More and more people are leaving the cities and buying small rural properties.
How do you make best use of a small holding? Can you actually make a living on 5 acres?
Here's a 5 acre farm plan to help them (and maybe YOU) manage a micro-farm to create a sustainable, profitable business.
To start, let's set some basic assumptions in place:
Assumption 1. The farm will be 'natural': We will use organic and sustainable methods to the degree feasible. If you live where you work, you don't want to introduce toxic substances into the environment.
Assumption 2. Integrated production of livestock and vegetable crops: Livestock animals are beneficial on a small farm, provided you raise them properly. This means raising them outdoors and not in confinement. And the livestock will add another valuable income stream to your micro-farm.
Assumption 3. This is a business, not a hobby: No business starts up without some idea of where customers will come from, or how much revenue is needed, or who will do the work needed on your 5 acre farm.
This means we need to think about planning, marketing, and management as well as production.
Your first step should be to build your Success Plan for your business
OK, with these basic assumptions in place, let's look at the plan.
Here are the pieces of your 5 acre farm:
Here's a list of the minimum basic equipment needed to efficiently manage your mini-farm:
Here's how it all goes together:
Let's assume you are following the Community Supported Agriculture model for your small farm. Here's a quick breakdown of the revenue possible from the above plan.
CAUTION: this is an example only, actual income will depend on your market, your model, and your skill as a grower. Expenses will probably go up as you add enterprises as well.
Total sales = $115,000
This is not the limit; you could add bedding plants for the spring, or a fall planting of garlic, or value-added products for the winter to the mix.
You could have laying hens in an 'egg-mobile' in the summer, and house them in the greenhouse in the winter. You could raise bunnies on pasture in movable rabbit pens, like Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm.
Lots of possibilities, limited only by your ability to manage.
If you are considering a move to the country and plan to buy a farm, this article has some information that can help you through the process. Read it here
So, what else do you need to consider when you buy a hobby farm?
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How do you choose which jobs and tasks to tackle on your small farm, and how do you get the work done? That is part of farm living.
A good farm plan does more than just aid decision-making and priority-setting. It should also inspire and motivate the farmer to pursue the goals that are important to her.
Farm risk management is important even to the small commercial grower. This article examines the types of risks that small farmers may be exposed to, and identify some risk avoidance and risk mitigation strategies to avoid serious harm to the farm.
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