Farm shares and sponsorships

Farm shares (also: cow shares, more rarely chicken shares, pig shares) are strictly speaking not shares but participation certificates. Investors can acquire these participation certificates for a fixed amount of money and receive interests in return, usually in the form of natural produce, sometimes optionally as a payout. Shares can be returned taking into consideration the period of notice. Investors do not receive the right of co-determination as it is the case with proper shares.

A related concept is sponsorships (also: crowdfarming). Single animals, but also trees or bee colonies can be sponsored. Sponsors pay a fixed amount of money each year and receive specific advantages such as a share of yields in return.

Aim and innovation

Farm shares and sponsorships are innovative options for financing. By means of farm shares farmers are able to cover expenses of one-time investments such as the construction of a stable or the purchase of a herd. Sponsorships help to cover running costs, therefore enabling environment-friendly production. Additionally, both concepts allow farms to acquire new customers. The investment is intensifying the relationship to the farm as well as the general understanding on sustainable agricultural production. 


Kattendorfer Hof, Hof Klostersee, Rotthoffs Hof, Hof Gasswies, Naranjas del Carmen, Eidentity


Production (markets, user practices, social/ temporal structures)


Farms, customers respectively shareholders

Development and dynamics

Many farms nowadays offer farm shares as well as sponsorships. Customers respond well to the concept, many farms have sold all their shares. Shareholders who wanted to sell their shares, had no difficulties in finding prospective customers. Sponsorships are not limited to a region, but can also be arranged with farms abroad. Nevertheless, this is still a marginal phenomenon.

Sustainability potential


  • Biodiversity (indirect)
  • Soil (indirect)
  • Water (indirect)
  • Climate (indirect)
  • Resource efficiency in production and consumption (indirect)
  • Promotion of regional, closed nutrient cycles


  • Poverty alleviation
  • Promotion of regional economic circles
  • Promotion of actors with positive external effects
  • Increase of food security (indirect)
  • Creation of transparency along the value chain (indirect)


  • Awareness/ education for sustainable nutrition (indirect)

Risks/ disadvantages

In principle there is a financial risk for investing citizens.


Basically farm shares are participation certificates which enable citizens to buy shares of farms and receive interests mostly in the form of food products. With sponsorships citizens can pay an annual or one-time payment in order to support a specific way of production and potentially receive certain advantages. Both concepts can be seen as an innovative option for financing which also intensifies customers’ relationship to the farm. The expansion of the niche is currently limited despite a strong demand. Therefore, there is an indirect sustainability potential in terms of ecological aspects and particularly in terms of economic aspects. However, in terms of social aspects the potential can still be increased (e.g. through more participative and solidary components).

[1] Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (BLE), Projektgruppe Ökolandbau (2020): Mit Patenschaften Biobetriebe unterstützen. Web, 09.04.2020. www.oekolandbau.de/bio-im-alltag/bio-erleben/aktiv-werden/bio-patenschaften/;
Peerenboom, N. (2013): Hofaktien. Die Rendite ist Käse. NDR. Web, 06.06.2018. www.ndr.de/ratgeber/verbraucher/Hofaktien-Die-Rendite-ist-Kaese,hofaktie101.html;
Fichter, A. (2009): Skurrile Wertpapiere: Die Kuh-Aktie. Focus Money Online. Web, 06.06.2018. www.focus.de/finanzen/boerse/aktien/tid-16042/skurrile-wertpapiere-die-kuh-aktie_aid_449294.html

[2] BLE, Projektgruppe Ökolandbau (2020)

[3] Fichter (2009)

[4] BLE, Projektgruppe Ökolandbau (2020)

[5] Peerenboom (2013); Fichter (2009); BLE, Projektgruppe Ökolandbau (2020)

[6] Fichter (2009)

[7] Vgl. z.B. Kattendorfer Hof: https://kattendorfer-hof.de/kuhaktie/, Hof Klostersee: https://klostersee.org/mitmachen/teil-haben/

[8] Kautenburger, M. (2013): Der perfekte Kuhandel. Ökobauer verkauft Anteile seiner Rinderherde an Aktionäre. Hannoversche Allgemeine. Web, 06.06.2018. www.haz.de/Nachrichten/Wirtschaft/Deutschland-Welt/Oekobauer-verkauft-Anteile-seiner-Rinderherde-an-Aktionaere

[9] BLE, Projektgruppe Ökolandbau (2020)