Beyond 'hobby farming': towards a typology of non-commercial farming

Lee-Ann Sutherland, Carla Barlagne, AP Barnes

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37 Citations (Scopus)
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In this paper we develop a typology of ‘non-commercial’ approaches to farming, based on a survey of a representative sample of farmers in Scotland, United Kingdom. In total, 395 (16.6% of the sample) farmers indicated that they do not seek to make a profit on their farms. We estimate that these non-commercial approaches to farming are utilised on at least 13% of agricultural land in Scotland. As such, non-commercial farming (NCF) is not a marginal practice, nor are NCF limited to small-scale ‘hobby’ farms: NCF exist across the scale of agricultural holding sizes and are operated by a wide range of socio-demographic cohorts. We identify 6 types of NCF: agricultural residences, specialist smallholdings, horsiculture holdings, mixed smallholdings, amenity mixed farms, and large farms or estates. These types were differentiated primarily by the scale of farm size, presence of diversification activities and types of animal present. The analysis demonstrates a number of emergent patterns of land management: de facto land abandonment, transition towards ‘horsiculture’, and management differences between retiring and new entrant NCF. We argue that the types identified reflect a number of intersecting issues in contemporary agrarian transitions, particularly the aging farmer population; generational renewal; and gendered implications of agricultural restructuring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-493
Number of pages19
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number3
Early online date28 Mar 2019
Publication statusPrint publication - Sept 2019


  • Smallholding
  • Estates
  • Crofting
  • Multifunctionality
  • Female farmers


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