Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Help, I want to buy a farm but need advice  (Read 1426 times)


  • Joined May 2024
Help, I want to buy a farm but need advice
« on: May 25, 2024, 03:51:21 pm »
Hello everyone. Myself and my brother along with our spouse have a £500k deposit. The 4 of us currently work full time and would be able to carry that on for a while before the farm provides a salary supplement. Our deposit comes from 2 sets of parents that would want to live on the small holding in static caravans or granny annexes with my brother and myself renovating any farm house or permissible barn/outbuilding. We would want to be able to make an income from the land by a few different means, some agricultural like gourmet mushroom farming (Iím a keen amateur) and commercial as my brother is a carpenter and wants to have a large  workshop. We also have other income generating ideas like a shepherds hut for echo tourism, beehives, some flowers/plants and other veg for farmers markets. We would be looking for at least 20 acres in Dorset and after a brief chat with a mortgage advisor weíre given a rough estimate of £1.2m for a mixed use mortgage. What Iím asking is for people in the know to blast holes in the plan or say itís a workable idea with all the possible permission likely. Iím hoping with the recent changes toward diversification of farm lands that a lot of what we want to do fits well as long as we have the right existing buildings


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Help, I want to buy a farm but need advice
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2024, 06:21:38 am »
Welcome to TAS. I'm sure you'll find lots of thoughts and advice. Being in Scotland, I wouldn't advise on Dorset except to say "do some very careful sums, both money and time". All the "little" enterprises take resources and when you add one on top of the other, they can soon mount up.
And have some method of dispute resolution. Thats' a lot of folk involved. I hope Sally comes on; she lives in a communal facility and will have good advice on that.


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Help, I want to buy a farm but need advice
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2024, 03:38:57 pm »

And have some method of dispute resolution. Thats' a lot of folk involved. I hope Sally comes on; she lives in a communal facility and will have good advice on that.

Well, I'm not sure how useful Trelay's approach might be when it's basically all family members, that brings all kinds of other dimensions, history, expectations, ... lol.

But for what it's worth, we have settled on aiming to use "mindful communication" (heavily based on Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication), not just when there's a dispute but all the time, and always seeking to communicate well enough with each other to understand each others' needs, and look together for an outcome where everyone's needs are met. 

"Needs" being the basic human needs, which give rise to our feelings.  Needs are things like beauty, autonomy, peace, connection.  (Not things like "that field for my mushrooms", or, "I can park my car in that spot", lol.)  All humans share the same basic needs, so working at that level keeps the mutual understanding high - and the attachment to specific outcomes in abeyance.

Our strapline is "Creating a quality of connection with ourselves, each other, and our land, where everybody's needs matter". 

Some nuggets which I find help me :

"All human action is an attempt to meet a need.  The deeper the need, the uglier the expression." 

(And when you're on the receiving end of an ugly expression... "That's a tragic expression of an unmet need".  When I'm with my mother, or latterly also my sister, sometimes I am intoning that constantly under my breath....  It's really helped!  lol)

"If you're taking sides, you are part of the problem"

"If you come into the session with a specific desired outcome, you're not doing NVC".

"Don't give in, nor seek surrender.  If anyone felt like that, you'll all pay later."  (Resentments always come back to bite you - and usually bite everyone.) 

There are other communities which use NVC or similar, but many others have more or less proscribed processes, with roles, escalations, sometimes warnings and/or other consequences.  We have found none of that helpful.  Our handling of disputes is to support those in disagreement with each other to hear each other speak about what happened (factual and observed, not interpolated, not hearsay), how they themselves felt (first person only, no guessing or reporting what others may have felt), and their needs which were not met. 

Understanding generally emerges, and with it connection.  Resolution often follows - but it doesn't always.  Sometimes personal antipathies are intractable, and eventually one or other party may disengage from the supported communication, and that, more often than not, eventually ends up with them deciding to leave the community.  And that does happen, but not nearly as often as things get resolved, and people develop stronger connections through navigating these problems, which make each disagreement generally easier and quicker to resolve.

Can 4 family groups do it that way?  If everyone buys into the approach, sure!   If not, with all the history that comes with family.. gulp! 

I can certainly point you at some resources if you're interested.

However you decide to do communication and handle disputes, it's always a good idea to have the basics really clearly agreed and documented, preferably signed by all.  Basis of ownership, how someone would leave, rights and responsibilities, that sort of thing.  And agree how decisions will get made - majority vote, or consensus?  One person one vote or votes apportioned pro rata investment?  Capital vs income (eg., one family may inject capital up front but not have a great deal of spare income to cover expenditures, another family may have little capital at the outset but a good job and can pay down a mortgage, and some may contribute "sweat equity", non-financial input which nonetheless adds value.)
« Last Edit: May 27, 2024, 09:46:46 am by SallyintNorth »
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Help, I want to buy a farm but need advice
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2024, 09:58:29 am »
Thanks, Sally. We bought a property and lived with Dan's folks. It worked out fine but there were some hairy moments that we could have managed better.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Help, I want to buy a farm but need advice
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2024, 11:45:18 pm »
I would reiterate Rosemary's point about doing some very precise and detailed sums, not just for the initial purchase but also for any possible income from the ideas you have.  You haven't mentioned ages, but that makes a big difference to how long you and your brother and your spouses could go on in paid employment and whether or not you would be adding children into the mixture.
I am personally very nervous about any financial involvement with family (with good reason as it turned out).  Here is where Sally's experience of living with a group is vital, so do please listen to her.
For your sums, you must take into account what would happen if, perhaps your brother and his wife decided to pull out of the arrangement after five years.  What would happen if one of you divorced, not just on a financial level, but for the apportioning of chores and so on, especially if that was vital for the economy.
You must also consider that running a farm is a large amount of work and with all of you working full time it would often happen that when you get home from work you are just too tired for farm stuff.  It still all has to be done though, so it might end up all landing on your respective parents,  When you are tired and jobs become a drag, then any enjoyment of what you are doing flies out the window.  A lot of successful communities have a religious basis, but you would have to be a very strong family to get through the trials without something like that, without ending up arguing.
When you mention what you intend to do with the farm, I don't see anything that would provide an actual income for when you decide to stop working.  There is no core farming industry, just supplements. 
Also 20 acres between 8 people is a very tiny holding, two and a half acres each in effect.

My suggestion is that before you commit to a particular property, that you and your family really talk through the idea.  Go on holiday for a couple of weeks together and really pick apart your plan, explore the what ifs and maybes, be totally realistic.  For this to work, everyone needs to be onboard from the start.
Please keep us in the loop with what you do finally, and good luck.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

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

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.


  • Joined May 2024
Re: Help, I want to buy a farm but need advice
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2024, 11:04:43 pm »
Thanks everyone for your advice. See if I can give any extra details. So me and and brother are 38 and 41, wives similar. My brother is a carpenter and currently works for a firm that buys and installs bespoke oak timber frame buildings. The business he works for is changing suppliers and heís been approached to set up a saw mill to produce these frames and then supply other firms in the south. Mushrooms are my thing, I already grow lions mane and oyster (pink, gold and grey) successfully as a keen amateur, I currently grow a regular weekly supply for myself and family/friends while having enough to supply 2 local grocers. So plan to upscale my current setup so Iím able to supply many more farm shops/stalls as well as restaurants and also dehydrate the lions mane and sell as a supplement. My brothers projections for his oak frame business almost covers our combined current wage. My wife is a health and safety director and works from home, she quite likes her job but likes the idea of doing it with a farm view. My brothers in laws (£300k investment) are also buying a holiday home on the Isle of Wight and plan to live there 9 months of the year and on the farm for 2-3 (depending on foreign stays) they originally wanted it to be a payment on a house that they had an annex on but would give my bro and his wife a forever home. Our in laws are in a similar position, they spend a large chunk of the year in Spain but want home stead here so were going to give us a deposit (£200k) to buy a house so they could live in an annex in the garden. They are very keen gardeners and are very excited about the prospect of growing plants and veg to sell at markets and nurseries. But both sets of parents have jumped at the farm idea, an idea me and my brother have had for many years with some differings on uses over the years. My brother and his family have holidayed (mostly camping) for all our lives. We have a plan in place that everyoneís agreed to with regards to wanting out of the setup. Both sets of parents are in 60s. Obviously we many ideas of how to carefully diversify any land we are lucky to get but there are core ideas that should get us up and running pretty quickly but incomes to fall back on. Also good shout on the land size. Both sets of parents are happy with a modest plot and obviously my in laws are keen to have some working land. Finding the right plot is going to take some doing but feels very exciting. Thanks again for any advice.


Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2024. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS