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How Do I Choose the Best Farm Business Ideas?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2016
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With so many different directions to take a farming operation, choosing the best farm business ideas can be quite complex. Successful farming can include small, home-based businesses, boutique production of a single product, or giant farming conglomerates that cover hundreds of acres of land. When choosing the best farm business ideas, some items to consider include personal skills and interests, property information, and market research.

Farming can be difficult work, and may be most successful if the farmer is truly invested and interested in his or her work. Mining personal interests and skills is a good way to ferret out the best farm business ideas for an individual. If a person was raised around animals, perhaps a small livestock farm or horse stable is a good place to start. For consummate gardeners, tending an orchard or greenhouse can be an ideal small business. Those with an extensive farming background may want to include several crops that can be harvested year-round, ensuring a continuous supply of product, albeit with high time commitment requirements.

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For beginning farmers, considering small, seasonal crops can be a good way to get started in the market. Christmas tree farms or pumpkin patches may be a good starting place for ambitious farmers, since these crops are generally only in demand once per year, leaving many months for preparation and planning. Single-product farms, such as a goat farm that produces goat cheese, can also allow newer farmers to focus on making one product and task successful before expanding into other areas of farming.

Another important consideration when sifting through farm business ideas is the suitability of the farming property. Size of the property is one major concern: a person with a large backyard may be able to start a small farm business selling blueberries or organic carrots, but probably can't start raising cattle. Calling in an expert to perform a soil and land analysis can help determine what the best type of crops are for the size, elevation, drainage, and soil composition of a piece of property. Since different crops grow best in different temperatures, it is also crucial to understand what fruits and vegetables are appropriate for the local climate.

Doing some market research can help determine farm business ideas with a good chance of success. For example, a local area might have an excess of berry growers, but no local stone-fruit orchard. It may help to identify culinary trends, such as a desire for locally grown foods, dairy products from humane farms, or organic vegetables. Researching the market by talking with local food experts, well-respected chefs, and other important market figures can be a good way to identify the proper niche for development.

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browncoat
Post 3

@umbra21 - The other problem with a diverse product base when you're a small business is that it's difficult to establish a committed clientele. If you sometimes have an abundance of carrots and sometimes have a surplus of stonefruit you are probably going to be competing with a lot of other people who have the same product at the same time.

If you focus on just the stonefruit you can grow enough to store it or cook it into other products like jams or pies. Unless you've got some kind of alternate source of income, I would definitely focus on a single crop or product until it was established as competitive in the market, because it's all too easy to end up without anyone willing to buy your items.

umbra21
Post 2

@Mor - If someone is going to try and make a living from a permaculture setup they need to give it quite a long lead time, because they will rarely get a surplus in the first few years. The point of permaculture is to arrange the land so that it can nourish itself with natural systems and if you're constantly siphoning off nutrients in the form of crops or other products then you end up with a deficit.

As far as a business idea goes, I'd still concentrate on a single niche product and just work the permaculture system around it.

Mor
Post 1

If you're starting out I would either focus on something completely niche, or attempt to diversify completely. I've read about tiny farms that only consist of a handful of cows and specialize in artisan cheeses, flavored by giving the cows particular foods to influence the taste of the milk.

But a farm based around permaculture could also be successful in an area with access to a farmer's market, where you wouldn't have to provide a large amount of a single product to make sales. While it's true that focusing on a single type of product can streamline production, putting together a system that works in harmony can have the same effect, and for that you need a diverse ecology.

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