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How possible is it to live from a smallholding?
We are planning to move and will have some capital to live from. How long before we are in a profit situation? Are there any grants?
It is possible to live from a smallholding but it is very hard work and you need considerable skills. You also need to find a consistent market which pays a premium. One couple sell baby vegetables to local restaurants using polytunnels but they have a background in horticulture and one of them worked in PR for many years. A more realistic way for most people is for at least one of the couple to keep a day job and the reality for many smallholders is for both people to work outside the smallholding at least part time. You do not want to use your capital for day to day living expenses as it will soon diminish.
Be very very realistic about your living expenses and cost in extra for things like car repairs, house emergencies and don’t forget you will at some point want to go out somewhere. To underestimate is to court disaster. – Claire please pull text How long before profit depends entirely on how well you do your sums. You should construct an honest business plan and use it as a reference point on a monthly basis to ensure you are adhering to it. If you go off course then you need to work out why and put it right. It also depends on your skill level – you will have to learn some skills and this always costs money in terms of time, effort and mistakes.
There are no grants for smallholding but check out The Woodland Trust for tree planting opportunities. Your local Council may well offer business courses at low cost or even free of charge to help you with business plans, marketing and finance. It’s worth talking to the business development officer at your Council if they have one who can be very helpful.
Join your local smallholding club and talk to members. Many of them will be in a similar situation and having varying degrees of success.
Start small and don’t try to do everything at once and above all make sure you have a liveable house first so that at least you have an asset to put against your smallholding efforts but more importantly, as you are going to work hard, have somewhere comfortable to relax and recharge. Planning, though not strictly financial, is very important. Not having the right planning will cost you money in a way you cannot envisage. It will drain your capital and cause you untold misery. If you are buying a smallholding and you have some idea what you want to do, make sure it has or can get the necessary plannings before sinking money into the project.