Hobby farms are becoming increasingly popular across the U.S. as more and more people seek to escape the rat race of modern business and get back to basics. An increasing number of people feel the need to produce their own food and wish to pass that passion/skill on to the next generation. As Shayne Rivers, formerly of Castro Valley and now working her dream on Blue Rivers Farm in the central valley, puts it in her Blue Rivers Farm blog, “I raise goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits even quail not so much for my livelihood but more for lively living.” Rivers is certainly not alone in yearning for the lost connection to the earth and the need to put her hands on something real. Others, such as Dave Segale, also formerly of the Bay Area and now living on his own hobby farm, simply want more space, to live somewhere less crowded and more relaxed without having to panic “every time my dog barks because the neighbors will complain.”
A hobby farm is classified as less than 50 acres with some sort of “farming” application, which includes raising anything from fruits and vegetable all the way to keeping cattle and pigs with perhaps bees and chickens somewhere in between and any mixing of specialties acceptable and even common. A hobby farm is something that can make an income, but the income is not enough to earn one’s living.
More than 300,000 new farms have started in the U.S. since 2002 raising both what would traditionally be expected and more small-scale, non-traditional endeavors. Really, it is a lifestyle choice for someone who is willing to work a dream on their own land. Many find this type of living relaxing and soul-satisfying, but it must be noted that this type of lifestyle is by no means easy, demanding a great deal of commitment and consistency.
Not surprisingly, the upsurge of this niche carries great marketing possibilities, predictably shopping. Tractor Supply is scheduled to open 115 new stores throughout 2015 and catalogs such as Valley Vet and Nasco are enjoying record sales, not to mention the upsurge of popular hobby farming websites and magazines. The winter edition of The New Pioneer magazine features how to make a do-it-yourself “portable pig-o-tiller,” “canning venison and apples,” and building a “chicken coopa cabana.”
A surprising new niche created through this trend is in real estate. Michael Gadoua of Century 21 Realty, specializes in hobby farm properties, which he advertises can lead to “an enchanting lifestyle that helps finances with heartwarming family fun.” Among lovely pictures of rolling hills, honey bees, and eggs, he touts, “you’ll find a sense of tranquility and serenity that can only be found on a hobby farm.” The truth of that statement, of course, depends upon your viewpoint and must be discovered through your own life experiences and love of animals and the land.