Community building

Lynn Cassels on their journey to starting a successful farm with no prior experience


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It’s no secret that the farmer population in Europe and many other places has been diminishing and growing older for a long time now. There are however still lots of younger folks who are interested in becoming farmers, but are struggling to get their foot in the door. Barriers to entry such as high land prices, high startup and infrastructure costs, lack of loan options, bureaucratic difficulties in inheritance, and a steep learning curve if you don’t already have experience farming are holding a lot of us back. Despite these challenges there are some incredible stories of new farmers who are finding success and fulfillment on the land. They’re often the ones pioneering new business models and best practices in ecological management. 

That’s why I reached out to Lynn Cassells, who along with her partner Sandra Baer own and operate Lynbreck Croft, an award winning farm in northwest Scotland. Lynbreck Croft is a 150 acre mixed land holding of everything from fields and woodlands, to hill ground and bog located in the Cairngorms National Park with the land ranging from 320m to 450m above sea level. 

Like many new farmers, Lynbreck has a unique origin story. Lynn and Sandra first met while working as rangers for the National Trust in the UK and soon realized that they shared a dream of living closer to the land. They bought Lynbreck Croft back in March 2016 – which they describe as 150 acres of pure Scottishness – with no experience in farming but a huge passion for nature and the outdoors. They now raise heritage breeds of cattle and pigs, grow produce and have become a model farm in their region for ecological production practices.

Lynn and Sandra also wrote an inspiring book all about their journey of moving onto the land and how they’ve developed their idea of the farmers they want to be and their involvement in their new community which you can find through Chelsea Green books. 

In this discussion I speak with Lynn about the initial challenges they faced in finding land and learning to make a living from it. We talk about the steep learning curve and the resources they turned to to make it manageable. Lynn also tells me about the unique challenges they have in the notoriously harsh climate of northwestern Scotland and how they’ve made choices on the farm to mitigate these difficulties. 

This discussion is full of insightful advice and learnings from a unique journey from two farming newcomers who’ve demonstrated that you can build a farm business from scratch in modern times. Be sure to listen to the end when Lynn gives valuable advice for other people who dream of starting their farm without any previous experience. 

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