flower farm Jazzy Rose Flowers
Diary of a flower farmer

How I found my land

I naively thought that I might be able to find some land to buy. Silly Lisa, this is the green belt and you are not super rich! However that didn't stop me. I started by asking around. I did ask about land to buy, spoke to estate agents, looked in local papers but could see buying land was not the ideal way. So I decided to do it my way. I basically just asked around. I did obvious things like put a post up on the village Facebook group and asked at the local garden centre. And I did less obvious things like run into a field to stop a farmer in his tractor whilst he was trying to harvest (not a good idea, he did not appreciate this). I also went on different routes on my dog walks, I knocked on doors and asked who owned fields. I asked as many people as I could. I wasn't shy. I kept saying to myself, what is the worst that can happen? They will just say no! 

I had just come to a dead end on a piece of land I was hoping would work out. From the road it looked unused and I had a snoop about and it seemed perfect. I tracked down the owner by knocking on lots of doors of big houses with scary gates only to find the field was already being rented for grazing. I was pretty fed up, but decided to take the dog and venture out again on a new route and try and find another field. 

I spotted my field from the footpath and thought, what a perfect field. Too perfect. Why would anyone let me rent that? But then I told the negative thoughts in my head to shut up and started walking towards the nearest house. A man was putting out his bins. It was raining. I asked him if he knew whose field it was and he said yes, it's ours. I then explained what I was looking for and asked him if he was interested. He said maybe and to drop my details off. It was that simple.

We then met to look at the field and I told him everything I would need to do in order to run the business (get a shed, a polytunnel, put up fencing, have road access). Luckily for me none of this phased him and we came to an agreement! 

I guess the moral of the story is don't give up. Keep asking! But here are some tips to help you on your way:

- Is there access from the road? My field isn't ideal as there is access but not for big lorries so deliveries are difficult. Fortunately I have access to a van and also Tractor Man who can forklift stuff onto the field. 

- Is there water? If there is then your rent will be more but if there isn't then how will you get it? I looked into a new connection with local water company. It was going to cost at least £5000 for a new connection which I wasn't prepared to pay given it wasn't my land. Fortunately, my landlord is kindly letting me take water off his mains and install a meter to so we can work out how much I am using.

- Can you put up a polytunnel? If the total owned land is more than 12.5 acres then polytunnels are permitted. If not then you need to apply for planning permission. In fact you need planning permission for anything on agricultural land under 12.5 acres so I have had to get it for my workshop and compost loo too!

- Do you need to put up extra fencing to protect from deer and are they OK with that?

- You need a tenancy agreement. We found a template for an agricultural tenancy agreement. We used this as a starting point and negotiated from there.

-Ask about their plans - are they going to move soon? How long have they had the field vacant? The more you can ask the more you will be able to judge whether it is a good long term opportunity.

- Go with your gut. Do you get a good feel about your landlord? Ultimately you have to get on and if you have any niggles I wouldn't go ahead. It is too much of an investment to have doubts!


Hope that helps :-)

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