Five outlandish conversions seen on farmland in the UK
When you think of farms, you think of a flurry of animals. Whether it’s pigs, cows, or even Old MacDonald, farmland is stereotypically for agricultural processes. However, farm owners across the UK have begun to use their land for more than just standard farming practices, with cafes, restaurants, shops, campsites, and adventure trails now seen at various locations. And the revenue ideas are starting to become weirder and more wonderful as certain farms look for a unique selling point to bring in customers.
With 20 million hectares of farmland in the UK, it covers approximately 64% of our land. While we still produce over five and a half million tonnes of potatoes and two million hectares of wheat is harvested in eastern England each year, weird and wonderful projects continue to “crop” up.
Yes, you read that correctly. A farm in Dumfries, south-west Scotland has set up a tank driving experience. Scottish farmer Ian Evans had a lifelong fascination with the military machinery and decided to turn his dreams into a reality when he launched Galloway Tanks and offered members of the public a unique tank-driving day.
The idea first came to fruition when Mr Evans bought his first tank following the plunging milk prices in 1998. His Penklin Farm near Newton Stewart now boasts a magnificent cavalry of 20 tanks, including a Chieftain and four 432s. The day-long experience can cost as little as £50 and includes driving the machinery up rolling hills on his 14ha plot of farmland. There are also separate tracks for each vehicle.
Another Scottish farmer had an eccentric idea of his own to utilise his space. Ernest Fenton moved to Kent in England and converted his cowshed into a curling rink when he started missing the sport. Now, the facility just outside of Tunbridge Wells is recognised as England’s only dedicated curling rink.
After seeking advice from a Canadian curling expert, Mr Fenton imported the majority of his equipment from North America and admits that any success at the Winter Olympics for the British team often boosts business. Fenton’s Rink claims to be ideal for staff outings, team-building events, and Christmas parties.
While Glastonbury may have been the first of its kind, festivals on farms are now becoming more popular. With the likes of Barn on the Farm in Gloucester and the previously popular Wickerman Festival in Dumfries & Galloway, the music scene is taking advantage of the open space offered by farmland. Lounge on the Farm in Kent is another and has been running for 12 years. Although it may disrupt the usual farming activities for a short while, the money that can be brought in from renting out space for a weekend can go a long way to covering costs for the entire year.
Similarly to festivals, a great way to earn some added income for your farmland is to rent it out. Farms such as Glanmor Isaf Farm in Bangor, North Wales, are doing just that, opening up their space to the public so they can experience a taste of the Welsh countryside.
You have the opportunity to surround yourself with the grazing sheep and cattle while taking in the views of Snowdonia and the Carneddau Mountains. If you choose to attend in early summer there’s even the chance to feed the pet lambs, while Welsh Black cattle, pigs, mountain sheep, and chickens are always in the vicinity. For those wanting more of the hands-on experience, why don’t you rent your own private chicken coop?
In Peterlee, Thornley Hall Farm has recently been added to the cross-country circuit in the North Eastern Harrier league and is regarded as one of the toughest events on the calendar.
Elsewhere, Rapley Farm in Bagshot, Berkshire, lends its land to one leg of the Spartan Race. The series, which tests competitors’ physically abilities to the fullest by pitting them against an array of challenging obstacles, sees athletes travel the country to collect their medals after each run. Obstacles often include a barbed wire crawl, atlas carry, fire jump, and rope climb.
So, while British farmers still continue to look after their livestock, they’ve started coming up with unique ways to enhance their income. What idea would you like to see next appear on a farm near you?
The editorial unit