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Country Discussion Topics
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Starting with hobby farming
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Eortheain    Posted 06-19-2002 at 08:25:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]
My grandparents and their parents, going back many generations, were farmers. I spent a large part of my childhood on their farm, and feel a strong desire to farm.

I've been offered a 20-acre property in western Virginia, and I'm thinking about buying it for hobby farming purposes.

The idea is to start out very small. I'll keep my day job, and use a home equity loan to pay for the property, soil preparation (e.g. clearing off brush), seed, and equipment.

I am hoping that the farm hobby will bring in enough money to at least pay for the mortgage.

Right now, my thinking is along the lines of:
1. growing organic produce
2. growing malting barley
3. planting pine

Why these particular crops? Well, the property is about 2 hours west of the Northern Virginia/DC metro area, which is a fairly big market for organic produce, barley (for homebrewing beer), and christmas trees.

I'll have the soil tested in a not-too-distant future and make sure that the above crops will thrive on the land.

If my plans to grow and sell produce, barley, and/or christmas trees do not pan out, I'll probably just rent out the property to city hunters. The demand is there; there isn't much public land where you can hunt in the area. Conversely, if these plans work out, I might expand over time and contract for custom work so I don't have to buy a lot of equipment; with only 20 acres, I can't justify anything more than a good, used tractor and the standard assortment of attachments.

Down the road (10-20 years from now) I'll probably sell my current house in the suburbs and build a new house on this property.

I'd like your thoughts about all of this.

Thanks in advance!

Grower    Posted 06-21-2002 at 10:15:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sounds Good Eortheain,

If you keep your expenses low (rent equipm't) and work hard (which u seem enthused to do) you should work out fine.

Also have some alternative crops (herbs, flowers to sell at farmers markets) if you add some more interest into the mix.

Good Luck

rhudson    Posted 06-19-2002 at 20:48:03       [Reply]  [Send Email]
you probably already know this, but. "hobby" is a term used by irs to figure taxes. i don't claim to be hobby farming because of tax advantages in the long haul of this farm. for some cases it is better to admit to hobby farming if you don't think you will make a profit in the long run. (irs allows all hobby (not for profit venture) expensives to be deducted from taxes. talk to a farm cpa.

anyway, its a great way of life if it fits you. its the only exercise i get. Best of luck.

Tom A    Posted 06-19-2002 at 08:48:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I have a hobby farm NW of DC, was raised in the area, moved away but have been back now for about 15 years. I'd think twice about Christmas trees--everybody and his sister in the area thought they'd make a killing and planted a little Chrismas tree farm and the market (to an outsider anyway) to me seems to be over-saturated.

I'm ignorant about the barley as an ought to talk to the local extension agent for their input.

I think organic produce is a good idea, although I'm amazed at how much of my time is taken up with my own garden...I commute about 3+ hours daily (to DC) and there isn't enough time to keep my 1/2 acre family garden planted and weeded the way I'd like.

Good luck. I love this and wouldn't ever want to stop, but it is a lot harder than I ever thought!


WallSal55    Posted 06-19-2002 at 08:41:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
I do not mean to overwhelm you, but Christmas trees are seasonal, so you may need to do the produce and/or the barley as well. How many
family members do you have to help out? Also, figure in your property taxes per year, and their
due date! So far, sounds like you have a good
plan. Good Luck. I hope your dream comes true!

WallSal55    Posted 06-19-2002 at 09:06:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
My husband and I both came from tree farms. Our
dads were farmers, so Christmas trees were seasonal. Both our dads, had cut-your-own
forests, family orientated. They sold for less,
so the customer base was always families who
did not want to pay out the wazoo for a tree!
Today, my husband and I continue, as best we can,
in the tradition. My husband plants them, the daughters trim the trees, I sell them. We sold
70, the exact amount we had ready this last year
in the forest. We set our price $2 less than
our two nearest competitors. Also, my husband
would cut and deliver, for extra. The tree also
doubled in price if it was going to Chicago, Peoria, etc. (Folks there do not want to pay
$50 + for a Christmas tree, and we could offer
a big savings for the city folks.)

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