Become a farmer in Tuscany
It honestly felt like it was not going to be a big shift moving from my old working life to become a farmer, from my previous roles and career choices where I worked technically with online systems, marketing and online affiliation. Why did I not think it was difficult? well, after all I was flexible and had spent all my working life to date retraining and getting myself ready for a new role, sometimes yearly, sometimes more.
Shift in skills market, acquiring new skills
I have spent most of my career moving through several roles, I was not destined to have just one job for life, I think my attention span is too short to be in one job for many years. Ultimately I looked at what skills would be in demand over the next three to 5 years and training to position myself to be ready with the right skills at the right time, ready to work anywhere in the world as long as it was well paid and gave me the chance to support our lives and finish our project home.
Why was it time to move to Italy
As with most good things, they either come to and end or you plan to move on, for me the sale of a company I had built with friends and the winding down of my roles in other companies that were run by others meant that it was time for me to start looking at the future and build a plan towards travel, space, countryside and a different way to live.
We lived in Malta, and even though we were very lucky to have created and restored a house over 5 years, to become a home we both loved, in order to get to this point I had a large mortgage meaning I had to make decisions based on choices I had available to us.
So what were the options, either to keep working in the roles I was currently or to release the equity in the house in order to repay the mortgage and then use the remainder, as we were lucky to be in positive equity, on our next home, possibly in Italy.
Farming life is hard, always has been
I chose farming, as I knew it would give us the chance to be in an environment that was not city bound or in an area that was always under threat of more construction as we had started to see in Malta. There were also health reasons, as an acute asthmatic, the dust and pollution in Malta was definitely affecting my health and I needed fresh air.
My family had been farmers, some still are, in Sussex, England and I guess there is always some romanticism about going off the grid, creating a homestead and operating a farm to become more self sustainable really pulled on me.
I wanted to put ourselves in a position where we created products from the land, for sale via our own online channels and distributors, and preferably high value products, so eventually settled on IGP extra virgin olive oil and IGT organic wine, and the location, Maremma, Italy.
Farm Income and expenditure
When you have a standard job your income comes every month rain or shine and I was also used to this system for many years, but all this was about to change for me, firstly, when you are a farmer income only comes when you sell products. As these products are usually produced, and are mostly in demand once a year a major part of your farms income only comes once a year, with residual income slowly being accessible the remainder of the year.
So that explains earnings and income, however expenses for operating the farm, growing and maintaining your crops and land occur all year, this creates larges swings regarding expenditure and income. Overall you have to look at one or two year periods to establish the profit of the company, and during this year hope that the yields are good, that your olive oil and wine products are of top quality and well received by consumers, this bringing favorable income returns.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our conversion to farming. As there is much details to our story, I will write a second post explaining support, equipment, the new PAC 2023-2027 european support for farmers and what our farming live entails.