NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Hi all, so glad to have found this forum  (Read 185 times)


  • Joined Jan 2020
Hi all, so glad to have found this forum
« on: January 14, 2020, 09:46:45 pm »
Hi all,
It's really good to meet you all. My name is Richard and I've been passionate about sustainable agriculture for some years. I've spent the last few months deciding that I would like to leave my construction job for good and branch out into sustainable ag.
I do have experience growing veg on my allotment and I produce a lot of veg for personal consumption. Now I am looking at starting my own venture propagating plants and growing veg to sell commercially.
I am looking at land to purchase as I have some savings, but living so far south I cannot afford to buy more than an acre or so and it would not include living accommodation, just the land.
I am in a difficult situation whereby I need to care for an elderly relative whom I live with, which means I am stuck until they pass on. In a way this is not so much a limitation as I would not be able to afford a smallholding nearby anyway even if I had the money from the sale of the home I currently live in.
What I have planned is to purchase a parcel of land approximately 1.5 acres, 40minutes drive from where I live.
I am speaking to the estate agent about all the details involved but there are a few considerations they can't help me with, so I've signed up to this forum to hopefully receive some guidance.  :thumbsup:

1) How do I know which 'use' class the land I am looking at is?
2) there is a track leading from the land to the main road serving many other parcels of land and in the title there is a mention that a contribution must be made toward the cost of maintaining the track but it is privately owed by another land owner, does anyone have experience of this type of arrangement and what it means? At the moment it is a dirt track.
3) I would like to build a large pond/water catchment area in the field, do I need planning or building regulations for this? I would like to be able to capture a minimum 1000m3 of water per year. This would be enough water to run a small market gardening operation. Obviously I would need to make sure that the pond sits below the water table to allow it to collect water naturally as I may have no way of filling it if I don't connect the land up to mains water.
4) does anyone know of an easy way that I can establish where the existing water and electric cables are? Plans etc? 
5) how would I go about getting electricity on site if I do not have a home to connect into?
6) site security is very important as there are residential roads nearby. I note that the existing enclosure is a rough pole fence with barbed wire but would not stop a person getting in, how would I go about securing the 1.5acre site to stop intruders? How would I manage the security of the site if I am not living there 24hr a day ?
7) how do I run a business selling plants if the site does not have a mailing address? Is it legal to register myself as a sole trader at my current address and use that?
8) do I need planning permission to propagate plants for commercial sale from the site?
9) do I need planning permission to erect a poly tunnel 5x15m in size?

Thank you for any information,  :eyelashes:
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Hi all, so glad to have found this forum
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2020, 05:27:35 pm »
Hello and welcome Richard,
Lots of interesting questions, sadly I can't advise but hopefully someone will soon, best of luck with your ideas.  :)
« Last Edit: January 17, 2020, 12:12:24 am by Penninehillbilly »


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Hi all, so glad to have found this forum
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2020, 05:58:44 pm »
Hi Richard. Welcome - can't help with the questions just now, but I'm sure lots of help will be forthcoming.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Hi all, so glad to have found this forum
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 07:53:37 pm »
Hello and welcome.  I don't have the experience of your situation to advise, as our smallholding was already established when we bought it.  However, two points stand out; security and market

I think security will be a big problem on your proposed site, depending on its location.  We have had no such problems to contend with, even with our 'honesty box' at the gate, or with our livestock or equipment so far, but we live on site.  I would research this aspect carefully before you commit to purchase.  Don't let yourself be rushed into buying before you are ready, as there are always other pieces of land around.

I think you should also research your potential market as there may be many others doing what you are doing, or there may be none but a large number of restaurants or consumers who can't be bothered to grow their own in the area.  But you need to have some idea in advance.

As the others have said, there are several TASers here who do have experience of your situation, or part of it, so I'm sure you will get plenty of other advice.  It might help to say whereabouts you are in general as 'the south' is quite a widespread area - near London?  In a rural area with many commuters? In a truly rural area?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 07:57:00 pm by Fleecewife »

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie


  • Joined Jan 2020
Re: Hi all, so glad to have found this forum
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2020, 12:28:41 pm »
Penniehillbilly, Rosemary, Fleecewife,.. Hi! - Nice to meet you  :wave:

Thanks for giving me your thoughts about this Fleecewife,
I live in a suburban part of North London within the M25, so yes within the London area. It's very hard to find land that's within an hours drive. I was thinking about renting land but it is generally grazing land for horses, etc. I want to erect a poly-tunnel for plant propagation and potentially a market gardening venture so I'm not so fussed about animals. I have no experience of animals anyway.

Perhaps the best option now is to setup a little venture selling veg using my allotment space? Provided I'm registered as a sole trader and pay the tax on it and don't monocrop, I can't see what would prevent me from doing this? I don't have any other options otherwise. If I can't buy or rent land I'm forced to go about it this way.

How would you suggest I go about doing market research? What is a TASer?

Many thanks


  • Joined Mar 2015
  • West Suffolk
    • Notes from a Suffolk Smallholding
Re: Hi all, so glad to have found this forum
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2020, 01:14:27 pm »
You might find the your allotment conditions preclude you from using it for commercial purposes.
TASer = The Accidental Smallholder forum user.


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