Regional Highlight

Fall in love with your new farm today

Sam Marwood, co-founder of Cultivate Farms, is on a mission to make it possible for anyone to own a farm. The banks are asking for 40+ percent deposits on farm purchases – about thirty years of savings on an average salary. But Sam isn’t suggesting you sit around waiting for your bank balance to pile up, and he isn’t doling out dollars, so if you haven’t inherited, what can you do?

“This is a worldwide issue. Farms aren’t getting cheaper, and young people aren’t suddenly going to get richer. You’ll never take that desire for farm ownership away – so you need to come up with a solution,” says Sam.

That solution, as far as Sam sees it, is to remove the barrier of access to capital.

His social enterprise, Cultivate Farms, is seeking to do just that.

“Cultivate Farms is a matchmaking service – like the eHarmony of farm ownership. We match the best aspiring
farmers with people who have a farm and want to retire, or who have money they want to invest.”

“Once the right people come together – people who get on, have the same values and a shared vision – we help them work through the details.”

“Through a simple conversation, people can be on the path to a farm.”

That path may initially include employment managing the farm business, short- or long-term leasing, leasing
to buy, or profit sharing. It’s up to the individuals to decide what arrangement works for them.

Cultivate Farms is one of several collaborative farming models discussed at a Loxton Research Centre workshop in late 2017, put on by RDA Murraylands and Riverland and Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin.

Sam says that farmers often think of collaboration as one farm working with another farm to increase profits for both.

But at Cultivate Farms, “we’re trying to promote internal collaboration in a farm business.”

Importantly, Sam’s approach requires a mental decoupling of the farm business from the land asset.
Sam explains, “the two words I know make farmers recoil are ‘sharing’ and ‘investors’. We’re still trying to  overcome that. But it could be like any other business – you get people on board to help grow your business, then you can step back and be more of a strategic adviser than a doer.”

For aspiring farm owners, Sam’s advice is simple. “Know what you want. Get the skills and experience you need to be a great farmer. Write a solid investment proposal. Then be like an app entrepreneur and hustle.”

RDA Murraylands and Riverland and Cultivate Farms will host a regional farm matchmaking event later in 2018, and are seeking twelve aspiring farmers and twelve existing farmers who are interested in this collaboration model.

Sam is excited that the Murraylands and Riverland wants to lead the way in proving the concept – “That’d be
Landline worthy!”

Follow Sam Marwood on Instagram @cultivatefarms

Contact RDAMR to express your interest in the regional matchmaking event.

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“[The program] gave us enough background to know where to channel our efforts and find out if export is the right thing for us.”

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Collaborative farming
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