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Cultivate Communities

Developing a Community of Practice to promote the health and robustness of rural and regional communities through farm ownership.

Cultivate Farms is inviting community champions across Australia to participate in a 6-month pilot program to find practical and immediate actions which can bring young people back to the land and help to rejuvenate regional communities. 

This is a free service to community champions. You will need to be prepared to commit 1.5 hours every month, plus about another hour of homework each month.

At the end of the program, you will have a plan with at least three action points to implement in your own community, have the opportunity to learn and network with people facing the same problems from across the nation.

Young people are leaving farming communities

Farmers enrich and vitalise their towns and regions through economic, social and community participation. Some research suggests that for every farmer in an area, another seven people are sustained economically. Research also shows that farmers who are invested in the land and are more likely to increase the productivity of the land; farm with greater outcomes for biodiversity; and contribute in a greater way to local communities. 

Farm owners in Australia are getting older, and succession plans for farms are not always straight forward. For the retiring farmer, they may see their only choice is to leave their farm, the lifestyle and their life’s work. Financing their retirement requires freeing up the equity in the farm. When older people leave a community, health and wellbeing of the individual is compromised, and the community is reduced through the depletion of local knowledge and participation. 

The sale of a farm in a community can mean that absent landlord farmers acquire the property and business. Leasing of farms, foreign ownership or corporate ownership deplete the local community with contract farmers and absent farm managers. Years of local knowledge from the retiring farmer, and the legacy of a life on the land can be lost. Soil health and biodiversity are compromised for high yield monoculture production. 

Farm Ownership Transition as a solution to the problem

Farm ownership transition offers a solution to these issues. The retiring farmer can age on-farm for longer periods, and remain connected to their land and community. An aspiring farmer can learn from the retiring farmer, and provide support for the retiring farmer to stay on farm. Farm transitions allow retiring farmers to access the equity in their farm necessary for retirement, while reducing the amount of up-front capital required from aspiring farmers. Access to capital is the major barrier to farm ownership for aspiring farmers. 

A Community of Practice to engineer local solutions 

Cultivate Farms will bring together community leaders throughout Australia to develop a model that enables farm transitions within local communities. This Community of Practice will enhance and apply the methodologies for farm transitions that have been developed by Cultivate Farms. Community leaders, social workers and allied health professionals are some of those who witness these problems in their own community.  

Facilitated by the experts at Cultivate Farms, a Community of Practice will support these local champions and refine the methodology so it can be replicated in further communities across Australia. 

The Community of Practice will run from July to December 2023. Facilitated online, the Community of Practice will meet monthly for 90 minutes to share expertise . At the end of the period, you will have helped to co-design a program that leads to hundred of farming families returning to regional and rural Australia.

Invitation to Participate 

Cultivate Farms is seeking interested people to join its community of Practice to implement and further develop its practical methods of assisting individuals to remain on their farms, while also enlivening regional and rural communities by attracting new farming families to the regions.  

Allied health workers, community health and connection workers, volunteers and community leaders are welcome to get in touch. A limited number of bursaries are available for volunteers and community leaders to participate.  

The Community of Practice will run from July 2023 to November 2023, with 5 monthly meetings held online during business hours. Participants will be guided through a series of discussions and practical applications of transition options. Participants are encouraged to find situations in their own areas where farm transition can be applied. You will uncover the diverse range of options available and the ongoing benefit to a regional community that can be achieved.  

Expressions of Interest

For more information or to register your interest, please get in touch with Amy Cockroft.