Land, support and training provided.
Their London jobs as a Westminster lobbyist and a think-tank employee were interesting and well paid, but in April 2017, Will and Charlotte Caldwell said goodbye to their business suits and three-quarters of their income to become apprentice farmers in Somerset.
They raise beef cattle, make apple juice, and bottle spring water as part of a clutch of small farm businesses that run side-by-side on the 250-acre Stream Farm near Bridgwater that aims to give aspiring small farmers the skills they need to set up on their own.
It’s a supportive environment that allows beginners like Will and Charlotte, both 27, to gain farming experience without being fully exposed to the consequences of going it alone.
“The opportunity that Stream Farm has provided us is incredible in terms of having a place to learn whilst being able to make mistakes,” Will said.
Their 160 beef cows are organic grass-fed, their products are locally sold to individuals and restaurants, and their farm model is based on making a living rather than generating ever-increasing profits. Sales of beef and the other products generate enough income to provide them with a livelihood, which covers what they need.
“There’s no need to get huge,” Will said. “What we are trying to do is to create a livelihood, and once it gets to that point, it stops.”
With no experience of farming, the couple wanted to find out whether they actually enjoyed working long hours outdoors in all weathers.
After nine months, they love it, and are already considering how they can move on to the next phase of their dream – a farm of their own – when they leave Stream Farm in spring 2019.
Will has no regrets about the big change even though it’s not always fun to head out to tend the cattle when the weather is bad.
“Sometimes you don’t want to get up and ride the quad bike up the hill in the driving rain but once you’re out there, it’s great,” he said.