How to Start Farm from Scratch and Make Money

How to Start Farm from Scratch and Make Money

How to Start Farm from Scratch
How to Start Farm from Scratch

How to Start Farm from Scratch and Growing Vegetables for Make Money

so you want to start a farm from scratch and Make Money even though you work in a nine-to-five job. I have limited time and resources and have limited experience with both the production side as well as the business side apartment in this article I’m going to share the same seven-step process I have used to start My farm these steps allows me to make a comfortable living on a small farm .farming and showing new ways of how you can transition from your current job in career into making a good living on a small farm on this article we’re going to cover both the production side and the business side of farming as well as tips strategies and tutorials so if this is your first time here welcome. before I’m getting into the first step I would like to share that the seven-step process I’m about to share with you here is the approach that we used when we started our farm I’m sure there are many ways you can start a farm but following this exact process allowed us to identify exactly what crops to grow the estimated quantities and the actual ideal customers that were going to buy our crops all before we invested anything else than a little bit of our own time.

Step 1: Collecting Data and Research to Start Farm

Collecting Data and Research to Start Farm
Collecting Data and Research to Start Farm

and this step is all about doing your research before you start your farm before looking at all the different types of tools you’re going to need before preparing your farm for production training design for your farm and a crop plan and even before you start growing your crops like do your research start by first identifying who your ideal customers find out what they want how much they want to find out what they’re willing to pay for it what are you going to sell your crops at the local farmers market or to chefs or local stores or at the farm stand to have a clear idea of who you’re going to sell to and what you will grow for them is, in my opinion, one of the fundamentals when you get started too many people oppositely start this farm business and they start growing a bunch of stuff and try to get rid of it after they’ve started growing their initial crops usually they follow the advice somewhere in the lines of just grow the stuff you like to eat yourself and I have to say there is nothing wrong with that if you do it for fun or as a hobby but from a business perspective and if you want to make a living from doing this you’ve got to be a little bit more strategic about it you have to go out there and start talking to your potential customers wherever that’s possible go to your local farmers’ markets and look at what other farmers are growing look how much they’re growing up specific crops like what do they have at the beginning .of each day and what do they have at the end of the day look at their pricing their presentation their customer service and the types of customers they are serving and ask yourself like is the man higher than the supply or is the place separated do they sell imported produce only or strictly farm-grown produce having a basic understanding of the supply and demand in your area will allow you to start creating a plan of approach maybe there’s enough room for another vendor at the market you can target an underserved audience or maybe you can grow crops, other farmers. do not have for sale but there’s enough of a demand for that makes it worthwhile for you to grow also have a look at the local restaurant scene go out there and start talking to some chefs to see whether they would be interested in. working with local growers as then what types of crop they’re looking for throughout the growing season as then where they get the product from now and what they’re willing to pay for it how many times per week will they like that product to be delivered having a basic understanding of the demand in your area will allow you to grow towards that estimated demand and not the other way around the last thing you want is to be in a situation where you have an abundance of a crop where there’s no demand for this way you for sure end up with a very expensive gardening hobby having said

that the process to find out about the demand does not have to take you a very long time and it’s quite straightforward the way we went about it on our farm was simple we made a list with all the potential customers in our area within a certain radius of a farm that we were comfortable with to drive in delivering our products to we listed down farmers markets restaurants and local organic grocery stores and except for the farmer’s markets which we visited several times to get an idea of the traffic and produce being sold we contacted each individual potential customers to set up a meeting and to get to know their demands doing this beforehand will give

you a good idea of what types of Corruption potential customers are looking for from there you can then start creating crop profiles and start selecting the crops you’re going to grow the way we did this on a farm is we looked at the rough estimations after the demand of each crop once we had these estimates we then started estimating how profitable each crop would be in our area based on the yields days in the gardens and the inputs required to get the crop from seed to finished product from there we were able to see based on our rough estimations which crops would be the most profitable to grow in our area but also was in line with both the local demand and our financial goals so if I would have

followed the advice of start growing what you like to eat I would have ended up trying to grow 30 different types of crops and probably 50 different varieties within those crops that would have been way too much for me to handle at the beginning when you’re just starting I recommend you grow anywhere between 15 to 20 familiar crops that you know is a demand for in your area get good at growing and selling them then from Darren continue to grow the stuff that sells well and gets rid of the ones that don’t but most importantly verify the demand before you start growing.

Step 2: Design your Farm

Design your Farm
Design your Farm

design your farm this step is all about creating a basic design of your farm this is a must if you want to create a farm that is well organized and optimized for efficiency practicality and ultimately profitability I’ve spent quite some time working on other farms and it surprised me that many of these farms fail to organize their operations and create a basic design that takes into consideration the day-to-day work on the farm elements were placed out of context and discussed the farmers and the workers to leave valuable time in the process.having said that creating a farm

designed for a market garden is pretty straightforward. the first step in the design process of your farm is to create a basement sector map this map contains all the existing elements on your land like trees buildings fences and things like that but also outdoor forces like prevailing wind directions wildlife corridors potential thrust pockets Sun angle during different times of the year and the elevation of your land the way we did this on our farm was that we simply took the maps from our property from Google Maps we got ourselves a nice big piece of paper and we dreamed about Ridge after land including all the elements that were already present on our property now you can do all of this with software but I like doing this step the old-school way with a pencil and a paper that is not because I like pen and paper so much it’s got more to do with the fact that I don’t understand any of the software out there so to get hard drawing on scale we simply went outside to take the measurements with a long measure tape and remember the distaff does not have to be 100% accurate just make sure that you have the rough measurements you’ll be fine once we had this initial map with the boundaries and the fixed elements on it we needed to include the external forces our land is dealing with so things like the Sun angles wind directions elevation of the land average monthly temperatures and precipitation frost pockets potential wildfire areas areas and so forth taking all these things into consideration during the design process will allow you to create a resilient practical and efficient farm

for an example after evaluating your land and creating the design you might realize that there’s a huge wind tunnel effect on one part of your property that will cause potential problems with the crops you’re going to grow there knowing this you can now decide to include windbreak there so you can reduce the negative effect of the wind on your crops or after evaluating your property you might realize that the lower part of your property is prone to flooding knowing this you can decide to install a drainage system or you could maybe potentially create an irrigation pond on this location these are small observations to make it a big gaming of the establishment of your farm and it doesn’t have to take you long to do this but in the long run, doing this beforehand can and will have a large impact on the functionality of your farm then once you’ve created this first base and sector map it’s time to include some of the fixed elements you’re going to need to operate your farm chances are that there’s already some buildings on your property that could fulfil a function for the farm like barns and sheds if not you have to build it from the ground up on our farm we identified several key elements we needed for the market garden including a plant nursery for the growth of seedlings a greenhouse for heat-loving crops and season extension an irrigation system a tool shed post-harvest action fencing and permanent growing beds once we had identified the fixed elements we needed we use relative placement design to place the elements in such a way that minimizes food traffic and optimizes the day-to-day tasks on the farm since our property is small-scale and the buildings were already there when we arrived we simply converted these spaces into a toolshed and a flow starpha station but if this is not the case for you consider placing these elements centralized on your farm this will minimize the food traffic and will reduce the time walking back and forth another important element on our farm is our high tunnel as you can see the land reform on contains quite some trees so there was not much space left for us to put it elsewhere than on the north side of the property when placing a tunnel or greenhouse you can see the first what the function of it is done you want to optimize it for winter production or for summer production if you want to optimize it for winter production the best way to position your greenhouse will be from east to west this will increase the time the Sun shines in the greenhouse with a low winter Sun if your main goal is summer production place it from north to south this will allow the Sun to shine equal hours on both sides of the greenhouse as for the growing beds since we’re dealing with an old family style orchard here we had to pay extra attention to the placement of the beds since we wanted to create standardized beds as this will allow for much easier crop planning and materials like fleeces to be of the same length we have to do quite some puzzling next to that we wanted to make sure to take into consideration the way the water flows on our land if we put our raised beds on contour we are potentially creating water capturing systems refer to as swells and permaculture circles for the purpose of drawing annual vegetables in our temperate climate and with the soils we are working with I find it’s actually best to locate the bed slightly off contour this will allow the water to slow down but also have enough time to infiltrate into the soil whilst allowing excess water to run off when necessary as you can imagine these requirements in combination with the three systems we have to prescribe a bit of puzzling but in the end, we’ve been able to position the beds how we wanted them and it became a nice place to work and be in these are some of the basic principles we follow to design our small farm and this will give you a broad overview of how you can go about it on your farm then we go to

Step 3: Selecting a suitable Land for Cultivation

Selecting a suitable Land for Cultivation
Selecting a suitable Land for Cultivation

inthis step we’re going to create a basiccropland once you have your basic designready of your farm and you know roughlyhow many growing bed you will have youcan now establish a crop plan that willensure continued supply of crops duringthe growing season if this is the firsttime you’re going to create yourcropland it can become quiteoverwhelming at times so it’s best totake some quiet time when you’re wellrested so you can focus on the task athand the way we plan our crop productionis slightly different than other farmersbut the base principles are the same weneed to make sure that we grow enoughcrops that will allow us to reach ourfinancial goals so, therefore, we always start with afinancial target as our first step once we know how much money we need to make we can now start breaking this down into a production system that takes into consideration this goal but also the local demand in our with these criteria, we can now proceed to creating our cropland the way we dothis is we look at all the crops we are going to grow including the rough quantities we want to have for each crop

we then start writing down every single seedling we need to do to cover the weekly demand which goes as follows.

let’s say that after doing our market research we’ve identified that there’s an estimated demand of 90 bunches of radishes per week once we’ve estimated the demand we then need to look at when we can have the radishes available during the growth growing season using a crop availability list on our farm we can have our first crops of radishes available roughly around the 18th of March in our high tunnel if you don’t know when you can have your crops available in your area talk to some other local farmers and some avatar dinners or look at the recommended seeding times for each individual crops from local seed companies these can give you good estimations of when you can start planting your crops so if we can have radishes available on the 18th of March we need to know that days to maturity with other words how long it takes the crop from being seeded to harvest stage 4 radish this is on average 30 days but since were very early in the growing season I would add an additional 2 weeks to the average DTM in this case if we want the radish to be ready for the 18th of March we’ll subtract 44 days from this days to give us our first seeding date which in this case is February the 3rd once we add this date will include this into our crop planning spreadsheet after we’ve identified the date we now need to find out how much we need to grow of it so

this is where a crop datasheet will have to be used this sheet contains all the information you will need per individual crop to help you out during the crop planning stage to plant 2 beds of radishes to meet the demand this we include in our spreadsheet along with the dates this little exercise we then do for each individual crop we’ve decided to grow to ensure we can meet the demand from  our customers once we have this foundation of our cropland ready we combine all the crops and we create a planting plan out of it so we can make sure we have enough space to fit in all the plantings and to ensure the exact placements of each individual crop during the growing season whilst also taking into consideration basic crop rotation practices once we have the planting plan ready we take the dates of each individual planting whether it’s direct-seeded or

transplanted crops and we write all of this information down into our yearly calendar these are the basics of crop planning we do on our farm a great book that helped us a lot with the planning of our production is the Market Garden a Bahama 1040a we basically use the same framework explained in that book but adapted it towards our own context and needs 

 Step 4: Preparing Your Land for Cultivation

Preparing Your Land for Cultivation
Preparing Your Land for Cultivation

prepare your land for production when it comes to preparing your land for the first time you’ve got a couple of options chances are that when you first start out you’ll likely have to deal with quite some weeds and existing vegetation that you’d like to convert into a production area and the way you’re going to approach it is going to decide whether you’re going to be faced with lots of weeding or simple weed management practices down the road in general terms there are three main ways you can use along with some variations to convert a field of weeds into a production area option number one and probably one of the most familiar ways of preparing your growing area is called evading and tilling the soil with the tractor or walk-behind tractor just using this option as a stand-alone method is not recommended by tilling the soil and plowing it you will bring up the previously dormant stored weed seeds in the soil and create a perfect environment for the seeds to germinate I would personally use this approach only in certain circumstances and always in combination with some sort of coverage after the initial tillage to move towards a complete no-till system option number two is using a sailor start to kill off existing vegetation through a process called occultation and depending on the type of existing vegetation you’re dealing with this type will have

to be laid down anywhere between six to twelve months to be effective option number three uses the same principles of depriving the existing vegetation of sunlight but instead of covering up the ground with a dark a thick initial layer of compost is lay down on the surface of the soil without integrating it this process is called the low deck approach each one got its pros and cons and depending on how fast you need your land to be prepared your budget and your personal preference says you will have to decide which option you’re going to use on our farm we actually use the combination of option one and three before we arrived on this piece of land it hadn’t been touched much for over 20 years besides the occasional grazing of a small herd of sheep as you can imagine the weeds arrived waist high and since we needed to get the production going immediately

we didn’t have many options so we decided to do a one-time initial tillage and from there on work towards a complete no-till no big system now it is possible to prepare your land in a short timeframe but just putting down a four to six-inch layer of compost on the soil surface there were allow it to kill off the existing vegetation and will allow it to start growing immediately but if we would have gone that way we would have had to invest a large amount of money into this initial coverage with compost which was not something we were

confident with to do at the time so instead we opted to plow the land and got rid of most of the roots after it was plowed created the beds and applied a three to three-inch layer of compost on the beds without incorporating it into the soil we knew that with the initial tillage of the land in combination with just a thin layer of compost we were going to face quite some weeding and our expectations were definitely met with consistent weed management we’ve been able to get complete control over the area and it’s now an important part of our production

system it’s important to understand that when you initially prep your soil you want to achieve two things one you want to get rid of the weeds and two you want to balance the soil most of the soils we are working with contain all of the nutrients necessary for good vegetable growth but the missing link oftentimes is the soil organic matter and soil life this can quickly be corrected by bringing in lots of compost to start feeding the soil food web that in turn will start taking care of your crops once you’ve prepared your soil and balanced it becomes just a matter of keeping the soil fertility maintained by introducing organic matter each year

Step 5: Care and Maintenance of Crop Nursery

Care and Maintenance of Crop Nursery
Care and Maintenance of Crop Nursery

grow your crops from preparing your land we go over to grow new crops on our farm we grow crops in two different ways we start seedlings in the nursery which we then transplant out into the fields and we direct seed crops for each of the methods we follow a different approach the transplanted crops on our farm all get started in a dedicated nursery here we can tail it towards the needs of the small seedlings and allow them to grow into strong and healthy transplants for this process we use to say people nursery trace these trace come in many different sizes and dimensions to suit the needs of the specific crops that are grown in it we filled up the

trays with a high quality pre-made potting soil but before we fill them up we make sure to moist in the medium a bit we then fill them out compact it slightly seed it cover the seeds with a final layer of potting soil water it down and we’re done depending on the type of crop we are growing we either transplant these seedlings outside into their final location or in the case of crops like tomatoes we Pat them up into larger pots with fresh new potting soil and we grow them on several weeks longer till chances of Frost has passed and this time we make sure to harden off the transplants to prevent a transplanting shock and let them get used to the outdoor conditions just before we transplant them into their final location we make sure the

beds are prepared and are ready to receive the seedlings depending on the time of the year this means that we either broadfork the beds apply compost and mark out the space and you need it for the crops once we’ve transplanted the crop we ensure that they’re irrigated and kept moist until they’ve settled in and are taking off the no dig style beds on a farm really helps with the water holding capacity of the soil and keeps the whole area moist without having to irrigate as much the direct seeding we do on our farm takes up a lot less time for this process we use precision Cedars like the Jiang cedar in the six row cedar the six row cedar we used for our baby leaf crops like salad mixes at a very high density and the Jiang cedar for most of our other crops unlike with the six row cedar who needs near-perfect bed preparation the Jiang is not as picky as through the way you prepare your beds and does a good job of compacted in beds after seeding now every crop is different and different crops need different spacing for a full list of the crop spacing we used on our farm you can download our seven steps to making a living on a small farm guide for free and check out our crop spacing chart along with many other resources cedar is simple let’s say I’m sealing radish and I’m planting five rows in a bed I first planned the two outside rows then I passed one time exactly in the

middle and the remaining two rows I plant in the middle of those two rows it might take a little bit of practice in the beginning but it won’t be too hard to get the hang of it as for the six-row cedar we simply make two passes over the bed and we have planted a full bed then a quick write about the advantages of transplanted crops over direct-seeded crops on our farm we favorite growing transplanted crops growing transplants allows us to gain a considerable amount of time which in return allows us to increase our profitability significantly take a lettuce head, for example, the average days to maturity of this crop is roughly 60 days but this does not mean that the crop says 60 days outside in the garden instead we grow the lettuce seedlings for roughly 30 days in the nursery before we transplanted out into their final location for another 30 days before we harvest them

this means that within a 60 day period we can potentially harvest two crops of lettuce heads now take direct seeded crops like beet roots from which the days to maturity is roughly the same as a lettuce head 60 days in that 60 day time frame you will only have one crop of beet roots first in the two crops of lettuces besides the gain in time and production you will also planned to transplanted crops at the perfect spacing which means you will get more uniform harvest and potentially more crops out of the same space as opposed to direct seeded crops therefore on our farm we favour growing transplanted crops over direct seeded crops as soon as a bed is harvested we want to replant that bed as soon as we possibly can with plants that are already several weeks old this is a great way you can optimize your production system and increase the amount of crops you can produce but also the profits you can make on a small farm now obviously there are crops that don’t transplant well or at all and those will have to be direct seeded but in general this is a great way to increase your revenue per growing bed step six and then market and sell your crops once you’ve grown your crops it’s time to sell them to your customers if you find it step one in this tutorial you’ll notice that the marketing and selling aspect of your crops comes pretty naturally if you do your homework upfront and you do it correctly you virtually guarantee that you will sell your produce by the times your crops are ready since you already know what the estimated demands are with your potential customers by doing the initial market research the selling part becomes surprisingly simple though the way you market and sell your produce depends a lot on the type of customers you are serving take it see is a membership for example the bulk of the marketing of your CSA shares are done during the slow

Step 6: Selling your Products

           Selling your Products
Selling your Products

month of the year before the growing season starts usually this is in winter if you sell your produce on the farmers market the marketing and selling will be done on a weekly basis same goes for chefs and grocery stores but no matter what your market streams are promoting yourself and your farm are an important part in achieving success the way you present yourself the way you talk the promises you make are all important when it comes to marketing and selling and this all relates back to branding your message the values you stand for the story of your farm the name of the farm the people you serve and the people you don’t serve the way you present your produce the quality of your produce all these things combined are what makes up your farm brand and this can play a crucial role in the success of your farm the best way we can describe a brand is that the brand is the personality of your farm when doing business with other people whether you’re selling to someone at the local farmers market to restaurants or to grocery stores it is important that they know who they’re doing business with and why they’re doing business with you are you to go to farm for high quality locally grown freshly picked produce or do yourself eventually

lower quality products do you sell your products in compostable paper bags or do you sell it in plastic bags the customers you attract are directly related to the way you position yourself as a farm, for example, I’m a farm we have decided that we don’t want to sell any of our crops in plastic packaging that is a decision we have made and because of that decision we are limited in the types of customers we can serve as well as somewhat limited in the types of crops we grow but that is what we stand for and is something we don’t want to step away from because of that decision the main customers that we serve to share the same values and principles we have as farmers our crops are mainly sold to people that are aware of our current environmental situations and they play the part to try and make it better in a way that resonates the most with them now I want to be clear that when you start. you have to find a balance between your ideology and common sense if you are in an area where organic produce or locally grown produce is something that’s not as common and people are not used to it you might find it hard to get customers and it will take you quite some time to educate them, in that case, serve the existing customers and the local demand with familiar products and grow and educate your customers from there when done right a brand can hell but a lot with the success of your farm business it delivers your message which in turn can emotionally connect your customers to you and your product and it can create a strong customer loyalty so it’s worth it to take some time analyzing your market look at what your competitors are doing find out who your potential customers are and find ways to differentiate yourself and position yourself in your market

Step 7: Analyzing your Data

Analyzing your Data
Analyzing your Data

keep track of everything one of the most important steps if you want to achieve success with farming is to keep track of everything create basic spreadsheets for your farm whether it’s crop production related or sales related having basic spreadsheets for your farm is a must this was one of my biggest mistakes when I first started out I was pretty overwhelmed with all the things that had to be done on the farm that at the end of the day I neglected this crucial part it’s big mistake if you want to know how much you could get from a bed what input you have per bed what is seed compost labor or anything else you’ve got to keep records of it if you want to know that what you do is profitable efficient and even worth it I know it’s not the most interesting part of farming but it sure is really crucial for decision making and future planning of the farm take the time to sit down a couple of hours per week analyzing your data this will really help you get a better understanding of the functioning of your farm you might realize that the crop is not as profitable as you thought or you might realize that you can plant your crops a bit denser then you’ve been doing weather you need to know what you’ve actually sold throughout the growing season or the days to maturities of the crops you’ve grown over the years having recordings of all this data will allow you to continuously improve your farm each year.

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