Do you have what it takes to become a farmer on the Norfolk County Farms estate?
- Credit: Joe Casey Photography
Enthusiasm, energy, innovation and technical ability – these are the qualities expected from aspiring farmers hoping to secure one of the four vacant tenancies on the Norfolk County Farms estate.
The county council's portfolio of 16,900 acres of prime agricultural land offers a route into the industry for people wishing to launch their own farm businesses, as well as opportunities for existing ventures to grow and expand.
New tenants are being sought for four farms on the estate: two located near Hilgay and Southery in the west of the county, and two near Mautby in the east.
Viewing days are being held in mid-February, along with a two-day training course on February 20 and 27 aimed at helping potential new tenants to create the 'compelling business plan' which could help them succeed in the often-intense competition for a farm tenancy.
Norfolk County Council has set out a raft of demanding specifications for prospective tenants, including the need to demonstrate the necessary practical and theoretical knowledge for their chosen enterprise, enough capital to make the business work, and a commitment to 'improving the environment and social wellbeing' on their holdings.
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It says: 'In the case of holdings where farming is the main activity, applicants should be able to fulfil the minimum requirement of five years' full-time practical farm work which may include up to three years attendance at a full-time course in agriculture.'
A county council spokesman added: 'The criteria are guidelines, but essentially there is an expectation that applicants will have knowledge and experience relevant to their proposed business. But overall, the most important aspect is for applicants to submit a compelling and achievable business plan.'
READ MORE: New Norfolk County Farms tenants will be urged to embrace agri-tech opportunitiesViewing days for the four tenancies will be held between 10am-4pm on the following dates:
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• Tuesday, February 12: Ashcroft Farm, Southery.
• Thursday, February 14: Fen Farm, Ten Mile Bank, Hilgay.
• Friday, February 15: Paston Farm, Mautby.
• Friday, February 15: Upper Wood Farm, Mautby.
The two farms in the west are currently under arable rotation, with no restrictions on their future use, But for Paston Farm in Mautby, applications will only be accepted that are wholly or predominantly livestock based, and Upper Wood Farm in Mautby is only available for applicants aiming to establish a care farm enterprise.
Barry Stone, chairman of Norfolk County Council's business and property committee, said: 'These farms present opportunities for people at all stages of their farming career and reinforce Norfolk County Council's commitment to sustain and create rural employment throughout the county.
'We are particularly excited at the prospect of adding a third care farm to the County Farms estate, which already has two farms that use farming practices very successfully to provide therapeutic services. Through care farming, the estate can support vulnerable people to live their lives independently and to the fullest extent possible.'
• For more details about the farms, applications and the training course see the Norfolk County Farms website. The closing date for applications is midday on March 14.