Cultivate Farms is a fantastic new social enterprise connecting young aspiring farmers with older farmers moving off the land. Removing the barriers preventing young people getting involved and educating the new generation of farmers! The story of Elliot and Rebecca comes from the team at Cultivate Farms in their search for what defines a passion for farming and where it originates. Well worth a read.
Elliot and Rebecca in the ACT
It’s always inspiring to meet passionate people with a vision. Elliot and Rebecca reached out to us a few months ago and we spoke about their farming dream and how difficult it will be to make it a reality. It is these conversations that bolster us that we are on the right track to help make farming a reality for great people like them and you.
5 takeaways we took from the interview:
- Farming should be seen by any high achiever as a great career option; a great lifestyle, profitable and you get to have a positive impact on the planet.
- Insect farming might not be as crazy as it first sounds. A nice article about it here – https://www.milkwood.net/2014/06/12/farming-edible-insects-hello-zero-footprint-protein/
- Like nearly every aspiring farmer we have met, they are working hard off-farm to somehow afford to buy their own piece of dirt. But will they ever be able to save enough before they’re too old to enjoy it?!
- If you love people and talking, then training and educating others on your farm could be a great option for many farmers and another source of income.
- They love the idea of being connected with a retiring farmer who can hand over both their farming and farm wisdom.
- I know there should only be 5, but the list of inspiring farmers near the bottom is a must for people to check out.
What are your names, where are you currently living and where would you like to farm?
Elliot Holgate and Rebecca Ceravolo Alves de Oliveira, currently living in the ACT and want to start farming anywhere between Port Macquarie and Rockhampton.
- When you walk out onto the front deck of your dream farmhouse, what sort of farm do you see before you and what work do you have ahead of you for the day?
Ideally, we will be looking out onto a biodiverse, healthy and productive ecosystem. It might contain intensive organic cropping, agroforestry, insect farming, educational centre and on farm processing.
Today we will first tend to livestock who free range through the alleys of our agroforestry system. Second, we will harvest from the main crop to supply meals for ourselves, guests and students. Third we will check on processing of our on farm produce and fourth relax with the rest of the farm team.
- Why do you want to own and operate your own farm? What drives you?
Lifestyle. Rebecca and I believe that a farm lifestyle is one of the healthiest, happiest ways one can live. From our past experiences farming there is something incredibly satisfying about being directly involved in providing your own basic needs such as nutritional food, clean water and shelter. You begin to appreciate more, want less and improve your overall wellbeing. Not to mention the ecological benefits such as reducing waste, improving ecosystem services, carbon capture etc.
The other motivation is positive impact. Being high achieving, hardworking and highly motivated individuals we also want to make a positive impact on the planet. We strongly stand by the phrase “leave it better than you found it” and this is our goal for our farm. To not only produce highly nutritious food but also improve the aesthetic and functional elements of the land.
There are also many social goals that we have alongside the environmental ones such as partnering with indigenous communities, providing farming scholarships and running educational programs. So in the end it is about creating a healthy lifestyle for ourselves as well as future generations, whether that be ecologically or socially.
- What obstacles are in the way of you achieving your farming dream? How are you going to make your dream a reality?
At the moment we are basically working as hard as we can to get funds together to buy some property. As we have heard many times over today’s market is not very conducive to saving to buy property so we are also looking being innovative through building our own company and looking into options such as cultivate farms.
Like my parents used to say “money is up there with oxygen” and unfortunately it is a little harder to come by than the latter. This is our major barrier to starting a farm. We have the knowledge, the motivation and a significant amount of experience but it is just the capital that is lacking which is a real shame.
If options like Cultivate farms were not around we would probably go the conventional route of saving until we get there. We may look into getting a loan or have to make some compromises such as size and location.
- What benefits can Cultivate Farms offer you?
My favourite thing about Cultivate farms is it’s potential to also connect investors in farming projects. Rebecca and I have some great ideas that require seed money to get off the ground and investments is a great way to do this.
The other thing I love is how Cultivate Farms can connect us with a landholder who has been in the game his/her whole life. There is a wealth of knowledge that is priceless. Not many people know the land like someone who has been living on it for 50 years. It’s that kind of knowledge that can really make the different in farm management.
- Is there anything about Cultivate Farms that worries you? E.g. Sharing equity with someone else.
Ideally, we would like to own our own farm and have the freedom to make our own decisions. We would like to apply some innovative agriculture methods, which will require some experimenting so we would like the flexibility that will allow us to do this.
In saying that we are happy to collaborate as long as we share the same vision with partners.
Rebecca and I believe that very few enterprises become successful without partners so we realise that this is a part of the process. The hard part is finding that 5% of people who you can work with and share a common goal.
- What are the three things Cultivate Farms could do for you right now to make your farming dream a reality?
Land (20 – 100 acres)
Seed money ($100,000 – $300,000)
Advice from experienced farmers
- Are there any amazing farmers, who you could name, that you admire?
We have done a variety of courses with a number of different farmers who we admire.
Geoff Lawton – http://www.geofflawtononline.com/
Ernst Gotsch – https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/climate-stories/stories/ernst-gotsch-syntropic-agriculture-agroforestry
Joel Salatin – http://www.polyfacefarms.com/
Masanobu Fukuoka – http://onestrawrevolution.net/One_Straw_Revolution/Massanobu_Fukuoka.html
Dan Kettridge – https://s3.amazonaws.com/bionutrient.org/audio/listen/DanKittredge_Permaculture_Realized_Podcast.mp3
Bill Mollison – http://www.tagari.com/home/
David Holmgren – https://holmgren.com.au/about-permaculture/?v=3a1ed7090bfa
- Any other pieces of gold to hand over?
We are looking at getting into precision agriculture using the latest technology to assist farm management. This may include drones, GIS mapping and remote sensing. We would like to link this with universities and industry so that we can develop an evidence base that our methods are both highly productive and ecologically beneficial.
We have a special interest in nutrition and would like to develop a system of measuring the nutritional value if individual food items. This means buyers will be able to pick food based on its nutritional value instead of how it looks. It is our opinion that a lot of the food you buy from the supermarket is nutritionally depleted and also probably contains some toxins from pesticide use.
We have our own company (Ubatuba Amazonian Health Food) selling functional foods and natural cosmetics sourced from indigenous communities around the world. We have products that are increasing in popularity in China with a huge potential to access the growing middle class. We would like to setup the processing for these products on the farm so that we can market our products as green and clean for the Chinese market. We believe there is huge potential in this business.
Socially speaking we would like to setup the farm as a type of school where people can come to learn sustainable land management practises. We will offer scholarships to disadvantaged individuals who can then take the knowledge to develop projects in their home towns wherever that may be.