Farm succession service match made in heaven

Cally DupeThe West Australian
Zoe and Travis Allington.
Camera IconZoe and Travis Allington. Credit: Cally Dupe

Travis and Zoe Allington dream of owning their own farm.

Producing more Merinos and branching out into horticulture would allow them to expand their knowledge and become better farmers.

But with two small children and bills to pay, Mr Allington said the dream sometimes felt out of reach.

“I’ve thought about owning my own farm ever since I was a kid,” he said. “It’s that lifestyle where Zoe and I can work in the same business, together. It really appeals to both of us.

“The main barrier is capital. I think there are a lot of great farmers that aren’t farming because they don’t have the money.”

The Allingtons are ideal candidates for a new farm succession scheme designed to inject new blood into regional communities.

Cultivate Farms is the brainchild of Albury dairy farmer’s son Sam Marwood and his good mates, Tim and Tegan Hicks.

It offers a type of matchmaking service to pair investors and retiring farmers with aspiring farmers looking to start their own business.

The business launched a campaign last month, calling for 100 retiring farmers to sign up to the program during the next 100 days.

“We believe we can bring hundreds of young people back onto farms, into communities and back on the netball and football field,” Mr Marwood said.

“We want to connect with 100 retiring farmers in the next 100 days ... so if that’s you, or someone you know, we want to hear about it.”

For Mr Allington, Cultivate Farms offers a way to buy a farm without having to save for “20 to 30 years”.

He grew up on a grain and sheep farm at Eneabba, 140km south of Geraldton, which his parents sold when he was 18.

After studying agricultural science at UWA, Mr Allington worked at Murdoch University and the former Department of Agriculture.

He said he knew dozens of young men and women who wanted to be farmers but did not stand to inherit a family farm.

“And the sad thing is, there are some people farming because that’s what they feel like they have to do,” Mr Allington said.

“Often it feels like if your parents are farmers, that’s the only way you can be too.”

Mr Allington said he expressed interest in Cultivate Farms because he believed in the concept “100 per cent”.

“I have a real passion for breeding profitable Merino sheep,” he said.

“My main role is now to find a farm that could work for us, and Cultivate Farms’ role is to find an investor or retiree.

“I think moving forward, this is the way that farms are transferred. People don’t have the capital to buy a whole farm themselves.”

Cultivate Farms’ concept has turned heads Australia-wide. It won the Regional Australia Institute competition, Lightbulb Moments, last month and has been praised by Regional Development Minister Senator Fiona Nash.

“Keeping Australian agriculture strong, profitable and sustainable means we need a new generation of farmers,” she said.

“Access to capital to buy farms has been a longstanding issue for the next generation starting out.

“Cultivate Farms tackles this challenge head on with its novel and innovative skills development and farm-matchmaking approach.”

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