Various barrels, crates, wagon wheels, hay bales are propped up against the gray exterior wall of an old barn

A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Your Own Hobby Farm

Hobby farms have been gaining traction and popularity in rural and suburban areas. In practice, it’s essentially just what it sounds like: farming as a hobby. You essentially do it as a pastime instead of using the farm as your main source of income.

Our guide will educate you on how to start your hobby farm. You will learn what types of animals and crops you should select, how to plan in advance, and choosing the right location for your barn. 

Selecting Animals and Crops

When you are selecting animals for a hobby farm, be sure to choose smaller, low-maintenance animals like chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats, and pigs. Unlike cows and horses, these animals will do fine in smaller spaces. Choosing smaller animals will also make it easier to find a barn style that works well for everyone.

Choosing Crops

When you are choosing crops, take into consideration the soil type, location, different seasons, and what you can afford to maintain.

Start with some easy, low-maintenance crops, like:

  • Basil;
  • Sunflowers;
  • Sweet potatoes;
  • Peas;
  • Tomatoes.

Starting off with types like these will help give you an idea of the maintenance that is involved with your hobby farm. You should start easy, and work your way up to more challenging crops. 

Planning in Advance

There are some steps that you should take before officially starting your hobby farm. They will help you organize yourself and get started the right way. 

  • Plan out your crops: Have a list of the crops you want to include before you begin with plans for your farm. Find crops that are relatively low-maintenance that you would enjoy using or eating (i.e., don’t plant tomatoes if you don’t like eating tomatoes!).
  • Educate yourself on farming: While you don’t have to be a professional farmer to start a hobby farm, you should understand the fundamentals of what it takes to own a farm. 
  • Design the layout of your farm: When you design the layout of your farm, you want to consider any structures you plan to build, and prepare the ground for a concrete slab if you intend to build a barn. You should also consider whether your barn will need insulation for your animals and crops.

  • Obtain necessary permits and licenses: You may need to obtain permits and licenses according to state and local ordinances. Check with city hall to find out what permits you need to start your hobby farm.

  • Create a hobby or business plan: Even if you do not intend to make money off your farm, you should still have an operating plan in place that says what you intend to do with your farm.

  • Make sure your finances are in order: A hobby farm is an expensive hobby! But it’s worth it if you are passionate about farming. You just need to make sure you have the right financial standings to purchase animals and crops and maintain a farm.

This may seem like a lot of work for a hobby, but farming is a lot of work. It is a time-consuming commitment that you must be prepared for in advance. A hobby farm is not something that you start on a whim, but is something you carefully and thoughtfully plan out.

Creating a Budget

You could spend anywhere from $600 to $10,000 on setting up your hobby farm and creating a plan to maintain it. It is all dependent on what your vision is for your farm and what you plan to do with it. 

Starting small is better than investing a ton of money into your hobby farm right away. You want your farm to grow organically as you start to find a routine in taking care of your animals and crops.

Talking to Your Neighbors

If you live in an area with close neighbors, it’s only fair that you tell them about your plan to start a farm. There will inevitably be some noise or disruption to your community if you have a large number of animals running around a farm. 

You can create rapport with your neighbors by giving them advance notice and encouraging them to come to you with any questions or concerns about your farm. Be sure to let them know that you intend to only use responsible farming methods and tell them your plans to keep any disruptions to a minimum.

Choosing the Right Location

Finding the right location for your hobby farm can pose a challenge. You need to find a location that will be able to house all your animals, have room for your crops, and be able to fit a barn or other storage for farm equipment. 

If you plan to build a barn, you will need to get a construction permit to start building. You may even need to take out a loan if you don’t have the cash on hand. You might also consider a barndominium, which could be an efficient way to house yourself, your farm equipment, and even your animals. 

Even though it’s just a hobby, taking care of animals and crops is a full-time job and will require you to participate in a daily routine of feeding your animals and tending to your crops. Having a farm on your property or close by will make it much easier for you to get into a routine. Once you decide on where you want to build your farm, you need to purchase the land (if you do not already own it). Once you own the piece of land, you are ready to start building your hobby farm.