How to Farm on 25 acres, or 5 acres, or even less than 1 acre
If you want to learn how to farm, but are just starting out, you need to begin in a logical way. By that I mean start with the enterprises most likely to succeed on your small farm.
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We were in that same position a few years ago. We tried a bunch of things to make money. Here's what we had to work with when figuring out a list of possible start-up enterprises:
- Had to be low start-up cost. We did not have a million bucks (hah!) to invest in equipment, or buildings, or livestock. So this ruled out things like dairy cows and grain farming.
- We needed a quick turnaround for our investment. We needed to make money NOW, or at least in the same season we started. This ruled out tree fruit, small fruit (even strawberries produce only the second year), and Christmas trees. It also rules out starting with breeding stock.
- We couldn't afford too steep a learning curve. We did not want to spend a decade or so learning the business before we got started (remember that part about needing money NOW.)
Need to create some additional income on your small farm?
WOW, is there anything left?
Fortunately, there are still a few things that meet the requirements (whew!). Here's what we suggest you learn to farm first (not necessarily in this order):
Start a market garden.
The start-up cost for this farm business can be very low, if you start smart. For example, we got paid in advance from our market garden customers.
This let us start up our market garden business with only $300 out of our own pocket (and I put that on my credit card!)
This is a business that is scalable; you can start small, perhaps by feeding yourself and a few neighbour/customers. Then as your skills and confidence grow, you can expand to the limits of your property (and your ambition).
Market gardening makes you money the same season you start, and does not require a lot of start-up capital or equipment. And if you can't sell it (this WON'T HAPPEN if you read the link below), you can always eat it!
Get Your Free Market Gardening Start-Up Guide
Raising chickens for meat
This one is a great starter farm business, and the whole family can help out. Kids can get involved looking after the little chicks; the little yellow fuzzballs are pretty cute.
Meat birds provide a quick turnaround; if you are raising them on pasture (of course), using organic feed (naturally!) they can be ready for the freezer in 10-12 weeks. And if you manage your flock well, controlling losses, you can just about double your money in a season.
Find out more about
how to raise chickens here.
Raising pigs on pasture
Raising pastured pork is a great complementary business for your small farm. Pasture-raised organic pork is delicious and much healthier than the 'factory-farmed' variety. Plus, the pigs can be used to 'root up' and prepare your garden area for you. You can
Learn more about Raising Pigs here
Got questions to ask or comments to make about farming?
The Organic Market Gardening Forum
The Raising Meat Chickens Forum
3 small farm businesses in one: An organic market garden, pigs on pasture, and raising meat chickens are three businesses that work well together on a small farm. Get all the above books and save with the complete
Start Farming Pack
Why my small farm needed a website (hint: I needed more income, and a way to retire.) Here's why your farm needs a website, too
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