If you have a small farm, chances are that you think you can’t make it in agriculture. Now, discard those thoughts and get down to business.
Farmers work non-stop and get very little money because they think inside the box; growing same crops as a hobby and becoming prisoners of cartels and brokers. At times, they wonder how long they can sustain their farms without letting go.
So how do you get the best of your farm? How can you maximize profit from your land, small farm or homestead? You don’t have to stop at growing crops. Through diversification and thinking like an entrepreneur, you can achieve a much higher yield from your farm while keeping the lifestyle you love.
Here are some ideas for you to consider for making the most of your small farm. Of course, some of these ideas will be more practical than others depending on your region, type of farm, etc.
- Grow Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms
Growing mushrooms can be very lucrative. However, I recommend that you opt for specialist types of mushrooms if you’re looking into cultivation. There is more money to be made from growing ones for medicinal use or the restaurant market. Trying to compete with the supermarket on button mushrooms wouldn’t be an option unless your pricing or quality is better. Depending on the type of mushroom you choose to grow, you could harvest some in just 15 weeks.
- Turn Your Field into a Campsite
Have you ever thought of turning part of your farm into a campsite. These days church groups, school parties and youth groups are turning to camping – away from home.
To turn your land (or part of it) into a campsite, you’ll need to construct a simple shower and toilet unit for your campers. Some campsites are quite basic and don’t provide electrical outlets while others have installed electricity for the campers to use. If your farm is near a tourist area, this is definitely one avenue to consider. The area or field you choose should also be level and dry, ensuring that campers can correctly and safely erect their tents. You can start small and put any profits into improving the facilities of your campsite. By reinvesting your earnings you will be creating a sustainable business without an initial expensive outlay.
Consider opening a small shop with essential food items and toiletries, if you aren’t close to a town. Campers who don’t want to travel back into town will be happy to buy from you even if your prices are slightly higher than in a supermarket.
Offer free Wi-fi for your campers. Everyone expects to remain connected to the internet 24/7 even when they are camping.
- Farm Snails for Profit
It is easy to think of snails only as pests, but they can earn you great money. Snail farming (or heliciculture) has been around for many years. In some developing nations, it is becoming an important export crop.
To farm snails, you’ll need to provide them with shelter, plants, and food. This can vary depending on your situation. Some farmers use outdoor pens which are open, others use netting to keep them in. In Kenya, the most successful is Rosemary Odinga, daughter of Raila Odinga
- Start a farm tour Bed and Breakfast
If you have spare rooms in your house, these can converted into rooms for domestic tourists. There are many people who have never sampled rural environment and would love to stay in a village-like environment. One of these has already come up in Karen Nairobi and many others will follow.
The level of accommodation you offer can vary depending on the type of customer you wish to attract. Even offering simple sleeping rooms as a youth hostel could bring in extra cash. If your farm is near an area that requires many workers, even if it is only seasonally, you could rent the rooms to the company. By renting to a (reputable) company, you’re more likely to get paid on time and paid regularly.
Companies such as AirBnB make it simple to rent out spare rooms for guests. Their website is straightforward and many people have come to trust it. This could be run in conjunction with your own website promoting your available accommodation. If your farm is near a hiking trail, or a popular tourist attraction like Longonot, you can attract such groups.
- Wedding Grounds
Do you know that you can turn your farm into a wedding ground? People are looking for open spaces for weddings and unique photoshoots. There are always people looking for areas for meetings. This could earn you money during the day, evenings, and weekends. Parking availability is always a bonus for some.
- Raise Tilapia or Other Kinds of Fish
Raising fish such as tilapia can be a very profitable business. For tilapia, you will need to be in an area where the water temperature stays about 20°C (68°F). If your temperature is lower than this, you may need to heat the water which, of course, is costly.
Depending on the size of fry (young fish) you buy, your harvest could be ready in approximately six months depending on what size you wish to sell your fish at.
- Private Fishing Lakes
If you have a dam in your farm – and some people do – you can turn it into a fishing club solely for the enjoyment of fishing. The customer would pay as they enter and then stay there all day. This could also be combined with camping as mentioned earlier.
The other type is fish and pay. They catch the fish, which are then weighed and paid for. Either option is profitable. You will, of course, need to stock your lakes and ensure you have parking facilities fairly close by.
- Raise Specialist Breeds of Animals (e.g. Ostriches)
If space allows, consider raising what I call niche market animals. Some of these could include the following, and there are often multiple products that you can sell from the same animal. You can sell guinea fowl meat, feathers, eggs, and rabbit meat, pets, and fur. You can also sell goat meat, milk, butter, cheese, young, and hair.
- Sell Farm By-Products
There are many by-products on a working farm, and some of them have resell value. Here are a few ideas: Feathers: If you have any feathered friends on your farm, be they wild or domesticated, consider collecting and selling the feathers. People love to include them in crafts such as jewelry-making, hat-making, and other kinds of accessories.
Manure: If you raise animals, you know that manure is great for gardens. You can bag and sell manure to the public.
- Public Speaking and Demonstrations
Money doesn’t always have to come from just farming activities. Some people earn money by giving talks about farming activities. Schools, community centers, and public venues always need speakers. Many of these groups pay. The larger the group, the more they’ll pay. If you are a confident speaker, this is an avenue you should consider. Topics such as: Bee Keeping, growing vegetables or flowers, Natural pest control and Jam making. These talks can be at your farm. You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to be entertaining, informed and passionate about your topic.
- Open Your Farm to the Public
There are many successful farms that are open to the public, providing a safe environment for adults and children to see animals and crops up close. Each person is charged upon entry, and some families make a day out of it. Some farmers even make more money through agro-tourism than from farming itself. Although most of the time visitors will come on the weekends and during school vacations, many schools love taking children on field trips to local farms.