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Author Topic: farm entrepeneurs and dreamers?  (Read 3485 times)
BjornBee
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« on: January 07, 2009, 08:07:46 AM »

I have about 6 acres that is doing nothing. It once was pasture. I have played around for a couple years the idea of doing something with it. Christmas trees, blueberries, pumpkins, worm farming, renting it out, and many other things have been considered.

I'm not against hard work, or the patience needed in making something work. I see herb farms, farms that do one thing or another, but specialize in a product or two. I have seen farms that grow nothing but horseradish, to lavender, to cut flowers. And I understand that it may of taken years for them to develop a market and get to where they are today. And who knows, maybe they make no money.

I know many of these operations started somewhere, with many of them perhaps as a hobby and a passion and with some luck, they stumbled upon something good.

Right now, I'm just throwing out ideas and looking at all possibilities. I hate to think that 5 years from now I will look back and be sorry for not doing something.

Anyone have any wild ideas or niche market dreams that they want to share? Things you tried but did not work out for whatever reason? Anything worth looking into?

Thank you.

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Greg Peck
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2009, 08:32:45 AM »

Mike, why dont you plant a house on the land and once it grows a little give it to someone who needs a house in the country. The project could be called "Greg's New House" Smiley

Second idea. Have you ever thought of keeping bees? I hear that beekeepers make a ton of money selling honey. Smiley

I have been told that Christmas trees are a major pain. I have never dealt with them but I was told that the amount of time spent trimming, mowing, fertilizing, watering.... each year is not worth it. 
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2009, 08:44:00 AM »

How about a few orange trees? grin  OK for real. Fresh herbs for local restaurants, chestnut trees are few that come to mind. Something that would be good for the bees would be squash and pumpkins. You could have a U-pick thing and sell some other stuff as well, Like a country produce stand or something. I like the blueberry idea and that could be out there too. I hear organic is a key word for the markets today. Smiley
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reinbeau
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2009, 09:19:47 AM »

Herbs, Mike, go for the herbs, you won't believe what herbs do for the taste of honey.  My mother is an herbalist, I'm an herbalist, our bees are surrounded by three seasons of herbal flowers, and the honey is truly distinct, so different from the honey from the hives up in Maine, located in a pine barren surrounded by wetlands.  Fresh herbs are marketable to regional restaurants, too.  I know you're not into honey production, but you just might be after tasting the harvest!
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2009, 09:47:50 AM »

The first year we had our 5 acres my friend thought it would be great to plant really sweet corn. He even figured out how much we could possibly make.... quite a bundle the way he had it figured. I had my doubts. So we planted every inch we possibly could with corn. The first problem... it was a dry year and you can't irrigate 5 acres with a 1hp pump in a 155 foot well. But we managed to get a whole lot of stuff to grow. And it was badly eaten up by worms. There was very little that we would even eat ourselves.  tongue

another year he wanted to try watermelons. Only this time we did maybe a quarter of an acre close to the well, and still couldn't keep it watered. And did you know coyotes ate watermelon shocked

But hey.... I killed a cactus  rolleyes
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BjornBee
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2009, 10:46:56 AM »

Mike, why dont you plant a house on the land and once it grows a little give it to someone who needs a house in the country. The project could be called "Greg's New House" Smiley

Second idea. Have you ever thought of keeping bees? I hear that beekeepers make a ton of money selling honey. Smiley

I have been told that Christmas trees are a major pain. I have never dealt with them but I was told that the amount of time spent trimming, mowing, fertilizing, watering.... each year is not worth it. 

I know this year I could of sold much honey to beekeepers. Seems everyone needs some. And increased honey production is on this years agenda.

Was looking something to also keep my mom occupied as she gets older. Something she could contribute with.

Greg's house...funny!
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2009, 11:38:37 AM »

Bjorn, you have just the right amount of property, not too much to handle, but big enough to give you choices. A niche market is what you need, herbs are a great idea + like Ann mentioned, the specialized honey from them.  You could go into grass fed, natural (organic but without the paperwork) beef.  It all depends on how much physical labor you can do.  For herbs or veggies, you need to be able to prepare & enhance the soil through composting & amendments (here's where animal doo is helpful!)  A tractor of some sort is a must,  How much time are you & your family willing to spend? How much do you want to make? Do you want to cover your families use + a profit? Will the rest of your family be on board?  If you do go into some sort of Ag, you may be able to get your property taxes amended to "agricultural" instead of residential as long as you can prove what you are doing.   That may add to your profitability as well as the other tax write offs.  Once you make a list of all the things you can think of you can organize, research & come to some decision.  The ability to be self sustaining through your own things & bartering with others has no price!  J
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HomeBru
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2009, 12:15:49 PM »

I currently have the opposite problem: About three years ago, we expanded our garden and chicken yard to start selling produce, eggs, and ranged broilers to a small group of "neighbors". Our demand, especailly for the poultry has skyrocketed so that I wish I had more than my measly 1.75 acres (that includes the house, garage, pool, and kid's playset!) to work with! I've been looking for a way to expand.

Poultry is nice mostly because it's VERY seasonal. Processing is the real work involved.

Niche markets are great until you have a bad year and lose it all.

We grow a little of everything and are able to make up with one crop where another falls short.

It all depends on how much or what kind of work you want to do. Pick your passion and go from there.

J-
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asprince
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2009, 01:16:30 PM »

Mike, I don't know about PA, but in GA pine trees are great. They require little attention and as they mature the straw can be harvested and sold. The pine straw business is huge around here requiring very little equipment to harvest.

Longer term, pecans are great income producers.

Steve
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BjornBee
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2009, 09:21:25 PM »

Jerry,
about three years ago, we got the idea for sweetcorn at my parents place. Had another farmer come up and plant about an acre. Now keep in mind, I may be a fast learner, but my parents were never farmers. I remember asking them about spraying, etc. They said the old-timer down the road said it was not needed. I shrugged my shoulder and got busy with other things. Later that summer, they had an acre of the best food ever produced for 10 billion Japanese beetles. Before they knew what was happening, they had eaten about two inches off each ear. Seems the old-timer grew alot of field corn, but not sweet corn.

I'm not thinking about corn right now....  rolleyes
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2009, 04:55:44 PM »

I subscribe to a periodical called "Farm Show". It's a collection of farmer made equipment and farm product reviews. As part of their bonus to subscribers they send a collection of business opportunities cashed in on by small acreage entrepreneurs. The different things people find a market for are amazing and possible for others. If you appreciate the ingenuity and creativeness of average folk "down on the farm" you may glean an idea from it.
I look forward to every issue and have used many ideas in my shop and home.

www.farmshow.com will get you to the site.

Bruce
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2009, 05:40:52 PM »

one of the thing s that I heard do real well is to divide it up and rent little parcels for city gardeners, you just let them till it up and grow a small garden, figure out what it would take to make a few garden plot sizes and charge them to come out and till adn put there own garden in , you do nothing they pay you for land use and they get the bonus of having grown there own , and you get payed for there fun.
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2009, 07:40:22 PM »

MustbeeNuts,

I have thought about doing that.
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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2009, 07:21:05 PM »

 The best year I had was leasing it to another farmer.
 My stepfather made good money raising earthworms. Their poop is where the money was at.
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ArmucheeBee
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2009, 09:47:34 PM »

Mike

A friend down the road put in 1/2 acre of strawberries.  In one season of pick your own he made enough money to build a barn.  Next year they made stawberry ice cream + pick your own.  Bought wife a new suburan.  Next year expanded to 3 acres.  Bought new John Deer, irragation + pumping station, and new tillage.  Unbelievable how much you can make in only 1.5 months!!!  That's right s-berries only bare from May to June here.  Very simple operation because there is only about 4 months total work.  Replant in sept. and they sit there until May.  I want to do it, but it would hurt the friendship!!!
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Keith13
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« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2009, 09:51:45 AM »

This is sort of a dream I have as well though I'm not looking to make money just keep me active and outside.
But I have a guy who works at the plant with me he has a pick yourself farm. He grows satsumas and blueberries,raspberries. his farm is ~10 acres
He runs his farm on the weekends (most maintenance and labor) during the week his wife is a stay at home so she deals with the people who want to come in and pick during the week but most of his traffic is on the weekend
he still holds a full time 40 hour job with us as well

Keith
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KONASDAD
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« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2009, 10:39:50 AM »

It takes time, but fruit trees of heirlooms apparently sell very well. Also, berry farms as well. Do a you pick'em for suburbanites who want to feel green.

I would also highly suggest farming food stuffs for new immigrant populations. Indian and asian foods sell for very nice price at local road side stands near me. I found out they usually buy them from small backyard "farmers" and resell.

My last suggestion, is a "tourist" type farm. A place wherean elemnetary class might come to pet a goat, see chickens hatch, harvets an apple and go for a tractor ride for halloween.
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2009, 05:00:36 PM »

A friend down the road put in 1/2 acre of strawberries.  In one season of pick your own he made enough money to build a barn. 

How and how much do you charge for something like that?
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« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2009, 05:02:56 PM »

we grow blueberries.  they are low maintenance, but take 2 to 3 years to begin producing well.  if you buy older starts they'll produce faster, but startup is more expensive. bees love them. raspberries, which we also grow, take more care and are a little harder to do u-pick. also a good one for bees

strawberries are easy, but you have pest problems and you have to rotate in new plants if you keep groomed rows. corn is cheap if you have a market for it, or a place that does biofuel and will buy.  hay is not to hard to do if you have the equipment, but if you have to have someone come in a cut and bail, you'll either have to share hay, or pay.  cedar trees grow quickly, can be planted close together.  craft folks love the stuff.  

there is a lady in town that grows catnip.  she sells the seeds and the catnip to cat people and makes a small fortune.  whatever kind she is growing makes the cats crazy!  

peppers are a big seller around here.  they are compact, sell well in farmers markets, and you can do many varieties that are harder to find in stores but sought after by the veggie crowd.  

cut flowers take a fair amount of care and work from year to year.
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« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2009, 05:27:31 PM »

here in the south, most farmers have gone to big round hay bales.  so if you can make the old square bales you stand to make money.  people here want them to decorate with.  Home depot sells them for $4-$5 each.  some horse people want them for smaller barns too.
hard to find them.
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