How to Make Money Farming: Reaping the Green in Every Way

Exploring how to make money farming opens up endless ideas for profitability on a farm. Of course, it’s essential to approach these ideas with careful planning. For instance, in the beginning stages, you might need supplemental income to support the new venture, meaning it’s wise not to quit your day job just yet.

Farm products are in high demand. Want to be your own boss? Ready to learn how to start a farm? If so, read on because we are diving into the best ways to make money on small and large farms straightaway!

Here’s a word from Epic Gardening on how one farmer works less than 40 hours a week and makes 6 Figures:

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

how to make money farming - Close up of an inquisitive sheep that's in front of the flock

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

Father and children in a corn maze- how to make money farming

Some varieties of corn are grown for their stalks rather than ears of corn. Conversely, 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. Given that, 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

how to make money farming - farmer teaching student about growing crops

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. Therefore, 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

how to make money farming - man working with beehives for rent

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

So, how do you start farming with no money? Lease your land to other farmers. Set that money aside for starting your own farming operation.

13. Raise Chickens

how to make money farming - raise chickens

Many consumers are seeking organic chickens, such as free-range or pastured poultry. As such, you can make money by selling meat chickens or learning how to start an egg farm. What’s more, 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.

Making Money on the Farm: Small vs. Large Operations

Below is a snapshot of the list of unique and viable money-making ideas tailored for small-scale, personalized farms and expansive, commercial large farms.

Small Farms: Unique & PersonalizedLarge Farms: Expansive & Commercial
1. U-pick Operations - A delightful, family-friendly outing.1. Raise Livestock - Focusing on large-scale beef cattle or pig farming.
2. Online Storefront - Selling unique products, e.g., honey.2. Barn Weddings - Utilizing large barn spaces for picturesque wedding venues.
3. Farm Tours - Showcasing the charms of smaller farm life.3. Christmas Tree Farm - A long-term investment but with significant returns during the holiday season.
4. Fresh Cut Flowers - A niche stand-out for farm markets.4. Corn Maze - Creating family-friendly attractions using tall corn varieties.
5. Offer Subscriptions - Weekly produce boxes for consistent income.5. Bed & Breakfast - Transforming large farmhouses into cozy stays for tourists.
6. Double Cropping - Optimize soil and season by planting successively.6. Horseback Riding Lessons - Utilizing large open spaces for riding and training.
7. Sell Compost - Turn waste into valuable organic fertilizer.7. Teach Farming - Educating the public on the processes of large-scale farming.
8. Raise Niche Crops - Cater to unique market demands.8. Sell Extra Seedlings - Making use of expansive lands to cultivate and sell excess.
9. Rent Camping Space - Private camping experiences or tiny house stays.9. Open a Creamery - Scaling up dairy operations to cater to a larger market.
10. Grow Hops - Catering to the craft brewery boom.10. Beeswax-Based Products - Turning large-scale beekeeping into diversified product offerings.
11. Sell Goat Milk - Fulfilling a high demand niche market.11. Beehive Rentals - Offering beehives as pollinators to other farms or for swarm removals.
12. Market Garden - Offering unique veggies and specialties.12. Lease Land to Farmers - Generating passive income by letting others cultivate your land.
13. Wooded Lot Earnings - Selling bundled firewood to campers.13. Raise Chickens - Catering to organic or free-range poultry demands; selling meat or eggs.
14. Raise Sheep/Goats - Sell fleece or transform it into yarn. Or, "rent out" goats for eco-friendly landscaping.14. Lease Land to Groups - Renting out spaces for training, scouting, or events.
15. Raise Rabbits - Profit from rabbit meat, or sell as pets. Also, their waste as fertilizer.15. Lease for Hunting - Generating income by allowing controlled hunting activities on your land, setting up rules and restrictions.

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. In other words, 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. Also, 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 its use complies with local ordinances.

how to make money farming - Farmer and his wife tending to their lettuce crop

Tap into Educated Outdoor Resource Professionals

Tapping into the expertise of educated outdoor resource professionals can significantly enhance the sustainability and productivity of your land. These experts, often employed by government or non-profit organizations, are equipped with the latest research and methodologies in their fields. Whether it’s managing a private forest, improving wildlife habitats, or optimizing crop production, their guidance can be invaluable.

For instance, a wildlife biologist could offer insights into creating a more biodiverse ecosystem on your property, attracting a variety of species and promoting a healthier environment. Similarly, an agricultural extension agent could provide personalized recommendations on crop rotation strategies, pest management, and water conservation techniques that are tailored to your land’s specific needs.

Engaging with these professionals not only aids in achieving your immediate goals but also contributes to the broader objective of environmental stewardship. By leveraging their specialized knowledge, you can implement practices that are ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible, ensuring your land remains productive and sustainable for future generations.

Are there any Apps for Farmers?

Absolutely! The rise of technology has made its way to agriculture, ensuring there’s an app to assist with almost every aspect of farming. Here are some examples of popular farming apps:

  1. The Climate Corporation: Climate Fieldview Offers farmers a better understanding of their fields so they can make better operating decisions.
  2. Weed Analyst: ID Weeds – Identify problematic weeds using various search parameters. Available for both Apple and Android, it aids in weed management using habitat, leaf type, and other characteristics.
  3. Bird’s-eye Viewer: TerrAvion Mobile – Access vast aerial imagery from TerrAvion and integrate it with field scouting. Benefit from accurate data-driven decisions and have field maps on the go.
  4. Cattle Nutritionist: Grazing Calculator – Developed by dairy farmers, this app calculates nutritional needs, crop allocation, and pasture duration for cattle. It lets farmers optimize cattle numbers for the best outcomes.
  5. Data Tracker: Farm Logs – Store and analyze crucial farm data, calculate costs, and streamline operations. The free version has basics, while the premium offers advanced marketing and reporting tools.
  6. Market Watchdog: AgMobile – Monitor grain and livestock markets, get bids for various crops, and access essential local news and weather. Collaboratively built with Successful Farming and AgriCharts, this pocket tool gives real-time insights for your agribusiness.
  7. Crop Analyzer: Yara CheckIT – Identify potential nutrient deficiencies on the spot. This app provides photographic references and remedies. It also suggests when to consider crop insurance.
  8. Small-farm Recordkeeper: BeetClock – Crafted by a vegetable farmer, it aids smaller farms in tracking time, labor, and crop profitability. Gather and analyze data from seeding to sale for effective management.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. As technology continues to advance, more specialized apps tailored to the unique needs of farmers are continually being developed.

Image: Envato Elements

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Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.