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A smallholding is a farm of small size. Often too small to be efficient, the utility of smallholdings varies from place to place.

In third world countries, smallholdings are usually commercial farms supporting a single family. As a country becomes more affluent and farming practices become more efficient, smallholdings may persist as a legacy of historical land ownership practices. In more affluent societies smallholdings may be valued primarily for the rural lifestyle that they provide. Often, the owners do not earn their livelihood from the farm.

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Smallholdings in Britain

In British English usage, a smallholding is a piece of land and its adjacent living quarters for the smallholder and stabling for farm animals, on a smaller scale than that of a farm but larger than an allotment, usually under 50 acres (0.20 km2). It is often established for the breeding of farm animals on an organic basis on free-range pastures. Alternatively, the smallholder may concentrate on the growing of vegetables by various traditional methods or in a more modern way using plastic covers, Polytunneling or cloches for quick growth.

Generally, a smallholding offers its owner a means of achieving self-sufficiency as to his and his family's own needs which he may be able to supplement by selling surplus produce at a farmers market and/or temporary booths or more permanent shop facilities are often part of a smallholding.

In a separate development, so-called pick-your-own-fruit soft fruit (or vegetable) farms (farm being a convenient term rather than a reflection on its size) have appeared over the years in the vicinity of towns, which in type of management do belong to the category of smallholdings rather than farms.

They usually consist of a large field which has been subdivided into strips of areas for fruit trees, shrubs or various types of vegetables, all the kinds of produce which come to ripen in their different seasons. In this type of establishment, once the initial layout and investment (in plants, trees, shrubs, etc.) has been completed, only the replanting of annual vegetables, the maintenance of perennials, the minimum weeding of the area needs to be undertaken, while the consumers themselves do their own harvesting. Additionally, of course, facilities have to be set up so that the customer may pay for the amount of produce they have been able to 'pick'.

Hobby farms in Australia

A Hobby farm in Australian usage is a variety of smallholding that may be as small as 2 hectares up to a self-sustaining farm size, that allows the "city farmer" to have a house and a small number of animals or small crop fields or grape vines. In Western Australia, these are often termed Special Rural Properties for planning purposes.

Lifestyle blocks in New Zealand

In New Zealand a lifestyle block is a smallholding valued primarily for its rural lifestyle. Also, Planning restrictions on subdivision of farming land often lead to the phenomenon of lifestyle blocks of minimal permissible size springing up near urban areas.

Third World usage

In many Third World countries, a smallholding is a small plot of land with low rental value, used to grow crops.[1]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Bunnett, R.B. (2002). Interactive Geography 4, pp. 125, 315. SNP Pan Pacific Publishing. ISBN 981-208-657-9.

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