What are hobby farms and how can you start one?

Eggs whenever you need them; fresh strawberries in the summer; the ultimate farm to table experience. Hobby farming combines the best of low-stress lifestyle living and some of the rewards of farming or homesteading.

If you're considering taking up a hobby farm in New Zealand, here are our tips for getting the groundwork done.

What is a hobby farm?

A hobby farm is a small farming operation taken up for leisure, rather than to make commercial gains. The main point of difference between a hobby farm and other agricultural endeavours is the purpose:

  • Hobby farms: Small farms, often run by a single person or a group of friends, primarily for leisure.
  • Farms: Full sized, commercial operations which grow produce, rear animals or nurture dairy cattle for the purpose of making a profit.
  • Homestead: Operated by a family living on site, these smaller farms exist to provide total self-sufficiency to the owners and typically produce meat, fruit and vegetables, eggs and dairy all in small quantities

Plant

Your New Zealand hobby farm might start small, but it can grow to be incredibly rewarding.

Why start a hobby farm in New Zealand?

While you might make a small profit from selling the produce from your hobby farm, it probably won't be enough to make a living. Why then, would you want to take up farming?

Hobby farmers can be anyone - some are retirees looking for a project to focus their time and money on, that they can derive meaning from. Others are young professionals leading careers during the week and seeking the tranquility and connection to nature that farming can bring in the weekends. Hobby farming can bring different benefits, from a positive routine, fulfilling pastime and additional minor income - they're ultimately whatever you make of them.

How to get started with your New Zealand hobby farm

Do your research

Don't go in alone. With the great fulfillment of a hobby farm, comes hard work. Before you decide to start a hobby farm, reach out to the local community or online forums and try to meet with other farmers. Understanding other peoples' experiences can help to prepare you for what's to come and give you a confidence about your new project.

Plan your stock and budget

Think about what you'll use your hobby farm for. Are you interested primarily in growing crops or would you prefer to focus more on livestock?

Whichever you choose, it's a good idea to start small. While you're not aiming to make a profit, it's best to budget for a smaller number of crops and test the waters while you're still learning. This way, you can take your time and pick up the hobby at a pace that's perfect for your lifestyle.

When you’re planning your budget it’s important to think about other expenses your hobby farm may bring. Beyond farming supplies, land upkeep, fencing and required structures, you’ll also need to think about your insurance obligations. Farms are home to all sorts of unique contents from animals to crops and hay, and with those may come new risks. Read our article on insuring your rural block to ensure you’ve planned for the right expenses.

Cow

How will your New Zealand hobby farm bring joy into your life?


Choose a location for your hobby farm

Consider where you'd like to establish your hobby farm. If you're currently living on a lifestyle property in New Zealand, you may have enough space to start up on your existing section. Otherwise, you might like to purchase a rural section nearby to get started. Make sure to do your due diligence when looking for new land, as covenants may exist which may stop you from keeping animals or using machinery on site.

Expect to take some time and flexibility

You'll get the most from your hobby farm when you take the attitude of experimentation. If this is a new adventure for you, you're not always going to get it right the first time. Allow yourself some time adjust to this new hobby and figure out what you like.

A hobby farm can be the perfect way to fill your days and feel the benefits to your mental health by spending plenty of time in the great outdoors. If you're ready to feel that connection with nature, start looking for rural property here on realestate.co.nz.

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