Would you buy land away from your residence?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by thepoolroom, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    I live on a pretty small town block (600 m2), and while I'm doing what I can with it I am obviously fairly limited in what and how much I can grow. Especially since I have three small daughters, and want to keep some lawn for them to run around on.

    My wife and I have been toying with the idea of selling up and moving to an acreage (still within the same area), however our house here is perfect for us. We renovated this house, and so have the right amount of space, we've got an excellent dedicated home office, lovely open-plan family areas, we have friends and relatives up and down the street, and we can walk to the beach, sports fields and parks. We've been here for 10 years, and all of that makes moving an extremely hard decision.

    Basically, all we want is a larger yard (at least an acre, but perhaps as much as 5 acres). We would like to grow a lot more vegetables, have decent quantities of chickens (for both eggs and meat) and some other animals, and have an orchard and nut trees.

    Is it feasible to purchase 1-5 acres within say 10-15 minutes' drive of where we currently live, and do some of that stuff? Rural land without building permission can be had for a reasonable figure (roughly similar to the additional cost involved in us moving into an equivalent house on an acre).

    I figure the fruit and nut trees would be pretty OK once they're established, and sensible selection of vegetable varieties that don't need too much regular fiddling (e.g. daily watering) should increase our productive capacity. A shed with captured rainwater should help us get through dry spells and give us a place to store tools and equipment.

    Would it make much difference to such a venture not living on-site? Would chickens (and down the track, sheep, pigs, etc) be OK unsupervised? How often would you think I'd need to stop by to check on things?

    I guess my biggest concerns are around predators (mainly foxes), theft/vandalism and animal breakouts. I think theft could be minimised by buying land down a little-used dead-end country lane - out of sight out of mind and all that. Are the others significant concerns?

    Do you think such a purchase would be sensible, or would I be destined for misery never being able to build on my land? I guess it would be hard to sell if/when the time ever came when we wanted to make the move to a house out of town, or if it all became too much and we decided to throw in the towel.

    I work full-time, but would be planning on buying land that's on the way to work so it would be easy to stop by regularly. I'm not sure if I could manage daily stops, though, given other commitments.

    I don't want to bite off more than I can chew, so any thoughts or suggestions would be very welcome!
     
  2. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    My grandfather always had several yards. But you should consider that you may not be able to drive there so try bicycle distance.
    Were are you living? I have the same in mind. The problem is maybe that land close by is expensive.
    How do you find garden land for sale? Real estate agents? how much money do one have to count for a decent garden?
     
  3. bazman

    bazman Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Hi thepoolroom

    Have a listen to this. Might give you some ideas "Leasing Land"
    https://globalpublicmedia.com/so_you_want_to_be_a_farmer

    Leasing 1/2 an acre "2000m2" would give you more than enough area to grow all your food.

    Also check out Jade Woodhouse's website and her progress so far on her newish property.
    https://www.simplynaturalorganic.com/beginning.html

    Have you looked into shared community garden plots? that way you can share equipment, knowledge and people power.

    Baz
     
  4. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    I think community gardening is a very good thing and we try t start one at the moment.
    However, I fear it does not help much for feeding your family, it's more about coming together
    doing something together etc.. The plots in community gardens are very small if there are individual
    plots at all.

    I'm thinking of having an orchard or a food forest and a field for rice or grains and pulses.
    I guess that this could be done if it is away from home.

    My other idea is going a bit further out (train station), buying degraded land at a low price, go there in holidays and plant all sorts of trees (native, timber, nuts). I'm not sure if this is realistic
    1.) due to the Australian train system
    2.) young trees need regular watering

    But I guess it is quite expensive getting garden land in a metropolitan area.
     
  5. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Thanks all for the thoughtful replies.

    Fortunately, I live in a small seaside/rural village (Kiama, south of Wollongong). A couple of minutes of driving (or 10 minutes of walking) and I'm out of residential streets and into the rolling green hills. I'd love to get a chunk of land that close, but realistically I think most available land is going to be a bit further out. That's fine.

    I've downloaded the audio linked to by bazman and it's queued up on the iPod. I'll also read the Simply Organic page - although it's a bit late now and I'm off to bed shortly. It looks like a long and detailed account similar to what I'd love to do - fantastic.

    I've thought about community gardens, but there are none around here. There are a couple of awesome places very nearby (like, 1/2 a km from my house) that would be great for just that (a little-used grassy field tucked away in the back of a public reserve, and a large unused grass area behind the lightly-used local hospital), but I don't have the time or the energy to try to organise something like that. I'd rather just chuck some dollars at the problem and get myself some land that I can do with as I please. I want to grow some largish areas of lucerne for mulching and compost, run a decent flock of chickens for meat and eggs, and get an orchard up and running. I wouldn't be able to do any of those things in a community garden. If someone else started one up, though, I'd get involved just for the community and social aspects of it - sharing good times, food and ideas with like-minded people would be great.

    I'm not sure how to find suitable land. I've not seen small (1-5 acre) blocks without building permission on the market (not that I've been looking for that long!). It would be worth talking to council and finding out what the regulations are for subdividing farmland to see if the idea is feasible. If so, I guess you could then approach local real estate agents to see if they know anyone that'd be interested. An ad in the local paper might generate some interest, too. You never know who might be in need of a bit of a cash injection to upgrade their milking sheds or something.

    Please do keep your thoughts coming. It sounds like it would be workable - after all, people have been growing on allotments for a long time, and they're not always very close to home. Good food for thought, and it's an option that may let me have my cake and eat it too.
     
  6. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    I thought it might be useful to outline the economic side of things...

    If we sell our current 5-bedroom house, we would be able to buy a nearby 3- or 4-bedroom house of lower quality on an acre or so of good fertile land. We could get a better house, more land, or pay less if we moved further afield (this is a bit of a trendy area), but we want to stay near our friends, relatives, schools, workplace, etc. Plus it's a beautiful area. But squeezing my family of 5 into a 4 bedroom home (we also need a home office, for both myself and my wife to work from) would be a challenge (and yes, I know people get by with bigger families in much smaller houses, but it would still be very difficult for us).

    Selling this house and buying an acreage for the same price would set us back about $50-60K in real estate agents' fees, stamp duties, moving costs, etc. And that's before we do anything with the land like buying plants, buying tools and equipment, setting up a chicken run, maybe buying a shed, etc.

    Agricultural land seems to be selling for around $15-30K/acre (for properties in the 25-100 acre size range). I obviously don't need or want (or have the money for!) that much land, but if I could get an acre for $25K, or perhaps even 2-3 acres for $60K, I'd be up for the same amount of out-of-pocket money as selling up and moving to a house on an acre, but I'd have more land and I'd still be living in the perfect house for my family's needs. It's just that the house and the land wouldn't be co-located :).

    I'm starting to think that this wouldn't be as big an issue as I first thought, and if I could get the land for that sort of money I certainly wouldn't be risking financial hardship even if it didn't work out.

    I think this is worth continued examination...
     
  7. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Sorry to keep replying to my own thread...

    What do people think about keeping chickens in a run on unattended land like this? I'd be able to drop by every couple of days to top up feeders, check on things, collect eggs, etc. Would the chickens be OK?
     
  8. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    I think what you are aiming is quite reasonable, however I would prefer having the chicken close to the house.
    Transportation is a real important aspect, and for this reason it is better staying were you are and for the other reasons mentioned.
    You are very fortunate living in an area a bit outside the big cities, that you have much more possibilities buying land.

    I think buying a farmlet makes sense when at least one of you have the time to work it and it seems that you are both working.

    I didn't look much around, but I never saw an advertisement garden land for sale.
     
  9. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Yes, we're fortunate to live outside of cities. Kiama is a beautiful town, next to the ocean and surrounded by lush farmland. Transportation would not be much of a problem, given how close we would be to the land.

    I work full-time and my wife works part-time, as well as looking after our children at home. The youngest of our kids will be off to school in 18 months, so my sife will suddenly have a lot more 'free' time. I'd like to think that by simplifying our lifestyle and becoming more self-sufficient, we'd be able to both work part-time and have a lot more time for kids, family and gardening.

    At first, I think we'd establish fruit trees and staple crops (e.g. potatoes, corn, grain, legumes, berries, etc) that don't require a lot of looking after. As more time becomes available, though, we could get more intensive and work it more like a market garden.

    I've also never seen small rural blocks (1-5 acres) for sale around here that weren't zoned for building. Then again, I've never really looked for them. I don't think it's going to be a matter of walking into a real estate agent's office and picking a block, but I think with a bit of footwork I might be able to find an agreeable farmer that would carve off a corner of a paddock if the price is right.
     
  10. gypsyoak

    gypsyoak Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Howdy!

    It sounds like a great idea!

    On the animal side of things though..... its when you aren't there that they get into trouble.
    If it you want to be there every now and then, you aren't going to be able to know the animals "normal" behaviour which in turn leads to not knowing when something is wrong. Some animals (especially birds) go downhill very very quickly and if you aren't there for a couple of days - your chookies could be in pain, being picked on, caught in wire, dying or dead before you get back.
    I have worked with various animals for the last 10 years, I reckon all of the different species have required night time attention at some point!

    All the best!
     
  11. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    see, you're quite fortunate. Living in one of the capital cities makes such an undertaking much more difficult.
    I guess everything here is zoned for building.The rest is park or reserve or prone to flooding. If it's not built yet, they wait fora better price.
     
  12. Tim Auld

    Tim Auld Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    hedwig, I'm expecting restrictions on use of public land and vacant blocks for growing food to be relaxed or ignored in the event of long term food shortages. There's scope for no dig gardens on useless parking lots, for example. People may not own the land, but that may not stop them if the alternative is to starve.
     
  13. Rainbow

    Rainbow Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    My opinion, based on personal experience...
    We always had the big 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, formal and informal living areas, games room, double garage house, with a small yard that was too hard to work with.
    Our dream was to buy some acreage and build another huge house so that we could live the dream.
    We eventually were offered a short term job which included accommodation and good pay, so we sold our house, bought our acreage and moved to the country for 3 yrs in executive accom.
    We fell in love with the town we were living in, eventually resigned from the job, sold our acreage elsewhere, and bought a small, 4 bedroom with one living/dining/kitchen open area... less than half the size were used to.
    BUT.... with such a wondrous garden outside, and the lifestyle, we do NOT miss having a big house. We are not as uncomfortable as we thought we would be.
    Our family has now learned to truly 'live' with each other... and we have so much space in the garden, even the teenage daughters find refuge there when they feel they need it.
    There is nothing better than sitting down with the family around the dinner table at the end of the day and tucking into a meal made of ingredients you have just picked out of the garden that afternoon.

    Working a property elsewhere often ends up being just that... work... not enjoyment.

    Just another view for you to consider.
     
  14. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    talk to some of the farmers nearby and set up a rental scheme for an acre or hectare...

    you might even be able to get him to take payment in produce (probably not - most farmers need cash as much as we do)

    but why is 600m too small??

    I live on a small block.... there's two cottages on it - I have 280 square metres of garden, I have 4 chooks - and when they start laying properly I'll be supplying family and friends with eggs.... I have over 50 fruiting trees and vines on that small bit of dirt and I grow some vegies..... think outside the square, throw away you burkes backyard garden book and grow things

    I've got so many things growing in such a small area - because I know how many oranges you get off one tree, or how many nectarines you get off one tree - - -far too many for one family to use - - so you plant lots of trees of different sorts of fruit that ripen at different times and you get a year of fruit instead of one or two weeks of glut.

    Being planted so close - the trees self prune the branches and self prune the roots -- - its almost like having 50 planter pots with a tree in each - the roots are constricted so the tree doesn't grow huge and a lot more can grow.

    very nice to have 200kg of peaches off one tree in one week - but what do you do with them all?? or 300 lemons on one tree??

    the american way of doing things is simplistic, but it gets people actually doing something and growing anything is a good thing.
     
  15. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Rainbow and Paradisi, you both make good points. We don't live in, nor aspire to, any kind of huge McMansion. We do, however, want at least 4 bedrooms - our eldest daughter is disabled and needs her own space, and we'd need to use one bedroom for a study/office. The other two daughters can share. We'd prefer an additional bedroom, though, as another baby is always a possibility :).

    I agree, you don't need a lot of indoors living areas. I have no desire for a dining room (they typically get used once a month or less!), games room, parents' retreat, theatre room etc. We use our outdoor spaces a lot, which I guess is why we are a bit limited in garden space.

    We're trying to use our current space as well as we can. Similar to what you describe, we're planting early, mid and late fruiting oranges and mandarins along one fenceline, assorted apples and pears espaliered along another fence, sunchokes and potatoes in various spots where they fit, etc. We just bought some baby chicks today for a small chicken run, and have a vegetable garden bed. We grow a fair bit of stuff in pots around the house, too.

    However efficiently you manage an urban block, though, there is stuff you can't do. The more space we use for growing stuff, the less space the kids have for swings, running around, etc. We can't have very many chooks (certainly not enough to supply us with meat, just eggs for now), and larger animals are out. We can't grow large amounts of corn, potatoes, beans, and other staples. We can't grow enough tomatoes to be making our own sauces etc for the off season.

    The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to agree that having a second block of land will just end up being a second job. Especially if there's no residential zoning, so there's no possibility of moving onto it later on.
     
  16. kathleenmc

    kathleenmc Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Just thought I'd add my two bits worth for you pool....

    I would not go and buy land to start up a vege patch and chicken run. You need to be there everyday, it is a full time job looking after a small acerage of food. My suggestion is to find a farmer close to Kiama and give them information on CSA's (community supported agriculture).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community-supported_agriculture
    https://www.foodconnect.com.au/nav_folders/CSAs.html
    https://www.purplepear.net.au/csa.html

    You (or more of your friends) could invest in the venture with them if they needed capitol to start up or just go by the usual way of CSA's and pay the farmer a weekly subsidy to get you a box of seasonal food each week. CSA's are the future for our food source and farmers can supply not only fruit and veg but meat as well.

    Stay where you are if it is working so well for you. Grow what you can in you're own back and front yards and the curb as well. Three to four chickens will provide enough manure and eggs for you to work very well and they will fit into your yard no worries. I have the same space and am growing a good amount of food for myself, the chooks and the neighbours as well.

    Cheers Kathleen
     
  17. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    A CSA would be nice. I honestly don't know of any farmers around here growing any vegies, though. It's almost all dairy cattle, with a few specialist beef cattle, horses, etc. No crops, no market gardens, nothing.

    I know, I could get vocal and raise public awareness and all that, but I have limited time (and energy!) as it is and I'd rather be putting that into establishing my own gardens.

    I think for now I'll just concentrate on doing as much as I can with what I currently have. It sounds like the idea of buying a separate parcel of land is going to be problematic. It's kind of like trying to establish a zone 0/1 system way out in the middle of zone 5 :).
     
  18. bazman

    bazman Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    You might just have to be more creative on how you grow things, have you seen how fruit tree's can be grown flat against walls, fruiting vines are also great. Jackie Fence has lot's of good idea's about compact garden's

    I have read of a few different places where people have removed back fences and created larger productive food gardens, maybe try talking to some of your neighbor's or print up something to see if anyone in the area would be interested in a co-op growing system or making run's to a local csa. I'm sure you would come across one or two eco-friendly people in your area.

    Good luck.
     
  19. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Yeah, I've read a lot of books etc about compact urban gardens. We're heading down that path, doing the most that we can with what we have, but it remains a fact that a small suburban block is more limited than a country acreage.

    I was hoping that buying a piece of land not too far away might be a way to have my cake and eat it too, but the issues others have raised are valid.

    The other option we're considering is to rent an acreage for a year or so (they don't come up very often, but I do know of a few people renting in the area) and see how we go. The benefit of this is that we can keep our current house (renting it out) and can move back if it's really not working out. If we love the change, we can then arrange sale of our house and purchase of land, having full knowledge of what we'll be getting ourselves into.
     
  20. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Would you buy land away from your residence?

    Forgot to mention that the renting option would also allow us to buy land without a house (since we wouldn't need something to move into immediately), and build something that suits us perfectly. I've also learned a lot about sustainable building designs and products that I didn't know when we renovated our current house, so this would give us the opportunity to incorporate a lot of those ideas too.
     

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