• Sarah Lipkowitz

What Is A Farmette?

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

Are you interested in homesteading or running a small-scale farm? Buying a farmette might be the right decision for you. Most of us don’t need dozens of acres to fulfill our dreams of bringing our horses home or raising chickens. What is a farmette? How do you go about buying a farmette? Here is what you need to know.

Size. Generally considered to be less than 50 acres, farmettes are large enough for a residence and to raise animals of one sort or another. Practically speaking, most would consider a farmette to be somewhere between 2 and 10 acres because farmettes are typically not meant to be income producing. Most farmette owners have jobs and maintaining more than 10 acres is just not practical.

If you plan to raise chickens and grow vegetables, then you won’t need much more than a large lot of 1-2 acres. If you want to keep horses or cows then you will likely need 1.5-2 acres per animal. It is not uncommon to see horses on a well-planned five-acre plot. This should allow enough room for a house, barn, arena, and paddocks.

Location. Whether you are retired or you need to commute daily, the location of your farmette is an important decision. If you plan to keep horses or cows, then you will want open acreage. Make sure the property has good drainage and is not in a flood plain. Melting snows or heavy rains could make for a nasty surprise.

Zoning and HOA’s will also greatly impact your decision. Some areas are not zoned for animal husbandry or commercial farming activities, but you are allowed to keep animals. HOA’s are important to keep in mind because even if the zoning allows it, there may be neighborhood rules in place against keeping certain types of animals. If you are buying raw land, you may be required to build a house before a barn or other outbuildings.

You will also need to keep accessibility in mind. If you need to get to work everyday, then be sure the commute is reasonable and that the nearby roads are routinely plowed in the winter. Find out if you will have city water or a well. Well water often shuts off with power outages. What fire department will respond to an emergency at your address? Some people prefer remote properties, but if quick access to shopping, veterinary care, and other amenities is important to you, then keep these things in mind while looking at properties.

Neighbors. I work as a Realtor in Maryland and in Palm Beach County, Florida. There are many differences between the two when buying a farmette. If you are buying a farmette in Wellington, Florida, then you will likely have neighbors involved in similar activities as many of the neighborhoods in Wellington are comprised small horse farms and farmettes. If you are buying a farmette in Maryland or outside a large city, then you may have neighbors who will not be so pleased with a rooster crowing or horses whinnying for breakfast at the crack of dawn. Neighbors can make your life miserable if they don’t approve of your activities so read the room. When you visit properties, note whether or not the neighbors are keeping animals. How close is the nearest house? Is there a shared driveway? In an ideal world, you’d have pleasant neighbors who would lend a hand whenever you were in need, but it isn’t always possible to get a feel for the situation ahead of time. At the very least, make sure you can keep to yourself easily. If you won’t be able to make it up the driveway with a horse trailer without tearing up a neighbor’s lawn, then you might be in for trouble down the road.

Ideal for those who have day jobs, a farmette is a wonderful option for a range of activities. Farmettes can be found closer to major cities and, if the property is chosen wisely, farmettes are much less work to maintain than larger farms.

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