A Money-Making Plan For A Quarter Acre Farm

It's no secret that I believe the future of food lies with small family farms. But how small can a farm be and still produce income? With that question in mind, here's my plan for a quarter acre farm.

The centerpiece of the farm will of course be an organic Bootstrap Market Garden The Bootstrap approach gives you a guaranteed cash flow; essentially all your produce is sold before it is grown. Your Bootstrap Market Garden will occupy half of your quarter acre farm, or 5,000 square feet.

The next component of your quarter-acre farm is pastured poultry

Feeding time for our pastured poultry flock

You will be raising 75 meat chickens on the other half of your quarter acre farm.

The meat chickens will be followed in rotation by pigs on pasture

Suzie feeding the piggies

You will raise 4 pigs using electric mesh fencing and a portable hut for shelter.

Rotating pigs and chickens through your growing area will help maintain soil fertility and control bugs and weeds.

The final component of your quarter acre farm is a small greenhouse

The latest small greenhouse we built - The Cattle Panel Palace

The greenhouse (really a high poly tunnel) will produce early and late direct-seeded crops, transplants for your garden, and also bedding plants for sale.

That's the pieces of your mini-farm, now lets put it together.

Managing your quarter acre farm

You will start seeds indoors early in the year, using grow lights. We built simple and cheap plant stands using 2 x 2 limber and florescent shop lights.

Each stand cost us about $120 including the lights, and could hold 16 trays of plants at a time. You will probably need 2 of these for your own transplants and to start bedding plants.

Your poly tunnel can be tilled up as soon as the ground can be worked; last season, I tilled our greenhouse at the end of February; the first direct-seeded crops went in the ground the first week of March. There was still snow on the ground outside, as you can see in the picture.

When things warmed up a bit, I moved transplants and bedding plants out to the poly tunnel to grow them up some more until planting or sale. I put the trays along the side walls and in the paths of the poly tunnel

Now let's look at the outdoor garden. For ease of management, let's divide your market garden area into 100 beds each 50 square feet in size. In practice, this might consist of 32-inch wide beds with a 16" path between. The growing area of each bed would be 12 feet long with a 1-foot path at the end.

Here's an idea of what a bed this size will grow:

  • 25 cabbage or broccoli

  • 40 lbs of carrots or beets

  • 50 lettuces or bok choy

  • 6 tomato plants in cages

  • 25 peppers

  • 100 bean plants

4 beds would make up a 50-foot length; this could be irrigated with a single drip hose.

Here's a starting point for planning the quantities to grow, assuming you start with 100 beds:

  • Vining crops (cukes, summer squash) – 20 beds

  • Tomatoes (cherry and slicing types) – 15 beds

  • Carrots, turnip, beets – 10 beds

  • The cole crops (broccoli, cabbage) – 10 beds

  • Lettuce and salad greens – 10 beds

  • Potatoes (fingerling or specialty) - 10 beds

  • Peppers (sweet and hot) – 10 beds

  • Onions (bunching and sweet) -5 beds

  • Snap beans – 5 beds

  • Annual herbs – 5 beds

Of course, most beds can produce more than one crop i.e when when one crop is finished another can be planted.

Wrangling the livestock on your quarter acre farm

Your meat chickens are housed in a Movable Coop and protected by electric mesh fencing. The 75 chickens and their portable pen will move 3 or 4 times until they are ready for the freezer.

The pigs are also contained by electromesh fence. They will move 4 or 5 times before they reach slaughter weight. Since the portable electric mesh pen is about 1,600 square feet,This means they will move into the garden area on their last move or two.

This will happen late in the fall; the secret here is to move the piggies into an area of the garden you have already finished harvesting. This takes some planning, but its what we do every year to clean up our fall garden

Income from your quarter-acre farm

in 2006, our first market garden was about the size I've described here; our sales from it were $8,900 dollars to 16 CSA customers.

I sold my organic free-range meat chickens for $4.00/lb. They usually average about 5 lbs, so gross sales for 75 birds would be about $1,500.

I sold my piggies for $4.50/lbs when sold by the whole or half-carcass. This results in gross sales of about $1800. And last season, my bedding plant sales amounted to about $1,500.

So the total from all that is $13,700; this would make a pretty good 'part-time job' for someone who wanted to work on their farm, perhaps while her partner worked off-farm. This size of enterprise is manageable by one person, using mainly hand tools, although you might need some part-time help on harvest days.

Net income from this quarter acre farm could be as high as $10,000, depending on how good you are at 'scrounging' the necessary equipment and materials, and how much of the work you do yourself.

This is not the upper limit of possible income by the way; in future seasons you could add bee hives, fall-planted garlic, small fruit or even a mini-orchard. Then you have the possibility of value-added farm products as well - e.g. I have a friend that makes his own honey-garlic sauce.

Of course, you have to take these estimates with a dose of common sense; there is no guarantee your quarter acre farm will achieve this your first year. I have been gardening and raising pigs and chickens for a number of years, and there is a 'learning curve'. Spend some time researching and planning before you launch an enterprise like this.

Free Market Gardening Start-up Guide

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

A fellow grower lost out on $5,000 in her first season because of one simple mistake. Get your FREE Market Garden Starter Guide and avoid this costly error.

Imagine building a profitable and sustainable market garden  even on a small property.

Enter your email address and your free report will be sent to you right away. 

More like Quarter Acre Farm . . .

Best Value Book Bundles from New Terra Farm

14 separate valuable farming resources in this Best Value Bundle

If you are a new or soon-to-be farmer or market gardener, check out my Best Value Farm Book Bundle (and save over 50%).

Especially for the new or soon-to-be homesteader

If you are new to your homestead or soon will be my Best Value Homestead Book Bundle is for you (if you want to save a bundle)!

  1. Home Page
  2. Micro Farming for Profit
  3. Quarter Acre Farm
Found something useful on this page? click here to Pay It Forward

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Recent Articles

  1. New Terra Farm market gardening book shows you success step-by-step

    Sep 11, 21 10:14 AM

    Start-up, market and manage a successful organic market garden with my Bootstrap Market Gardening Book

    Read More

  2. Small farm coach help from New Terra Farm

    Sep 08, 21 08:07 AM

    Like some guidance getting your new farm started? Get the advice you need from the New Terra Farm small farm coach

    Read More

  3. A 5 acre farm plan for the small property owner

    Apr 20, 21 04:11 PM

    You can have a profitable, sustainable business even on a 5 acre farm. Here's how , , ,

    Read More