Securing Land As A New Farmer

December 18, 2014


All day, all night, in the back of my brain is the ongoing weighing of options, toying with ideas, dreaming of the various paths we can go down in our hunt for a plot of land to call our own.

How many acres. Which province. Does it have a house? How about outbuildings. Know the zoning? Need to be cleared? Forest-y or pasture-y?


Well? Septic? Hydro? Phone? Internet?


Right now we have four primary paths we can take. Four solutions. Four dreams that could take this adventure to a whole new level. I’m excited, nervous, anxious, impatient but mostly just grateful we have these options before us. Ok, maybe mostly impatient but also gratefulWe have options. This is a blessing, even if I’m currently not sure exactly which direction we’re going to go and that stresses the heck out of me.

Buy Raw Land with Agricultural Zoning

We have three community ‘pockets’ in Ontario that interest us the most. Yes, before you ask, we would 100% prefer to be in British Columbia. But the areas we would want to call home cost money. Lots of money. Plus the amount you need to be able to put down (typically 40%) is cost prohibitive for us as first time home buyers, even if we did want to take on a large mortgage….before we’ve even built our home. We are keeping tabs on four areas here on the west coast in the bright eyed hope that perhaps something will turn up. A pocket of reasonably priced awesome where we could envision our farmstead.

Find a Home on an Acreage (ideally with an outbuilding or two)

This ups our initial budget considerably but it has the potential to make a bank or credit union far happier. Depending on zoning, this could be a viable option. Especially if we stay open minded in our consideration of all that Ontario has to offer. In BC…we’re usually looking at slightly very run down ‘fixer uppers’ that cause mortgage specialists to cringe. Positive – we can move in and be there much sooner. Negative – not necessarily “the” place we want, if we still have a barn or shed to build, additional costs start to climb considerably.

Partner Up With Like-Minded Folks

Up until recently I wasn’t aware that the idea of a ‘tenants in common’ arrangement was actually fairly common. We have a potential option here that could bring us together with some families and folks we truly love, admire and/or would be happy to get to know better. Of course, sharing land (especially depending on the size of said land) doesn’t come without challenges. The first of which being…where do all of us want to be?

Get Creative With Alternatives

It’s been incredibly eye opening to see what other options exist out there, as long as you open your eyes – and get past the conventional “dream” of owning land. For example, seeing how much passion and commitment exists among the stewards of Linnaea Farm gets us thinking about why any of us choose to sign on for hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to call a building “home”. There are a few different options here that have piqued our interest and require more investigation (and conversations) to know if this could be the best option for us.

Anyone out there happen to be sitting on a spare 15-25 acres that you’d like to see put to good use? 


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  • Reply Gina December 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Good luck! We knew we wanted acreage and that alone greatly reduced our options. We’re happy with what we have but I really don’t think its quite what we had in mind. We ended up with something a little too close to the ocean for good farming/gardening (it just doesn’t get ad warm as it would a few more miles inland), but we could afford it. So I guess fruit trees are out 🙂 I just tried to keep an open mind so that we can let our land guide us instead of us guide our land. We are looking into a greenhouse of some kind to expand our growing options. I’d rather have less options but be comfortable knowing we can afford things. I cringe at a home we almost bought – luckily an easement issue ended up giving us an out. Looking back, it was an ideal place. Nearly 60 acres! Big house! Outbuildings! Pastures! In a banana belt! But I would be been working full time for the length of the full term mortgage just to get by. Instead we’re on 20 acres, mostly trees, not enough sun, too close to ocean (for farm). But the house is nearly paid off and I’m working part time. Certainly a better place for me and my husband.

    • Reply rachel December 20, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Such a similar place we’re in right now that it sounds like you were wrestling with at the time – as we’re searching for land, it’s so easy to see the price range creep up and up and up to perfect….which will cost enough that we won’t be able to actually step away from work for years. Many years. Right now, making sure we strike that balance is the most important piece of the puzzle…which is the biggest reason why we can’t imagine finding something even almost appropriate on the west coast. Just too much money to actually be able to enjoy the land in the end!

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