By Guest Blogger Jen Mearns
When you think of farming, what comes to mind? Long hours, toiling in the field? Tractors and cow poo? That is what I used to think about. Farming is essential to our society, but that doesn’t mean it always has to come in the form of commercial agriculture. More and more hobby farms and urban farms are popping up in neighborhoods and suburbs all across the country. I’m here to tell you, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to provide supplemental income or food for your family. Additionally, there are a lot of ways to make money or save money with urban farming without needing a ton of land or start-up costs.
The great thing about gardening is that you can make it as simple or as intricate as you want. If you have an acre and can allot a quarter of it to a large backyard garden, you can grow produce to supplement your weekly groceries. On the other hand, if you want to have three tomato plants in pots on the deck, you can do that as well. As someone who has a dingy greenish-brown thumb, I try not to bite off more than I can chew in the garden. Last year we planted two tomato plants and two pepper plants and called it a day. This year, we’re going to try our hand at growing a few more things.
To make money from gardening you can:
- Sell produce at your local farmers market (or Craigslist)
- Sell cut flowers or bulbs
- Start seeds and sell the plants when they’ve grown
- Sell seeds
- Sell fresh or dried herbs
From chickens, pigs and goats to cattle and horses, there is no end to the animals you can have on a farm. For smaller farms with less acreage, cattle and horses might not be an option. However, chickens are fun and provide you with eggs or meat, depending on what you want from them. A small coop and area for them to scratch and peck are all you really need. There are a lot of resources out there to help you set up backyard chickens. I recommend checking Pinterest or Google and seeing what others are doing with space similar to yours.
For those who have an acre or more, goats are another easy animal for the urban farm. A smaller breed, like Nigerian Dwarf or Pygmy are wonderful for small areas. They need a fence and at least a three-sided shelter to keep them out of the wind and rain. We made ours out of pallets for a cheaper option. For a pen, goats need approximately 250 square feet per goat for roaming and browsing.
Because I never do anything in moderation, our operation has grown a lot in the past two years. From two starter goats to seven full grown goats and now seven additional babies (soon to be eight babies), we needed more pens and more shelters. Simply, having hobby goats to clear brush won’t set you back a ton of money. In order to make money, however, you’ll have to breed to get milk or sell babies.
To make money from animals you can:
- Sell eggs
- Sell animals
- Make soap, cheese, or other products from goat milk to sell
- Sell milk (typically only for animal use because of federal and state laws about selling raw milk)
These are just a few examples of ways to utilize your land. There are so many resources out there on permaculture, homesteading, urban farming and the like. You can bite off a small amount with a patio container garden, or go whole hog (pun intended) with a drove of pigs or a herd of goats. Farm options are limitless!
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