the World of Farming’, encouraging all types of farms to get involved.

Why should you take part?

Whether you run a smallholding producing fruit and veg or a large dairy farm, the event is open to all types of farming.

By opening your gates to the public, you’re helping people have a better understanding of the industry and hard work that goes into it.

Not only that, it’s a great form of promotion, especially if you plan to sell any of your homemade products!

If you’re looking at buying a farm or smallholding in the West Country, why not go along to an event to see how you could take part in the future?

Some 200 farms and smallholdings have already registered this year, with a large number of these in the West Country.

How do I get involved?

You can decide whether to host an invite-only event or open your farm up to the public. Registration is free and there’s still time to take part this June.

For more information about registering follow this link https://farmsunday.org/

Ideas for things to do on your farm

According to LEAF, one in five visitors to Open Farm Sunday have never visited a farm, so what might seem like the ‘norm’ to you, will be a completely different experience for those who visit your farm.

Whether it’s a small-scale invite-only event or a larger open day, here are a few things you could do on your Open Farm Sunday:

Tours — Take visitors on a walking tour of your smallholding or farm; not only does this allow them to see it, it also gives you peace of mind that they are familiar with the areas they can explore, and don’t go wandering off!

Demonstrations — Demonstrations such as milking, shearing, harvesting, or crop production are great ways of showing your farm in action.

Workshops — Nearby farmers also attend Open Farm Sundays so why not invite local experts to hold workshops. Consider teaming up with your vet to arrange a demonstration/workshop.

Talks — Holding talks during slots throughout the day allows you to allocate time elsewhere and ensures visitors know what’s happening and when.

Machinery displays — Machinery dealers are often looking for the chance to showcase their latest range. Not only does it provide good promotion for them, it gives visitors an insight into equipment and tools used on your smallholding/farm.

Further information

Free resources and more information are available from the Open Farm Sunday website.

If you’re searching for your own smallholding or farm in Devon or Cornwall, get in touch with West Country Dream on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

5 reasons why farming in the West Country is amongst the best places in the UK

5 reasons why farming in the West Country is amongst the best places in the UK

Farming and agriculture West Country Life

Making your first steps in the farming world, but unsure whereabouts in the UK you should settle?

Whether you’re looking to keep a small flock of sheep on a smallholding or start up a dairy herd on a larger farm, begin and end your search in the West Country — one of the best places in the UK!

What makes the West Country one of the best we hear you ask?

Here at West Country Dream we have the answers!

Mild climate

If you’re planning to keep livestock and cultivate crops, you’ll want land that is dry for most of the year around (well as much as that is possible in our temperate climate!).

Being so close to the sea, the South West has the highest average temperature of any other area located near the sea. As a result, the chances of snow during winter months are very low, which is great news if you plan to keep livestock outside for most of the year around.

The West Country’s warm summers also mean crops can be harvested as late as October, while the ground is still dry.

Tourism opportunities

The West Country is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, with more than 34 million visits made over the last year.

This is not only beneficial to those who have, or are looking to diversify into tourist accommodation. Setting up a smallholding with plans to sell your own produce via a farm shop? You’ll also benefit from the mass influx of tourists during the summer months.

Land prices

More and more people want their very own slice of the countryside and this has seen the value of farmland rise remarkably over the last ten years, but things are on the change….

The price of livestock and arable land in the West Country remains competitive, but still cheaper than other areas of the UK, including the bordering regions of the West Midlands and South East.

Land experts are also predicting prices will stabilise over the next year so now could be the opportune time to start looking for your very own West Country dream!

Low crime rates

No matter where you choose to live you’ll want to be at ease knowing you and your family are in a safe environment so you’ll be pleased to hear that according to Government statistics crime levels in the South West are amongst the lowest in England!

Award winning beaches

At the end of a busy day on the farm, why not escape to some of the UK’s top rated beaches? The West Country is home to Devon and Cornwall’s many award-winning beaches, as highly recommended by Trip Advisor and National Geographic. These include Carne Beach near Truro (National Geographic), Woolacombe Beach, North Devon (Trip Advisor), Porthminster Beach near St Ives and the well-known Fistral Beach in Newquay.

If you’re looking for a balanced quality of life, the West Country is the place to be.

Find your West Country Dream

Want your very own slice of the West Country? Let us do the searching for your perfect farm or smallholding, while you spend your time exploring the beautiful beaches nearby.

Visit our services page or give Helen a call on 07816 514667.

Five types of crop suitable for growing on a smallholding

Five types of crop suitable for growing on a smallholding

Farming and agriculture

Some of the West County’s most profitable businesses started off by growing crops on a smallholding. So what can you grow in the West Country? We’ve taken a look at just five of the many types of crop suitable for smallholdings.

Fruit and veg

As obvious as it may seem, some of the most successful farm shops stemmed from growing fruit and vegetables on their land.

From strawberries to runner beans, pumpkins to potatoes, the demand for organic fruit and vegetables is on the rise. Last year the Soil Association reported an increase of 4% in the number of organic product sales.

Whether it’s delivered in a vegetable box to their door, or by wandering through the local farm shop, there will certainly be a demand.

Herbs

Herbs can be great for adding flavour to food and some even boast medicinal powers! What most may not know is that some of the most popular such as basil, mints, coriander and dill are relatively easy to grow.

With so many types of annuals, biennials and perennials, there is plenty of scope to find the perfect plants suited to your smallholding!

Flowers

Looking to put your green fingers to work in the flower world? The West Country’s milder temperatures, especially in Cornwall, allow blooms to be grown successfully throughout the year.

From cut to dried flowers, bulbs to bushes, there is a range of seasonal types for all kinds of customers. Consider supplying local / national florists, garden centres and even showcase them at local markets and agricultural / horticultural shows.

You could potentially create a great source of income; being a speciality crop it allows smallholders to reap high-value rewards for their products.

Trees / plants

Trees and plants are a great way of reducing CO2 and can be a profitable earner for smallholders.

Willow and bamboo are commonly used in natural wicker products, such as furniture and baskets. Bamboo in particular, is fast becoming a new ‘super material’ and is now used in large-scale timber developments.

Trees such as firs, pines and spruces are great for smallholdings running seasonal businesses like Christmas tree farms.

Whether you have 2 acres or 20, there is an array of different sized species appropriate for your land.

Mushrooms

If you have shady areas on your smallholding, why not consider growing mushrooms?

According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the mushroom sector contributes to 4% of the annual horticulture income, which means there’s plenty of room for growth.

Common types grown in the UK include shiitakes (found in shady areas) and oyster mushrooms, which can be can be grown on straw. But the list is pretty much endless, with more exotic mushrooms being grown locally than ever before!

What next?

Setting up a smallholding from scratch with little or no agricultural experience can be a daunting prospect, but that’s why West Country Dream is here to help you along the way.

If you’re looking to take your first steps we can help you with an introduction into being a smallholder with our range of courses and workshops. Give us a call on 07816 514667 or visit our courses page.

Mortgage advice for buying a smallholding or farm

Mortgage advice for buying a smallholding or farm

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture

Considering buying a smallholding or farm? Whether you’re already searching, or about to start looking for your West Country Dream, you’ll need to be fully clued up on the type of mortgages available to you.

We take a look at some key points to bear in mind when seeking your perfect West Country property.

Is there an agricultural tie?

If you’re looking for a farm or smallholding, be aware that it may have an agricultural tie, which can limit the number of lenders available to you.

Agricultural ties, also referred to as Agricultural Restrictions, are sometimes applied to agricultural properties that have been built on a farm/smallholding where development would not usually be allowed.

This means it will have conditions that have to be met in order to live or buy that property. The most common rule is that the house ‘must be occupied by someone who is, or was previously employed, in the locality in agriculture’.

As a result, there tend to be fewer lenders who are willing to mortgage properties that have agricultural ties.

However, properties with ties tend to be much cheaper than those without, so if you don’t have a connection to agriculture you can apply to remove it or rent it out to someone who does!

Farm / commercial mortgage

Many mainstream mortgage lenders will often ask how much land is with the property. If it’s over a certain amount of acreage, you may need to find a specialist mortgage advisor.

A smallholding is usually defined as between two and 20 acres, with anything over this size classed as a farm. If you’re looking for a smallholding with minimal acreage for hobby farming, you could still be entitled to a commercial mortgage.

Using a lender that specialises in agriculture can be advantageous because they will have more knowledge of the industry. Make sure you shop around and talk to a variety of lenders to find a mortgage most suited to you.

Have a business plan

Planning to start up your own farm? Whether you want to keep a flock of sheep or a dairy herd, ensure you have a thorough business plan.

A business plan not only helps you to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve from your farm and how you will attain it, it is also essential to securing a mortgage.

Lenders often require evidence as reassurance you will be able to make the mortgage payments so what better way of showing them than by having a detailed business plan!

Do your research

Whether you’re buying a smallholding to keep a handful of sheep or starting up a dairy farm, do your research to find the most suitable mortgage lender.

The extra time invested initially could save you thousands later down the line.

Searching for a smallholding or farm?

We can help find your perfect property in the West Country, simply give us a call via our contact page or take a look at our land and property services.

Five things to take into account when buying land suitable for cattle

Five things to take into account when buying land suitable for cattle

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture

Planning a ‘mooove’ to the West Country and looking to keep cattle on a smallholding or farm? If so, we’ve highlighted five key things you should bear in mind when it comes to buying land suitable for cattle…

Purpose

Whether you intend to keep cattle for showing success or supplying milk to the dairy industry, knowing why you want to keep cattle forms the basis of any decision surrounding the purchase of land.

The purpose will help you to establish how much land you need, how many sheds and if you require extra space to cater for future growth. For example, do you vision producing and selling your own dairy or meat products?

If the answer’s yes, then you’ll need to take into account additional space for equipment, such as a creamery, and a suitable location that has good public access for when it comes to selling your products.

Size of farm

Planning to keep a few bullocks to maintain grass, or a medium-sized herd for milk production? Knowing how many cows you want (and need to give you revenue) is essential to determining the number of acres and sheds you’ll need and the price you’ll pay.

Looking to start off with a smallholding? An 18-acre farm with five-bed bungalow and outbuildings in the heart of the Tamar Valley, an Area of Natural Beauty bordering Devon and Cornwall, will cost just under £500,000 (click here to see property); great value if you’re looking for space for your family and a few cows!

Meanwhile, if you’re aiming to set up a large-scale dairy or beef farm, a five-bed house with 100+ acres will be into seven figures.

NB: Bear in mind the rule-of-thumb, which states around 1.5 to 2 acres is needed to feed two cows!

Type of acreage

No matter if your farm or smallholding is 50 acres or 100 acres, you’ll want the best pasture for your cattle to graze on or for crops to grow their winter food on.

The type of land you buy will affect the output and quality of your cattle; you’ll be pleased to know the soil types across the South West are suited to the vast majority of cattle breeds.

If you want more information about soil types, check out the Soilscapes viewer as supported by Defra: http://www.landis.org.uk/soilscapes/

Housing

Keeping cattle is a full-time commitment, so when it comes to buying a farm or smallholding you’ll want somewhere you can keep stock all year around.

Fortunately, the South West’s mild climate means cattle can be grazed outside for the large majority of the year, but you’ll need housing for those winter months, especially if you plan to keep dairy cows.

A smallholding with sheds will be hugely beneficial, but have no fear if there aren’t any because there are other options. For example, is there space available and the possibility to gain planning permission for the housing of livestock? This is another route many farmers take to cater for their cows.

The future

What does the future hold for you? Already thinking about owning a large dairy herd, growing your own crops and installing revolutionary equipment to cater for a bigger output? Whether you’re looking for a smallholding or farm, always consider your next steps to save you having to uproot and restart your dream elsewhere.

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

New year, new start in the West Country?

New year, new start in the West Country?

Buying property with land West Country Life West Country Properties

Whether you’re considering buying a farm or a smallholding, a common question that frequently crops up is ‘when is the best time to invest’?

With a new year, often comes a new start and here at West Country Dream we’ve been taking a look at why 2016 is the best time to invest in property in Devon and Cornwall.

Stamp duty tax on second homes

Looking at buying a smallholding or farm in the South West, but don’t want to part from your beloved home in the city?

Time is of the essence if you want to buy a second home or buy-to-let property without paying additional Stamp Duty taxes.

Last November the Government announced a new 3% surcharge will apply to each stamp duty band on any additional properties costing more than £40,000. The new rate comes into effect from April and will impact all second home or buy-to-let properties.

Therefore, if you’re considering buying a farm or smallholding this year, as the adage goes; there’s no time like the present, so buy now to save yourself thousands of pounds on extra taxes!

Take a look at the table below for a full break down on the tax rate increase:

Property value

Standard rate

Second home rate (April 2016)

Up to £125,000

0%

3%

£125 – £250,000

2%

5%

£250,000 – £925,000

5%

8%

£925,000 to £1.5m

10%

13%

Over £1.5m

12%

15%

Land prices

Over the years more and more people have realised the benefits of owning a farm or smallholding. From leading a healthier lifestyle to being your own boss, the hike in farm purchases has been reflected in the price of land, which has been climbing since 2005.

In particular, farmland has increased dramatically over the last five years, with figures showing a 52.8% surge in the price per acre from 2010 to 2015! The increase has been good news for people who own land, doubling or in some cases tripling the value of their farms, but it has meant higher prices for those looking to buy.

However, there are signs that prices will begin to stabilise over the next year, making it a prime time to buy that perfect property in the West Country!

Swap that city house for a smallholding in the country

Always dreamed of a fresh start in the country, where your children can play outdoors freely in the security of your own large garden? If the answer is yes, now’s the time to swap that city house for a safe-haven in the West Country.

If there’s one region where prices are guaranteed to increase, it’s London, and if you’re raising a family in the city, the chances are they will struggle to get on the property ladder. Extend your search to the South West and you increase the selection of properties available for the same amount in the city.

For a three bedroom terraced property on the outskirts of London priced at £600,000, you can buy a six bedroom detached property with five acres of land, outbuildings and stunning views in the heart of West Devon.

Looking for a view of the sea? A four-bedroom house on the seafront at Rock in Cornwall will easily set you back in excess of £2 million, but expand your search to just 13 miles up the coast to Tintagel and you could snap up a six bedroom house with outbuildings for less than £500,000!

We can help you find your West Country Dream!

Wanting to take that leap from city life to live a more laid-back lifestyle in the countryside or start-up a smallholding?

Now is the time to sit down and consider where you want to live, what type of property you want, what you want it for and more importantly, how much do you have to spend?

Having difficulty finding time to plan? Let West Country Dream do it for you. Get in touch with West Country Dream on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

Top five myths about buying a farm

Top five myths about buying a farm

Farming and agriculture

Farming is at the heart of the West Country and the region is home to more livestock than any other area in the UK.

Living on a farm allows you to live a potentially healthier lifestyle; for those of you who are yet to live and breath the rural lifestyle, we take a look at the top five myths and misconceptions when it comes to buying your own farm.

You have to be from a farming background

Do you really need to be from a farming background to set up a farm?

Having agricultural experience certainly helps, but some of the country’s most successful farmers started out with little or no practical knowledge.

Jim Doherty, known from the BBC series ‘Jimmy’s Farm’, is one of many examples that you don’t need experience to succeed. Jim’s farming career began in 2002 when he established a rare pig breed farm in Kent. For a number of years his progress was followed by the BBC and, today, Jimmy’s Farm has an award-winning restaurant, butterfly house and hosts food festivals throughout the year.

His pigs don’t fly but we think that’s definite proof that you don’t need agricultural experience to buy a farm!

It’s all mud, sweat and tears

Farming is often portrayed to be a backbreaking industry, with little reward. However, the benefits can be huge; latest statistics show the total UK earnings from farming is around £5.3 billion a year!

According to Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) more than 300,000 are employed by the agriculture sector in England and 62,000 of the total workforce are in South West. If you’re looking for a career in agriculture there are plenty of viable options available to you.

You have to go big to succeed

Buying a large acreage farm doesn’t guarantee your it’s going to be successful.

Some of the most profitable businesses have developed from smallholdings by diversifying into tourism and farm shops.

For example Hallwood Farm Shop based near Petrockstowe is an award winning shop and grows the majority of its vegetables on the farm.
Meanwhile Parkside Farm in Middlesex transformed its mixed dairy and arable farm into one of the UK’s best pick your own businesses and this year went on to become Retail Champion of the Year in the national FARMA awards.

Proof that you don’t need to buy big to become successful!

We can help you find the perfect farm to suit your needs, take a look at services here… http://westcountrydream.co.uk/land-property-search/

It’s bank breaking

Farming can often be misconceived to be ‘bank breaking’, but if you’re looking at taking your first step in the industry, you’ll be pleased to know that land prices remain stable.

If you’re considering a move from the city to the West Country, you’ll be able to get more for your money. Figures show the average semi-detached property in London is fetching more than £500,000; this will go a long way towards your first farm!

It’s a dwindling industry

Farming in the West Country is far from in decline. Alongside tourism, agriculture plays a crucial role in the West Country’s economy, directly contributing more than £1.6 billion a year.

Since 2009 the farming industry has contributed £10 billion to the UK’s economy, which is an increase of £3.1 billion (about 45 per cent) over five years.

Meanwhile, sales of organic farm produce rose by 4% last year so if you’re hoping to grow and sell your own products, now is the time to start!

West Country Dream helps people looking to buy farms and smallholdings achieve their West Country Dream. For more information on how we can help your move become a reality please give Helen a call on 07816 514667.

Top five reasons for living on a farm

Top five reasons for living on a farm

Farming and agriculture

As a child one of the best places to grow up is on a farm in the West Country, where space is aplenty to roam the rolling fields for hours on end. However, as an adult with a family, buying a farm can seem like a daunting prospect with a big commitment, particularly if you’re moving from a great distance away.

Although undoubtedly a big move, the benefits of living on a farm should far outweigh any concerns you have. We’ve taken a look at just five of the many benefits that come with living on a farm or smallholding.

Healthier lifestyle

If you’re looking for a healthier lifestyle, look no further! Government statistics show people live longer in the countryside compared to cities, with Devon having some of the lowest premature mortality rates in the UK.

The South West also has some of the lowest levels of air pollution in the UK; on average London is four times higher than the South West’s regional capital Exeter.

Take a deep breath of that fresh countryside air!

You can be your own boss

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, but don’t want to compromise your senior job position?

Running your own farm in the West Country means you can have the best of best of both worlds; you can break free from city chaos and be your own boss, meanwhile cut out the commute.

Relocating with young children? Managing a farm allows you to arrange your workload around family commitments ensuring no one misses out!

Room for everyone

Figures show in the last year the average price for a semi-detached property in London fetched more than £500,000; making it the most expensive place to live in the UK!

Want somewhere with more space for your growing family? Look no further than a farm or smallholding in the West Country; you can exchange your £500,000 modest family home in the city for a five-bedroom bungalow with 18 acres of land!

Take a look at some of the properties on our website and get a flavour for what could become your own West Country Dream: http://westcountrydream.co.uk/properties/

Opportunities

By owning a farm in the West Country, the opportunities for business development are endless. Figures show around half of all UK farms use diversification in some form, contributing an extra £10,400 a year to their income.

If you’re not ready to plunge into the agricultural trade, there are a number other options you can consider…

• Diversifying into tourism by converting redundant barns to holiday lets
• Retail e.g. setting up a farm shop using local produce
• Catering; do you have skills in the hospitality sector? Combine them by setting up a café or B&B

Grow your own food

More and more people are becoming aware of where their food comes from and what’s in it. According to the Soil Association, sales of organic products rose by 4% last year, despite food prices falling by 1.95%.

One of the biggest benefits of having your own smallholding or farm, is the opportunity to grow your own food, and selling it to those around you! You know exactly what’s been used in the products you’re eating and it’s great educational fun for children too!

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.