Let me first say I am NOT advertising for this. Wont turn someone away out of turn but not pushing a lease. I decided to this as the New Small Farm and homestead turn over and failure rate is epic in this region and from talking to friends around the USA it is about the same everywhere Ranging from 80%-95% failure rates within the first 3 years. A little farmstead at the head of my drive has started up, closed down and sold 5 times over the last 8 years as a example. As some who owns and operates 4 Farmers' Markets, I get to talk to pretty much every new homestead and small farm that starts up sooner or later. The sad thing is you eventually can gauge very accurately who will be around in 3 year and who will have the Bank Owned Foreclosure Sign hanging off the drive way gate. Almost painful at times to watch folks so excited in the beginning get ground down, stressed out and finally collapse. How can a homestead or small farm not make money and stay afloat given the massive increases in the number of people buying local and buying better food? That is a complex but also easy series of answers. 1. DEBT! There is no such thing as good debt. Every time you borrow money you making a wager on the future. The average here that folks borrow to start a small 5-10 acre farmstead runs in the area of $125,000-$250,000 with the 5 acre lots seeming to be the most popular and the most expensive. Well you gotta have a new Kubota or JD Compact tractor that cost $25,000-$30,000 and hey look its at 0% financing for 3 years. Got to get all the other tools, tillers and gizmos and we will just max the credit cards out with another $20,000, wait I need a truck to carry everything to market , gotta look good so lets borrow $60,000 for that nice big dodge ram dually. Two years later the farm/homestead is hemoraging money and the income is a small fraction of what was anticipated, so you start working a full time job and it still is not enough to keep up, so you take on a part time job. Still only barely making ends meet and working a full time job, a full time job on the farm and a part time job. Now you are completely exhausted, broke and severely sleep deprived. You drop the part time job and hope you can get by, but the payments are getting behind. The first repo man to show up is from the tractor dealer and load your new tractor up and pulls out, the phone rings non stop with the collection agencies for the maxed out credit cards on the other end. Then the New Truck Repo Man pulls in and you see your truck burning down your driveway. The bank starts sending intent to foreclose notices and after 6 Months begins foreclosure. Then you learn you still owe the balance on the tractor and the truck after they are sold and the repo and attorney fees and you finally crack and file bankruptcy and go down in flames. I have watched this story play out no less than 100 times over the last 16 years. 2. A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING AND KNOWLEDGE. But I read everything there is to know on the this! Yep you got all of the answers and are too busy knowing everything to learn anything Books are great for ideas and the very basic knowledge. Applying that knowledge in practice almost never works out as described in the book. I went to college and studied small farming! Yep in a controlled environment with and unlimited budget for everything. If the tiller blows its $1200 tranny it magically goes away and comes back good as new. In the real world the tranny blows out you are now a small engine mechanic. A disease is hitting your plants, you are a botanist, a animal problem at 2AM you are a vet, a hydraulic cylinder blow on the bucket tractor, yep you are a tractor mechanic. You are also the marketing manager, financial manager, farm manager, janitor, planter, weeder, milker, and everything else. You quickly learn the warranty on everything new expires right before something major breaks Then the sheer amount of labor that goes into just feeding yourself and your own family starts to sink in. The grand adventure and dream is now a nightmare you can't wake up from. 3. Listening to the experts. Locally we had a not for profit start up that has pulled in around 1.5 million in tax payer funded grants over the last 5 years to start and operate a new Farmer training program. That the initiate pays $2,000 to go through to work at menial jobs on mentor farms primarily pulling weeds for a year. This outfit has 2 out of 100 graduates that actually starts a farmstead, of the 350 people to go through the program exactly 3 have survived One is a retired investment banker using the farm as a loss to offset capital gains, the other two are trust fund babies that produce very little but like the status of calling themselves homesteaders and farmers. The farms that act as mentor farms are all less than a year in existence and constantly turning over as they go under. The people that run the program are neo hippy food activist that have never farmed and all involved proclaim their vast experience and expertise in growing and marketing local food. Their expertise is really in grant writing and manipulating the money into their own pockets via the admin cost of the grants and paying nice salaries to the staff. In short the experts talk a very good game and teach failure. A very long running war between myself and that organization. But organizations like that are all over the Nation milking the tax payer teat dry. When it comes right down to it there are very few Authors and Teachers in this that know their bung from a hole in the ground. The ones that do get drowned out by the masses milking the grant teat. 4. Treating the Farmstead like a not for profit or a charity. If your farmstead needs a pay pal donation button to stay in business, your farmstead has no business being in business. A small farm, farmstead or homestead is NOT sustainable if it is not capable of supporting itself financially. It is a Hobby something you enjoy doing but can't support the farm or yourself with. Heck I will go so far as to say if you are at least producing the bulk of your own food and can put a $ value on what that is offsetting you having to purchase then it is a homestead, farmstead or small farm. We have a lot of folks where one spouse works FT off the farmstead and the other is a stay at home parent working the homestead and home schooling the children and bringing their surplus to market as they have it. I love these folks their kids can actually read, write and do math and don't have their nose stuck in a smart phone every waking moment Those are the four big reasons I see year in and year out as to why the dream dies and rots on on the vine. I have thought about doing something to counter that for several years. So I finally decided to do just that with my farm/homestead. I am well established, have survived the test of time, and I will roll with what folks keep telling me...... I am a walking how to guide full of old school knowledge and experience that won't hesitate to blend old with modern tech to do better. Basically I am going to turn my farmstead into a Homestead Community and a new farmer/homestead boot camp. And somewhere along the the way many folks consider me to be a survival and prepper guru, don't know about that since I don't do anything out of the ordinary for me. Here are some Sat pics of the Farm and what is and what I am thinking about doing. Forgive my digital crayon skills This is the one I did not vandalize with my digital crayon graffiti. Thoughts, ideas, anyone see anything I could do different or better? Always like different opinions that might make me rethink something. Oh yeah I am thinking $175 per month lease in 1 or 3 year blocks that include the cabin site, field tract, communal use of the equipment (Tillers, tractors, disc etc.) 50Amp Electric per cabin and rural/city water. A block house with shower and laundry facilities and use of the Certified Kitchen for their market products and use of the Communal kitchen for personal and community meals. And a $1500 per year fee for electric, water, and equipment upkeep and cost. So basically $3600 per year for cabin site, utilities, equipment and a tract of land to work. Also thinking communal meals contributed to by all from what we produce. About the only thing I still buy from the store is cornstarch, yeast, cane sugar, flour and coffee. All of the money from the lease would go into a new equipment and project fund. I don't want or need the money as income but it would be nice to pool it for things like the lake, a solar/wind system that would eventually get us off the grid electric, more wells, just in general things that would improve the homestead community. I have no heirs and want the farm to continue when I am feeding the worms and this seems like a good model to pass the farm and what I have built on and it benefit more than some greedy asshole family member that thinks they will have a pay day when I kick the bucket. This one is pretty much how things are now. We raise and finish 150-200 hogs that we direct market as whole and half custom hogs and as packaged retail cuts for the on farm store and market. We raise 4500-5000 broilers and process them on farm under the poultry exemption, and 100-500 layer hens for market and store eggs. There are around 300 turkeys that hang out in the woods and pastures that we round up in November and process for TG turkeys. I cut the Irish Dexter Cattle herd from 24 down to 4. Very low cost to raise but took up too much space. And in the veggie area we produce around 35,000-60,000 pound of produce per year depending on what we grow. Again forgive the digital crayon skills or rather lack of The Purple Blocks are suitable portable building cabin sites that I would lease, the big block is where my cabin and lawn is. The smaller block is the Bunk House for interns and hired hands. 1-7A are the farmstead tracts that would be included in the cabin site lease, very fertile and well drained land after having cattle on it for 8 years of rotation. 8 is what I am currently using to grow fruits and vegetables both open field and high tunnels and green houses. 9. Will turn into fruits and vegetables since I have reduced the cattle herd to only 1 bull and 3 cows. Most of the buildings are under the canopy including the big barn. The Red Roof bigger building is the machine shed and shop beside it is a hog barn. Since the last time Google Earth snapped a picture several years ago, the certified kitchen and On Farm Store are beside the Machine shed and a 14x70 mobile home I am going to refurbish sits under the trees by the yellow pin. The old mobil home is structurally sound but it needs gutted and the floors and walls replaced and a truss and steel roof to replace the flat roof, figure it will be good for a rinsing and packing house with a couple more walk in coolers and another walk in freezer. The blue is where I eventually want to put stock ponds and a recreational lake. We are out in the Sticks but within 40-50 miles of every in State population Center. 45 miles from Evansville IN and around 100 Miles St. Louis.