A Farmstart involves supporting new entrant farmers by offering access to land, training and support accessing markets; they can be a wide variety of models in how they are run.
Getting started in farming can be challenging – access to land, capital and training are all major obstacles facing new entrants. To help overcome some of these obstacles, the Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) is working with member organisations running ‘Farmstart’ and ‘Incubator Farm’ 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.
Perhaps you are an organisation who would like to support new entrants to get established in farming and food production? Maybe you are a landowner who has some land and is looking for an innovative project to run on it? Are you an established farm who has a small amount of land you are not currently using?
To support the development of more Farmstart sites Landworker’s Alliance have produced a guide and set of case studies to provide some best practice guidelines, based on the experiences of established organisations. Alongside this handbook LWA have established a network of Farmstart organisations that can share experiences and support one another in the spirit of mutual aid and solidarity. The Farmstart Network is open to farms and organisations who are running or interested in running Farmstart or Incubator Farm projects, and to be part of this network, you can join Landworker’s Alliance Google Group email list. It is not currently able to support individuals who wish to join a Farmstart project – LWA recommend you contact your nearest Farmstart project to find out about eligibility and timescales.
If you have any further questions about the Farmstart Network, please see Landworker’s Alliance website and get in touch with Steph via email@example.com.