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Old 03.08.2011, 11:02
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

Are you aware that these subsidies (and yes, there are lots of them) will constitute 60-80% of your income? You don't farm in Switzerland, you run a farm. Actually getting said farm to produce food in any significant quantities is nearly beside the point. The system is as screwed-up in its own way as the US (note: I'm from the rural Midwest - corn country - you don't have to tell me what it's like in the US, seriously.)

The political reason these farm subsidies exist is to protect a traditional Swiss way of life for Swiss people. Because of this there are many accompanying restrictions on foreigners becoming self-employed, buying farmland, etc. I don't know the ins and outs, and it will depend a lot on where you live (the rules vary from village to village, as well as canton to canton) but until you become Swiss (12 years) or permanently settled (5 years, student years don't count) you are likely to have trouble realizing your dream.

Even after that, expect trouble with your neighbors. To them you will be 'some foreigner trying to muscle in' until the day you die... not because you are non-Swiss but simply because you are non-[insert village name here]! Someone moving from another part of Switzerland would face very nearly the same hostility. Swiss neighbor culture is very passive-aggressive, direct confrontation is rare but there will be lots of anonymous notes about you and tattling to the village authorities every time you put a foot wrong (and you will - there are too many rules not to! So will your neighbors, of course, but you won't know the rules to catch them out.) If you don't speak Swiss German you are at a serious disadvantage in all this.

I'm painting with a broad brush here, of course. With any luck one or two of your neighbors will write you off as 'crazy but harmless' and not bother harassing you. Also with a bit of luck the neighbor who hates your guts won't be the mayor's brother-in-law or have gone to school with the chief of police or done his military service with the zoning commissioner. (Family connections count for a lot in rural Switzerland.)

Sorry to be such a wet blanket. Come over here for a visit by all means, for grad school too if you get the chance. I just don't think having a farm in Switzerland (let alone a farm AND two scientific careers...) is as doable as you are thinking it is. It's a brilliant country, I love it warts and all, but I don't see how your particular dream can be realized here - not unless you are willing to put it on hold for umpteen years.
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  #22  
Old 03.08.2011, 11:03
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

Thank you for this great introduction. Everyone in the forum is free to read it or skip it. So it's good you wrote exactly what you wanted to tell us. The ambition of your project brings really fresh air and spirit in in a forum that is sometimes filled with hot air fouled by the cynicism of age. It's going to be tough and difficult but now is the time for you to make your own experience and learning. Follow your dream and vision and you won't regret it.

Talk and listen to farmers in Switzerland to get a good insight and feedback on your project. There are a lot of farmer unions that can provide valuable information and they'll be happy to share.
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:10
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Follow your dream and vision and you won't regret it.
Did you read that on the back of a match box?
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:12
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Did you read that on the back of a match box?
Worked out for you in a roundabout way didn't it?
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:13
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Worked out for you in a roundabout way didn't it?
True, but I wouldn't wish the transitional stages on my worst enemy.
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:17
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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True, but I wouldn't wish the transitional stages on my worst enemy.
And none of us are in a position to judge the road not travelled.
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:22
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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True, but I wouldn't wish the transitional stages on my worst enemy.
A powerful, compassionate statement. Unfortunately, we all have to go through our private hell sometime.

I've always thought it would be terrific if my students could meet up with English speakers once a month. One hour of cultural exchange or exercises on problem solving. I did this a month ago an it was highly appreciated by all participants.
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:22
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Follow your dream and vision and you won't regret it.
Did you read that on the back of a match box?
Worked out for you in a roundabout way didn't it?
True, but I wouldn't wish the transitional stages on my worst enemy.
And none of us are in a position to judge the road not travelled.
Woah - this is getting heavy. Group hug anyone?
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:23
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Did you read that on the back of a match box?
did you have a clown for breakfast?
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:23
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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And none of us are in a position to judge the road not travelled.
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Old 03.08.2011, 11:26
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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did you have a clown for breakfast?
Sure would taste funny?
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Old 03.08.2011, 12:50
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Not to be a wet towel or anything but are you eligible to receive all of these subsidies and direct payments???? If you aren't (i.e. you aren't Swiss citizens) I don't see how you're going to pull off your plan without significant assets. It's great to have a beautiful plan and I wish you all success but a lot of beautiful plans fail because of cash flow problems, and it sounds like you have a lot if you aren't receiving all of these subsidies. Anyway, at least you'll enjoy the reduction in rainfall. (former Seattleite speaking)
Thats a very good point. Perhaps the OP should talk to Grumpygrapfruit about this as he has a farm. I would recommend Spain for this project before I would recommend CH anyway.
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Old 03.08.2011, 14:12
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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If you would ever like to skype or something I would love to hear your perspective/experience!
Feel free to drop me an invite on either Facebook or LinkedIn.

I can point you at some resources about land ownership and these sort of things as well. It sounds like a very long term strategy that you are approaching things from with a view on sustainability, so if you plan the journey to be a fun one, then you should get there intact.
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  #34  
Old 03.08.2011, 14:23
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Thats a very good point. Perhaps the OP should talk to Grumpygrapfruit about this as he has a farm. I would recommend Spain for this project before I would recommend CH anyway.
That would be his farm and his ermm Swiss wife, yes?
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Old 03.08.2011, 14:52
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Thank you for this great introduction. Everyone in the forum is free to read it or skip it. So it's good you wrote exactly what you wanted to tell us. The ambition of your project brings really fresh air and spirit in in a forum that is sometimes filled with hot air fouled by the cynicism of age. It's going to be tough and difficult but now is the time for you to make your own experience and learning. Follow your dream and vision and you won't regret it.

Talk and listen to farmers in Switzerland to get a good insight and feedback on your project. There are a lot of farmer unions that can provide valuable information and they'll be happy to share.
I'm 'filled with hot air fouled by the cynicism of age' but also of bitter experience growing chasselas and pinot noir grapes for many years above Vevey, paying through the nose for them to be treated by the local vigneron, rather than offending the locals by doing it myself. Ending up making absolutely nothing, even owing the vigneron money sometimes......and then being treated like s**t simply because I was obviously a foreigner who had dared to buy land in a designated 'Swiss only' region.
I have a Swiss husband, and a Swiss name, but that wasn't enough. I had this 'funny accent' when I spoke French, and my name was Swiss German.
My husband reckons the locals poisoned our dog too, but maybe that's being a bit paranoid. Certainly our dog died under very mysterious circumstances.
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Old 03.08.2011, 15:06
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I have a Swiss husband, and a Swiss name, but that wasn't enough. I had this 'funny accent' when I spoke French, and my name was Swiss German.
My husband reckons the locals poisoned our dog too, but maybe that's being a bit paranoid. Certainly our dog died under very mysterious circumstances.
Poisoning dogs is a Swiss specialty! I had friends who just moved back to Canada after their dog died of poising.
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Old 03.08.2011, 15:10
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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I'm 'filled with hot air fouled by the cynicism of age' but also of bitter experience growing chasselas and pinot noir grapes for many years above Vevey, paying through the nose for them to be treated by the local vigneron, rather than offending the locals by doing it myself. Ending up making absolutely nothing, even owing the vigneron money sometimes......and then being treated like s**t simply because I was obviously a foreigner who had dared to buy land in a designated 'Swiss only' region.
I have a Swiss husband, and a Swiss name, but that wasn't enough. I had this 'funny accent' when I spoke French, and my name was Swiss German.
My husband reckons the locals poisoned our dog too, but maybe that's being a bit paranoid. Certainly our dog died under very mysterious circumstances.
Thank you for sharing your genuine experience in the land of the vaudois who are certainly not famous for their tolerance. My remark was more towards the systematic "it's impossible, it won't succeed" feedback I read here. Let's take the example of the "British Cheese Center": I am sure everyone would come up with "forget about selling british cheese in the country of cheese" yet it's a succesful project.
The "match box" aphorism came from late Nicolas Hayek who was asked about the secret of his success in business. He answered: " Never listen to those who tell you don't do it, it won't work, it's impossible. Follow you vision and dreams!".
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Old 03.08.2011, 17:40
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

OP, I admire your enthusiasm, even if it does come across as a bit innocent to say the least.

My (Swiss) wife bought a small farm 2 years before we met. It is very difficult, even for a local, to buy farm land here but she stuck at it and finally persuaded the Gemeinde to allow the owner to sell it to her. The farm is on Flumserberg, she was born about 30km away but grew up in Zurich. She will always be an auslander to the other farmers here (I think they see me just as a harmless lunatic who drives into Zurich every day to deliver one piece of cheddar cheese to a city idiot).

The land here has been dairy since God was a boy so the fact that we breed horses (Arabian at that) means our neighbours see us as people who are destroying their traditional way of life - I'm sure they are even waiting for minarets to be raised on the stable roof. We only have 2 farmer neighbours who help us, the rest are polite and say the horses are beautiful, but would not lift a finger to help and have even reported us to the Gemeinde for petty things that they don't like. One neighbour even threatened to shoot our dogs.

But even amongst themselves, they are generally unhappy, envious simple (almost backwards in the old fashioned sense) folk. I was told once that the only thing they have in common with each other is that they all own telescopes, not to study the stars, but to keep an eye on what everyone else is doing. They keep a log of any infringements they see and if one was ever to spill the beans, the whole mountain would probably be arrested.

I'm not trying to put you off, just warning you that the reality of owning a farm, especially in Switzerland, can be quite different from the dream.
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Old 03.08.2011, 19:14
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OP, I admire your enthusiasm, even if it does come across as a bit innocent to say the least.

My (Swiss) wife bought a small farm 2 years before we met. It is very difficult, even for a local, to buy farm land here but she stuck at it and finally persuaded the Gemeinde to allow the owner to sell it to her. The farm is on Flumserberg, she was born about 30km away but grew up in Zurich. She will always be an auslander to the other farmers here (I think they see me just as a harmless lunatic who drives into Zurich every day to deliver one piece of cheddar cheese to a city idiot).

The land here has been dairy since God was a boy so the fact that we breed horses (Arabian at that) means our neighbours see us as people who are destroying their traditional way of life - I'm sure they are even waiting for minarets to be raised on the stable roof. We only have 2 farmer neighbours who help us, the rest are polite and say the horses are beautiful, but would not lift a finger to help and have even reported us to the Gemeinde for petty things that they don't like. One neighbour even threatened to shoot our dogs.

But even amongst themselves, they are generally unhappy, envious simple (almost backwards in the old fashioned sense) folk. I was told once that the only thing they have in common with each other is that they all own telescopes, not to study the stars, but to keep an eye on what everyone else is doing. They keep a log of any infringements they see and if one was ever to spill the beans, the whole mountain would probably be arrested.

I'm not trying to put you off, just warning you that the reality of owning a farm, especially in Switzerland, can be quite different from the dream.

The REALIST post in this thread.......
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  #40  
Old 03.08.2011, 19:44
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Re: Travelers looking to meet up and share with ex-pats!

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Are you aware that these subsidies (and yes, there are lots of them) will constitute 60-80% of your income? You don't farm in Switzerland, you run a farm. Actually getting said farm to produce food in any significant quantities is nearly beside the point. The system is as screwed-up in its own way as the US (note: I'm from the rural Midwest - corn country - you don't have to tell me what it's like in the US, seriously.)

The political reason these farm subsidies exist is to protect a traditional Swiss way of life for Swiss people. Because of this there are many accompanying restrictions on foreigners becoming self-employed, buying farmland, etc. I don't know the ins and outs, and it will depend a lot on where you live (the rules vary from village to village, as well as canton to canton) but until you become Swiss (12 years) or permanently settled (5 years, student years don't count) you are likely to have trouble realizing your dream.
I am one of the few Swiss here on this forum and really second what MathNut said. I'm sure you appreciate Switzerland and its system for all the right reaons, the problem is, so does everyone else, which makes the Swiss increasingly protectionist. Did you know that due to the lack of farming land Swiss farmers increasingly go abroad and buy land in neighouring France and Germany? Partially because of the subsidies you mentioned farm land is highly sought after, and you'll find it next to impossible to buy even a small farm. Investigate property prices too, you really need to have a lot of money before you can even think of buying something.

But I'm sure you'll still have a great trip here, and you'll appreciate the eco-friendly lifestyle here. If you're in Zürich drop me a messagen and I'll gladly meet up for a drink.
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