First Steps to Start a Farm From Scratch

As I’m sure you already know, living off the grid is a wonderful way to live. Because we live in a world where everyone needs to find ways of generating their electricity, heating water and cooking food, survivalist planning has been on most people’s minds as of late.

Starting from scratch means that you have no resources at all to work with (maybe just the sheer muscle power of your own body). It means you must plan everything out to get what you need, where you need it.

It means that the potential for mistakes is high because no one has done this before, so there are no guidelines. There are also no lasting examples in history of people who have started from nothing and then built a thriving farm because such a huge task, that only could be done now with the advent of modern technologies. 

This means there is no ‘right way to go about building your farm from scratch.

One thing we do know for sure though: you can’t start this kind of project and not have time and money. There is no ‘secret’ to building your farm from scratch, but there are plenty of articles out there about how to make a small homestead, which I will get into later on in this article. For now, we can look at how it’s usually done, and the steps necessary for starting a farm from nothing.

Have some land

If you live in the city, the only way to start a farm from scratch will be to buy or rent some land. If you already own some land, it’s not necessary to go on and read the rest of this article! 

Also, if your property line goes through a stream of water or some other means of irrigation, it’s not necessary. If the property line goes through a stream of water though, be very careful! 

Once you have found a place to live which isn’t too far from public transportation mark down what you want most in a house. Is it privacy? Is it water supply? What about soil quality? 

These are all things to take into account for your farm and you will need to find a place that fulfils these requirements. Not only that but you want to try and find land which is cheap enough so you can get multiple acres of it (the more the merrier). 

A small farm requires at least 5 acres of good quality land to be successful and efficient. Any disputes with your neighbour about this could have lasting consequences on your mini-farm, so try to decide who decides what happens with that part of the land early on.

Clear some space and make a plan

If you haven’t done this yet, remember that your farm must be close to your home. You will not have the luxury of time to drive for 5+ minutes every time you need to pick some veggies or do some chores. This is why the space cleared on the land must have easy access (easy access through the forest is not easy to access).

Find the type of crop you want to plant

Before starting your farm, decide what kind of crops would you like to have on it. Would you want fruits or vegetables? Or both maybe? Also, find out how much space you need to let each plant grow sufficiently. When planting certain types (like maize) make sure that there is not much shade around them when they are growing up, that’s why usually people put their farms far away from forests – because, during the latter stages of maize growth, its leaves start shading other plants nearby. This leads us to our next point.

Location, location, location

There are several things you should consider when choosing the place where your farm would be located. But first of all, make sure it is far away from any forest! Shade-loving plants like maize will grow up to their full height only if there’s no other plant or tree taller than them nearby. 

You can’t imagine how annoying it is to have a big maize field with stumpy corn everywhere because its leaves are shaded by some random weed that happened to grow around the same time as the maize, who could ever think about that? 

Secondly, try not to locate your farm too close to rivers or waterways, you don’t want your fields flooded with river water. Another thing is strong currents or winds, you don’t want your crops to get blown away! Thirdly, choose a location that is somewhat elevated from the ground level. This way it will be easier to plough and harvest with a tractor or a horse-drawn plough.

Getting the right equipment before anything else

As I have already mentioned, you can plant your crops in pots for now until they start growing and let the rest of the work to later years when your farm starts generating enough income. But there are some things you can do when starting such as acquiring all necessary tools (like spades, shovels, rakes) early on. You need them when working with soil anyway so why not buy them beforehand? Also, if you’re going to be using horses for ploughing, make sure you have the right harnesses.

Get all necessary documents (permits) before starting construction

Getting official types of permits is not only vital but it’s also time-wasting if your farm requires any sort of public amenities like water supply or sewage system. Try getting these first before actually starting with building your house and other stuff on the farm. This way you would save both time and money – more about that later.

Start small then expand

Some farms want to go big as soon as possible, they start by buying an expensive piece of land only to realize at a later stage that they can’t afford to buy everything they need for what was supposed to be a self-sufficient farm. So, the best thing you can do is start small, it will take time until your plants grow and yield products that you can sell for cash to buy more land or expand your current one (if possible).

Never sell what you can’t afford to get rid of

This rule applies especially if your farm starts generating an income even before you get all necessary permits which should never happen, but there are several cases where people started farming without letting authorities know anything about it. It’s understandable since everyone always wants fast results, but what happens when they come? 

You have no choice but to either bribe them in order not to report your farm or just sell everything and leave the location forever in secret. The latter will cause you to lose all money already invested in equipment, seeds and other stuff – not to mention that it’s very dangerous!

Time to start building 

Building your farm from scratch means that all of the work will be done by hand or with maybe small tools like shovels or axes. This might seem very daunting at first, but there are ways around it! The first thing you need to do is clear the space you have chosen for your farm. If there are trees there, chop them down and drag them out of the space. 

If they are not possible to drag out (because their roots are too deep or because they are too big) then use a chainsaw to cut off the trunk at ground level, then cut the trunk into smaller pieces

After this, start making a stockpile of logs somewhere not too far away from your farm so you can use them for building later on.

Next up is to get started with the actual building process. If you have no experience in construction work it might be difficult at first to know where to start, but there are some principles you can keep in mind that will help you on your way.

If you want to build a stable structure, use strong materials and make sure they are proportionate. The stronger the material, the less (at least heavier) of it you need to use and the more stable your structure will be.

Building with logs is easier than with bricks because it is possible to use not completely straight logs for the outer walls. This way you will save a lot of time and effort on having to cut perfectly straight lines into logs. 

Building an elevated floor inside your house means that you don’t have to dig up all the ground underneath your house, saving yourself a lot of work.

If you are not experienced in building with logs, there are some good tutorials out there on how to build houses from scratch with them.

After your farmhouse is built it’s time to start thinking about where you want to put the rest of the buildings that will be part of your homestead. Chickens need a chicken coop, for example, and rabbits need a rabbit hutch. 

Place these buildings close to your house but not too close. If the distance is too short you will have to spend more time building paths between them so that you can access each one easily. After you have decided where everything should go, start building!

A small farm needs only a few buildings and not much extra space beside the main crops you will be growing. Also, remember that it’s easier and more efficient to build several small buildings than one huge one (this also means you end up spending less money).

But don’t let these discourage you from becoming a farmer. There are tons of ways for anyone – young or old, urban or rural, single or married – to start their own farm business. All it takes is hard work and dedication towards one’s goals. Here are some tips you might consider to help you get started.

Use the internet as a resource

There are lots of websites out there that will offer advice on how to start a farm from scratch. Use these sites as your guides and take note of their advice. The key is to understand each tip thoroughly so you can apply them accordingly in your business venture.

Gain experience by working for other people

This way, you can learn more about how to start a farm from scratch while testing the waters yourself. You’ll be able to get an idea of what’s necessary for every business phase. Get your hands dirty and work alongside experts who are willing to share their knowledge with you.

Be patient as you learn

You can ask for tips from other people, but keep in mind that farming is a very slow process. It takes months and years of hard work before you can nurture your first batch of produce. Everything has to be done step-by-step, so don’t expect instant results as soon as you plant your first seedling.

Start small 

It’s better to start with a few breeds of livestock and a couple of fruit trees than buying your entire operation in one go. You don’t want to get overwhelmed by everything at once, especially when you’re just starting.

Stay organized

In every phase of the way, from ordering your supplies to hiring workers, you have to be organized. Keeping track of everything is essential in business and it will help you save hundreds of dollars at the end of the day.

If possible, get a business loan

This will give you an idea of how to start a farm from scratch while helping out with your expenses. Just make sure that you know how to pay back what you owe or else it can turn into a sticky situation for both parties involved.

How much money you will initially need is up for debate; it all depends on the above mentioned ‘2 hours per day. If this is an investment in your future (sleep-deprived nights followed by underpaid days), make sure not to buy too much in one week or two! If possible: try continuing with your old job(s) until things turn around. 

Otherwise: good luck with the jump into entrepreneurship! The great thing about starting like this is that you can go back whenever you want (and you can go back and forth as much as you like, too. It’s not like dropping out of school (or university) which you cannot undo.

FQA

How do I start my own farm?

A farm can be started in many different ways, depending on the current resources you have available. These resources include money, equipment, knowledge about how to run a successful farm and time. Building up your farm takes time; it is not something that will happen overnight. You must be committed to making this dream a reality.

The first step to starting your farm is to decide what kind of farm you want to start. Do some research on your intended product and find out if there is demand for it in your community or elsewhere. If there isn’t enough demand for the products you wish to sell, the prices will plummet and make it difficult for you to make revenue off of them while still making a profit. You should also think about if the products you intend to sell suit your current location and whether there is a large enough consumer base in your area for those products.

How much does it cost to start a farm from scratch?

To start a farm from scratch, the initial cost is around USD 100,000.00. The amount of money needed to start a farm depends on what type of farming business one would like to conduct. What is included in this cost? 

First, it includes all the equipment that will be used on the farm (tractors, tillers, seeders, trucks, etc.). All these items are bought brand new and they run about $50K – $70K each. 

Second, one needs land costs which cover farmland costs for rental or purchase plus building construction expenses if you want to construct your own building/greenhouse/tent/etc. 

Thirdly there are labour costs which vary depending on how much help you can give. These are the costs that are involved in starting a farm from scratch.

How do I start a farm with no money?

If you already own the land, make a map and list what you have on the land. If your family owns or rents an old farm then it is likely that something needs to be done to improve the value and productivity of the land. Arrange for this work to be completed before you manage crops and animals upon it: there’s no point in making a success of your project if you have to pay for major renovations after every few months!

Closing thoughts

To start your farm from scratch, first, do some research on what you want to grow and how you want to grow it. Then find the perfect piece of land for you and start clearing it, making sure that there is easy access to it. At this stage, you might also want to start building basic infrastructures like paths or a small house. After this, start putting up your other buildings and then finally plant your first crops!

Happy farming!

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