A passionate farming family who nearly missed out on owning a farm are behind a program which could help other primary producers take the next step in their farm ownership journey.
The Cultivate Farms Business Incubator prepares aspiring and existing farm owners for farm co-investment, and since 2017 the program has helped link four farmers with co-investors to achieve their farm ownership dreams.
The program is the brainchild of Tim and Tegan Hicks, Albury, NSW, who always wanted to own their own farm, but as they did not inherit Mr Hicks' family's farm, knew it would be almost impossible to buy their own enterprise.
This led to their idea for crowdfunded farms.
Together the Hicks have started Hicks Country Beef, a 100 per cent grassfed beef business where they sell direct to customers.
"At the moment, all aspiring farmers know that capital is the issue holding them back; Cultivate Farms aims to remove that barrier and will shepherd a new generation of enthusiastic people back to regional Australia," Mrs Hicks said.
"The Cultivator Program is like a match-making service.
"It finds farm opportunities for aspiring farmers.
"Whether this be with a high-net-worth individual who wants to buy a farm with an energetic farming family, with a retiring farmer waiting to back youth, or a great lease opportunity."
The 10-week program guides the cohort through the development of their farm investment proposal.
At the end of the program they have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of investors for the potential of co-ownership of a farm.
It also helps develop a farm investment pitch, a five-year financial model and a three-minute pitch video.
"The program provides another possible avenue for farm ownership, which is out of reach for many farmers who aren't going to inherit or don't have the millions of dollars needed to buy-in," Cultivate Farms chief executive Sam Marwood, who started the program with the Hicks, said.
Mr Marwood grew up on a dairy farm in central Victoria, and has spent 12 years in environmental policy with the Victorian government.
"So he knows how to think strategically and to get stakeholders on board," Mrs Hicks said.
The program will be the fourth in a series of events off the back of the success of matching farmer Claire Coates with an investor in 2017 as well as three 2020 graduates who are now working with investors after seven aspiring farmers pitched to twelve investors in early November 2020.
Applications close March 8, 2021 and for more information, visit cultivatefarms.com/products/cultivator.