What to look for when buying land for a small farm?

Discussion in 'General chat' started by natalex, May 11, 2012.

  1. natalex

    natalex Junior Member

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    Hi,

    I would like to know what are the important things to look for when buying land for a small self sufficient farm? Do you need to do any tests (e.g. soil PH test)? Is narrow block better than flat, etc.
    Please help. Thank you :)
     
  2. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    what the neigbhours are like!

    what do yuo wish to grow?
    aspect
    soil type
    slope
    improvements
    rainfall
    temperature
    history
    potential
    good luck!!:y:
     
  3. natalex

    natalex Junior Member

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    Thanks for replying. I forgot to ask...Is inspecting properties and giving advice on purchasing land something permaculture consultants do?
    If so, how much they approx. charge?
     
  4. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    i recon it should b right up their alley
    probably 25 to 100$ per hour and travelling
    try and immerse yourself in the area you are considering before taking the big step
     
  5. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day natalex

    Welcome to the PRI Forum.

    In response to your question: enter the terms 'buying land' into the search facility (top, right hand corner) and see what 'pops' up.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  6. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Yes - I've heard Geoff Lawton talk about doing this for people. How much it will cost will depend on who you use and where you are, particularly if they have to travel a long distance.

    Which part of the world are you looking at? And what size property? North facing land (in the Southern Hemisphere) a water source, and a good community would be high on the list. You can't really do anything to fix it if you don't have those, but you can build soil, roads, buildings etc (with time and resources).
     
  7. natalex

    natalex Junior Member

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    Interestingly, nothing pops up. :) thanks anyway
     
  8. natalex

    natalex Junior Member

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    around Camden - Sydney area, about 5 acres. What does 'north facing land' mean? Sorry if it's a dumb question. :)
     
  9. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Think firstly about your skills maybe you can get some more , i would be wary of employing someone to make long term changes to my situation if i didnt understand fully what was going on , if they make mistakes you have to wear them . If you go that way get someone with lots of runs on the board .

    Think about prevailing winds are there broad acre farms nearby , potential spray drift problems from boomsprays and spraying aircraft , farmers have the technology to tank mix some incredible mixes of herbicide and insecticide . That will be very high on the list for me when i shift next time .

    Im with Eco you should look for like minded communities so you can share and trade with people close by .

    Soils can be built , enough reliable rainfall is a huge help be wary of properties in "rain shadows"

    Whats uphill , its a big job setting up a property how you want it , you dont want to be tied to never ending battles with insidious weeds .

    Access will this be a problem with creek crossings , boggy roads or worse a trap during bushfire

    List the features you like and also the features you dislike

    Make a short (or long) list of "MUST HAVES" features that are important to your situation

    So im suggesting you spend more time looking outside the boundary than you do inside .
    Regards Rob.
     
  10. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    North facing means that your land has a slope and when you stand square on the slope you are pointing north. If you are standing looking to the north at midday and all you can see are the shadows from the hill in front of you - back away very quietly and go somewhere else! North facing means you get more sunlight and that makes it easier to grow things and heat your house.
    As far as slope goes, anything over 15 degrees is pretty challenging. Some slope is handy on a site as it allows you to use gravity to do the work for you.
    No such thing as a dumb question. Dumb is not asking the question in the first place!
     
  11. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    yes aspect always top of the list closely followed by high and dry, north aspect when high ground is behind and low ground is in front looking north, the absolute best aspect, with options around the the east but none other, then research what is needed for a house in our climates and orientate it to the north true north better than magnetic north, then orientate inside the house correctly but that's another story. quality of land and does land have good water that is does it have a fresh water aquafa or through brackish to sly enough to raise tiger prawns, the aquafa has big bearing on how well things grow on top. other things to consider distance from shops and medical etc.,. even how far one might want to be away from family especially aging parents. still reckon better off with a blank canvas than buy someone elses infra-structure, fenced is always good.

    this time around we could not get enough info' from builder to plan a scillion roof but we got good aspect land and orientated house teh correct way though for expediency and cost saving kitchen at wrong end but we can improve that with a carport later. house very cosy won't need added heating or a/c. cathedral type gable ceiling.

    our slope 4 to 6 degrees nice and gentle for older bones. soil red and brown clay loam to red clay sub-soil, should be very productive simply, adding lots of gypsum and a dash of dolomite.

    https://www.lensgarden.com.au/your_land_baron_dreams.html

    len
     
  12. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    there are probably some permies around that area

    see if you can meet up with them ( Woof at their place) see if the way they live agrees with you
    a downside of north facing is its hotter and higher evaporation
    i would love to do a consult for you! But im a long way away
    remember its all about what you want to grow how you want to live
    real estate will be expensive there

    i didnt get anything either Marco??
     
  13. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day All

    Sorry about that, natalex and andrew. When I do the same, pages of threads are revealed, many of which contain much discussion on this topic.

    Anyway, in my haste to help the other day, I forgot to add that quite a while ago I started putting together some text on this very topic:

    ***

    Acquiring Land – ‘the permaculture way’

    Part 1 – Site Selection


    Think about the key attributes (and constraints) that any parcel of land may hold, and especially those that will be important to you and/or your family/group for possibly quite some time yet to come (5, 50, or even 500-years?). Then ask yourself/selves some very important questions (and don’t forget to record the answers), for example:

    Location

    What sort of setting do I/we want to dwell/work/study/recreate in?

    * Urban, suburban, peri-urban, rural, remote, etc.
    * Coastal, inland, riverine, dense/sparse (population, vegetation, domestic/feral/native animals, etc.), amenity (views/vistas, etc.)
    * What sort of neighbours (if any) would I/we like/make (‘alternative’, ‘conservative’, ‘friendly’, ‘nosey’, ‘noisy’, ‘cat/dog/horse/rooster/recreational motorbike/blowervac/electric guitar/mine-owning’, etc.)?
    * Am I/are we prepared to live with pre-existing (or possible future) neighbouring industry/agriculture/commerce (noise, smell, dust, spray drift, light pollution, etc.)?

    How frequently will I/we need to access essential services?

    * Educational, medical, social, civil, cultural, political, spiritual, etc.

    On ‘the grid’ or off?

    * Water, sewer, electricity, gas, phone/internet, etc.

    How will I/we get to and from the site?

    * Public transport (tram, bus, train, etc.)
    * Private transport (car, 4WD, etc.), cycling, walking, wheelchair, pram, etc.

    Will anyone/thing need to get to me/us?

    * Service and/or delivery vehicles/trucks, etc.
    * Emergency vehicles (ambulance, fire trucks, etc.)
    * Mail delivery

    Climate

    Is the ‘zone’ (‘arid’, ‘wet tropical’, ‘Mediterranean’, etc.) suitable/viable to my/our present and/or future needs?

    Are there any projected hazards or risks I/we should be aware of (sea level rise, wildfire, flood, drought, etc.)?

    Will there be not enough/too much rainfall/sunshine/wind available to provide viable options for catching, storing and reusing water/solar/wind energy?

    Geology, Hydrology and Vegetation

    What is the ‘slope’ (gradient) of the site?

    * Is it suitable for dwelling, access road, and dam/swale/drain construction (‘relatively flat’, ‘slightly undulating’, ‘only fit for mountain goats’, etc.)?

    What about site ‘aspect’?

    * Does is face north in the southern hemisphere (south in the northern hemisphere), and will it allow for maximum solar gain and thermal efficiency of any dwelling, garden, etc. that I/we may wish to develop?

    What is the ‘history’ (heritage) of the site?

    * Cultural, both pre and post colonial/settler society (possible constraints to ‘disturbing’ the site)
    * Mining (possible contamination, i.e. lead, mercury, arsenic, etc.)
    * Industry/commerce (possible contamination, i.e. ‘fuel depot’, ‘tanning factory’, ‘battery manufacturing plant’, etc.)
    * Industrial agriculture (possible contamination, i.e. pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, sheep/cattle ‘dips’, etc.), or ‘organic’ status?

    ‘Watershed’ and/or ‘water catchment’?

    What type of soil (‘sandy loam’, ‘clay’, ‘fertile’, etc.), and will it grow food or be suitable for making ‘mud’ (adobe) bricks, constructing access and egress roads, dams, etc.?

    What is currently (if anything) growing and/or residing on the site (native/indigenous/ endemic, rare or threatened species)?

    Any ‘weeds’ that need to be ‘controlled’ (by government decree, or otherwise ‘put to good use’)?

    Any other constraints/attributes that need to be weighed up?

    For example: breathtaking views, solitude, isolation, 2mt of ‘A’ profile topsoil, foreseeable risks (war, famine, disease, etc.)


    ***

    Hope the above helps. There is some really good advice already presented above, and I'm sure if you 'play around' with the search terms, you should be able to find a plethora of information on this topic that has already been posted elsewhere on this forum.

    Cheerio, Markos.

    PS: Sorry, forgot to add, any permaculture consultant worth her/his salt should be able to professionally advise you on 'acquiring land, the permaculture way'. As to cost/fees, I employ a self (client) assessed/imposed sliding scale:

    ...consultative hours are subject to a fee, the amount of which is entirely dependant on the inquirer’s ability to pay (for example: homeless people $0 per hour, unwaged persons/community organisations $35, waged persons $70, companies and corporations $140)...
     
  14. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    WATER would be my number one consideration: where, when, how, etc, etc.
    Community would come a close second...
     
  15. natalex

    natalex Junior Member

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    Thank you all for replying and great advice. I just started my permaculture education so this is all very valuable to me.

    Question: What is 'Eco'?
     
  16. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    That's me. :hi:
     
  17. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    might allude to being ecological or ecologically friendly?

    len
     
  18. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    You've had lots of excellent information in the replies here natalex. If you're new take the time to let it sink in & understand what it all means. As someone said, go & hang out in the area you want to buy & work/talk/live with the people there. You'll get a much better idea of what's what.
    One thing I remember Robyn Frances saying comes to mind. "Buy a place for who you really are, not who you want to be." Meaning if you're a very social person with not a lot of practical skills who likes to go shopping 4 times a week don't buy a remote rugged block of land with not another human in the next hundred mile in the hope that you'll instantly transform into a self reliant mountain man :)
     
  19. kmob

    kmob Junior Member

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    Where abouts in NZ are you looking? As ever location is a key factor, and also the militancy of the district councils here differs from region to region ;).

    Pay careful attention to the zoning of your potential property (Residential/Rural-Residential/Lifestyle/Rural etc) and carefully read your council's district plan noting for your zoning the so called "Activity Lists" which divide up what you can do into categories from "Permitted Activities" to "Non-Complying Activities" with designations in between.

    Also, your options are going to be quite different if you for a bare block versus one that's already got a dwelling on it. Given the amount of red-tape and regulations there are here in NZ, I'd try to get one with at least a few buildings on it already that way you'll also have electricity and access all sorted beforehand. This will give you and indication of how much hassle it's going to be to get the things done you want to :).

    As you'd expect Rural zoned properties don't have many restrictions compared to Residential. Make sure you check if there's any developer covenants over the place too - they can add even more restrictions!

    Water is certainly not guaranteed here, make water one of your main questions when looking at places. At 5 acres you'll most likely be looking at sub divided lifestyle block sort of place, often the water for those is delivered via an easement from one of the neighbours. Thoroughly check the details of any water easements especially noting any restrictions on usage (often they're restricted to domestic and livestock only - i.e. no irrigation), also be aware you will be liable for shared maintenance on the neighbour's pump etc - but this will be in the details of the easement. If you're on (roof) tank water, make sure there's sufficient capacity in your tanks and pump(s) for what you've got planned. If you’re planning on sinking a bore this requires not only a lot of cash (and ongoing pump and electricity costs) but also at least two permits, one for actually drilling the bore and another for the right to actually take the water..

    Check out the neighbours as much as you can, relationships with neighbours can make or break a place.

    And of course fencing, ideally you want decent fencing everywhere especially if you're going to be keeping animals. Also pay particular attention to the boundary fences and understand your legal obligations under the fencing act - this can potentially be a large liability.

    :) All of that said, for the establishment of a permaculture style block here, consider starting with your windbreaks/hedges get those in ASAP (but watch out for powerlines and potential ongoing future costs of constantly trimming shelterbelts). If you're not planning on using the block for a bit I'd consider planting over the pastures in nitrogen fixing natives (we have some but none that are standouts from a permaculutre point of view - Kakabeak looks great though!) to start the soil building process. Also think about getting any earthworks done now.
     
  20. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day kmob

    Welcome to the PRI Forum.

    Some good local (to NZ) advice there, well done.

    However, with regards to your question:

    The OP (natalex) indicated here that she/he was looking for land '...around Camden - Sydney area, about 5 acres'.

    Perhaps you confused this thread with another, more recent concerning the purchasing of land in NZ?

    Either way, nice to have you aboard starship permaculture.

    Cheerio, Markos
     

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