Worldwide interest has been sparked in a unique scheme that offers people the chance to start up their own farm business in Scotland.
Land management specialists Bell Ingram are managing the application process for the pilot scheme on behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland which is offering the opportunity to take over two ready-made starter farms near Cardenden in Fife.
Such has been the interest in the project that more than 150 application packs have already been issued across the UK and internationally – with inquiries coming from as far afield as Australia.
Potential interested parties are now being advised that time is running out for applications to be submitted before the April 17 closing date.
Mark Mitchell, Rural Land Management Director at Bell Ingram, said the response has been extremely encouraging.
He said: “As this is the first time such a project has been undertaken by Forestry Commission Scotland, no one knew exactly what kind of take up there would be. But it is fair say everyone connected with the project has been delighted at the scale of the response.
“I think that illustrates the value and quality of the project that has been put together.”
The pilot scheme hopes to encourage a new generation into the farming industry by providing sought-after, affordable, small-scale land units suitable for part time farm businesses.
Mark added: “While there is a real demand for starter farms, it had not been matched by supply of suitable sites. That’s why we were delighted to be part of a project that sought to deliver agricultural tenancies to enterprising people looking to get established in the farming world.
“Not only is the Commission seeking first time applicants but it is looking to provide the farms on ten year Limited Duration Tenancies. This is particularly beneficial as such farms are generally let on one to five year Short Limited Duration Tenancies which would not give the applicants the opportunity to get well established in the industry.”
It is hoped that successful applicants will gain valuable experience in managing their own farm business on a part-time basis before moving on to a larger scale operations at the end of their lease period, freeing the units for further new entrants.