I have been given 2 acres on a farm to do my best with. I will be able to attend the farm every 2 months or so but may be up to 6 months between visits. Therefore a perennial system is planned, with dry ingredients being produced to extend the sale period.
Given these conditions I am trying to work out a viable business for the 2 acres that could be harvested irregularly.
A couple of ideas that I have been considering.
Grow Tansy, Comfrey, Borage, Yarrow, Clover, Tagaste etc - Turn this into compost by placing it in a storage system with some worms. - Turn it into compost tea (Dry ingredients and wet ingredients) - Dry in a tea bag - Wet decanted from a bubbler.
Grow Basil, Ginger, Star Anise, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Chillies (Paprika, Cayenne), Chives, Garlic, Onions, Mustard, Cumin, Coriander, Lemon Trees, Lime Trees, Orange Trees, Olive Trees, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Sunflowers. - Turn this into flavoured oils (Would start by externally sourcing oil) - Turn this into meat rubs (Would externally source salt / sugar)
I have multiple sales avenues that I can follow. - Sell in the local town at the butchers - Sell at farmers markets in the city - Sell at my place of work - Sell online - Family / Friends
Okay my question is who will be minding the farm and tending the plants for the 2-6 months you will not be visiting the place? Despite for the most part being able to make plantings that tend themselves as it were anyone farming anything needs to keep an fairly close eye on it in case of unexpected things happening. Personally I would minimally check in once a week. The simple fact is for some plants if you plant it then come back in 2 months you may be catching harvest time (say 60 days) but if a herd of wild pigs came through and wiped out your initial planting when you come back after the 2 months there is no crop and you are too late in the season to replant. You need to either personally check your crops often or have someone you trust who knows about what you have planted do it for you.
Your ideas are basically sound however given the possibility you will be away from the land for months at a time I would suggest you consider going heavy on the trees. Things such as apples or pecans need little in the way of care from people and will grow or not regardless of us being there to monitor them (or whatever grows well with minimal care in your area keeping in mind while citrus may grow with 0 care a cold snap requires you cover and even add supplemental heat). Another advantage to crops from trees is you can plan a harvest and know say on a certain weekend (or week) you will be harvesting and selling apples, pecans or whatever.
The problem you are facing and will have to decide how to balance it out to suit you is the size of the property does not lend itself to a large profitable orchard while the amount of time you have to spend farming is such other crops might be problematic.
Absentee farming would be problematic, except for a few plants. Your first idea (comfrey, tansy, etc) might work since they are often looked upon as invasive weeds. However, you are essentially just growing "compost", which is not a huge ca$h crop. While farming often entails long periods of little/no activity, being absent for 2-6 months at a time leads me to believe that you will end up with little/nothing to sell. Growing plants is kind of like raising children...it takes a commitment of time...when they need it, not when you can get around to it.
I understand your reservations but this is something that I am going to attempt, something that I believe can be done, something that will be hard to do. But unless I attempt it how would I ever know if it will work.
I can't tend to the site any more often than stated as I live 3 1/2 hours away. These 2 acres are on the edge of a 46 acre farm so the owner of that farm will be able to keep an eye on it but I would rather not have to rely on this. I have been given the 2 acres as I have shown as interest in getting something set up. If it's not viable I will turn down the land but I would rather give it a go.
This will set the ground work for both the 2 acres to extend across the 46 as well as to be the basis of a new farm set up closer to my location that will be tended more often.
Here we go I'll restate the question. What would you plant if you were only able to attend the farm every 2-6 months that would provide the greatest return for your time and investment?
Yes you can grow apples but what would you do with them (Cider, Apple Sauce, Chutneys, ...)? This is about adding value to something that anyone can grow.
I can see compost being a good cash crop when sold into the city. Compost teas, worm castings, raw compost, this is not about selling wholesale its about selling retail and adding as much value as possible. Due to the fact it would be extremely high in nutrients it could be sold as a additive rather than a bulker and therefore have a little more value. Similar to selling Preparation 500.
I agree some of the plants may be problematic to grow from day 1 such as basil, peppers etc (however setting up the right eco system I would hope these to be able to be volunteer plants season after season after a couple of years) but the perennial plantings should still be there when I get around to the harvest.
So what can I do and how can I do it?
Providing information to create urban edible gardens. www.urbanedibles.com.au
Danger, 10,000 volts, very electric .... tiny ad:
Pre-order Certified Garden Master course - LIVE Stream