As land prices soar on the North Coast of New South Wales, aspiring young farmers Hanna Navara and Leon Hoffmann-Detenhoff turned to sharefarming as an alternative to owning their own land.

Key points:

  • Soaring land prices can be prohibitive for young people looking to get into agriculture
  • Sharing land with an established farmer is a way young people can make a start in the industry
  • Those involved in sharefarming say a contract is important but so is communication

Ms Navara, 28, has spent the past three years studying alternative farming methods such as permaculture and regenerative farming.

She was originally looking to run a market garden but turned her attention towards hemp — particularly seeds and oil.

After acquiring the appropriate licences, the couple began searching for land.

But given prices on the North Coast have increased by 2.5 per cent between July 2019 and July 2020 (compared with a rise of 1 per cent in the previous quarter), Ms Navara sought out sharefarming.

Two farmers stand on their property talking to a crowd around them

Mike and Cheyl at Solum Farm welcome people onto their property for a tour (

ABC Coffs Coast: Kate Aubrey 

)

Sharefarming as alternative

Ms Navara advertised for a sharefarming opportunity on social media and met Mike and Cheryl Smith, established organic farmers at Solum Farm.

The couple own a 10-hectare certified organic lime farm in Mororo, NSW and have been farming all their lives.

Mr Smith says the sharefarming agreement involves sharing costs and profit equally and relies on effective communication to ensure it remains viable.

“You have to have a very a long conversation with anyone you’re going to jump into bed with,” he said.

Hemp oil has growing appeal

As an emerging industry, Mr Smith said producing Australian certified hemp oil had a strong appeal to them.

A woman reaches over her head investigating her hemp crop

Emerging young farmer Hanna Navara is on a quest to become a hemp farmer.(

ABC Coffs Coast: Kate Aubrey

)

“It’s very difficult to get Australian organic certified hemp oil,” he said.

“That’s why we’ve gone down the oil path.”

In Australia, hemp oil is primarily used for food consumption for its omega-3 and omega-6 content or used to make soaps and lotions.

Whereas medicinal cannabis oil is used for health conditions.

Ms Navara says after moving from another farm and then enduring the drought, bushfires and red tape, she is hopeful this season will bring the fruits of their labour.

“We’re about six weeks off harvest,” she said.

Sharefarming paves the way for couple kept out of property market
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