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Are you looking for farm diversification ideas? We have put together a list of 23 top farm diversification suggestions to inspire you. From maize mazes to composting, viticulture to floriculture, take a look at these suggestions and get inspired!
One of the fasted growing sectors in UK farming, viticulture is the growing and harvesting of grapes for wine making.
According to WineGB, sales of British Wine have soared nearly 70% in the last two years, from 5.5 million bottles in 2019, to 8.3 million in 2021!
As the average global temperature increases, parts of the UK which would never have been able to consider growing vines even a decade ago, are now seeing favourable grape growing conditions, more and more farmers are considering diversifying into this potentially lucrative market.
Sticky, fruit-stained fingers and overflowing baskets are a fond memory for many people when they think of their PYO (Pick Your Own) experiences.
The PYO offering has expanded over the years to now include a huge range of potential PYO crops. From traditional strawberries to pumpkins, vegetables and even flowers, there are numerous crops and opportunities available to farmers and landowners looking to provide a unique experience.
There are numerous reasons self-storage offers a real benefit to many people. They might be moving home, transitioning after a divorce, needing to store extra business supplies, or manybe they simply don’t have room for larger/ bulky items such as bikes, lawnmowers, caravans or even boats at their home!
Does your farm have a secure area? Is there space for storage containers? Self-storage might be an option for you consider as a diversification idea.
62% of households own a pet of some sort- that’s more than six in ten households!
Dogs are the most common pets with 13 million animals, and cats are a close second with a population of 12 million. With these staggering statistics it’s no wonder that there is a huge and growing demand for kennels, catteries and home boarding establishments.
There are two types of dog and cat boarding. Kennels and Catteries keep pets in their own separate ‘room’, secure from other animals. They can usually hold a larger number of animals than a boarding establishment, and animals are housed in a custom built building.
Home Boarding is where clients pets stay in your home with you, and while not as many dogs are able to stay at one time as custom build kennels/ catteries, home boarding is at the higher end of the pet care market, and thus demands a higher price per head.
Animal welfare and low food miles are seemingly always in the news, so turn that into a positive! Beef, lamb, chicken, pork and even duck are all popular meal staples.
Get connecting directly with your end consumer. Unsure what benefits to promote to your customers? Tell them that they are supporting British Farmers, environmentally friendly practices, low food miles and buying a high quality product. Buying in bulk saves money, provides great convenience etc.
Consider providing a delivery service, and if you don’t rear some types of meat, team up with a local producer who does!
British breeds of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry can have a strong commercial case made for them.
They have lower vet and medicine costs, a lower environments impact, lower production costs, and they can benefit from the rising consumer interest in food provenance.
Make the most of their many marketing opportunities. From a meat sales perspective, opportunities include breed specific schemes, local butchers, farm shops, online orders and home deliveries. However other revenue-making opportunities could also include farm tours, experience days, tasting events and filming opportunities.
If you think of an event to hold on a farm, the first option that springs to mind is usually weddings- however, there is so much more to events than just that! If you have a picturesque barn, field, woodland or location on your farm, ther are a range of events you could hold to make the most of it!
Just a few examples are open days, school trips, field trips, corporate events, luncheons, meetings, parties, charity events and fundraisers, classes and workshops- by adding a multifunctional event component to your farm diversification, a myriad of opportunities open up for people who are looking to make their next event stand out.
NATURAL BURIAL GROUNDS
Natural Burial- a somewhat daunting idea, but an increasingly popular request. Natural Burial differs from traditional burial as people are laid to rest in a natural area such as woodlands, meadows, orchards etc, in biodegradeable coffins without headstones or embalming chemicals. As well as being a logical extension of an environmentally-aware lifestyle, and having a broad appeal as an alternative to a conventional cemetery, it also provides additional burial space and provides the community with new amenity green space. Natural Burial may also be called green burial, green funeral and woodland burial.
Do you have green fingers? Floriculture, or flower farming, is another British industry that is growing, driven in part by peoples desires to buy local, sustainable produce.
With small land areas more than able to provide income, it is very possible to start small with little investment.
There are a number of routes to selling your flowers, from farm-gate bouquets to wholesale, local florists to farm shops and shops, workshops to fayres and shows, to Pick Your Own!
A variety of locally grown, seasonal vegetables delivered weekly, straight to your door- sounds great doesn’t it, and it could be provided by you!
This is another venture which is growing in demand, driven by the desire for local, sustainable produce. Green fingers are a must, but, as with flower farming, it is perfectly possible to set up initially with a small area of land and relatively small financial outlay.
It is surprisingly difficult for farm shops, restaurants and delis to buy a constant supply of veg from a local source, so be sure to contact potential outlets when preparing your business plan. Is there a local meat supplier near you? If so, see if they would be interested in joining forces!
FARM OR FOREST SCHOOL
Farm or Forest School can offer a huge range of benefits to a vast number of people. They deliver outdoor education where students learn to develop their problem solving and self discovery skills, all within a natural environment in a hands on manner. It’s not just for students either, with potential interest from preschool and nurseries, holiday clubs, birthday parties, parent & toddler groups, school visits, after school groups, team building days, and courses for adults and children.
There are an estimated 847,000 horses in the UK, with the economic value of the equestrian sector standing at £4.7billion- and they all need somewhere to stay!
Generally, the minimum facilities required would be a stable, turnout, feed storage and secure area for storing tack etc. Depending on your location, if hacking is good, an arena wouldn’t be essential, but they are preferred by many horse riders. Additional extras you might consider putting in could include lorry/ trailer parking, toilet facilities, horse wash area, heated rug store, and kitchen area.
As a farmer, many of the niche skills you use are actually in high demand. Hands on skills are impossible to learn solely from books, and are far more successfully learnt in a hands on environment.
Why not consider running courses on your farm? From animal husbandry, animal basics and lambing, to shearing, hedge-laying and drystone walling- there are a huge range of courses you could offer to new entrants, smallholders, young farmers, school children etc.
Extremely popular with children of all ages, especially with younger children and toddlers, a soft play area can be a huge draw, especially during wet periods when parents can struggle to find suitable activities for their children.
Adding a kitchen to sell simple food, snacks and drinks will also increase footfall and revenue. Consider adding an outdoor play area, animal petting or farm tour to increase your appeal.
A Maize Maze is an increasingly popular tourist and visitor attraction, where a maze is created in a field of maize (sweetcorn plants).
There are two ways of creating your maize- both require having the design of your maze in advance. The first method requires lots of willing helpers! Once the maize has started growing and is approximately ankle high, mark out your maze using posts and rope, and pull out the plant growing within the pathways. The second method requires programming your maze into the maize frill software prior to planting, and then the maze is all set to grow! There are companies who specialise in creating maize mazes and inputting them into the tractor software, so you don’t need any computer or artistic qualifications!
It is usual for the design of the maze to change annually, and if you can incorporate themes relevant to the year (for example the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics etc) that can be an added attraction.
The Covid-19 pandemic saw a monumental change to most peoples working habits, which saw everyone who was able to, working from home. Now the pandemic is over, while many companies want their employees to continue working from home, that does not suit everybody. Various reasons such as lack of office space at home, poor internet connectivity etc can mean that renting out office/ meeting space to small business owners and individuals might be a popular option to consider.
Foraging courses have boomed in the last decade.
Farms are usually bursting with wild food, and foraging allows people to enjoy the great outdoors, and appreciate seasonality at its best.
Guided tours along hedgerows and in fields can yield a bounty of food most times of the year; from nettles, wild garlic, elderflowers and lime leaves in the spring, to hawthorn berries, mushrooms, blackberries and nuts later on in the season.
Gather your delicacies, take them back and show your guests how to cook, preserve, drink or store them!
Nearly everyone enjoys a tipple of their favourite alcoholic drink on occasion. The market share of alcoholic drinks is phenomenal, revenue in the alcoholic drinks market in the UK is nearly £1.6 billion.
Farms are uniquely positioned to create a spirit, beer, lager or cider from unique flora growing there, or even using crops specifically on site.
Think what unique angle your farm can offer in this competitive market. For example, the founder of Tyrrels Crisps, William Case, has created a multimillion pound company by making gin and vodka from potatoes!
Renewable energy is energy that is collected from sources that are naturally replenished. As well as solar and wind, hydro (falling water), tidal, geothermal (heat from the earth) and biomass energy are the most popular energy sources. Farmers are uniquely positioned to supply both dedicated biomass crops and agricultural residues to the energy market, as well as having the land and roof space to potentially use for solar and wind energy harvesting.
Composting- the art of working with the natural decay process of plant matter and manure!
The sale of peat for use in the amateur gardening sector will be banned by 2024 to protect peatlands. While this may be good for the natural environment, gardeners will be hunting for a quality peat replacer. Maybe you could start composting on a large scale to fill that gap?
A compost mix containing well rotted manure is hard to beat when it comes to growing mediums- this could be a helpful way of making some brass from your muck!
Do you have land near a town or city? Does it have good road/ travel links? If so, allotments might be an option to consider diversifying into. Traditionally, there are 16 allotments to the acre (including paths), although that can be too much space for many people to manage and could be divided into half or even quarters, giving up to 64 plots per acre. Although it will never be an incredibly profitable enterprise, you could be providing an essential benefit to many people, who would not otherwise be able to experience the benefits of allotments, which include healthier diets, exercise, community and wellbeing.
With 62% of households in the UK owning pets in 2020/2022, there are a total of 34 million domestic animals in those 17 million households!
With £10 billion being spent annually on dogs, and £8 billion on cats, why not try to gain a foothold in this huge market?
Consider creating your own pet treat range. Could you use homegrown or locally sourced meat and ingredients to make your product stand out?
If your end product is particularly high in energy, maybe aim it at the agility/ gundog/ working dog market? There are many parts of this diverse sector you could create a product for!
Dog field/ training area
The boom of dog ownership has led to an increased need for secure, safe areas where dogs can be let off without fear of escape or other dogs. Secure, robust fencing is a must! With some dogs able to easily clear standard height stock fencing, a raised perimeter fence is essential. Secure dog fields are usually unmanned, although they are not passive income- there is still daily work to be undertaken to ensure the field is secure, safe and clean.
You might consider letting out your secure area, not just to individuals, but to agility groups, dog trainers and behavouralists. Good access is essential- it is vital that your customers can get to your field safely, without damaging their vehicle, and preferably without having to wash their cars each time they visit!