New income streams for diversifying farms

This time last week the Farmers Guide team attended the Cereals event in Lincolnshire. Here’s what we discovered about the evolving farm diversification industry.

farm diversification - Wild Dartmoor ponies visiting female wild camper in her tent, Devon, UK

The New Era theatre was host to many educational and diverse talks at the Cereals event last week. The new income streams discussion was popular with farmers looking to find out more about farm diversification. 

GSC Grays director and head of farm business, Robert Sullivan, introduced the first speaker, owner of Rural Ventures, Kim Walton.

Kim has a wealth of knowledge helping farmers with diversification projects and business development. Here are some of her top tips to incorporate tourism to your farm: 

Identify your opportunity – ask yourself, and research the following questions:

  • What interests you?
  • What is the farm suitable for?
  • How much time do you have and when? 
  • What’s the competition and market demand?
  • What are the set-up costs?

Really ask yourself if your farm is suitable. For instance, if it’s harvest season, do you really want families with small children on the farm? Can your farm offer something different to other, already diversified farms in the area? This could end up being your unique selling point.

figures for farm diversification.

From NFU Mutual’s diversification report 2021.

Next steps – planning, set up and operating:

A number of things easily get overlooked when planning a big project such as diversifying your farm. This is why it’s advisable to get help from people or companies in the know. Or at least someone who has the experience of diversifying, prior to jumping straight in and regretting the decision – it’s not for everyone.

  • Draw up a business plan, including a proposed timeline of events and milestones.
  • Investigate whether planning permission is required and any potential safety issues.
  • Financial planning – laws and any grants available.

The setting up element is more practical:

  • What facilities will your visitors need when they visit?
  • Physically building or making enhancements to the current buildings prior to opening
  • How will you get your message out there? A marketing strategy is key to the success of your business.

Operating a business on top of your already-running farm business can seem scary at first:

  • Will you need to employ extra staff to help out?
  • How involved do you want to be in the day-to-day running of the operational side of things?
  • What additional products and services can you offer to customers?

Kim included some top tips for farmers in her talk:

  1. Get the basics right – clean facilities, friendly service, waste management.
  2. Make it personal.
  3. Unique extras.
  4. Use an already established website to promote and take bookings.
  5. Think about creative photography for marketing.
  6. Be ‘on the ball’ with bookings and enquiries.

Kim’s advice and focus was aimed at camping and tourism but can be applied to most farm diversification projects as a starting point.

Here’s a link to read NFU Mutual’s 2021 diversification report in full. 

© Farmers Guide 2021. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use Privacy Policy

Website Design by Unity Online