There are endless ideas for how to make money on a farm. Of course, it’s important to develop your ideas with careful planning. For example, it’s most likely that you’ll need supplemental income in order to have enough money to support the new venture. In other words, at first, don’t quit your day job.
Farm products are in high demand. Want to be your own boss? Ready to learn how to start a farm?
Is a Farm Business Profitable
Being a local farmer is hard work. New farmers should remember that learning how to start a business is a key element of farming. In other words, good planning on the business end is crucial to making money farming.
Will you own or lease farmland? Does the land have the high-quality soil needed to grow high-value crops? Can you afford to purchase breeding stock at a good price? These are factors that will affect your bottom line.
Tips for Owning Your First Farm
- Don’t rush. Understand that it may take a few years for your business to turn a profit.
- Start small. Use the additional income from a regular job to support the business.
- Study your market. Although it’s an additional cost, consider hiring a professional to handle social media, your website and advertising. A professional may uncover ways to make money while you’re busy working the land.
- Involve a tax professional. Your income may be reported as profit or loss on a Schedule C, with you as a sole proprietor. Or, it may make more sense tax wise to set up the farm as its own entity. Some purchases for a farm (such as animal feed) may be tax exempt, for example.
- Buy dirt. Yes the country song is correct. Owning land is important, especially if you are going to grow crops or animals. Owning land creates a buffer between you and your neighbors.
- Consult local zoning officials. Even an operation as small as a micro-farm may not be allowed in certain areas. Before you buy or lease land, or start a farm business on land you already own, make sure such use complies with local ordinances.
15 Ideas for Making Money on a Small Farm
1. Utilize U-pick Operations
Customers love this. Many people look forward to a family strawberry picking expedition as a rite of spring.
2. Create an Online Storefront
Let’s say your small farm raises honey bees. You can sell honey through your online storefront.
3. Host Farm Tours
Once you join your local chamber of commerce, you may be able to announce your farm tour there, or run tours in cooperation with a number of members.
4. Sell Fresh Cut Flowers
Find your niche! A farm stand may offer standard fares such as tomatoes and beans – make yours stand out with fresh cut flowers.
5. Offer Subscriptions
This is another way for your market to be a cut above another market. You can increase your income by offering subscriptions for farm products throughout the season. You will sell weekly produce boxes to customers who have subscriptions.
6. Double Crop
Legumes such as beans and peas have a short growing season and also add nitrogen to the soil. Consider a spring crop such as snap peas, or another crop with a quick turnaround, followed by a second crop after the weather warms.
7. Sell Compost/Organic Fertilizer
Quality compost can be a high cash product. Let’s face it – the basic material (manure) is not expensive and more is made every day. You can make your own and sell it as a product.
8. Raise Niche Crops
Study your local market and find the gaps for different crops t sell. For the most part, farm markets offer the same lines, such as tomatoes, sweet corn and beans. Farm markets aren’t offering specialty products such as oyster mushrooms or purple green beans.
For example, cow milk is readily available; does anyone have goat milk? Are farm stands offering flowers and herbs? Even if you only have a little space, you can grow flowers and herbs to earn extra income.
9. Rent Camping Space
State park camping is great – although campsites are crowded. Many suburbanites would love to tent at a private campsite on your farm. You may even invest in tiny houses. You can rent tiny houses and make money while introducing city dwellers to farm life.
10. Grow Hops for Craft Breweries
Growing hops is a rapidly growing business. You can grow many different kinds of hop vines and sell them to micro breweries or home brewers.
11. Sell Goat Milk
You can sell goat milk, which is in very high demand. However, you must commit to milking the goats two times a day, every day.
12. Start a Market Garden
Many hobby farms start as market gardens, raising vegetables to sell to the general public. Make yours stand out by offering specialty products that are different than the typical fare.
13. Earn Money from a Wooded Lot
If you live near a campground, offering firewood in bundles to campers can be a steady income stream. It’s free wood for you, but you must add the time and labor. You can also reach out to sell your firewood bundles in commercial places.
14. Raise Sheep or Goats
With both sheep and goats (Mohair type), you can shear the animals and sell the fleece. Or you can turn the fleece into specialty yarn and sell that. Both animals are also commonly raised for meat. Compared to cattle or pigs, they take up less space, grow to maturity faster and are cheaper to raise.
Some goat farmers “rent out” their goat herds to aid in eco-friendly brush clearing.
15. Raise Rabbits
Rabbits can produce several litters a year and are prized for their meat or as pets (depending on the species). Rabbit pellets are also in high demand as fertilizer.
15 Ideas for Making Money with a Large Farm
An experienced farmer can earn a full-time income on a large farm. Most harvest the most profitable crops, such as corn and soybeans.
What can you grow on a farm to earn a good living?
1. Raise Livestock
The top choices are beef cattle and pigs.
2. Have Barn Weddings
Those expansive, beautiful open timber barns can make a great wedding venue.
3. Start a Christmas Tree Farm
This is a great business to start as a sideline. However, it takes about seven years to grow a Christmas tree to a saleable size. And you won’t just be watching them grow – annually, each tree must be sheared and shaped in the spring, and you must be vigilant against pests and drought.
4. Make a Corn Maze
Some varieties of corn are grown for their stalks rather than ears of corn. Those varieties are most often harvested and chopped, with all parts fed to cattle. These varieties are typically very tall and make the best corn mazes.
A pumpkin patch makes a great extra attraction to a corn maze.
5. Host a Bed & Breakfast
Turn spare rooms into guest rooms. Feed your guest as much food as you can, right from the farm.
6. Offer Horseback Riding Lessons and Tours
For a newbie, the idea of riding a horse can be daunting. If you’re housing horses, consider offering lessons. If you’ve got a trained string of trail-safe horses, consider tours.
7. Teach People about Farming
It’s a safe bet that the majority of people don’t know the process of food to the table – no matter what the product. Offer classes. Inviting people to learn about milking dairy cows or goats, or harvesting hay, can be a learning experience for them and a money maker for you.
8. Sell Extra Herbs and Seedlings
Start your farm by selling your extra seedlings and herbs.
9. Open a Creamery
Sell value-added dairy products to local markets or directly to consumers.
10. Sell Beeswax-Based Products
Learn to make honey and beeswax products from your honey hives.
11. Start Beehive Rental & Swarm Removal Services
Make more money by transporting your beekeeping bees to farms that need them as pollinators. Use your bee hives to attract bee swarms on other properties.
12. Lease Your Land to Other Farmers
How to start farming with no money? Lease your land to other farmers. Set that money aside for starting your own farming operation.
13. Raise Chickens
Many consumers are seeking organic chickens, such as free-range or pastured poultry. You can make money by selling meat chickens or learn how to start an egg farm. Or you can make money hatching eggs and selling chicks to people who want to start their own flocks.
14. Lease Your Land to Groups
You can lease portions of your land to groups such as Scouts, Dog Trainers and others.
15. Lease Your Land for Hunting
You can set your own rules, such as only allowing archery hunting or restricting hours and days when hunting may take place.
Tap into Educated Outdoor Resource Professionals
Many state wildlife and agricultural agencies will send a professional to your property at no charge. For example, a forester may visit and write a “prescription” for the best management of your woodland. A natural resources conservation service specialist may help you take a soil sample, and advise you on the best amendments for the soil.
Are there any Apps for Farmers?
Yes, there’s a farm app for everything. You can find apps for planting, equipment repair and more.
Image: Envato Elements
More in: Farming Business