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How would you make $500 a month on 1 acre?

 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2222
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Many great ideas already presented here. I believe the "secret" is to find the right combination for your own situation.

Didn't notice bartering mentioned much. Honey is excellent for that. I also give the wax away to creative folks in exchange for candles, soaps, lotions, artwork, etc. Be aware that I'm just using honey as an example. Getting into bees simply to make a profit will most likely result in failure. Do it because you love them & then you have a chance in the long run.
 
Posts: 35
Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada Zone 5b
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Pamela Smith wrote:
Here in Canada if we get farm status, for us this is simply selling product from our land every year of 2500.00 gross.



Just to add - these limits are set provincially. I envy your $2500 limit - here in Ontario, we need $7000 in gross revenue to get a farm number. Of course, that would instantly save us ~$2k in property tax per year.
 
Posts: 103
Location: BC Canada Zone 5&6
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Mike Barkley wrote:Many great ideas already presented here. I believe the "secret" is to find the right combination for your own situation.

Didn't notice bartering mentioned much. Honey is excellent for that. I also give the wax away to creative folks in exchange for candles, soaps, lotions, artwork, etc. Be aware that I'm just using honey as an example. Getting into bees simply to make a profit will most likely result in failure. Do it because you love them & then you have a chance in the long run.



For me, bartering is a given. One needs to first find the right products for oneself to grow/raise/do and then once something is going one then has a product for bartering. This is also where a community comes in, a community can be your local neighbours. Get to know your neighbours and see if what they have is what you need and vice verse. It could be another source to determine and get started on what to grow/raise/do.

I agree with the byproduct of bees. Love to have you as a neighbour, Mike :-)
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 2222
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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See? I rest my case.
 
Posts: 852
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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My experience with making money with agriculture and/or crafts is that it's seasonal.  I had to work from December through June before I got paid a cent.   Most food plants only grow in about 6 months out of the year.  Fruit trees can take 6-7 years before they really produce, and they only give fruit for 4-6 weeks, if you can keep the birds and critters off of them.   I sold blackberries and blueberries, made jam out of them, and it was amazing how many people said they didn't eat jam because of the "sugar".  Well, I didn't make it with sugar, but I couldn't convince them of that.

Getting a slot in a farmers' market is hard, because there's usually a waiting list, and they want something that isn't already selling there.  It, too, is seasonal, and uses up every weekend, which makes families very upset.

If you wanted to try meat or dairy products, or eggs -- fresh eggs are in demand, there are legal requirements, certifications and inspections, sometimes a $30,000 commercial kitchen needed to make food.  Once the skin of fruits and vegetables is broken, all the rules change.

If you do research, find out what isn't already being sold in your area but is in demand every single week, because you'll need customers to come back and buy your product again and again, and write up a business plan that holds water, then that is what might....might work.  It took me a good 4 years to build a customer base.



 
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Hi,

Though this post is now a bit old, perhaps there are some who still run into it, as it applies today as much as it did when Pamela first posted the question.  In the time between then and now, there have been a number of developments in terms of what type of income someone can make off their land, or while living in rural/off-grid environments.  There are some good beginning suggestions on making money while living off grid, and perhaps provides some inspiration and ideas.  That said, it is important to note that you largely get out of it what you put into it, with regard to the use of land, or your skills.  Hard work, dedication and commitment are the key - and never give up, as tenacity is the key to success when finding income solutions from rural living, land use, or other off-grid living scenarios.
 
pollinator
Posts: 96
Location: Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (7b)
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Curtis Stone - The Urban Farmer managed to create multiple market gardens in Kelowna, BC by renting and borrowing people's lawns. Using very small pieces of land and intensive methods, he has identified high-demand/low-input crops for sale throughout town. I used to see him and his helpers riding their bikes with trailers around town with bins full of fresh produce. I believe he makes most of his money through Farmer's Markets and restaurant sales.

That being said, in his book he even outlines different business plans which could probably provide some good inspiration and information!


PS: It's almost been a year since you posted; any updates for us?
 
Posts: 71
Location: Southside of Virginia
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The best place to start is to fully grasp the concept of  "A penny saved is a penny earned."  Become an avid tightwad, which includes producing a significant amount of the food you eat. Once you are producing and "putting up" your own food supply, then sell the extra. To get an idea of the market "up the valley" check Craigslist often; watch the supply/demand rhythm. My business plan calls for a specific product/service to be earmarked for specific purposes, like property taxes, power bill, or farm insurance. Just some ideas...
 
pollinator
Posts: 399
Location: Monticello Florida zone 8a
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How's it going?
 
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just a thought for you out of my memory of visiting a little farm that had a decent size greenhouse maybe 80-100' long high tunnel, not sure exactly how they started but probably something like a Home Depot came to the area and put a huge dent in their flower and potted vegetable sales, they stared growing hydroponic basil with  a recirculating water setup. well turns out basil is very popular and easy to grow year round, they had continued success selling basil and it expanded to what is probably still going on the sole provider of organic basil to a chain of grocery stores.
great progress has been made in hydroponic techniques since what I saw them doing 30 years ago.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1715
Location: Denmark 57N
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$500 a month is very doable we did almost exactly that with 1/2 acre under veg and just a roadside stand in the first year we moved to this property. of course that was not $500 per month 12 months of the year but it did work out as 500 per month over the year.
 
Posts: 67
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Miranda Converse wrote:Hatching chicks out is a super easy way to make some income. You could potentially make the $500 (or more) by selling chicks, although I wouldn't rely on it as your only source of income because demand fluctuates throughout the different seasons. If you are good with your marketing and managing your money, the good months would balance with the bad months and you could easily average $500 a month.

Just some rough math:
With 15 laying hens (in their prime), lets say you average 10 eggs a day.
10 eggs/day=300 eggs/month
Take away personal use eggs~200 eggs to go into the incubator
With a (modest) 75% hatch rate=150 chicks
Sell each chick straight run for $3=$450
If you go with a higher-demand breed, sell each for $5=750

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, I could go into more detail and give some tips on getting started.


I'm definitely interested in this possibility. If you have the time, would you elaborate? Sell them just-hatched or older? Fertilized eggs? How hard are they to market? Special equipment (other than incupators, of course)? Organic feed? What else? TIA
 
Carmen Rose
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Steve Farmer wrote:Can you plant ten tree seeds or cuttings each day?
Could four of the ten survive to 3 months old?
Could each small tree be worth $4.50 after 3 months?

Could you market on facebook, craigslist and other free sites to sell 4 trees each day?
Could you get started in pots or borrow space in a friend's garden until you have built up a stock and tested the market.

Could you plant twice as many and let half grow to 6 mths old so by end of year you are selling larger trees too?




My new property is in a reduced tax bracket because it's considered forest and is designated for producing timber. So now I have to get it reforested (because much of the previous planting didn't survive). They only sell the trees in increments of 200 and I'm required to put in 2213 trees. Hence, I have 187 extra trees. After seeing Walmart selling 2 foot tall live douglas fir for $40 I got to thinking that I should put those in pots instead of the ground. Come next Christmas I can take them to craft fairs and sell them for $20 and make a handsome profit. I'm guessing it would take 2 or 3 years to get there and if I replace them every time I sell them I'd soon have a variety of sizes and varieties.  
 
Carmen Rose
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THREE THINGS -


First, let me tell you a story I read once. Someone bought this seemingly useless piece of land. It was hilly and so rocky it wasn't even suitable for raising animals. It appeared to be absolutely useless. The author's point was that everything has its own value. We just have to find it. The one thing this piece of land did have was great artesian water. What do you think the owner did with it? Have you heard of Olympia beer?

Secondly, along those lines, I lived in a place where sugar pine grew easily. In fact, the infernal things left 10" - 12" needles all over the ground whenever the wind blew! The local Native Americans made the most beautiful, sturdy baskets out of them so I started listing them on ebay at 1$ per ounce. Of course, I didn't just rake them up and stuff them in a box. I collected them, laid them nice and straight
(USPO shoe-sized boxes are perfect) and included nicely written up instructions. I wasn't in that area for very long but sold $100 worth of needles within a few months. Amazing! Look for your land's unique assets. My new land has literally tons and tons of smooth river rocks. Any suggestions how to use them profitably?

My third comment is that there are 2 ways to 'earn' money. One is to earn cash and pay a significant proportion of it in taxes. The other way, which someone else in this thread mentioned in passing, is to save money. So, when all is said and done, a dollar saved is worth considerably more than a dollar earned in a traditional sense because you don't have to pay taxes on it (or transportation to it, etc., etc.). And if you save enough dollars instead of earning them in the traditional sense, you may find yourself in a lower tax bracket while still maintaining the same standard of living. Win - win!
 
pollinator
Posts: 170
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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I agree with everyone suggesting "saving money" as opposed to "earning money". Or a combination, obviously. But saving isn't nearly as appealing as earning so I have always looked at cost-cutting as a type of revenue. In my days in business, I got hooked on cost-cutting mainly because we really only had one client and their yearly budget was out of our hands to influence. That left our own overhead as the only area where we could affect our profits. Our first serious effort involved about $20,000 in investment that was paid back in saved expenses in just over a year. After that, we essentially "earned" about that much every year from that equipment. Then the fun began as we scoured our expenses finding big or small expenses that could be tamed or eliminated. Seeing the savings as profit really does make a psychological difference. The biggest upside that can't be beat is that you have a captive market, in that you are on good terms with the customer (you), and you don't need to do any marketing or bill collection.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 186
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
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I know this original thread is old, but it seems to be catching momentum. I thought I'd offer my idea too:

A friend of mine's husband is the executive chef at a swanky dinner club. He tries to locally source as much food as he can. From local honey, blueberries, microgreens, and ostrich eggs! If you have any businesses like that in your area, perhaps call them to see what it is in demand with their clientele?

Also, I didn't see a "You Pick" farm mentioned. Around here, many little farms offer quick growing produce (strawberries, watermelons, pumpkins, etc.) for people to come by and pick for themselves. They even host school field trips. (I admit the hermit in me doesn't want a bunch of crazy hooligan strangers stompin' up my land, but if I could find a way to partition off the areas where they had access to, I'd consider it.)

If the "you pick" farm goes well, maybe add it some faster growing perennials like blueberries. Graduate up to peaches, pecans, etc. (I'm from Georgia, so I'm thinking about my local produce here.)
 
Posts: 84
Location: Upstate New York
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I didn't see this idea mentioned here--hopefully I didn't simply overlook it:

Build a few cold frames or a small greenhouse with free discarded windows or sliding glass doors.
Get some shallow trays (maybe cookie sheets from the thrift store or buy "1020" seed sprouting trays if you have the capital).
Add a layer of clean sand (this can be re-used from crop to crop).
Seed the sand, then water with weak compost tea.

In spring you can sell seed starts bare-rooted & wrapped in some damp newspaper. The seedlings slip right out of the sand with no stress or damage. If the buyer plants them right away there will be no problem. Saves you the hassle of finding zillions of little pots and filling them with soil.

In the other months, you can buy microgreens seed by the pound for cheap. If you live where there are hard or long winters, people will pay a lot to have a fresh green salad of locally grown, organic baby greens.

Spread seed densely over sand, sprinkle a thin layer of sand to cover.
Water with weak compost tea.
Let them get 2-3 inches high, then slip them out of the sand and bag them for sale, no washing necessary. They sell for between $25 and $40 per pound. If you buy sprouting trays you can get about 12 oz, conservatively, per 1020 tray per week--or 2 weeks depending on the variety and how big you want them to get.
So, if each tray produces 12 oz at $25/lb, you'd have to grow 26 trays to gross $500 per month, or 13 trays per week. Make it 20 trays per week to cover expenses.
You can do this in almost any climate in a greenhouse. If you have cold frames or a small greenhouse you can build a rack out of scrap lumber and stack trays to save space. They don't really need much sunlight until they are well-sprouted. Spreading them out to green up before bagging is an issue I'll leave for the reader to sort out.
 
Posts: 38
Location: Kitsap County, Washington, USA
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I might as well throw my own idea in:

If it was me, I'd plant willow as a hedge, coppice/pollard them, and not only weave a few baskets, but also make garden trellises, hurdles, screens, and tall, free-standing supports. Where I live, there's a market for unique garden decor in natural materials, and if I can tap into the more affluent end of that market, making $500 wouldn't be difficult at all. If I had more acreage and could grow more trees, and more types of trees for coppicing, I could eventually produce enough large-diameter poles to start building garden furniture as well.

Another thing that might do well are floral/herbal wreaths made from materials that are still attractive as they dry.

And if you have fruit, making specialty vinegars could be a very profitable way to bring it to market. When I lived in a house that had an ancient apple tree in the backyard, I used its crummy little fruits to make apple cider vinegar (as well as hard apple cider). The fruit was inedible, and not even good for cooking, but the vinegar it made was great. I gave a lot of it away; it was a very popular Christmas gift.
 
Posts: 151
Location: So Cal - Inland Empire
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After reading nearly every post in this thread I have a few bits to respond with:

Raven- I had to look up "pulses". When I found what it was I remembered my brother in the UK had used the term once before! I think of them as "legumes" as an overall term here in the US. And according to the quick notes I made as I read, you also mentioned that seeds don't go bad or something similar. But seeds to have a shelf-life, and not one that runs across the entire spectrum of possibilities. Suzanne Ashworth's book "Seed to Seed" gives the information on how many years a particular seed will last with what percentage of sprouting rates. Some are only a year or two, others last as many as 5 years before the sprouting rates decline drastically. Having this knowledge would help if one wanted to sell seed as an income. Also in this book, what I learned after the fact, is what crops will cross readily with each other, and how to prevent that. For me is was the pepo varieties of the squash tribe. I had planted a pale patty pan right beside a green zucchini, saved one zucchini for seed, and got mostly white zucchini from those saved seeds! OOPS! It was a learning experience for sure.

Should one desire to raise rabbits for meat, whether to create an income or just to stock your own freezer, there is an added benefit to factor in; only rabbit manure can be used fresh and "hot" in the garden without worry of burning your crops. Manure only, not the urine. When I had rabbits, I did exactly this, using the manure in my beds, raised and conventionally flat on the ground.

How would one go about "checking the markets" for anything one might produce? Maybe call some restaurants and ask if they are looking for this or that? Walking the local farmers markets to see what ISN'T there that you might grow or make? Asking everyone you meet what thing they are searching for locally that you could grow or make?

And the one gentleman in Greece: Eating Goldfish? I read that it can be done, IF you can stomach the things they have been eating, cuz that is what they will taste like! I looked it up because I had 5 big, I mean really big, goldfish from a small pond (approx 400 gallons) that I was planning on closing down to turn into my first hugelkultur bed. Those fish went into the hugel once I had (chuckles) fished them out! Maybe I might have fed them to my dogs, but I wasn't up for the work to do so! And the trees around that hugel bed will benefit from their contribution; they went in first!

As I too will be looking for ways to "make money" from the homestead once I get there (hills above Huntington, WV), I'm currently leaning towards fibers; flax, nettle, silk, goat and alpaca! So much to learn, so little time in the day!
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