Notice I didn’t say “how do you buy land?” though that might at first appear to be the meaning of the question. No, how do you get land is better, because it’s possible that you don’t have to buy land (at least at first).
But before we delve into that, the three obstacles to going back to the land are:
1. Desire to do it
If you don’t desire to have some acreage, animals, garden/crops, then the rest of this is a moot point. But perhaps you are married and one of you has this desire, however nascent, while the other does not. That’s a common problem. My wife and I were at that place several years back: we both vaguely thought the idea sounded interesting, but our visions of what it would look like differed greatly—too greatly to be able to make any decisions.
Through much reading together, prayer, thought, and also time, we have come to unity in our vision for living on some land, in a well-built home (straw-bale most likely, more on this later), making some income off our land but still having a regular job too or perhaps some means of supplemental income. There were times in the past five years when we spoke about these topics a lot, and others where it was put on the back-burner for months. Only you and your spouse can discern where God is leading you.
But what about money? Land prices are inflated, though they have dipped in many places due to the economy and housing bubble bursting. Still, if you want to be reasonably close to a city or large town, you could be looking at $3,000 to $20,000 per acre. This varies widely but where we’ve been looking, if we stay within thirty minutes of the city, land prices are about $5,000 per acre. Twenty acres would make one hundred thousand dollars, not chump change for us or most people.
If the land is too pricey to buy, don’t despair. The majority of farmers are aging grandparents whose children left the farm long ago. Many of these farmers would love to see a young couple make a go of it on their land, maintaining it, improving the soil, bringing life back there again. There are ways to find these farmers and great deals can be found (for both parties), low rent or no rent even.
Money should not be the obstacle, though it is certainly a high priority, and the less money you have the more creatively you need to think.
Expertise. Katie and I have little, being brought up in towns. Kevin Ford has more. But you can gain expertise: backyard garden, small animals (chickens, goats, etc.), volunteering or interning on a farm, getting training on special farms, etc. We’ve done some of these things but need to do more. This is the weakest area for us; we have much to learn, and the curve can be steep and punishing.
The main point of this is: every family has peculiar advantages and disadvantages. Some people inherit land, hundreds of acres just given to them. Others have saved up enough through working a regular job to be able to procure land and housing and animals. Many have expertise, horse-sense, mechanical abilities–you name it–and all these can be employed to help you get onto some land and begin stewarding it.