Say you’ve been homesteading, and you have gone from backyard chickens to goats or other small livestock. You have decided you like this farming thing. Now you want to take the next step and start to grow food that you can sell at a farm stand or market as a side gig or maybe even full-time. Here are five things to consider as you plan to expand your farm.
Owning Versus Renting
Renting land is very attractive because it is cheaper to get started and might feel much more accessible than trying to purchase land. However, a 2017 study suggests that farmers who own their own land are far more likely to make a profit than those who rent. So it may very well be worth spending some time saving or even looking for outside capital (this can be as simple as soliciting investment from family and friends) to be able to purchase your own land. At least then, you can fall back on your land in hard times, and you have an asset you can realise in an emergency.
Consider Improving the Land You Have
If you are starting small and already own a few acres, improving your own land rather than making a significant upfront investment can be a great way to get started. You can explore how viable your plans are without making such a big investment that will need to be paid off. Look at drainage issues on your property and if you need to add fertility to your soil. Hiring or purchasing a drone can be a great way to get an overview of your land.
Making Hiring Decisions
Even if you are starting small, you will probably need to hire help, especially at certain seasons of the year. There are several online options to search for farm or agricultural workers in the UK, such as farminguk. Wherever you are, make sure that your workers have appropriate legal status. Being able to refer potential hires to a reputable immigration lawyer can help both your prospective employees and you get all the documents in order.
Unless you are considering buying a large amount of land and starting a substantial business right away, you will be starting small. That means that you will need to charge higher prices for your products than big agribusinesses. And if you fell in love with farming in your own backyard, you are probably pretty invested in sustainable practices, anyway. The market for sustainably produced goods and sustainably produced meat and dairy continues to grow and supports higher price points. So it will behove you to be a bit boutique, at least at first.
Standard operating procedures are a great idea, regardless of how big or small your farm is. As you grow, it is essential to establish these practices whenever you start something new. Having a standardised way of doing things will allow you to develop contingency plans, delegate tasks, remember important details, and implement best practices.
*This is a collaborative post