A recent study supported by the European Commission has found that access to land, either to buy or rent, is the biggest issue facing young farmers in the European Union today. The study also highlighted the farmers’ widespread desire to expand their knowledge in areas of farming technology, strategy, animal welfare and marketing. So where can they turn to find the support they need to get back to the land and farm it effectively?

The Fresh Start Land Enterprise Centre is a UK-based organisation set up to find ways to encourage new land enterprises to start or continue to grow. By bringing together individuals with a range of expertise it provides resources and business information for both new entrepreneurs and established businesses in the land-based sector.

If you’re looking for land to farm or have land to offer, the Fresh Start Land Partnerships can help: it assists landowners in sectioning out land and buildings on which ‘land entrepreneurs’ can establish new, independent businesses. On the one hand, the scheme is aimed at landowners (including trusts and charities) who are thinking about succession, want to see their land used practically, or are interested in diversifying without having to manage more than one business at once. On the other hand, it is also aimed at young farmers needing land or more capital, experienced farm workers who want to take the next step by running their own business and groups interested in community-supported growing. To promote this scheme, Fresh Start has created a handbook that details its approach to land partnerships and covers a range of case studies. This can help you determine whether the approach is right for you.

Alongside the Land Partnerships the organisation also offers Matching Opportunities, which bring together entrepreneurs, businesses and landowners who are looking for a business opportunity or have an idea they want to take forward. Fresh Start puts people in touch with others who may be able to help, such as professionals or organisations within the farming industry.

To find out more about the opportunities available, visit the Fresh Start website.

Photograph: Jeremy Keith

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