The number of traditional farms is dropping fast. Land is expensive and can be hard to find. But what if you dream of making a living off of your land? Micro-farms are becoming popular sources of income. Here’s how to make money farming 5 acres of land or less.
A Way to Make Money on Small Acreage
Curtis Stone, also known as the Urban Farmer, believes you absolutely can make money farming 5 acres or less. On his website, he offers advice, classes, and video tutorials on how to do just that. He says you don’t even need to own the land you farm, you can lease or rent a little plot of land to start your very own micro-farm.
There are a few important things you’ll need for making money on your farm, in addition to the actual land itself.
You Need a Great Crop to Grow and Sell
If you’re going to farm for profit, you need a high-value crop to sell. For Curtis Stone, this is usually microgreens.
Microgreens take up very little space, have a high value, and a quick turnover since they grow quickly. But there are plenty of other choices, from salad greens to mushrooms, worm castings, meat chickens, and even snails.
You may want to ask around your community and do a little solid research before you get started so you can find out what people might need you to grow.
You Need Steady Customers to Buy Your Product
There are many different ways to find steady customers. As a grower, you might sell to gourmet restaurants, create or join a CSA, market to or employ friends and family, sell at a farmers’ markets, or even start a roadside vegetable stand.
Customers are key to growing your small farms business because, without them, you won’t earn any money. It helps if you are a warm, friendly person who is active in your community because you need to talk to everyone around you about your small farm.
Other Things to Think About
You may need packaging for your product, such as egg cartons. Or perhaps you need a place to store your product, such as coolers. You may need a vehicle to deliver your crops to your customers unless your customers are coming to you.
If you are raising animals or livestock, you’ll need to find ways to feed them, house them, and manage their manure.
You may also want to sit down and make a formal business plan so you have something to follow and track your progress. Business plans can be very useful for growers. It’ll give you a clear idea of your income stream, and helps you think about things like marketing, equipment, and the long term plan.
It might be tempting to quit your day job but unless you are independently wealthy, you’ll probably need to keep working while you get your small farm going. So just start small. Start a market garden in your existing garden first. Start selling the fruits of your existing trees before planting 5 acres. It’s easier to make a living when you use what you have!
Once you are making a small living, you can add more. Grow more food, add another market garden, add another kind of crop. Give it time, and don’t be intimidated by what others have done or are doing around you.
You’ll have more success if you start small and build until your farm is making money, rather than if you throw caution to the wind and go whole hog, so to speak.
Most Profitable Crops
Microgreens are a great crop to grow on a small farm because they take up little space, have a quick turnaround, and a high cash value. As far as produce farming goes, microgreens are very easy to grow and market. They look great displayed at farmers’ markets too!
Salad greens are easy to grow and have a fast turnover. Pound for pound, they are a high-value crop. Many people love salad greens and eat them regularly. They’re one of the easier vegetable crops to market.
One of the easiest, most profitable crops to grow is garlic, especially gourmet garlic.
If you plant just 50 pounds of garlic bulbs, you should be able to harvest between 400 and 500 pounds, according to Profitable Plants Digest. A great opportunity for a homestead income.
Worm Castings and Tea
Worm castings are basically worm manure. This is a high quality, all-natural fertilizer that gardeners love. You are, in effect, a worm grower!
You can easily start a worm farm in your basement or spare room with a few bins. A good worm farm is never smelly and worms don’t make any noise. You can feed them all your leftover food scraps and garden produce, so they’re excellent for recycling, too. Worm castings are a great way to make a living.
A market gardener is someone who grows crops on a farm, usually on a small scale. A market gardener can grow a variety of different fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. They then market them to the public or to commercial places like restaurants.
This type of garden is great for homesteading because you only need a tiny area. Market gardening is a lot of work, but it’s also very rewarding. Sales can be impressive from even the smallest garden.
Mushroom farming is a bit more complicated than other crops, but it can be done in a small space.
Mushrooms fetch great prices and you can grow them on a quarter acre or less, even in a barn! One of the best homesteading plants to grow. You don’t even need a garden! The truth is that you can even grow mushrooms without dirt, inside your home.
It might be tough to find a plant to grow in the woods, but if your 5 acres are wooded, you might try ginseng. Ginseng loves growing under hardwood trees. Not many people grow Ginseng plants, but it’s one of the more profitable specialty crops. Find more information at Mother Earth News.
Bamboo is growing in popularity, and if you live in a warmer climate, you can turn $60,000 a year in bamboo profits on just a quarter acre.
Bamboo doesn’t produce fruit as such, but you can sell bamboo shoots as food, and bamboo wood fetches a good price. Find out more about raising bamboo trees for a homesteading income.
Quail can make a great income on a five acre homestead. They take up very little space, have a great feed to egg conversion ratio, reproduce and grow quickly, and are not nearly as regulated as chickens. You can raise them for both meat and eggs.
Read more about the Best Animals for Homesteading and Small Farms.
Organic or pasture-raised broiler chickens can also turn a tidy profit on a homestead.
With a chicken tractor, you can move them around each day to offer them fresh grass. You can move them around the garden while they grow, to help you with weeding and keeping bugs down. Broiler chickens grow quickly, so you’ll be able to raise, butcher, and sell them fast.
How Much Do Farmers Make
It’s hard to say how much a newbie farmer can make from a 5 acre farm production. However, there are plenty of success stories to give you an idea of what is possible. Here are just a few.
The Urban Farmer
Curtis Stone says you can make $100,000 a year farming just ¼ of an acre of land. You don’t even have to live in the country – you can be a market gardener from your home, in your backyard, or an empty lot.
ESI Money talks about making a side hustle from your hobby farm as a market gardener. They claim that a commercial greenhouse that is 8 feet by 40 feet can produce up to $3700 each month, depending on what plants you grow and sell.
You can find more information on that, here.
The Rockstar Gardener
J.M. Fortier, the “Rockstar gardener” is known for his highly profitable plant micro-farm in Quebec, Canada.
He aims for $100,000 per acre with his market gardener small farm business. This is his website.
New Terra Farm
The owners of this little market gardener farm, known as New Terra Farm, brings in a cool $50,000 per acre. If you want to know how they did it, check this out.
PolyFace farms, created by Joel Salatin, is a firm believer in pastured poultry. They are known to bring in- $25,000 on 20 acres in 6 months. PolyFace farms uses many techniques to make the most of your small property. Find their stories here: https://www.polyfacefarms.com.
More Small Farm Income Ideas
Value-added products are products that can add some value to your bottom line. These are extras that you can make and market from the products you raise.
For example, if you raise goats for goat milk, you can turn extra milk into goat milk soap. Someone who isn’t interested in drinking goat milk might just be willing to purchase a little soap.
These are items that make great impulse buys for your regular customers. They’ll help you make even more money from your five acre farm and keep your customers coming back for more.
There are all kinds of crafts you can make from stuff you grow. Consider making wreaths from old grapevines, fresh flowers, or pinecones. Perhaps you sew and could make reusable shopping bags for your customers to take home their fresh produce each week.
Jams and Jellies
If you are good at canning, you might try turning extra cucumbers into pickles and extra fruit into jams and jellies. Getting the family involved is one of many ways to scale your production up and make an even better living.
Homemade Baked Goods
Homemade baked goods are easy to make and easy to sell. You might already have the equipment you need, or you won’t need to invest much to work this idea from home.
Perennials, Herbs, and Starts
Another great way to get sales is to share your extra vegetable seedlings (like tomatoes) in the spring, split off your perennials in the fall, and sell extra herbs when your herb garden gets too full. These types of plants are often easy to market – many people love buying seedlings to grow their own food.
Whether you raise chickens, quail, or turkeys, you can sell extra hatchlings for profit, especially in the spring. You can also sell fertilized hatching eggs which can be shipped to most areas of the United States.
Hatchlings don’t take up a big area of your land and they don’t need much food – one of the best ways to add livestock to your 5 acre land.
Find some additional ideas on how to create extra farm income in our article, “43 Lucrative Side Hustles for Homesteaders“.
What is the most profitable crop per acre?
To make a good living, it really helps to grow the most profitable crop per acre. Here are some of the most profitable crops per acre.
- Saffron. Modern Farmer states that Saffron is worth $5000 to $10000 per pound.
- Ginseng. See above. $300-$700 per pound.
- Truffles. Black truffles yield $95 per ounce and white truffles $168 per ounce.
- Bamboo. $60000 a year from a quarter acre.
How to Make Money Farming 5 Acres
Five acres may not sound like a lot of land, but many farmers have been successful at making a living on 1 acre and 2 acres, and even less land than that. It takes careful planning, creativity, and hard work, but it can be done.