Joined: Aug 18, 2012
Location: Zone 6 Midwest
So I have 2 acres, about 2/3 of an acre was previously cleared and is open field, it has grown over with tall grasses and wild flowers. the rest of the land is wooded. There are lots of mushrooms growing wild in the woods. The trees are mostly smaller, most are under 15 feet tall, we do have several taller trees too but most are shorter. The land is in southern ohio and we have a very clay rich soil here. Does anyone know of a way that I could start using my land to grow something to make some money? Any ideas would be much appreciated!!
Thanks for your time!
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Joined: Feb 25, 2012
Location: northern California
The challenge with income is to design from the likely (or better yet, certain!) markets backwards towards your site, as well as forwards from what your site can produce. In between these constraints are your own skills. Can you identify those wild mushrooms reliably? Do you know their habitats? Can you grow vegetables? Fruit? Eggs?
What resources do you have to invest? It usually takes some seed money, and/or a lot of creativity and scrounging, to get something started.
What I did for a few years was grow certified orgainic produce and free-range eggs. The certification and the egg license were both headaches but proved worth it. This was when certification was done by the states, though....might be worse now. I was blessed by having a restaurant buying co-op and a couple of good farmer's markets in the nearest big city. The problem after the first year was I couldn't keep up with the demand! There is an insatiable demand for high-quality food these days! That's where figuring in the worth of your own time and sanity comes into the equation.
The opposite tactic is well worth considering....how much do I really need to live on? Especially considering the work and trouble I need to go to to provide it. It's amazing what people will do when they want to or have to. Living in the US, I decided long ago that I would not submit to the ass-licking and the time necessary to hold an "ordinary job" I've lived on hippie communes, eaten many a meal out of dumpsters, and butchered rats and dogs for food.....
The biggest challenge is land access....which you seem to have secured. so if you don't have debt or bills, and have shelter, and you can feed yourself, then the need for income can be minimal......
While not for most folks, the wife and I are in the planning stages of building a micro farm...hence the name. What is my idea of a micro farm:
10 acres or less with no or little use of grid energy paid for...The only way it should be done! The house will be a 16x32 shed we intend to finish out to our specs. We will heat with a small wood stove, have solar and wind for power, have solar hot water in the good months and on demand propane for the bad.....
I will grow a garden in the back to eden fashion, grow mushrooms, raise free range chickens, have a few cows and pigs and travel to and from town regularly in a horse and wagon type set up.
I intend to sell veggies and mushrooms, eggs and occaisionally meat at farmers markets as well as give tours of the farm and Clinics($$$) on the back to eden gardening in large plots and in small plots and what can be done with that.
I also intend to take advantage of my talents as a fair to midland welder and "make stuff" to sell and repair stuff the community needs repaired for reasonable prices...you know little projects you'd like done but either cant go to a shop or don't want to pay their prices.... First project? Build a portable welding trailer!
Thats my plan...if it don't work and I need money for things like a well or pond or such then I will go back to work as an HVAC guy for a year to pay for the stuff I need! There is always an alternative option, you just need to sit and think on it a spell...it'll come to ya!
I have been looking into the possibility of hooking up with PRI Permaculture research institute.. as a Demonstration and Education center. This isn't fast money and there are some hoops to jump through, not the least of which is they require that you form as a Non-Profit. So probably more of a long term plan... Another thing you could do is connect with PRI or another Permaculture group and host PDC classes on your land, this will bring folks to your place that can help you design and create a well designed and laid out homestead and then with your certification and training start offering courses yourself.
Some other things you can do is raise meat birds, chickens, turkeys, ducks, etc. they are easy enough to pasture, or in your case free range through the woods, there is no shortage of bugs grubs and worms in a forest as well as grasses and weeds they need. I have been working toward this end, and gathering a flock of laying hens to provide eggs to local folks as well. Maybe offer to pasture cattle for folks who don't have any land but want to have access to grass fed beef. One method for this is to get the customer to buy 3 grass calves, 3 months old or so. You raise all three and when they are finished, the customers gets 1 of them and pays for any butchering, cutting and wrapping fees. You keep 2 for your self, kill one for your meat supply and sell one for cash. I have 3.5 acres 2 of which are pasture, I figure I can handle maybe 10 head so everything X 3... Right now in our area (Idaho) grass calves are running about $365.00 a piece so your customer is in it for about $1000.00 plus cutting and wrapping fees a considerable savings over grocery store beef and they know where it came from and what it ate. Plus if they are "Animal Rights" types you have raised a happy animal that was treated humanely and killed humanely, that is getting to be a very marketable selling point.
An acre of sweet corn sold at roadside stands or out of the back of your truck would net you somewhere around $3,000.00-$6000.00 per acre and if you are lucky and cagey enough, you can pull this off without all the gubmint horse pucky...
Maybe check around your area and se if there are others who who like to co-op a crop with you, you have the land and a willingness to work, maybe they have a little investment capital and some time to invest as well, maybe a tractor or some equipment you may need... Squash is another good fast turnover crop and you don't necessarily have to plow for it. Roadside sales... Melons are excellent and easy to sell.
Joined: Dec 19, 2012
Location: Southern MN
One of the first things to consider when looking for an income off the farm, no matter how big or small.
So, according to e-Organics Farming classes, first determine How Much Money you need to Make, be realistic.
Then, determine what the buildings, land and your time can do.
Options on a small land, might be high yield or high end products (strawberries can make $200K an acre if properly managed), mushrooms are a great option, chickens can be raised 6 times over a growing season, a tomato crop all comes in at once-when everyone else's crop is in so the price is down.
If you live anywhere near lakes or where Fishermen pass by, Sell worms. I am a Believer in a worm composting bed. Raise them for resale and get your Soil for the Garden for free.
Actually I know a guy in Southern California who sells the Worm Tea too. He sells it in Gallons and Quarts at the Farmers Market.
Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Location: North Carolina
There are lots of things you could do, but what do YOU want to do? What do you like? Do you just love getting yours hands in the dirt, or running a tiller or tractor, or cutting down trees? Ultimately you are the only one who can answer the question, we can only throw ideas at you. Some things are a lot more labor intensive. Initially, you have to get your land balanced in minerals, depending on which crops you are growing, and that can be a little expensive. If I had two acres with reasonably rich soil, I'd start by first plotting out the land to see what areas would be best with which crop, or which livestock. Don't just start planting stuff. I've made that mistake too many times and ended up with a jungle I could not even walk through and moved plants three times to other locations because of it. Too much work. We've already made those mistakes, so you don't have to.
Berries may already grow on the land, and you may want to leave patches of them if they do, such as raspberries or blackberries. They don't require the added amendments as much as other crops. Berries love a leaf mulch, and you can probably get that from your own land. Berries will grow in partial shade if they get full sun part of the day, in fact, most do better that way. You can always pick and market berries easily enough. I would probably add more domestic raspberries because they bear the first year after planting and you get a quick crop. They always sell well, but are very perishable.
Look at the land and try to visualize what it is trying to tell you. If nothing is growing on a patch, it needs microbes and nutrients or something is very much out of balance. What is already growing on it? If blackberries you will have trouble getting rid of all of them. If it is is raspberries, by all means, grow more raspberries there, the soil is already nearly perfect. It is a habitat they like. Blueberries, if growing in good soil, will produce pretty early and in a few years be a very good, dependable crop. I know a farmer who gets most of his income from blueberries, on a 5 acre parcel which is primarily vegetable crops, and he only has about 50 blueberry plants. He spends a lot of time growing other things, but people come and pick berries and he does all right, but not getting rich by any means. He also picks some himself to sell at the farmers markets and always sells out. Strawberries sell well but are more labor intensive and more can go wrong, such as too wet, too cold, slugs or birds eat them, etc. Strawberries rot easily when the weather doesn't agree with them. But they have their place. Have a backup plan, so if you get too many at one time or can't sell something, you can turn it into jam or jelly or pies or something. Even freeze them and sell to customers out of the freezer. Once you get a good customer base, and eventually you will, you will get a lot of repeat customers who trust you and are loyal.
You could also plant fruit trees and then wait a few years for them to bear fruit. Of course, the dwarf ones bear earlier. Hazelnuts bear young, at 2 or 3 years old. Chestnuts bear at 3 feet tall (a little). Read everything you can find on each crop to familiarize yourself with growing conditions and such before you jump in. Be honest with yourself as to how much time and money you can really invest. Some fruit trees just kind of take care of themselves, like canning pears which need no particular pruning or spraying, and grow fast. Is there a market for the fruit where you live? Look at what sells mostly at the farmer's markets. Everyone grows tomatoes, but the market is so strong, they sell lots of them, at a very good price per pound. Talk to people and find out what they'd like to buy at farmer's markets, but isn't available. There might be a strong niche market you could fill.
Livestock are more work than growing things, or can be. You HAVE to go out and make sure they have water and food every day. You can't go on vacation, or take a day off unless you have someone else to take care of them (usually paying them to do so) while you are away. However, they make a better system with rotation and you have manure to make compost and can feed chickens or rabbits with the extra produce from your garden, as part of their diet. In fact, I've raised rabbits exclusively without buying in feed, but it worked me nearly to death too. No one wanted to dress out rabbits, so to sell them, I had to do it for them. I have trouble dispatching any animal and that was the reason I finally got rid of them. I dried hay, cut by hand for them and harvested armloads of forage daily for them. They had to have the hay along with it so they didn't get diarrhea from all the green forage. They require a protein plant such as legumes (clover or pea vines). Also had to worm them regularly by giving them a bit of wormwood or some herbs for that. They thrive on good management and forage, and are so prolific, might be a good option if you have a market for them. You can always buy feed for them, but I tend to think of this unstable economy and possibilities of not being able to get livestock feed in the near future, for many reasons. For larger livestock you don't have much land to graze them and do rotation. Goats would work, but, also get out a lot, hard on fences, and require lots of management. Also, with livestock, you have to worry about the predator problem. Coyotes, Bobcats, weasels, raccoons, cougars, and more. I've lost nearly grown goats to Bobcats even with guardian dogs, but not lately. A cougar can take a calf. Hawks or eagles can get chickens, ducks or baby goats or sheep. I once had chicken tractors with chicken wire on the sides and something ripped it like it was paper mache and killed chickens. Do your research before embarking on this journey.
It really helps if you have skills that can be used to make money to pay for the farm start up. Once it is going, you can spend more time farming and enjoying the fruits of your labors.
Wild Edible & Medicinal Plant classes, & DVDs
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Joined: Jul 14, 2010
Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
grow some garlic, you can buy seed in late summer/early fall from six circles farm (link in my signature). you can get 3 crops from the 'garleeks', scapes, and bulbs. try six circles 'Rosie's scape-a-moli' its fire and you could make it too.
Josh T-Hansen wrote:grow some garlic, you can buy seed in late summer/early fall from six circles farm (link in my signature). you can get 3 crops from the 'garleeks', scapes, and bulbs. try six circles 'Rosie's scape-a-moli' its fire and you could make it too.
How much can you make selling Garlic? Is it difficult? How much area do you need? This caught my eye.
Garlic does not need much space at all. 9 plants/sqft will handle most cultivars. The larger elephant garlic and racambole may use a bit more.
They enjoy rich, well drained soil, ample sunlight, and steady moisture. Garlic does not compete well with weeds, so mulching will give you an advantage.
Break apart a clove, put the pieces in the ground, point up/roots down. It will send out roots and its first leaf within a week if growing conditions are suitable. Ideally, garlic is planted in the late fall. The cold of winter is what causes the single clove to divide. If started in the early spring, you may end up with small bulbs with few cloves. Even these can be replanted in the fall. If you have not put them in yet, you can store them in the fridge for a couple of weeks to urge them to divide later.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
Joined: Jan 16, 2013
Location: Eastern Washington, 8 acres, h. zone 5b
Here's a different tack... Check to see if your local electric company is required to buy electricity. For less than $1k, you can be selling electricity to them and be on your way to grid-free electricity. Sometimes, it works to look at what you're planning on buying for yourself and incorporating the toys to make money or at least off-set their cost.
This Garlic Idea has me thinking more. I am going to live in a country area. I do not want to sell larger plants. But along with other stuff for income. If I can get three crops a year of Garlic and sell it at Farmers Market. Do people buy it? How much can you charge for it? Sells by the bag or how? Which is the best to grow?
Joined: Jun 21, 2012
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 stoney acidic sandy loam
Jeremiah wales wrote:This Garlic Idea has me thinking more. I am going to live in a country area. I do not want to sell larger plants. But along with other stuff for income. If I can get three crops a year of Garlic and sell it at Farmers Market. Do people buy it? How much can you charge for it? Sells by the bag or how? Which is the best to grow?
We have sold garlic off and on for years. Two years ago I was selling small bulbs for fifty cents a bulb at our local market and almost double that for braids with some dried oregano added. I usually braided up the smaller bulbs and grew soft neck for this. We are a small town/small markt and everyone's garlic sold out before the summer was over.The size of my bulbs vary from year to year because I tend to plant it in less fertile spots...it's one of the few things that deer here never eat. It's important to dig it when the soil is dry and cure correctly. I would recommend a book called "Growing Great Garlic" by Ron L. Engeland. I had been growing for twenty five years before I saw his book and still learned a lot from it.
Luffa is something easy to grow, has a decent market, stores well and has lots of opportunity for "value added". You can grow open pollinated varieties and save your seed and sell seed also. It's anothe crop the deer don't touch here.
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"Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder."
I agree on what is needed in the Market. I lived in California and at the Farmers Market there were 4-6 people selling Corn and Carrots. People would walk back and forth and compare prices. Then one guy at the market would just go out and buy stuff wholesale and sell it there at the Market. That way he could sell it cheaper and just get more the next week. On 2 acres I would want something usually Different than most other people had. Something that takes up a small beds to grow it in.
Talk about Different. One Guy out in Palm Desert would sell Worm Tea by the gallon at the farmers market. Soil needed a lot of help out there, so that was his product.
Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Location: Eastern Kansas
Have you chosen a market yet?
In a farmers market I can see selling short logs that are bearing shitake mushrooms, along with a pamphlet telling how to care for the log and how many flushes are common. But, I cannot imagine a grocery store touching something like that!
For a farmers market, I have seen honey, asparagus, blackberries, jelly, and flowers. How earlky does your farmers market start up? Can you sell daffodils or are they too early?
Joined: Dec 28, 2012
I see not much activity lately. Open Question. What do most of you think the best product would be to sell for a profit on a small amount of property. Something that would be fairly easy and has more than a fee week window to sell it fresh. Other than Pet Rocks!
Joined: Jun 21, 2012
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 stoney acidic sandy loam
Jeremiah wales wrote:I see not much activity lately. Open Question. What do most of you think the best product would be to sell for a profit on a small amount of property. Something that would be fairly easy and has more than a fee week window to sell it fresh. Other than Pet Rocks!
As others have said checking out the markets would be the first step. I would also go for some diversity even on a small lot. Nice soft neck braidable garlic...braided with a few cayenne and herbs will sell for a lot more than individual bulbs. and luffa...easy to grow most places, store well and make a nice item with handmade soap and a drawstring bag. I think if my space were limited I would go for things that could go the direction of "value added". Maybe go for a theme, so everything was gourmet cooking related including handcarved wooden spoons/homemade potholders/herb blends or bath related...the luffa sponge, handmade soap and bath salts/herbs/oils. Anyway I wouldn't try for any one thing, in my experience thats the crop that will fail that year or the deer will discover it or you can't get a good price for it because everybody has it at the farmers market.
Arkansas does not require a certified kitchen in order to sell baked goods at farmers mkts (and school and church bake sales). I don't think this is the case in every state. Homebaked breads and cookies are one of the best sellers at our local market.
I think anything really easy is probably already in the market. I'm not sure I could use "fairly easy" and "profit" in the same sentence!
Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Location: Eastern Kansas
The items that I know about either need care or they are ready when they are ready. Daffodils and asparagus and lilacs in the spring, bittersweet in the fall, and so forth.
I have never raised jeruselum artichokes so I do not know about them. However, unless you find a wholesaler who wants to handle them, I cannot imagine that you will sell enough of them to get you an amount of money that is interesting!