A 5 acre farm plan for the small landholder

5 acre farm layout

More and more people are leaving the cities and buying small rural properties.

How do you make best use of a small holding? Can you actually make a living on 5 acres?

Here's a 5 acre farm plan to help them (and maybe YOU) manage a micro-farm to create a sustainable, profitable business.

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 To start, let's set some basic assumptions in place: Assumption 1. The farm will be 'natural': We will use organic and sustainable methods to the degree feasible. If you live where you work , you don't want to introduce toxic substances into the environment. Assumption 2. Integrated production of livestock and vegetable crops: Livestock animals are beneficial on a small farm, provided you raise them properly. This means raising them outdoors and not in confinement. And the livestock will add another valuable income stream to your micro-farm. Assumption 3. This is a business , not a hobby: No business starts up without some idea of where customers will come from, or how much revenue is needed, or who will do the work needed on your 5 acre farm.

This means we need to think about planning, marketing, and management as well as production. Your first step should be to build your Success Plan for your business OK, with these basic assumptions in place, let's look at the plan.

The 5 acre farm plan

Here are the pieces of your 5 acre farm:

  • Two garden plots comprise about half the space available for your CSA market garden (see graphic below)
  • One-and-a quarter-acre cover cropping area
  • One-and-a quarter-acre for raising meat chickens, turkeys and pigs
  • 4000 square feet  in hoop houses for starting transplants and growing early crops. The hoop houses will reside at the north end of the property, to avoid shading crops and also to help provide a windbreak from northerly winds.
  • 20 beehives to help with garden pollination and to produce a cash crop of honey. The bee yard can be on the perimeter of the garden.
  • Assorted fruit trees on the west perimeter of the property.

Equipment needed for your 5 acre farm

Here's a list of the minimum basic equipment needed to efficiently manage your mini-farm:

  • Diesel tractor and loader in the 40-45 hp range
  • Spader with power harrow
  • Bed shaper and drip tape/plastic layer
  • Transplanter
  • Rotary Mower (Bush Hog)
  • Rear-time tiller (Troy-Bilt or BCS), 8-11 hp range

bef shaper

  • Pickup truck
  • Walk-in cooler or refrigerated room

Supplies for the Serious Grower

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cold storage

  • Plant starting light room or small heated greenhouse
  • Electric mesh fencing and charger
  • Feeders, waterers, and portable housing for pigs and chickens
  • Honey processing equipment - cap knife, extractor, filters etc

lean-to greenhouse

Putting it all together

5 acre farm layout

Here's how it all goes together:

  • You grow your market garden on two sections of your farm.
  • The garden area rotates with the animal grazing plot and the cover crop area.
  • The animal grazing area can be planted to forage crops to help with feed costs.
  • The cover crop should be some deep-rooted, nitrogen fixing crop like alfalfa or tillage radish
  • The electric mesh fencing protects your animals and your garden from predators
  • Your large greenhouse will start crops several weeks earlier than the outside garden, and can hold flats of transplants from the small heated greenhouse until they are ready to be planted out.

Revenue from your 5 acre farm

Let's assume you are following the Community Supported Agriculture model for your small farm. Here's a quick breakdown of the revenue possible from the above plan.

CAUTION: this is an example only, actual income will depend on your market, your model, and your skill as a grower. Expenses will probably go up as you add enterprises as well.

  • Sales of 100 CSA full shares @ $900/share = $90,000
  • Sales of 500 meat chickens = $9,000
  • Sales of 12 pastured piggies = $7,000
  • Sales of 1,000 lbs of honey = $5,000
  • Sales from your greenhouse and  mini-orchard = $4,000

Total sales = $115,000 This is not the limit; you could add bedding plants for the spring, or a fall planting of garlic , or value-added products for the winter to the mix.

You could have laying hens in an 'egg-mobile' in the summer, and house them in the greenhouse in the winter. You could raise bunnies on pasture in movable rabbit pens, like Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm .

Lots of possibilities, limited only by your ability to manage.

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If you are considering a move to the country and plan to buy a farm, this article has some information that can help you through the process. Read it here

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A good farm plan does more than just aid decision-making and priority-setting. It should also inspire and motivate the farmer to pursue the goals that are important to her.

Farm risk management is important even to the small commercial grower. This article examines the types of risks that small farmers may be exposed to, and identify some risk avoidance and risk mitigation strategies to avoid serious harm to the farm.

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How to Make Money Farming 5 Acres or Less [Not Just Market Gardening!]

Welcome! This article contains affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

The number of traditional farms is dropping fast. Land is expensive and can be hard to find. But what if you dream of making an income off a small farm? Micro-farms are becoming popular sources of income, and it’s pretty incredible how much money you can make farming 5 acres of land or less.

To make money on a small farm with 5 acres or less of land, you’ll have to figure out what’s profitable, find a space to work in, make a comprehensive business plan, and start small. Small farms can pull in a liveable salary, but only if you plan them properly.

Let’s look at some of the best ways to make money when you only have a small farm of 5 acres or less to work with.

Planting fresh parsley in a tiny farm or garden plot.

We’ll discuss some things to remember during the planning phase, list the best crops to grow on under 5 acres of land, and share some ideas to help you make a regular income from your small farm.

We’ll also share some small-scale farming success stories with you for inspiration! So, let’s get this show on the road and make the best of your limited space.

Ways to Make Money on Small Acreage Farms and Homesteads

Curtis Stone, also known as the Urban Farmer, believes you can make money farming 5 acres or less.

On his website , he offers advice, classes, and video tutorials on how to do just that. He says you don’t even need to own the land you farm; you can lease or rent a little plot of land to start your own micro-farm.

Still, it takes more than some garden space to start seeing profits. Here are a few essential things you’ll need to make money on your farm in addition to the actual land itself:

1. You Need a Great Crop to Grow and Sell

how-to-make-money-farming-5-acres

If you want to make a decent income from your small farm, you need to have some ideas about what kind of high-value crop to sell.

You can choose from tons of different things, from eggs to mushrooms. However, some things are easier and quicker to produce than others, which often leads to higher profits.

For Curtis Stone, the most profitable crop is usually microgreens . Microgreens take up very little space, have a high value, and have a quick turnover since they grow quickly.

But there are plenty of other choices, from salad greens to worm castings, meat chickens, and even snails .

Of course, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the specialty crops you are going to sell. If you already have something you are great at growing, you’re off to a good start.

But you need to think like a business and grow what you can sell .

If no one in your area wants to eat rutabaga, then growing 5 acres of it isn’t going to pay your bills nor provide you with a full-time income. It will just make you really tired of eating all that unsold rutabaga!

By the way, rutabaga is great animal fodder , so if you can’t eat it, your animals will!

You may want to ask around your community and do a little solid research before you get started so you can find out what people might need you to grow.

Don’t miss this series about people who are giving up their day jobs to become first-time farmers; we can learn a lot from this:

My Dream Farm

My Dream Farm follows first-time farmers as they give up their ordinary, urban lives to live off the land. Writer, broadcaster, and farmer, Monty Don, mentors the new farmers as they face steep learning curves.

2. You Need Steady Customers to Buy Your Product

There are many different ways to find steady customers. For example, as a grower, you might sell to gourmet restaurants, create or join a CSA, market to or employ friends and family, sell at farmers’ markets, or even start a roadside vegetable stand.

Customers are key to growing your small farms business because you won’t earn any money without them. It helps if you are a warm, friendly person who is active in your community because you need to talk to everyone around you about your small farm.

Read More –  57+ Best Careers for Off-Grid Living!

3. Other Things to Think About 

farming-5-acres-equipment

You may also want to sit down and make a formal business plan so you have something to follow and track your progress.  Otherwise, your ideas might not pan out, and you may not end up making a decent income from your small farm.

Some expected expenses to keep in mind include:

  • You may need packaging for your product, such as egg cartons.
  • Or perhaps you need a place to store your product, such as coolers .
  • You may need a vehicle to deliver your crops to your customers unless your customers are coming to you.
  • If you are raising animals or livestock , you’ll need to find ways to feed them, house them, and manage their manure.

The Most Profitable Farm Animals to Raise on Your Homestead [USA Guide]

Business plans can be very useful for growers. It’ll give you a clear idea of your income stream and helps you think about things like marketing, equipment, and the long-term plan.

4. Start Small

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

This book will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre—and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require.

Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers everything you need to know to get started: buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, crop rotation, farm planning, and much more.

It might be tempting to quit your day job and start living off the land. However, unless you are independently wealthy, you’ll probably need to keep working while you get your small farm going.

So, just start small.

Start a market garden in your existing garden first. Start selling the fruits of your existing trees before planting 5 acres. It’s easier to make a living when you use what you have!

Once you are making a small income, you can add more. Grow more food, add another market garden, add another kind of crop. Give it time, and don’t be intimidated by what others have done or are doing around you.

You’ll have more success if you start small and build until your farm is making money rather than if you throw caution to the wind and go whole hog, so to speak.

The Best Profitable Crops To Grow on 5 Acres or Less

profitable-crops-per-acre

If you’re looking for ideas to make a great income from a small farm, you’ll likely want to start by selecting the best crop or other produce to grow on your 5 acres of land.

While this task can seem daunting, following the chain of supply and demand is always a safe bet.

Some of the best crops and animal products that are profitable, in high demand, and don’t require much space include:

1. Microgreens

Microgreens are the best crop to grow on a small farm of 5 acres or less because they need very little space, have a quick turnaround, and have a high cash value.

As far as produce farming goes, microgreens are very easy to grow and market. They look great displayed at farmers’ markets, too!

Microgreens: Insiders Secrets to Growing Gourmet Greens & Building a Wildly Successful Microgreen Business

Microgreens have the potential to be the  next world health craze , and you can take advantage while they’re still relatively unknown – no matter where in the world you live.

Not only that, you’ll be able to cash in on the craze, using the business start-up advice and top tips from Donny Greens, the founder of a Microgreen business  in New York that makes $8,000 per month in gross income.

2. Salad Greens

Salad greens are easy to grow and have a fast turnover. Pound for pound, they are a high-value crop. Additionally, demand is really high, as people love salad greens and eat them regularly. For that reason, they’re one of the easier vegetable crops to market.

One of the easiest, most profitable crops to grow is garlic, especially gourmet garlic.

If you plant just 50 pounds of garlic bulbs, you should be able to harvest between 400 and 500 pounds, according to Profitable Plants Digest . That’s a great opportunity for a homestead income.

Growing Great Garlic: The Definitive Guide for Organic Gardeners and Small Farmers

The first garlic book written specifically for organic gardeners and small-scale farmers!

Growing Great Garlic is the definitive grower's guide written by a small-scale farmer who makes his living growing over 200 strains of garlic. Commercial growers will want to consult this book regularly.

4. Worm Castings and Tea

Worm castings are basically worm manure. This is a high-quality, all-natural fertilizer that gardeners love. So, if you produce worm castings, you are, in effect, a worm grower!

You can easily start a worm farm in your basement or spare room with a few bins. A good worm farm is never smelly, and worms don’t make any noise. 

You can feed them all your leftover food scraps and garden produce, so they’re excellent for recycling, too. Worm castings are a great way to make a living.

5. Black Soldier Fly Larvae

black soldier fly larvae

One of my friends recently showed me his aquaponics greenhouse and incidentally, we wandered past an interesting setup that looked a bit like a worm farm bin.

When I asked him about it, he explained that he is farming Black Soldier Fly larvae to feed his chickens.

Our family’s aim has always been complete self-sufficiency. One problem we keep coming across is how to be fully self-sufficient in the way of feeding animals. A Black Soldier Fly larvae farm could well be the answer to feeding many of your meat-eating animals like chickens and pigs!

And not just that. Selling Black Soldier Fly Larvae is also surprisingly profitable !

  • Some interesting facts about Black Soldier Fly production ,
  • information on how insect-based chicken food can benefit farmers and the environment ,
  • a SARE report on raising Black Soldier Fly larvae as chicken feed in a tropical region,
  • a report on the profitability potential of Black Soldier Fly larvae raised on pig manure at farm level,
  • and a useful video to see how easy it is to get started!

How to Start a Black Soldier Fly Bin: Food, Care, Design

6. Become a Market Gardener

market-gardener

A market gardener is someone who grows crops on a farm, usually on a small scale. A market gardener can grow a variety of different fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. They then market them to the public or to commercial places like restaurants.

This type of garden is great for homesteading because you only need a tiny area. Market gardening is a lot of work, but it’s also very rewarding. Sales can be impressive from even the smallest garden.

The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener

Gardeners working on 2.5 acres or less will find this book especially useful, as it offers proof that small-scale market growers and serious home gardeners can live good lives close to the land and make a profit at the same time. 

 The New Organic Grower  is ideal for young farmers just getting started, or gardeners seeking to expand into a more productive enterprise.

7. Mushrooms

Mushroom farming is a bit more complicated than other crops but can be done in a small space.

Mushrooms fetch great prices, and you can grow them on a quarter acre or less. They’ll even crop up in a barn! They are some of the best homesteading plants to grow since you don’t even need a garden!

You can even grow mushrooms without dirt inside your home.

Growing Gourmet Mushrooms for Profit

In recent years, demand for gourmet mushrooms has skyrocketed, creating opportunities for new growers. The most profitable culinary mushrooms are shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

Using the “grow bag” method, experienced growers can grow 12,000 pounds of gourmet mushrooms in a 500 square foot space every year. At current prices of $6/pound wholesale and $10/pound retail - well, I’ll let you do the math.

It might be tough to find a plant to grow in the woods. However, ginseng is one of the best, most profitable crops you can grow on 5 acres or less of farmland.

Ginseng loves growing under hardwood trees. Not many people grow Ginseng plants, but it’s one of the more profitable specialty crops. You can find more information at Mother Earth News and the wonderful book below.

Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and other Woodland Medicinals

In this fully revised and updated edition, the authors show how more than a dozen sought-after native species can generate a greater profit on a rugged, otherwise idle woodlot than just about any other legal crop on an equal area of cleared land.

 With little capital investment but plenty of sweat equity, patience, and common sense, small landowners can preserve and enhance their treed space while simultaneously earning supplemental income.

Bamboo is growing in popularity, and if you live in a warmer climate, you can make $60,000 a year in bamboo profits on just a quarter acre of land.

While bamboo doesn’t produce fruits, you can sell the shoots as food, and bamboo wood fetches a good price. Find out more about raising bamboo trees for a homesteading income .

homestead-income-small-farm-profit-quail

Quail can make a great income on a five-acre homestead. They take up very little space, have a great feed-to-egg conversion ratio, reproduce and grow quickly, and are not nearly as regulated as chickens. You can raise them for both meat and eggs.

Read More – Homesteader’s Guide to Farming Quail

11. Broiler Chickens

Organic or pasture-raised broiler chickens can also turn a tidy profit on a homestead with less than 5 acres to work with.

With a chicken tractor, you can move the coop around each day to offer your flock fresh grass. You can also move them around the garden while they grow to help you with weeding and controlling garden pests.

Broiler chickens grow quickly, so you’ll be able to raise, butcher, and sell them fast.

Read More – Raising Pheasants vs Chickens For Profit on Your Homestead

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers

The most comprehensive guide to date on raising all-natural poultry for the small-scale farmer, homesteader, and professional grower.  The Small-Scale Poultry Flock  offers a practical and integrative model for working with chickens and other domestic fowl, based entirely on natural systems.

What Is the Most Profitable Crop per Acre?

To make a good living, it really helps to grow the most profitable crop per acre. Here are some of the most profitable crops per acre and their current market value:

  • Saffron . Modern Farmer states that Saffron is worth $5000 to $10000 per pound .
  • Ginseng . See above. $300-$700 per pound .
  • Truffles . Black truffles yield $95 per ounce and white truffles $168 per ounce .
  • Bamboo . $60000 a year from a quarter acre.
  • Sandalwood . Approximately $200 per kg.

How Much Do Farmers Make – Real Life Examples

It’s hard to say how much a newbie farmer can make from a 5-acre farm production.

After all, you need to consider up-front costs for things like land, soil, seeds, animals, fertilizers, construction, and irrigation systems – I could keep listing things, but you get the point. A lot goes into starting a farm, no matter how small it may be.

However, there are plenty of success stories to give you an idea of what is possible. Here are just a few different examples of small farms that turn great profits:

1. The Urban Farmer

THIS IS HOW MY FARM WORKS! - $100K on a quarter acre

Curtis Stone says you can make a gross income of $100,000 a year farming just ¼ of an acre of land. You don’t even have to live in the country – you can be a market gardener from your home, in your backyard, or from an empty lot.

While that massive figure isn’t the total profit , which will, admittedly, be smaller, upfront costs are a one-time investment. Additionally, with such a small-scale farm, you can expect to break even after around two months of production.

Curtis Stone does his best to help hopeful farmers realize this gross income on their land, publishing tons of fantastic resources like this book:

The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land

The Urban Farmer  is a comprehensive, hands-on, practical manual to help you learn the techniques and business strategies you need to make a good living growing high-yield, high-value crops right in your own backyard (or someone else's).

2. ESI Money

ESI Money talks about making a side hustle from your hobby farm as a market gardener.

They claim that a commercial greenhouse that is 8 feet by 40 feet can produce a gross income of up to $3,700 each month, depending on what plants you grow and sell. ESI specifies that to reach these peak production levels, the greenhouse will likely cost a bit of money, totaling a one-time investment of at least $60K. However, with such high income margins, you could easily pay off that investment within a year.

More information on that here .

3. The Rockstar Gardener

J.M. Fortier, the “Rockstar gardener,” is known for his highly profitable plant micro-farm in Quebec, Canada.

He aims for $100,000 per acre in gross income with his market gardener small farm business. This is his website .

Fortier’s book, listed below, has gotten a lot of international attention for its straightforward and simple approach to profitable small-scale farming. Using this book, tons of people have been able to make a lot of money from farming on 5 acres or less.

For example, using Fortier’s methods, Two Roots farm in Colorado made approximately $75,000 in their first year of production. For context, Two Roots farm is just 1/2 acre. Incredible!

The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower's Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming

Making a living wage farming without big capital outlay or acreages may be closer than you think. Growing on just 1.5 acres, Jean-Martin and Maude-Helene feed more than 200 families through their thriving CSA and seasonal market stands.

 The secret of their success is the low-tech, high-yield production methods they've developed by focusing on growing better rather than growing bigger, making their operation more lucrative and viable in the process.

4. New Terra Farm

The owners of this little market gardener farm, known as New Terra Farm, brings in a cool $50,000 per acre in gross profits. If you want to know how they did it, they’ve documented all their farm plans and lists of materials and tools they used. You can check it out here .

5. Joel Salatin

PolyFace farms, created by Joel Salatin, is a firm believer in pastured poultry. Joe started out his agricultural career by raising broiler chickens in his backyard. For the first few months, the budget was tight. However, as he pursued his passions, the profits sure poured in!

Starting out on under an acre, Salatin began to make $25,000 in profits on 20 acres in 6 months. However, Joe just kept growing his farms as time went on, and he now has a 2,000-acre farm that pulls in proceeds of around $2 million a year.

PolyFace farms uses many techniques to make the most of a small property. Find their stories here: https://www.polyfacefarms.com .

6. Lush Plants Nursery

amber 22 weeks 5 and a half months 8

This is our former business, and I couldn’t help but include it here because it would be a great little business for many of you.

We propagated ornamental plants and fruit trees and sold them via our website to customers country-wide. Propagating your own plants is incredibly cost-effective.

We particularly loved propagating plants you can divide (plants with rhizomes or dividable root systems), such as Canna, Gingers, Heliconias, several herb varieties, and many groundcovers, for example.

Our plant nursery took up about 5 acres, but this included a big dam and plenty of space between the greenhouses. You could have a very successful nursery on less than 1/2 acre!

Our turnover was around $80,000 a year .

You can read our series about starting a plant nursery from scratch, propagating your plants, and much more on the Mother Earth website!

More Small Farm Income Ideas 

Looking for more ideas to make a solid income from your small farm?

Value-added products are products that can add some value to your bottom line . These are extras that you can make and market from the products you raise.

For example, if you raise goats for goat milk , you can turn extra milk into goat milk soap . Someone who isn’t interested in drinking goat milk might just be willing to purchase a little soap.

These are items that make great impulse buys for your regular customers. They’ll help you make even more money from your small 5 acre farm and keep your customers coming back for more.

Read More –  Here’s How to Start Homesteading Using a Tiny Budget! Starting Today!

Making soap is a great way to stay self-sufficient, but it’s also a great idea if you want to increase your small farm’s income.

You can handcraft fancy soap from goat milk, herbs, and even some flowers that you might already grow in your garden.  Making soap is one of the best homesteading skills to have.

You can make all kinds of crafts from the stuff you grow and already have on the farm. Some of my favorite ideas for making more income on a small farm include making wreaths and seasonal decor from old grapevines , fresh flowers, or pinecones.

Maybe you’d like to make herb sachets with fast-growing herbs like lavender, thyme, sage, fennel, and mint?

Perhaps you could sew reusable shopping bags for your customers to take home their fresh produce each week? You can also use old feed bags to make tote bags, woven floor mats, and all sorts of other things.

Or, save up all that baling twine and make some macrame plant hangers, crocheted coasters, or coiled baskets with it.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to finding new ideas to boost your small farm’s income! Additionally, you can use this as a good opportunity to reduce, reuse, and recycle. It’s a win-win.

3. Jams and Jellies

If you are good at canning, you might try turning extra cucumbers into pickles and extra fruit into jams and jellies. This is an especially good idea if you have an excess of berries or tree-growing fruits.

Getting the family involved is one of many ways to scale your production up and make an even better living.

4. Homemade Baked Goods

Homemade baked goods are easy to make and easy to sell. You might already have the equipment you need, or you won’t need to invest much to work this idea from home.

5. Perennials, Herbs, and Starts

Another great way to get sales is to share your extra vegetable seedlings (like tomatoes) in the spring, split off your perennials in the fall, and sell extra herbs when your herb garden gets too full. 

These types of plants are often easy to market – many people love buying seedlings to grow their own food.

6. Hatchlings

Whether you raise chickens , quail , or turkeys, you can sell extra hatchlings for profit, especially in the spring. You can also sell fertilized hatching eggs which can be shipped to most areas of the United States.

Hatchlings don’t take up a big area of your land and don’t need much food. For that reason, they are one of the best ways to add livestock to your 5 acre land.

7. More Ideas

Find some additional ideas on how to create extra farm income in our article, “43 Lucrative Side Hustles for Homesteaders “.

How Will You Make Money Farming 5 Acres?

Five acres may not sound like a lot of land, but many small-scale farmers have been successful at making a living on 1 acre and 2 acres. Sometimes, farmers can make six figures on just half an acre! It takes careful planning, creativity, and hard work, but it can be done.

Which methods would you choose to make a living? What are your favorite ways to make an income on a small farm? Let us know in the comments below! We love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day.

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  • Living Off the Land 101 – Homesteading Tips, Off-Grid, and More!
  • How to Start a Homestead With No Money, Today!

How to Make MoneyFarming 5 Acres or  less

Homesteader, Blogger, Farmer, Mom

Elle, the founder and visionary behind Outdoor Happens, is a seasoned horticulturist with over 25 years of hands-on experience. She's not just any gardener; she's a plant whisperer who ran her own nursery specializing in edible plants and fruit trees. With 15 years in permaculture design, she's transformed spaces from local schools to restaurants, promoting sustainable living and healthy eating.

Her work has caught the eye of major media outlets like Bob Vila, NBC News, The Washington Post, and more. She's a proud member of PINA, the Organic Farmer's Association, and the American Horticultural Society. But she doesn't just keep her wisdom stateside; she's a global green thumb, having worked on organic farms from Spain to Australia, revitalizing lands and designing self-sustaining ecosystems.

Whether it's turning a depleted Spanish farm into a permaculture paradise or setting up a biodynamic farm in Holland, Elle's mission is to make the world a greener, more sustainable place. She's a qualified permaculture teacher with diplomas in horticulture and naturopathy, and her passions range from herbalism and fermentation to animal husbandry and beyond. Elle lives the life she preaches, residing on a farm teeming with vegetable gardens, food forests, cows, sheep, horses, and chickens.

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Are the numbers you quoted of how much money farmers made a year- are those sales or actually take away pay? $80k in sales is much different than $80k in profit.

Hi Casey! This is a great point! Thanks for bringing it up – I’m going to check this out and add as many details as I can find into the article 😀 Appreciate it!

Your article is really great. Thanks for sharing valuable information with us.

Thanks so much Irfan, we always appreciate the feedback!

I can’t read this because of all the pop-ups that are covering the screen and I can’t close them for some reason.

Hey Scott, thanks for the heads up! I’ve made some changes and hope it’s a much better experience now. Let me know if it’s still a problem! Appreciate you reaching out, Elle

Lemongrass is one of my favorite things to grow. There are not many other vegetables that grow as quick or as easily, and it makes a great tea!

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How to Start a Farm: Plan Your Operation

Think about your operation from the ground up and start planning for your business.  A good farm business plan is your roadmap to start-up, profitability, and growth, and provides the foundation for your conversation with USDA about how our programs can complement your operation. 

Keep reading about planning your business below, get an overview of the beginning farmer's journey , or jump to a different section of the farmer's journey.

On This Page

Why you need a farm business plan.

A comprehensive business plan is an important first step for any size business, no matter how simple or complex. You should create a strong business plan because it:

  • Will help you get organized . It will help you to remember all of the details and make sure you are taking all of the necessary steps.
  • Will act as your guide . It will help you to think carefully about why you want to farm or ranch and what you want to achieve in the future. Over time, you can look back at your business plan and determine whether you are achieving your goals.
  • Is required to get a loan . In order to get an FSA loan, a guarantee on a loan made by a commercial lender, or a land contract, you need to create a detailed business plan . Lenders look closely at business plans to determine if you can afford to repay the loan.

How USDA Can Help

Whether you need a good get-started guide, have a plan that you would like to verify, or have a plan you’re looking to update for your next growth phase, USDA can help connect you to resources to help your decisions.

Your state's beginning farmer and rancher coordinator  can connect you to local resources in your community to help you establish a successful business plan. Reach out to your state's coordinator for one-on-one technical assistance and guidance. They can also connect you with organizations that specifically serve beginning farmers and ranchers.

It is important to know that no single solution fits everyone, and you should research, seek guidance, and make the best decision for your operation according to your own individual priorities.

Build a Farm Business Plan

There are many different styles of business plans. Some are written documents; others may be a set of worksheets that you complete. No matter what format you choose, several key aspects of your operation are important to consider.

Use the guidelines below to draft your business plan. Answering these kinds of questions in detail will help you create and develop your final business plan. Once you have a business plan for your operation, prepare for your visit to a USDA service center. During your visit, we can help you with the necessary steps to register your business and get access to key USDA programs.

Business History

Are you starting a new farm or ranch, or are you already in business? If you are already in business:

  • What products do you produce?
  • What is the size of your operation?
  • What agricultural production and financial management training or experience do you, your family members, or your business partners have?
  • How long have you been in business?

Mission, Vision, and Goals

This is your business. Defining your mission, vision and goals is crucial to the success of your business. These questions will help provide a basis for developing other aspects of your business plan.

  • What values are important to you and the operation as a whole?
  • What short- and long-term goals do you have for your operation?
  • How do you plan to start, expand, or change your operation?
  • What plans do you have to make your operation efficient or more profitable ?
  • What type of farm or ranch model (conventional, sustainable, organic, or alternative agricultural practices) do you plan to use?

Organization and Management

Starting your own business is no small feat. You will need to determine how your business will be structured and organized, and who will manage (or help manage) your business. You will need to be able to convey this to others who are involved as well.

  • What is the legal structure of your business? Will it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, trust, limited liability company, or other type of entity?
  • What help will you need in operating and managing your farm or ranch?
  • What other resources, such as a mentor or community-based organization , do you plan to use?

Marketing is a valuable tool for businesses. It can help your businesses increase brand awareness, engagement and sales. It is important to narrow down your target audience and think about what you are providing that others cannot.

  • What are you going to produce ?
  • Who is your target consumer ?
  • Is there demand for what you are planning to produce?
  • What is the cost of production?
  • How much will you sell it for and when do you expect to see profit ?
  • How will you get your product to consumers ? What are the transportation costs and requirements?
  • How will you market your products?
  • Do you know the relevant federal, state, and local food safety regulations? What licensing do you need for your operation?

Today there are many types of land, tools, and resources to choose from. You will need to think about what you currently have and what you will need to obtain to achieve your goals.

  • What resources do you have or will you need for your business?
  • Do you already have access to farmland ? If not, do you plan to lease, rent, or purchase land?
  • What equipment do you need?
  • Is the equipment and real estate that you own or rent adequate to conduct your operation? If not, how do you plan to address those needs?
  • Will you be implementing any conservation practices to sustain your operation?
  • What types of workers will you need to operate the farm?
  • What additional resources do you need?

Now that you have an idea of what you are going to provide and what you will need to run your operation you will need to consider the finances of your operation.

  • How will you finance the business?
  • What are your current assets (property or investments you own) and liabilities (debts, loans, or payments you owe)?
  • Will the income you generate be sufficient to pay your operating expenses, living expenses, and loan payments?
  • What other sources of income are available to supplement your business income?
  • What business expenses will you incur?
  • What family living expenses do you pay?
  • What are some potential risks or challenges you foresee for your operation? How will you manage those risks?
  • How will you measure the success of your business?

Farm Business Plan Worksheets

The Farm Business Plan Balance Sheet can help gather information for the financial and operational aspects of your plan.

Form FSA-2037 is a template that gathers information on your assets and liabilities like farm equipment, vehicles and existing loans.

  • FSA-2037 - Farm Business Plan - Balance Sheet
  • FSA-2037 Instructions

Planning for Conservation and Risk Management

Another key tool is a conservation plan, which determines how you want to improve the health of your land. A conservation plan can help you lay out your plan to address resource needs, costs and schedules.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff are available at your local USDA Service Center to help you develop a conservation plan for your land based on your goals. NRCS staff can also help you explore conservation programs and initiatives, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) .

Conservation in Agriculture

Crop insurance, whole farm revenue protection and other resources can help you prepare for unforeseen challenges like natural disasters.

Disaster Recovery

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Special Considerations

Special considerations for businesses.

There are different types of farm businesses each with their own unique considerations. Determine what applies to your operation.

  • Organic Farming  has unique considerations. Learn about organic agriculture , organic certification , and the  Organic Certification Cost Share Program  to see if an organic business is an option for you. NRCS also has resources for organic producers and offers assistance to develop a conservation plan.
  • Urban Farming  has special opportunities and restrictions. Learn how USDA can help farmers in urban spaces .
  • Value-Added Products . The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) is a national virtual resource center for value-added agricultural groups.
  • Cooperative.  If you are interested in starting a cooperative, USDA’s Rural Development Agency (RD) has helpful resources to help you begin . State-based  Cooperative Development Centers , partially funded by RD, provide technical assistance and education on starting a cooperative.

Special Considerations for Individuals

Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers: We offer help for the unique concerns of producers who meet the USDA definition of "historically underserved,"  which includes farmers who are:

  • socially disadvantaged
  • limited resource
  • military veterans

Women: Learn about specific incentives, priorities, and set asides for  women in agriculture within USDA programs.

Heirs' Property Landowners: If you inherited land without a clear title or documented legal ownership, learn how USDA can help Heirs’ Property Landowners gain access to a variety of programs and services

Business Planning

Creating a good business plan takes time and effort. The following are some key resources for planning your business.

  • Farm Answers from the University of Minnesota features a library of how-to resources and guidance, a directory of beginning farmer training programs, and other sources of information in agriculture. The library includes business planning guides such as a Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses and an Example Business Plan .
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers information about starting, managing, and transitioning a business.

SCORE is a nonprofit organization with a network of volunteers who have experience in running and managing businesses. The Score Mentorship Program partners with USDA to provide:

  • Free, local support and resources, including business planning help, financial guidance, growth strategies.
  • Mentorship through one-on-one business coaching -- in-person, online, and by phone.
  • Training from subject matter experts with agribusiness experience.
  • Online resources and step-by-step outlines for business strategies.
  • Learn more about the program through the Score FAQ .

Training Opportunities

Attend field days, workshops, courses, or formal education programs to build necessary skills to ensure you can successfully produce your selected farm products and/or services. Many local and regional agricultural organizations, including USDA and Cooperative Extension, offer training to beginning farmers.

  • Cooperative Extension  offices address common issues faced by agricultural producers, and conduct workshops and educational events for the agricultural community.
  • extension.org  is an online community for the Cooperative Extension program where you can find publications and ask experts for advice.

Now that you have a basic plan for your farm operation, prepare for your visit to a USDA service center.

2. Visit Your USDA Service Center

How to Start a Farm with USDA

Get an  overview of the beginning farmer's journey  or jump to a specific page below.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.

Learn more about our Urban Service Centers . Visit the Risk Management Agency website to find a regional or compliance office  or to find an insurance agent near you.

15 Ideas for Your Small Hobby or Backyard Farm

Collage-Bees-Butterflies-Chickens-Lettuce-on-Farm

So you’ve got a nice piece of land – around 5 acres or so, and you want to do something with it, but you’re not sure what. 

Is small-scale farming for profit a good fit, or would a hobby farm be a better idea? If you can’t pin down what to do, this list of small farm ideas might get your creative thoughts flowing and help you begin your project.

1. Plant Vegetables

Growing vegetables on a backyard farm is a must – whether you grow them to feed your family or to sell in local markets for added income.

green lettuce heads growing in rows

You don’t need extensive experience, but you should know the basics. Read about what types of plants grow well in your growing zone, when to plant them outside, how to care for them, and when to harvest. 

A garden tiller helps get your patch of soil ready for planting. If you don’t have your own, you might know someone who can help you out, or you can rent one. Once the soil is prepped, you only need a few heavy-duty hand tools, a wheelbarrow, and hoses for watering. 

2. Build a Greenhouse

Having a greenhouse means you can start your plants inside during the off-season and be ready to plant them as soon as your soil has warmed up.

If you have extra plant starts, you can sell them too. This is a profitable venture because your only costs are the seeds and a small pot of dirt.

Locally grown vegetables are becoming more and more in demand and are a great way to make more money from your land.  

small greenhouse set in the middle of blooming flower garden

Your greenhouse doesn’t need to be an expensive, elaborate structure. You can make a nice one with PVC pipe and plastic. Later, if you discover that you can’t live without one, build one that is more permanent. 

3. Raise chickens

Chickens are easy to care for, they produce lots of eggs, and they don’t eat a lot. A hen starts laying at about 18 weeks old and produces one egg every 24 hours during the first year. 

You’ll need a coop with laying boxes and a roosting perch, but it doesn’t need to be elaborate. The birds should be warm (or cool) and protected from predators.

chicken and a rooster foraging on the ground

Chickens love to roam around the fields and eat bugs, worms, and plants, enhancing the flavor of their eggs. Just make sure your plants are protected if your chickens are out!

4. Hatch Your Own Chicks

To maintain optimum egg production, it’s best to have younger hens. You can hatch your own chicks and reduce the cost of buying replacement hens.

You will need an incubator and a dedicated set up to keep the chicks warm until they are ready to join the flock. Incubators come in a variety of sizes and complexities, so choose one that fits your situation.

It takes 21 days for chicken eggs to hatch, and chicks should be kept separate and warm until they are around six weeks old. 

Just remember, if you want to use your chickens’ eggs to hatch, you need to have roosters in your flock. 

5. Build A Compost Pile

If you’re growing vegetables, you need organic compost to add essential nutrients to your soil. Building your own compost pile is a great way to use household waste mixed with organic matter collected from your yard. 

vegetable scraps decomposing in comport pile with hands holding fully composted soil

You can build your own or buy a compost bin ready to go. Turn your pile every seven days or a compost tumbler every three days. You’ll have compost in about three to four months, depending on the material used and weather conditions. 

6. Raise Worms

Worms eat your kitchen scraps and produce rich worm castings that add nutrients to your potting soil and help seedlings grow strong. 

You don’t need experience to get started, but you need to buy worms and have a place to keep them out of the elements. Start with 1000 worms and a proper worm bin for them, you’ll have fun, and it could turn into a lucrative venture once the worms begin multiplying. 

7. Grow Organic

Stay away from chemical fertilizers and pesticides for your small-scale farming projects to protect the food you produce, your soil, bees, and butterflies that come to visit, and to boost your profit margin by adding value to your products. 

You don’t need a lot of experience to grow organic, but having some knowledge of what crops work in harmony or natural bug repellants can help you increase production.

8. Choose Heirloom Varieties

heirloom tomatoes growing on the vine

Heirloom plants come from seeds that have been saved and grown for many years and passed down from person to person. The varieties available in your region are generally the ones that are most successfully grown in the region. 

Heirlooms are more flavorful, higher in nutrition, and open-pollinated, so you can collect seeds for the next season. Heirloom produce gets premium prices at local markets, too. 

9. Plant Fruit Trees And Vines

ripe apple trees in orchard with barrels filled with picked apples

Fruit trees and vines add beauty and value to a backyard farm. Plant types that are suited for your climate, and you can start picking within two years. 

Raspberry and blackberry vines do well in shaded areas. You can sneak them in along the borders of your land so they don’t take up space in your vegetable garden. 

Read Related: What Are The Most Profitable Trees To Grow For Lumber?

10. Grow herbs

woman looking at a sage plant at the farmers market

Herbs are popular items at farmer’s markets and grocery stores. You can sell them in bulk or in pots as added-value products. There are many profitable herbs you can grow , even on a smaller scale, such as basil or lavender.

Grow herbs in your greenhouse or in your garden, where they act as natural insect repellents. 

11. Beekeeping

bees around an active honeycomb and manmade beehive

Raising bees provides honey, beeswax, and bees for pollination. You can sell your products and get some extra income and have lots of healthy, sweet honey to eat too. 

Beekeeping isn’t easy, but beginners can do it, so don’t feel intimidated. There are courses online and community classes to help you learn. You’ll need to buy equipment and bees, which can run into the hundreds of dollars depending on where you go. 

12. Raised Beds

If you don’t have fertile soil or room for planting in-ground, raised beds are a good option. You can place them where you want and grow just about anything in them. You can make your own or purchase ready-made. 

13. Attract Bees And Butterflies

2 bees and a butterfly on a bring pink blooming bee balm

If you have up to 5 acres of land, you have space to plant indigenous wildflowers that attract bees and butterflies. The nectar and pollen from the plants feed the bees and butterflies, and in turn, they help pollinate your vegetable and fruit plants. 

14. Add Flowers

Not only do flowers add color and beauty to the garden, but they also help deter pests and are beneficial to vegetable plants. Tomato worms hate calendula, deer won’t come near lavender, and marigolds repel whiteflies and squash bugs. Also, fresh flowers are hot sellers in farmer’s markets.

You might have to do some reading to find the flower-vegetable combinations that work best for your small-scale farming project, but the results are worth it. 

15. Add More Animals

When you feel more confident running your hobby farm, you can add more livestock. Goats and sheep are suitable for beginners because they’re small and quite timid. You’ll need a dedicated space for them to live, a feeding trough, and something to hold water. 

young goat making friends with a young sheep behind wire fencing on the farm

Goats and sheep love to graze outside, and they’ll head right for your fruit and vegetable patches if they get loose. An enclosed space for them outside or protection for your garden is well-advised. 

Once the animals have babies, you can milk them. There’s a great market for fresh milk and cheese if you have enough to sell. Just make sure you know the local regulations for selling animal products beforehand. 

If goats or sheep aren’t a good fit, there are plenty of other smaller farm animals that are fairly easy to raise, such as chickens, rabbits, or quail.

And remember, raising animals is a 24/7 job, so if you can’t make that commitment, you shouldn’t. 

If you’re just getting started on your small-scale farming adventure, it’s best to start out slowly. Don’t go all-in on one big idea. Diversify! That way, you’ll get a good feeling about what works best for you, your family, and your precious land.

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Small farm ideas on 5 acres of less - Pinterest Pin

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Cultivating Organic Connections

Profitable Strategies for a 5 Acre Farm

  • By: Alice Davis
  • Date: March 29, 2024
  • Time to read: 20 min.

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More and more people are embracing the charm of rural living and seeking opportunities to make money on a 5 acre farm. With the right strategies and planning, small-scale agriculture can offer a profitable venture. If you’re wondering about the income potential on small farms , the financial viability of small agriculture , or the profitability of a 5 acre farm, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we will provide practical tips and strategies to help you maximize the earning potential on your small acreage. We’ll explore different income opportunities, discuss the financial viability of small-scale agriculture, and guide you towards creating a profitable 5 acre farm plan . Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced farmer, there are valuable insights and opportunities waiting for you.

5 acre farm business plan

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t underestimate the income potential of a 5 acre farm – with the right strategies, it can be profitable.
  • Consider the financial viability of small-scale agriculture and identify the best income opportunities for your farm.
  • Create a well-thought-out 5 acre farm plan that includes sustainable farming methods and effective business management .
  • Invest in essential equipment for efficient farm operation and explore the right crops or livestock for profitability.
  • Find steady customers through smart marketing strategies like CSA programs, farmers’ markets , and online sales .

Creating a Profitable 5 Acre Farm Plan

To make your 5 acre farm profitable, it is important to have a well-thought-out plan. Your farm plan should incorporate sustainable farming methods , integrated production of both livestock and vegetable crops, and considerations for business planning , marketing , and management . By strategically combining these elements, you can maximize the profitability and success of your 5 acre farm.

Sustainable Farming Methods

Implementing sustainable farming methods is crucial for long-term success. This includes practices such as crop rotation, cover cropping, composting, and organic pest control. By prioritizing soil health and biodiversity, you can enhance your farm’s productivity while minimizing environmental impact.

Integrated Livestock and Vegetable Production

Integrating both livestock and vegetable production on your 5 acre farm can create a symbiotic relationship that benefits both sides. Livestock can provide manure for nutrient-rich compost, while vegetable crops can serve as feed for grazing animals. This integrated approach optimizes resource utilization and increases overall efficiency.

Business Planning

Effective business planning is essential for any successful venture. Define your farm’s mission, goals, and target market. Develop a realistic budget and financial projections, considering both start-up costs and ongoing expenses. Identify potential risks and develop contingency plans to mitigate them. A well-crafted business plan will serve as your roadmap to success.

Developing a solid marketing strategy is crucial for finding and attracting customers. Identify your target market and tailor your products and messaging to their preferences. Establish a strong brand identity and utilize various channels such as farmers’ markets , community-supported agriculture ( CSA ) programs, and online platforms to reach your audience. Building relationships with local businesses and restaurants can also provide valuable marketing opportunities.

Efficient management is key to running a profitable 5 acre farm. Implement systems for record-keeping, inventory management, and efficient workflow. Establish clear roles and responsibilities for yourself and any employees or farm workers. Regularly assess and adjust your strategies based on market conditions, customer feedback, and financial performance.

Essential Equipment for a 5 Acre Farm

In order to efficiently manage your 5 acre farm, you will need to invest in essential equipment that will streamline your operations and increase productivity. Having the right equipment will not only save you time and effort but also contribute to the overall success of your small farm.

Here are some key pieces of equipment that are indispensable for a 5 acre farm:

  • Tractor and Loader: A tractor and loader combination is essential for tasks such as moving heavy loads, clearing land, or handling large hay bales.
  • Spader: A spader is a useful tool for preparing the soil by breaking it up and incorporating organic matter.
  • Bed Shaper: A bed shaper creates raised beds, which are ideal for efficient planting and drainage.
  • Transplanter: A transplanter allows you to quickly and accurately transplant seedlings, saving time and ensuring uniform plant spacing.
  • Rotary Mower: A rotary mower is necessary for maintaining the grass and vegetation on your farm, keeping it neat and tidy.
  • Tiller: A tiller is essential for preparing the soil for planting or cultivating between rows of crops.
  • Pickup Truck: A pickup truck is versatile and can be used for transporting equipment, supplies, and harvested produce.
  • Walk-in Cooler: A walk-in cooler is crucial for preserving the quality and freshness of your harvested fruits, vegetables, and other perishable products.
  • Farming Supplies: Farming supplies such as irrigation systems, hand tools, protective gear, and quality seeds are essential for efficient farm management.

Investing in high-quality equipment and maintaining it properly will ensure its longevity and reliable performance. Regular maintenance and servicing will help prevent breakdowns and keep your equipment in optimal condition for years to come.

5 acre farm business plan

“Having the right equipment is like having an extra pair of hands on your farm. It increases your efficiency and enables you to accomplish more in less time.” – John Thompson, Small Farmer

Choosing the Right Crop or Livestock for Your 5 Acre Farm

When it comes to starting a profitable small farm on your 5-acre property, choosing the right crop or livestock is crucial. Different crops and livestock have varying market demand and potential for profitability. Here are some options to consider:

Microgreens

Microgreens are young vegetable greens that are harvested just a few weeks after germination. They are packed with flavor and nutritional value, making them popular in the culinary world. Microgreens can be grown in a small space and have a quick turnover, making them a profitable choice for small farms.

Salad Greens

Salad greens like lettuce, spinach, and arugula are in high demand throughout the year. They have a short growth period and can be harvested multiple times, maximizing your crop yield. Selling directly to consumers or local restaurants can generate a steady income stream.

Garlic is a popular crop known for its culinary and medicinal properties. It can be grown in small plots and requires minimal maintenance. Garlic has a long shelf life, allowing you to store and sell it during the off-season for higher profits.

5 acre farm business plan

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Worm Castings

Worm castings , also known as vermicompost, are highly sought after for organic gardening. Setting up a worm farm and selling the nutrient-rich worm castings can be a profitable venture. They can be sold locally or online to gardeners looking for organic soil amendments.

Meat Chickens

Raising meat chickens is a common practice on small farms. They have a short growth period and require minimal space compared to other livestock options. Selling locally-raised, pasture-raised chicken can attract customers looking for high-quality, ethically-raised meat.

Mushrooms , such as oyster mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms , can be grown indoors or in shady areas of your farm. They have a high market demand and can generate a significant income. Growing mushrooms can be a lucrative business with proper cultivation techniques and marketing efforts.

Ginseng is a valuable medicinal herb with a high demand in the market. However, it requires specific growing conditions and takes several years to reach maturity. Growing ginseng can be a long-term investment with significant profits once the plants are ready for harvest.

Bamboo is a versatile and fast-growing plant that has various uses, from construction materials to culinary applications. It can be grown on a small scale and harvested for its shoots, which are highly valued in many cuisines. Additionally, bamboo can be used for crafts, furniture, and landscaping, providing additional income opportunities.

Raising quail can be a profitable option for small farms. Quail eggs and meat are in demand, and quail require less space and feed compared to larger livestock. Selling quail products directly to consumers or local restaurants can yield a steady income.

Broiler Chickens

Broiler chickens , bred specifically for meat production, can be raised in a short period of time and require minimal space. They can be sold as whole birds or as individual cuts, providing a profitable source of income for your small farm.

Finding Steady Customers for Your 5 Acre Farm Products

Once you have chosen your crop or livestock, finding steady customers is essential for generating income. To ensure your products reach the right people, you need effective marketing strategies tailored to small farms. Here are some key strategies to consider:

1. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program

Joining a CSA program allows you to sell subscriptions or shares of your farm’s produce directly to local consumers. This mutually beneficial arrangement ensures a consistent customer base and offers your customers a regular supply of fresh, locally sourced products.

2. Supplying Gourmet Restaurants

Gourmet restaurants often prioritize using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. Establish relationships with these establishments by showcasing the unique flavors and freshness of your farm products. Consider reaching out to local chefs and offering samples to entice them to include your produce on their menus.

3. Selling at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets are a great platform to connect directly with customers who value fresh, organic, and locally produced food. Set up an appealing display that highlights the unique offerings from your 5 acre farm. Engage in conversations with customers, sharing stories about your farm and offering samples to pique their interest.

4. Setting up a Roadside Vegetable Stand

A roadside vegetable stand can be an effective way to attract customers passing by your farm. Create an inviting atmosphere with colorful signage and well-organized displays. Offer a variety of seasonal produce and consider adding value-added products like jams, salsa, or honey to expand your product range.

5. Online Sales

Take advantage of the digital marketplace by setting up an online store for your farm products. Develop a visually appealing website that showcases your products and highlights the story behind your farm. Utilize social media platforms to promote your offerings and engage with potential customers.

“Effective marketing strategies are crucial for small farms to reach their target customers and generate consistent income.”

By implementing a combination of these marketing strategies, you can attract and retain customers for your 5 acre farm. Remember to showcase the unique qualities of your products, communicate your farm’s story, and prioritize customer satisfaction to build long-lasting relationships. Stay connected to your customers, listen to their feedback, and continuously adapt your marketing approach to meet their needs.

5 acre farm business plan

Profitable Small Farm Ideas for Rural Agriculture

Rural agriculture presents its own unique opportunities for profitable farming. If you are looking for small farm ideas in rural areas, consider the following options:

1. Tree Nursery

Starting a tree nursery can be a lucrative venture. With a wide variety of trees available, you can cater to landscaping businesses, homeowners, and local municipalities. Trees are in high demand for beautifying properties and environmental conservation projects.

2. Fish Farming

Consider setting up a fish farm on your rural property. Fish farming can be a profitable business, providing a sustainable source of high-quality seafood to local markets. You can rear popular fish species such as catfish, tilapia, or trout.

3. Dual Crop Farming

Dual crop farming involves growing two or more complementary crops simultaneously. By practicing crop rotation and designing efficient planting systems, you can maximize space utilization and potential profits. For example, you can grow vegetables alongside herbs or flowers.

4. Goat Farming

Goats are versatile animals that can be raised for milk, meat, or fiber production. Starting a goat farm can offer a range of income opportunities, from selling goat milk and cheese to breeding and selling goat kids.

5. Alpaca Farming

Alpacas are known for their luxurious fleece, which is used to produce premium quality clothing and textiles. This niche market offers potential for profitable alpaca farming . Additionally, alpaca manure can be used as a natural fertilizer for crops.

“By diversifying your farm enterprises, you can mitigate risks and tap into multiple income streams, ensuring long-term profitability.”

Remember, successful small farm ideas require careful planning, research, and dedication. By diversifying your farm enterprises, you can mitigate risks and tap into multiple income streams, ensuring long-term profitability.

Low-Capital Small Farm Ideas

If you have a limited budget, there are still several low-capital small farm ideas that you can pursue. These include herb gardening , bee farming , aquaponics , and microgreens farming . These ideas require minimal investment but can still generate a steady stream of income.

Herb gardening is a great way to start a small farm with low capital. Not only can you grow a variety of herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes, but they also have a high market demand. With proper care and attention, you can sell fresh or dried herbs to local restaurants, health food stores, and directly to consumers.

Bee farming , also known as apiculture, involves keeping bees and harvesting their honey and other products. Beekeeping requires relatively little equipment and space, making it an affordable option for small-scale farming. Not only can you sell raw honey, but you can also offer other bee-related products such as beeswax candles, propolis, or royal jelly.

Aquaponics is a sustainable farming method that combines aquaculture ( fish farming ) with hydroponics (growing plants in water). This system allows the fish waste to provide nutrients to the plants, while the plants purify the water for the fish. By harnessing the natural symbiosis between fish and plants, you can cultivate a wide range of vegetables and fish, such as lettuce, tomatoes, tilapia, or catfish. Aquaponics requires an initial investment in tanks and filtration systems, but it can yield high-quality produce and fish with minimal water usage.

Microgreens farming is another low-capital small farm idea that has gained popularity in recent years. Microgreens are young vegetable greens that are harvested just after the first few leaves have developed. They are packed with nutrients and have a delicate and unique flavor. With minimal space and a few trays or containers, you can grow microgreens indoors or outdoors. Microgreens are in high demand by restaurants, farmers’ markets, and health-conscious consumers who seek fresh and nutritious additions to their meals.

5 acre farm business plan

Comparison of Low-Capital Small Farm Ideas

As shown in the comparison table above, all of these low-capital small farm ideas have the potential to generate a steady income. The initial investment required varies, with bee farming and aquaponics requiring a slightly higher investment due to equipment and setup costs. However, the market demand for these products is high, resulting in the potential for profitable returns on your investment.

Remember, the key to success in any low-capital small farm venture is proper planning, market research, and commitment to quality. Start small, gauge customer demand, and gradually scale up your operations as you gain experience and confidence. With dedication and perseverance, your low-capital small farm idea can flourish and become a sustainable source of income.

Profitable Small Farm Ideas for Urban Agriculture

As more people move to cities, urban agriculture is becoming increasingly popular. The limited space in urban areas has led to the development of profitable small farm ideas that maximize the use of available resources. If you are interested in urban farming, here are some lucrative options to consider:

Rooftop Farming

Utilize unused rooftop spaces to set up your farm. Rooftop farming not only maximizes space but also provides insulation for buildings, reduces stormwater runoff, and offers fresh produce to urban communities. By implementing smart farming techniques and utilizing vertical space, you can cultivate a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Vertical Farming

Vertical farming involves growing plants in stacked layers, using artificial lighting and controlled environments. This innovative approach allows you to grow crops vertically, significantly increasing the yield per square foot. With vertical farming , you can efficiently produce a wide range of leafy greens, herbs, and even small fruits within urban settings.

Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a soilless farming technique that involves growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solution. By providing plants with the ideal balance of nutrients, light, and water, hydroponics allows for faster growth and higher yields. This method is perfect for urban farming as it can be implemented in small spaces, such as basements or spare rooms.

Container Gardening

Container gardening is a versatile and space-efficient way to grow crops in urban areas. By using various containers such as pots, planters, or even recycled materials like buckets or tires, you can create a thriving garden on balconies, rooftops, or patios. Container gardening allows for easy mobility and flexibility in managing your urban farm.

Urban Beekeeping

Urban beekeeping is gaining popularity as more people recognize the importance of pollinators for urban agriculture. By keeping beehives in urban areas, you not only contribute to the preservation of bee populations but also have the opportunity to sell honey and beeswax products. Urban beekeeping can be done on rooftops, balconies, or community gardens.

Implementing these profitable small farm ideas for urban agriculture allows you to make the most of limited urban spaces and contribute to sustainable food production in cities.

Maximizing Profitability on a 5 Acre Farm

Maximizing profitability on a 5 acre farm requires efficiency and diversification . By implementing smart strategies, you can increase your income and create a thriving agricultural business.

Efficiency on Small Farms

Efficiency is key when it comes to maximizing profitability on a small farm. By optimizing your resources and processes, you can reduce waste and increase productivity. Here are some tips to improve efficiency on your 5 acre farm:

  • Implement modern farming techniques that save time and energy.
  • Use precision tools and equipment to minimize errors and maximize output.
  • Adopt sustainable farming practices to reduce costs and environmental impact.
  • Keep detailed records of your operations to identify areas for improvement.

Value-Added Products

Offering value-added products is another effective way to boost your profitability. By transforming raw materials from your farm into processed goods, you can command higher prices and increase customer demand. Consider the following value-added products:

  • Processing fruits and vegetables into jams, pickles, or sauces.
  • Crafting handmade soaps, candles, or textiles using natural materials.
  • Creating value-added dairy products like cheese or yogurt.

Remember, value-added products require additional time and effort, but the increased profit margins can make it worthwhile.

Diversification

Diversifying your farm operations can help spread risk, tap into new markets, and increase revenue streams. By offering a variety of products and services, you can attract a larger customer base and adapt to changing market conditions. Consider the following diversification options:

  • Growing a mix of crops with different growing seasons and market demands.
  • Adding livestock to your farm, such as chickens for eggs or goats for milk.
  • Providing farm-to-table experiences like cooking classes or farm stays.

Agritourism

Agritourism is a growing trend that allows farmers to generate additional income by inviting visitors to their farm. By offering activities and experiences, you can create memorable moments for guests and increase your revenue. Here are some agritourism ideas:

  • Organize farm tours to educate visitors about your agricultural practices.
  • Host workshops on topics like organic gardening or animal care.
  • Organize special events, such as harvest festivals or farm-to-table dinners.
  • Offer recreational activities like horseback riding or hayrides.

Make sure to check local regulations and obtain any necessary permits before engaging in agritourism activities.

Case Studies of Successful 5 Acre Farms

In this section, we will delve into the inspiring case studies of successful 5 acre farms. These real-life examples showcase the potential for profitability in small-scale agriculture and offer valuable insights for aspiring farmers. Let’s explore the stories of urban farmer Curtis Stone and his micro-farm, New Terra Farm, as well as Joel Salatin’s renowned PolyFace Farm.

Urban Farmer Curtis Stone and New Terra Farm

One notable example of a successful small farm is Curtis Stone’s urban micro-farm, New Terra Farm. Based in British Columbia, Canada, Curtis has transformed his quarter-acre urban plot into a highly profitable venture. Using innovative techniques like intensive organic gardening, he successfully grows an impressive variety of high-value crops.

“I realized that if I maximized the production and minimized the inefficiencies of the land, I could generate a significant income from a small plot,” Curtis commented.

Curtis Stone’s unique business model focuses on direct-to-market sales, including supplying local restaurants and running a successful community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. This allows him to capture premium prices for his sustainably grown produce.

To learn more about Curtis Stone and New Terra Farm, visit their website here.

Joel Salatin’s PolyFace Farm

Another exceptional example of a successful farm is Joel Salatin’s PolyFace Farm in Virginia, USA. Spanning over 1,000 acres, this multi-generational family farm has become synonymous with regenerative agriculture practices and profitability.

“We don’t have a farm here; we have a table. And the table extends from New York City to Baltimore,” Joel Salatin passionately expressed.

PolyFace Farm’s success lies in its holistic approach to farming, employing innovative techniques such as rotational grazing, pastured poultry systems, and mobile infrastructure. These sustainable practices not only ensure profitability but also enhance soil health and build a harmonious relationship with nature.

To discover more about Joel Salatin and PolyFace Farm, please visit their website here.

Examining the achievements of Curtis Stone’s New Terra Farm and Joel Salatin’s PolyFace Farm offers invaluable inspiration and practical insights for running a profitable small farm. These case studies highlight the importance of innovative techniques, direct marketing, and sustainable practices in creating successful and financially viable 5 acre farms.

Financial Considerations for a 5 Acre Farm

Running a financially successful 5 acre farm requires careful farm budgeting , income projection , expense management , and financial planning . By effectively managing your farm’s finances, you can ensure the long-term viability and profitability of your small farm operation.

Key Financial Considerations

When it comes to managing the financial aspects of your 5 acre farm, there are several key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Farm Budgeting: Create a detailed farm budget that outlines your expected income and expenses. This will help you make informed decisions about where to allocate your resources and identify areas where you can cut costs or increase revenue.
  • Income Projection: Develop a realistic income projection based on market research, crop yields, and potential sales channels. This will give you a clear understanding of how much revenue you can expect to generate from your farm.
  • Expense Management: Carefully monitor and control your farm’s expenses. Look for ways to reduce costs without sacrificing quality or efficiency. Consider implementing sustainable farming practices to minimize input expenses.
  • Financial Planning: Create a long-term financial plan for your farm. This should include strategies for saving, investing, and managing debt. Consider working with a financial advisor who specializes in agriculture to help you make sound financial decisions.

By addressing these financial considerations, you can lay a solid foundation for the financial success of your 5 acre farm.

The Importance of Financial Management

Effective financial management is crucial for the sustainability and profitability of your farm. It allows you to:

  • Make Informed Decisions: By keeping track of your finances and understanding your farm’s financial position, you can make informed decisions about investments, expansions, or diversification .
  • Identify Profitability: Regular financial analysis will help you determine which aspects of your farm are most profitable and which may be dragging down your overall financial performance.
  • Secure Loans or Funding: Lenders and investors will want to see that your farm has a solid financial foundation. Proper financial management will increase your chances of securing loans or attracting investment.
  • Plan for the Future: Financial planning allows you to set goals and develop strategies to achieve them. This includes planning for farm succession, retirement, or future expansions.

Remember, financial success on a 5 acre farm is not built overnight. It requires ongoing monitoring, analysis, and adjustment to ensure your farm’s financial health.

Financial Tips for Small Farm Success

“Good financial management is the backbone of a successful small farm. Stay on top of your farm budget, track your income and expenses, and adjust your financial plan as needed. By doing so, you’ll be well-positioned for long-term profitability.” – John Smith, Small Farm Consultant

Here are some tips to help you effectively manage the finances of your small farm:

  • Keep Detailed Records: Maintain accurate records of all farm-related financial transactions. This includes invoices, receipts, tax documents, and financial statements. Use accounting software or hire a professional bookkeeper to assist you.
  • Regularly Review and Evaluate: Set aside time each month or quarter to review your financial statements and evaluate your farm’s financial performance. Look for areas where you can improve efficiency or cut costs.
  • Explore Grant Opportunities: Research and apply for grants that can provide financial assistance for your farm. There are many government and private organizations that offer grants specifically for small farms.
  • Consider Crop Diversification: Planting a variety of crops can help spread the financial risk and potentially increase your farm’s revenue streams. Explore niche markets and value-added products that can generate higher profits.
  • Seek Professional Advice: If you’re unsure about certain financial aspects of your farm, don’t hesitate to seek advice from professionals such as accountants, financial advisors, or agricultural consultants. They can provide valuable insights and guidance tailored to your specific farm operation.

By implementing these financial tips and strategies, you can improve the financial resilience and profitability of your 5 acre farm.

5 acre farm business plan

Note: The percentages above are for illustrative purposes only and may vary depending on the specific circumstances and expenses of your farm.

Understanding and effectively managing the financial aspects of your 5 acre farm is vital for long-term success. By implementing sound financial practices and seeking professional advice when needed, you can build a financially sustainable and profitable farm operation.

Can you make money on a 5 acre farm ? The answer is a resounding yes! With the right plan, careful financial management, and effective marketing strategies, a 5 acre farm can be a profitable business venture.

Profitable 5 acre farming requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards are worth it. By choosing the right crops or livestock that have market demand and potential for profitability, you can maximize your earning potential. Consider options such as microgreens, salad greens , garlic , meat chickens , or mushrooms.

Implementing effective marketing strategies is crucial for finding steady customers and generating income. Explore avenues such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, supplying gourmet restaurants, selling at farmers’ markets, or setting up an online store. Captivating potential customers through targeted marketing efforts will help you attract and retain loyal clientele for your 5 acre farm.

In summary, a well-thought-out plan, choosing the right crops or livestock, and implementing effective marketing strategies are key to a profitable 5 acre farming endeavor. While it may require hard work and financial management, the financial viability of small agriculture can be realized on a 5 acre farm. So, roll up your sleeves, nurture the land, and watch your 5 acre farm thrive!

Can you make money on a 5 acre farm?

Yes, it is possible to make money on a 5 acre farm by implementing profitable strategies and choosing the right crops or livestock.

What should be included in a 5 acre farm plan?

A 5 acre farm plan should include sustainable farming methods, integrated livestock and vegetable production , as well as considerations for business planning , marketing, and management.

What equipment do I need for a 5 acre farm?

Essential equipment for a 5 acre farm includes a tractor and loader , spader , bed shaper , transplanter , rotary mower , tiller , pickup truck , walk-in cooler , and farming supplies .

What are some profitable crops or livestock options for a 5 acre farm?

Some profitable options for a 5 acre farm include microgreens, salad greens , garlic, worm castings , meat chickens , mushrooms, ginseng , bamboo , quail, and broiler chickens .

How can I find steady customers for my 5 acre farm products?

You can find steady customers by employing marketing strategies such as selling through a CSA program, supplying gourmet restaurants, selling at farmers’ markets, setting up a roadside vegetable stand , and selling products online.

What are some profitable small farm ideas for rural agriculture?

Some profitable small farm ideas for rural areas include starting a tree nursery , fish farming, dual crop farming , goat farming , and alpaca farming .

What are some low-capital small farm ideas?

Low-capital small farm ideas include herb gardening , bee farming, aquaponics, and microgreens farming .

What are some profitable small farm ideas for urban agriculture?

Profitable small farm ideas for urban agriculture include rooftop farming , vertical farming , hydroponics, container gardening , and urban beekeeping .

How can I maximize profitability on a 5 acre farm?

You can maximize profitability by offering value-added products, diversifying your farm activities, and exploring agritourism opportunities.

Are there any case studies of successful 5 acre farms?

Yes, there are case studies of successful 5 acre farms, including urban farmer Curtis Stone and his micro-farm, New Terra Farm, and Joel Salatin’s PolyFace Farm.

What are some financial considerations for a 5 acre farm?

Financial considerations for a 5 acre farm include budgeting, income projection , expense management , and financial planning .

Is it possible to make money on a 5 acre farm?

Yes, with the right plan and strategies, a well-run 5 acre farm can be a profitable business venture.

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Designing A 5 Acre Homestead Layout

design a five acre homestead farm

Hi, I’m Ryan

I love being outside and working in nature, which is why I valued working a 5 acre homestead layout that functioned smoothly and let me easily do what I enjoy. You can find success on your land as well by using the same blueprint I did.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Getting out in the fresh air to take care of the plants and animals I’m raising on my own land is what inspired me to create this 5 acre homestead layout — so others can enjoy the same benefits I do. A carefully crafted design can make your acreage much easier to farm, getting you to the rewarding part of homesteading a lot faster.

what is homesteading

5 Acre Homestead Layout

Five Acre Homestead Layout

Working with this 5 acre homestead layout, I found that it was actually pretty easy to create space for a surprising amount of gardens and livestock. I’ve worked homesteads as small as 0.1 acres , so, believe it or not, 5 acres of land is a huge farm to some people. You’ll have space for a roomy house with an attached garage and an open driveway.

homesteading book reviews

To keep your homestead running, you’ll also have the space for a decent-sized barn, a small woodshed, a large compost area , and 18 or more solar panels.

These numbers should give you an idea of what you can feasibly fit on your 5 acre homestead design, but, by all means, personalize this plan to your particular needs . Need more power? Add more solar panels . Need tons of fruit for selling jams or pies? Plant more fruit trees or add some berry bushes. For whatever you add, you’ll need to take something else away, depending on how crowded you want your homestead to be.

five acre homestead layout

Designing Your Homestead Layout

Acre Homestead

How Much Will A 5 Acre Homestead Produce?

Your 5 acre homestead can produce around 15,000 lbs of produce in a good growing year. Here is a closer look at the possibilities.

Production Projections for 5 Acres

  • Main House Twenty-five raised 4×8 beds will produce around 1 to 2 lbs per square foot for a harvest of 800 to 1,600 lbs of produce in a year.
  • Raised Gardens Twenty-five raised 4×8 beds will produce around 1 to 2 lbs per square foot for a harvest of 800 to 1,600 lbs of produce in a year.
  • Compost Your compost bin can help feed your garden and your chickens to keep your homestead self-sufficient. How much you have to work with will depend on how many people are in the household and how many fresh foods they consume.
  • Barn A barn can store your feed, hay, and farm equipment to keep everything you need for your homestead safe from animals and bad weather.
  • Goat Pen The amount of milk your goats produce in a year will depend on how many you have and what breeds they are, but you should be able to count on an average of over 200 gallons of milk per goat every year.
  • Woodshed If you’re planning on using wood for a firepit or a heat source, you’ll need a place to shelter it from the elements. The size of your shed will depend on the amount of wood you’ll need for the season.
  • Crops Three to four 10×10 ground-level gardens can easily produce around 400 to 800 lbs of vegetables in a year.
  • Pig Pen Pigs don’t move around a lot, so they don’t require much space, and you can own as many as you’re willing to feed and care for. Just for reference, 15 pigs that weigh around 250 pounds would yield about 2,100 lbs of meat.
  • Orchard / Beehives With three beehives, you’ll be able to produce an average of 180 to 360 lbs of honey per year, and with 20 to 40 fruit trees, you could also harvest anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 lbs of fruit in a year.
  • Chicken Coop Allowing for a little over 300 square feet of coop space could comfortably keep 35 chickens, which in turn could produce up to 600 cartons of eggs in a year if you get lucky with the right breeds and conditions.
  • Duck Pond Keeping in mind that you’ll need to allow at least 10 square feet of run space per duck and also have an uncrowded pond, you could feasibly raise between 10 to 20 ducks, which could add up to 250 to 500 cartons of duck eggs per year.
  • Solar Array Eighteen solar panels can power a decent amount of square footage, but if your home, garage, and powered working space combines to over 1,800 square feet, you may need a few more depending on your level of power usage.

Why 5 Acres Is The Perfect Size For Your Homestead

Why A Five Acre Farm is The Perfect Size

A 5 acre homestead layout is a great amount of land to work with. Having lots of growing room for your vegetable gardens and fruit trees can give you enough of a harvest to feed your household with leftovers to sell, gift, or preserve for winter . If you stick to my pictured plan (with some minor adjustments), you’ll have a great head start.

when to plant and plant spacing

Is 5 Acres Enough For A Homestead To Farm?

A homestead layout of five acres is plenty of land to farm. I’ve seen two people be self-sufficient on as little as 2.5 acres, so you’ll be able to grow the majority your own food on your land if you have an average household. Five acres is even enough to start raising pigs and meat hens to add some meat to your diet, which is difficult to do on a smaller homestead.

how to start homesteading

What Are The Dimensions Of 5 Acres?

When you’re ready start laying out your five acre homestead, you’ll have 217,800 square feet to work with at approximately 330 feet by 660 feet. This is a nice amount of space, but to make the most of it, you’ll want to follow a purposeful plan.

How Do You Lay Out A 5 Acre Homestead?

Design and Layout of A Five Acre Farm

The layout of your 5 acre homestead should work with the existing elements of your land, with all of the features placed thoughtfully to complement or enhance one another. For example, I like keeping my chickens close to my compost pile so they can snack on the scraps and help turn the piles.

The layout design process is the strategizing stage, so play around with it until you fit everything into your space the way you want it. At that point, I always advise measuring and staking out each section of your land to ensure you leave room for everything you’ve planned for.

Here’s What I’ve Done

  • A small home with a double garage and driveway
  • 800 square feet of raised bed gardening space
  • 300 square feet of ground-level growing space
  • Three beehives
  • Composting bin
  • Chicken coop and run with 30 chickens
  • 30 fruit trees
  • Duck pond and 15 ducks
  • 18 solar panels
  • 1 storage barn & 1 woodshed
  • Open driveway
  • Goat pen with 15 goats
  • Pig pen with 13 pigs

growing fruit trees on a homestead

How Big Should A Homestead Garden Be?

On 5 acres of land, your homestead gardening space should be under 1,500 square feet of level land. I like breaking this growing space up into various ground-level and raised bed plots so that it’s easier to access and maintain .

homestead garden basics

How Many Fruit Trees Should You Plant On 5 Acres?

You should plant somewhere between 20 and 40 fruit trees on your 5 acres, depending on your homesteading goals. Trees are a long-term investment in your homestead, but they pay off in bountiful harvests in the future.

How Many Berry Bushes Should You Plant On 5 Acres?

On a 5 acre homestead design, you could easily plant 50 or more berry bushes. You’ll only really need a few bushes per person in your household, but extra can come in handy if you’re into canning, dehydrating, or making baked goods.

Fencing Your 5 Acres

Even if you’re like me and you enjoy wide open spaces in the outdoors, a homestead fence is a practical investment. Depending on your local soil and weather conditions you can pick from a variety of different materials to build a fence large and sturdy enough to keep predators out and livestock in. Wood or steel will be your top materials to use here.

building a homestead fence

What Animals Can You Have On a 5 Acre Hobby Farm?

Animals On Five Acre Homestead

You will have room for multiple types of animals on a 5 acre hobby farm, but I recommend sticking with poultry (such as chickens and ducks), goats, bees, and pigs. These animals will supply you with plenty of eggs, milk, honey, and meat — and maybe even some companionship.

raising chickens on a homestead

Start With Raising Chickens

raising ducks on a homestead

What About Raising Ducks On 5 Acres?

raising honeybees on a homestead

The Feasibility Of Raising Bees

raising goats on a homestead

Raising Goats On 5 Acres

raising pigs on a homestead

Raising Pigs On A 5 Acre Homestead

Getting Started With Chickens

Is 5 Acres Really Enough Space To Grow Your Own Food?

Is Five Acres Enough To Grow Your Own Food

Five acres is more than enough space to grow your own food, and, using my layout, you’ll have extra leftover. Make sure you create your homestead according to your own interests and priorities as well so that you’ll have your favorite foods in abundance.

easiest vegetables to grow

How Much Food Can You Grow On A 5 Acre Farm?

A 5 acre farm can produce roughly 8,500 lbs of food in a good year. Since the average American consumes about 2,000 lbs in a year, this amount of land could feasibly feed around four people with some extra leftover.

Estimated Harvest From A 5 Acre Homestead With This Layout

  • 1,200 lbs of vegetables
  • 460 cartons of chicken eggs
  • 315 gallons of goat milk
  • 4,000 pounds of fruit
  • 275 pounds of honey
  • 2,000 pounds of meat

5 acre farm business plan

Can 5 Acres Of Land Sustain One Person?

A 5 acre homestead design is more than enough land to feed one person. If you’re farming your land on your own, you’ll probably produce more than enough to pay for your homesteading costs and make a profit on top of that.

Is 5 Acres Of Land Enough To Feed A Family Of Five?

Five acres could possibly feed a family of five if they are creative and resourceful. Four people could more easily be fed from this amount of land, but no matter your household size, you will most likely produce over half of your food for the year.

how to prepare garden soil

Can You Be Off Grid On A 5 Acre Homestead?

Can You Live Off Grid On Five Acre Homestead

Yes, as long as the area where you live doesn’t have any restrictions on going off grid , you can be off the grid on a homestead of 5 acres. If you have this much land, chances are you’re good to go, but it never hurts to check.

Is 5 Acres Of Land Enough For An Off-Grid Homestead?

Five acres of land is more than enough for a fully off-grid homestead . You will have to play around with the blueprint I provided to make some room for things like your outdoor bathroom , but you’ll still have a good amount of farming space at your disposal. Five acres gives you plenty of space to arrange a solar setup and water source.

off grid challenges

Is 5 Acres Of Land Enough To Be Self-Sufficient?

Five acres of land is enough to be self-sufficient, as long as your household is made up of fewer than five people. Regardless of your family size, though, you’ll be growing the majority of your own food on your property, which is a huge win.

How Many Solar Panels Needed To Power Your Homestead?

You’ll want 10 to 12 solar panels for every 1,000 square feet of powered living and working space. I’ve allowed room for around 18 panels, but you can always play with this diagram to fit in more as needed. The size of your home will determine how much solar energy you need, so consider sticking with a tiny home for the sake of efficiency.

solar generators

Can A 5 Acre Homestead Be Profitable?

homesteading farmers market

  • How has your local growing season affected your gardening?
  • What is your favorite aspect of homesteading?

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As a professional small acreage planner myself, I found your plans very helpful. Your written explanations & tips very good. I also liked the incorporation of solar panels into your designs.

But I found your plans little bit inefficient and not laid out well. The biggest item is the way you laid out your solar arrays The way your plans show, they take up a large part of the operations and space.

First, I would recommend starting by covering the entire south facing roof, end to end,with panels. If the out buildings are southern facing with panels. By removing the panels, that opens up a lot of space. As an option, you can line your south facing fence with your array, or put 2 rows & possibly increase your power output. Or do both with the roofs and the southern panels.

The next item is to swap sides where you have your goats. By putting them under the trees, they would have shade during the hot summer days. You then put your crops where you placed your goats. Another idea is to throw berries around the duck pond. But make sure to wrap them with chicken wire or you’ll lose all your berries to the ducks.

But these are my thoughts. I am a big believer of maximizing the space one has. 5 acres is a lot of space so there are many ways to lay out one’s operations.

All that said, very nice layouts and articles.

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The Backyard Farming Connection

Everything you Need to Know for Homesteading on 5 acres

When you first start down the path to homesteading, one of the major considerations is where you will build your homestead and how much space you need.

It takes years to build a homestead and establish systems and garden spaces. If you plan to homestead, it is important to find a space and stay in that space to give yourself time to grow fruit trees, build garden beds and more. Depending on your goals, you can homestead on many different sized plots of land including 1/4 acre, 1 acres or more.

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know to start homesteading on 5 acres from what to include on your homestead, how create a layout for backyard farming 5 acres, and a few of our top tips for getting started.

We have homesteaded on 1 acre, 2 acres and have spent the last 10 years on our 5 acres homestead here in NH. While we don’t use all 5 acres actively at the moment, we have been working hard to get systems in place to take advantage of the space and resources we do have.

Whether you already have 5 acres and are deciding how to create a 5 acre homestead layout or are looking to buy a homestead – you can find lots of considerations and information to help. You can also scroll down for some specific design ideas for laying out your 5 acre homestead. You can also find more information on planning your homestead on our planning pages.

As an Amazon Affiliate I may recieve compensation for purchases made through links on this page.

5 acre farm business plan

Can you Homestead on 5 Acres?

The first question is: can you homestead on 5 acres?

The quick answer is that 5 acres is enough to build a homestead and feed a family. While 5 acres is enough to homestead for more people, it’s important to consider specifically what works for you and your future plans.

Whether 5 acres is enough for your family and your specific goals is another question. Before you can decide if 5 acres is enough to homestead for you, consider the following questions:

  • How is the soil on the land?
  • What resources are available? Water, sunlight, etc)?
  • What is the topography of the land?
  • How close is the homestead to other amenities (jobs, stores, etc)
  • Are there rules and reguations that might limit your homesteading?
  • How will your homesteading plan impact the community (neighbors, environment, etc)?
  • What are your long term goals?
  • Do you plan to be fully self sufficient?

Is 5 acres a lot of land? this of course depends on your perspective – for people coming from a city, 5 acres will feel huge, but of course the opposite is also true. So exactly how big is five acres?

Five acres is equivalent to approximately 21,780 square meters or 2.137 hectares. To put it in perspective, a standard American football field, including both the playing field and the end zones, is typically about 1.32 acres in size. So, five acres is roughly equivalent to almost four football fields placed side by side.

5 acre farm business plan

Key Considerations When Homesteading on 5 Acres

Once you’ve identified your 5 acres homestead, the next step is to assess your property and take stock of what challenges your may face and what resources you have available. Using the questions above begin considering how these elements will play into your 5 acres homestead plan.

Self Sufficient Living on 5 Acres

Self sufficient farming 5 acres is possible, but will require additional planning. You will want to consider your food needs throughout the entire year including whether you plan to eat a vegetarian diet or whether you will raise meat. You will also need to consider growing grain and how you will store your food throughout the winter. Most people homestead on 5 acres are not completely self-sufficient.

Soil will form the base of your homestead in many ways. It’s important early on to assess your soil. The best way to do this is to do a soil test. Typically your local cooperative extension through the USDA can help getting your soil tested. You can purchase test kits online as well and while this may not give you are detailed a picture, it is a good place to start.

Water is important no matter where you homestead. Some years you will have too much and some years you won’t have enough. Just like with sunlight, you will want to consider the slope of your property. Do you have a water source like a pond? Are you on a well? Is there part of the property that needs increased drainage or water catchment? The amount of water will also determine which plants you grow.

Learn more about water management on your backyard farm or how we create systems on our backyard farm.

5 acre farm business plan

The amount of sunlight on your property will dictate what you can do on your property. If the slope of your land goes to the north, you may want to avoid growing a garden or fruit trees as sunlight will be limited. You will also need to decide whether you will cut down trees or create a shaded area on your property. We tap our sugar maples in the spring and prefer to have a row of trees to the south of our house. This provide shade in the summer.

Growing vegetables and fruit trees requires sunlight so you may need to clear some of the homestead of trees to get enough sunlight.

Overall Climate

Your overall climate will also dictate what you can or can’t grow on your homestead. While there are some things you can do to take advantage of microclimates on your property, your climate will ultimately dictate what you can grow.

Read more about understanding the climate on your backyard farm.

Topography of the Land

The overall topography of the land is important. As mentioned above, the topography will have impacts on the amount of sunlight as well as the flow of water. It will also dictate where you acn build buildings. When you create your 5 acre homestead plan find ways to work with the existing topography on your property.

Proximity of the Homestead

Most people do not make a living homesteading although many people will use their homestead for a side income or if you are homesteading in retirement. Knowing this, if you are buying a new homestead, you should consider proximity to your job, family, friends, or stores. If you have an hour commute just so you can be on 5 acres, how much time will you have to homestead?

Rules and Regulations

Check for the local rules and regulations in your town and neighborhood. You may be limited on raising animals and even growing food. You may also have difficulty getting permits to build outbuildings.

Even if you are allowed to keep chickens on your homestead, how will this impact your neighbors? Are you upstread of a sensitive environmental area? Will raising animals impact the health of these sensitive area?

When we decided to add solar panels to our homestead, we talked with our neighbors about where we would place the panels. While we still had the final decision, talking to the neighbors meant that everyone was happier in the end.

5 acre farm business plan

What to Include on your 5 Acre Homestead

Once you’ve thought through some of the major considerations, you can start creating a list of everything you may want to include on your homestead. Below are some of the most popular things to add to your homestead. I also encourage you to get your free copy of our ebook: The modern homestead and read through suggestions on deciding on the best homestead ideas.

Here are some starting points for things to have on your homestead. There a lots of additional things you can add to your homestead:

Garden : A vegetable garden is the perfect place to start with your 5 acre homestead. If you are starting from scratch, consider starting small and building over time. Design room to grow. You may also want to consider multiple garden spaces. Try to place one of the food gardens near your home. Grow herbs and other frequently used crops in this garden. You will also want to position your garden on a south face or flat slope. Consider the access to water and whether you will need to fence this space.

Fruit Trees: fruit trees are something you should start early on. They take years to begin producing. You will want to think carefully about where to put your trees since they are difficult to move. You may decide to build an orchard in one area, or place your fruit trees around your 5 acre homestead. We’ve done a combination and have one part of our homestead with about 7 trees and more trees spread around the property.

Berry Bushes and Perenial Food Crops: In addition to your garden, you may want to consider a berry patch. There tend to take up a lot of space, especially if you want enough berries to preserve. Consider raspberries, elderberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. You should also consider other perenial crops like asparagus and rhubarb .

Chickens : Chickens are often the first animal people add to their homestead. They are generally easy to care for, fun, and supply delicious eggs. You will want to plan for a coop and run and keep in mind that you may want more chickens in the future.

Bees : Bees are another common homesteading animal. Bees can be kept in a small space and in addition to honey also help with pollination of your fruit trees and other crops. If are interested in bee keeping, you should consider getting started by taking a beekeeping course. Read a bit on how to get started with beekeeping .

Other Backyard Farm Animals: There are many other animals that you may want to consider adding to your backyard farm. Depending on your set up you will need to consider how you will provide shelter, pasture, food and water. Common backyard farming animals include: goats, ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs, cows, and sheep.

Learn more about choosing the best homesteading animals.

Energy and Water: Most homesteaders are supportive of becoming more self-sufficient. This includes conserving energy and water. You may want to consider water catchment and renewable energy sources. Several years ago, we invested in solar panels and a series of rain barrels. Consider what makes sense for your homestead.

See more about how we manage water on our homestead.

5 acre farm business plan

Storage : As your homestead grows, so do your tools and supplies. If you begin preserving food, you will also have food to store. This means you should consider where you will store the tools, hay, and produce from your homestead. Not every homestead needs a barn, but you will need indoor and dry spaces to store some supplies.

Community Space: Homesteads don’t need to be ugly and you should consider how you will enjoy your homestead. Would a patio or a garden bench add to the overall homestead?

Greenhouse : a greenhouse is an important element if you are looking to extend your harvest. This can be everything from a hoop house to a glass greenhouse or even row covers. You will want a sunny site near a water source for your greenhouse.

5 acre farm business plan

Compost : A compost system is important on your backyard farm. Consider where this will fit into your plan. It should be easy to reach but also not in a place that will be a problem if it attracts animals (our needs to be in a spot that our dog won’t get into.

Other Elements for your Homestead : there are so many other things that can be included on your homestead based on your overall goals and your exact set up. A few other possibilities include: maple trees to tap , mushroom growing area, outdoor kitchen, gardening or work bench or a childrens or bee garden.

Setting Homesteading Goals

Once you’ve thought through what to include on your homestead, take some time to set homesteading goals. I know from experience that it is easy to bite off more than you can chew on your homestead. As you createa your goals consider what needs to happen first and what can be done over time. You can use our free resources for planning your homestead and setting goals.

5 acre Homestead Layout

To get started designing your homestead on 5 acres, you will want to get an overhead layout of your property. You can do this by using google earth or drawing out your property boundaries. Follow the steps below to create a 5 acre farm layout:

  • Draw your boundaries
  • Place the existing elements on the drawing (buildings, driveway, pond, trees). If you are starting from scratch, mark the elements that already exist. Note anything you will be taking out or moving. Use pencil for the remainder of these steps.
  • Mark South on your drawing/map. If there is a lot of slope on your property, mark this.
  • Start by adding the elements you want closest to your home: gardens, chicken coop, compost, etc.
  • Continue building your plan making reference back to your homesteading goals.
  • Once you have everything on your drawing, take a holistic and critical look at the 5 acres homestead as a whole. How does everthing fit together? Did you miss anything? Do you have the right access to the different elements (can you can a lawn mower or wheel barrow through)?

Below you can see a general layout of our 5 acre homestead:

5 acre farm business plan

There are endless ways to design your homestead and you should keep in mind that this is just a starting point, over time you will shift and tweak the design. If you are looking to measure exactly the space you need, here are a few measurements to help you plan our your design:

  • Vegetable garden: 100-400 square feet per person
  • Fruit trees and berry bushes: 50-100 square feet per tree/bush
  • Herb garden: 10-20 square feet
  • Compost area: 10-20 square feet
  • Greenhouse or hoop house: Varies based on the desired capacity
  • Chicken coop/run: 2-3 square feet per chicken – plan 5-10 chickens for a family
  • Rabbit hutch: 4-6 square feet per rabbit
  • Goat or sheep pasture: 200-400 square feet per animal
  • Pig pen: 100-200 square feet per pig
  • Horse or cow pasture: Several acres per animal (depending on the breed and grazing capacity)

Below if another possible layout for homesteading on 5 acres.

5 acre farm business plan

How to Get Started on Your Plan

Once you’ve created your plan for homesteading on 5 acres, it’s time to implement.

Take a look at what already exists and make a plan for building your 5 acre homestead. While it can be hard to slow down your process, whenever possible spend additional time implementing systems in your backyard farm. This will save time in the long run. Systems you should consider as you building your property for homesteading on 5 acres:

  • Water System
  • Soil Management System (compost, etc)
  • Weed control

Buying Land

If you are starting homesteading on 5 acres from scratch, your first step will be to look for a property. You should use the ket considerations above when selecting your property and do your due diligence. There are some thing you can change about your property (cutting down tree to create more sunlight) while there are other things you can’t control without significany work (slope, climate zone, water, soil).

In our 2 acre homestead in upstate New York, our soil was heavy clay soil and low lying. This meant that the soil water often water logged. To overcome this, we created raised beds and brought in a low of soil. When we moved to NH finding good soil with drainage was non-negotiable. Decide what matters most and what you are willing to deal with.

5 acre farm business plan

Our 5 Acre Homestead

We’ve been building up our property and have been homesteading on 5 acres for over 10 years. We’ve implemented many of the options desccribed above. Over this time here are a list of some of the things we’ve included on our 5 acre homestead:

  • We’ve created a large garden area with some perennial crops (rhubarb, asparagus, and strawberries) and plenty of space for vegetables. This is split between a large garden and a series of raised beds. We also have an herb garden.
  • Extensive berry patches with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, and black raspberries
  • Fruit Trees: Peach, cherry, apple, plum, paw-paw, and persimmon
  • Maple Trees – enough to tap for a full year of syrup.
  • Compost: we have a compost bin with 3 areas to rotate piles. We’ve had a worm bin as well to help create extra rich soil
  • Animals we have or are currently raising: Goats, Chickens, bees, ducks, llama, rabbits, and dogs.
  • We installed solar panels
  • Rain barrels installed with drip irrigation
  • Extensive flower gardens to attract bees
  • Plan in place to preserve food by canning or freezing in a chest freezer

Looking for more resources for homesteading on 5 acres: Start with our resources for Planning Your Homestead.

5 acre farm business plan

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Beginning Farmers

Farm Business Planning

Farm Business Planning is key to beginning farmer success.

It helps beginning farmers :

  • Plan for the economic sustainability of a new farm enterprise.
  • Obtain funding to purchase land, equipment and other resources from lending institutions, investors and/or grant making agencies.
  • Articulate what their farm will look like.

On this page, we compiled free farm business planning resources to help you understand what a formal business plan is, and how to start planning your farm business. Sections include:

  • Developing a Farm Business Plan
  • Enterprise Budgeting

Enterprise budget resources are included on the farm business planning page because such tools are usually essential in helping you to develop your business plan.

Planning your farm business involves more than is outlined on this page alone. You’ll probably also be interested in funding (loans/grants) , farm incorporation , and risk management . Our  starting a farm page is worth visiting first. Also, you might find the following article helpful, because it touches on many farm business planning topics: Farm Products, What to Charge: Marketing, Price, Calculating Costs, Strategy and Much More .

developing a farm plan

1. Developing a Farm Business Plan

A  business plan  is a decision making tool that takes the form of a formal document. It states your business goals, why you think you can achieve them, and lays out your plan for doing so. Farm business planning is also a process, not an end product. A business plan is a work in progress, which farm business owners or operators will want to revisit regularly. 

Planning and Funding Your Farm Business  from the Cornell University Small Farms Project has lots of important and useful farm business planning resources.

Rural Businesses  is a web and print publication from the Minnesota institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA).

Building a Business Plan for Your Farm: Important First Steps  is a 20 page farm business planning publication that discusses the initial steps to help you move toward writing a formal business plan.

The Center for Agroecology has a Small Farm Business Planning publication that goes over many of the basics in a step by step format.

Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses is a farm business planning publication available from SARE.

Do I need a Business Plan for my Farm? is a web resource from the New England Small Farm Institute. It’s a great place to get started.

AgPlan  from the University of Minnesota helps rural business owners develop a business plan for free, while also offering sample business plans for ideas, and a way to print or download your plan.

Developing a Farm Business Plan includes several helpful resources from the USDA National Agricultural Library’s Rural Information Center.

Organic Farm Business Planning Page  from North Carolina State University features a number of publications and links related to financial planing for organic farmers.

Agricultural Business Planning Templates and Resources   is an ATTRA publication most relevant to smaller-scale or alternative agricultural entrepreneurs.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Resources offers comprehensive resources on Bookkeeping and Other Basics ; Cash Flow Budgeting and Managing Debt ; Small Farm and Ranch Income Taxes , and more.

Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business  has educational resources to explore, such as the New Ventures in Food and Agriculture in Indiana , which offers business planning assistance.

Purdue University Cooperative Extension offers strategic farm business planning tools for commercial farm producers.

Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences has many Business Planning tools and information.  Penn State Cooperative Extension has a Developing a Business Plan page. Penn State also has a Farm Business Plan Template that allows you to plug in your information and create a basic business plan.

The U.S. Small Business Administration  works with local partners to counsel, mentor and train small businesses. It is worth getting to know their programs and connect with your local office.

The Martindale Center Reference Desk has an extensive  compilation of links to calculators, applets, spreadsheets, courses, manuals, handbooks, simulations, animations, videos and more. Martindale’s Agriculture Center can be of great use to farmers making business plans.

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2. Enterprise Budgets

Enterprise budgets project costs and returns for a particular farm production practice. You can use enterprise budgets to make smart business management decisions, and to help you develop a viable business plan.

Enterprise Budgeting Tools of all sorts from the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, including organic crop budgeting tools, many vegetable budgeting tools, the crop conversion tool for side-by-side crop comparisons, specialty crop and livestock budgets, hydroponics budgets, wind calculators, composting calculators, manure calculators, distillers grain budgets, biomass calculators and specialty foods calculators.

Introduction to Farm Planning Budgets for New and Beginning Farmers (Virginia Tech)

Importance and Use of Enterprise Budgets in Agriculture   (University of Nevada)

Enterprise Budgeting (Kerr Center)

Organic Specific Enterprise Budgets

  • Enterprise Budgets and Production Costs for Organic Production (ATTRA)
  • Organic Crop Production Enterprise Budgets and Information   (Iowa State)
  • Organic Enterprise Budget (Kansas Rural Center)

More Enterprise Budget Pages and Information

  • Enterprise Budgets List (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
  • Dairy Sheep Enterprise Budget (Center for Integrated Ag Systems, UW-Madison)
  • Crop Budgets (University of Maryland)
  • Farm Management Enterprise Budgets (Ohio State)
  • Alabama Enterprise Budget Summaries (Alabama A&M and Auburn) 
  • Start developing your business plan with the resources at   https://www.beginningfarmers.org/farm-business-planning/
  • You can find more gr eat farming resources at   https://www.beginningfarmers.org/additional-farming-resources/

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You Can Do A Lot With 5 Acres Of Land (Don't Waste It)

There is an inverse relationship between land size and production size. It is said that smaller farms tend to produce more due to the many uses of the limited space and the bio-intensive methods applied when farming small acres. In this article, we’ll give you an idea of what you can do with your 5 acres of land without wasting any space.

The best ways to fully utilize your 5-acre land include starting a market garden of the most common and profitable crops: planting fruit-bearing trees; raising livestock animals such as chickens, pigs, or turkeys; establishing beehives to produce honey, and for pollination; and building a hoop house for transplants.

Five acres of land don’t sound like a lot, but on small farms, it’s more than enough to build a successful farm. There are bountiful ways to gain a high profit off of farming 5 acres of land, as long as you do enough research and make an extra effort. To learn more about how to get the most out of your 5-acre land, keep reading below.

  • The best ways to maximize your 5-acre land are through the following: market gardening, beekeeping, tree planting, poultry, and livestock raising.
  • When setting up a market garden, take note of planting cash crops to gain more profit.
  • A 5-acre plot of land may be big enough to raise animals like pigs, chickens, and turkeys, but not enough to raise a herd of cows.

5 acre farm business plan

On this page:

  • Setting Up Farm on Your 5-Acre Land
  • Limitations of a 5-Acre Land

In some countries, you are entitled to a special tax exemption if you have at least 5 acres of land that is being primarily used and has been used for at least 5 to 7 years for agricultural purposes, such as crop planting, livestock, beekeeping, and the like. This can greatly reduce your property taxes, so you want to do the same with the 5-acre land you just bought to apply for a special valuation in the future.

While it’s a good initiative, turning a 5-acre parcel of land into an actual farm is not as easy as it may seem. You will need to learn how to properly manage it, be creative, and ultimately be hardworking to turn your land into profit. Below is a 5-acre farm plan that you can implement or use as a model so as not to waste any space:

Allot half of the 5-acre land for two market garden plots

The first good thing to make space for is a market garden. Market gardening is small-scale farming involving growing fruits, herbs, vegetables, and flowers and selling them directly to commercial places like restaurants and market stands.

A market garden grows various types of crops instead of a single arable crop, which makes it more productive and profitable. A market garden is the perfect type of garden to arrange in small spaces because it does not need the big equipment used for large-scale agriculture and mostly relies on manual labor and gardening techniques.

5 acre farm business plan

To fully utilize your allotted space for a market garden, it’s best to focus on growing the most profitable market garden crops . A market garden with an established sales outlet can make between $20,000 and $35,000, depending on the crops.

If a market garden seems like a small idea, you can try exploring smallholding farms and planting cash crops. A cash crop is a type of crop that is cultivated to be sold either in the national or international market to earn profits from the sale. Some common cash crops you can try growing are coffee, tea, cocoa, cotton, and sugarcane.

Allocate 1 and a quarter acre for cover cropping area

While it’s good to work towards increased yield by planting crops, it’s also good to consider planting crops that can take care of the soil at the same time. This is why an allotted area to plant cover crops such as radish, clover, phacelia, and other leguminous plants is important on your 5-acre land.

Cover plants can slow down erosion , improve soil health, enhance water availability, kill weeds, help deter pests and diseases, and even attract pollinators such as bees. All the above roles of cover crops add up to why they can increase crop yields.

Aside from the above-mentioned importance of cover crops, they are also thought to protect the soil and increase its resilience during intense rainfall as well as during drought. Not having an area allocated for crops can be a mistake you’re making for your 5-acre land!

Raise poultry and livestock in a one-and-a-quarter acre

You can raise a variety of farm animals to maximize your small farmland. Selling them fresh for their meat and by-products can gain you immense profit. Here’s a look at some of the livestock options you may consider raising on one and one-fourth acres of land:

1. Raise chickens on your small farm

Aside from their meat, chickens also produce eggs, and both sell very quickly in the market. There are, of course, various things to consider doing before you can make money out of your poultry, such as:

  • Building a chicken coop where the chickens will live and lay eggs (choose a well-suited non-bulky design to fit your space)
  • Purchasing chickens from the local hatchery (and making sure there are different breeds)
  • Feeding, providing fresh water, collecting their eggs
  • Regular monitoring to maintain their good health condition.

5 acre farm business plan

2. Raise pigs on your small farm

Raising pigs on a limited acreage is a good idea. But to get started, you must consider the following:

  • How many pigs are viable to raise in a 1-and-a-quarter acre of space and still allow them to roam
  • Pigs require access to fresh water and food. Although they are omnivores and eat about anything, it’s good to maintain a balance in their diet by mixing grains, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Building them an escape-proof pig pen

3. Raise turkeys on your small land

Another good livestock option to raise on your small land is turkeys. They are very lucrative, especially during in-demand seasons like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

To start off, you will need to purchase turkey chicks from local breeders. The coop where they will live can be built or purchased, but make sure there’s plenty of space and ventilation. Once the chicks have grown, a high-protein diet is required for them to put on weight. Access to fresh water should also always be provided.

When they reach maturity, you may start the selection process and choose which ones you’d like to keep, and which are for sale. Just make sure you’re selecting high-quality meats, whether you process them by manual plucking or take them to a professional processor.

Apportion 4000 square feet for hoop houses

A hoop house is a semi-permanent structure that extends the growing season. You must allocate 4,000 square feet of your 5-acre land for this purpose since this will be used for starting transplants and growing early crops. Keep in mind that when building a hoop house, it must not shade the crops and must be placed where it can provide a windbreak.

Set up beehives on the garden perimeter

With bees being the largest contributor in pollinating crops worldwide, it’s a good idea to raise a colony or two on your own space for the purpose of extracting honey as additional profit, and for pollinating your crops and therefore increasing crop yields as well.

You can set up beehives within your 5-acre land, and the best location for these will be in your garden area. Before you start, keep in mind the following:

  • Decide which type of beekeeping suits your limited space. You may outweigh the pros and cons of each type of beekeeping by reading this article.
  • When fully decided, purchase beekeeping supplies depending on your chosen type: beehive, frames, and other equipment.
  • Set up your hive in an area with plenty of sunlight and access to fresh water.
  • Purchase bees and start producing honey. Place frames in your hives and wait till the bees fill them with honey. Note that during the first year, it’s best not to harvest honey right away since the newly established colony may only have honey produced enough to last them during winter.

5 acre farm business plan

Plant fruit-bearing trees on the sides of your property

While planting a tree sounds easy, there are things to consider if you plan to plant trees in a very limited space:

  • Choose the right tree species. This can be done by researching which tree species is more valuable, profitable, and easy to care for. A bit of research can help you decide.
  • Ensure that the quality of the land type you’re planting on is suitable for trees. Soil for tree planting must be rich and fertile. Climate should also be a factor to consider.
  • Once tree species have been identified and soil has been checked for suitability, prepare the ground for planting. Clean away debris, till the soil, and make sure it is water-drenched.
  • Start planting the tree correctly. Consider the correct depth of planting so the tree can grow strong and healthy.
  • Regularly monitor and take care of the trees. Watering, applying fertilizer, and protecting them from pests and disease is key to successfully establishing trees around your 5-acre land.

While the above plan is certainly doable in 5-acre farmland, if your goals and ambitions are beyond growing food for your family’s consumption and for the market, you’ll see that there will be limitations.

Although market gardening can still be done all out, you will have to assess what can only be planted. This means you cannot go overboard on what you have already been planting because going a little bit too much will compromise the other spaces you’ve allotted for other purposes. Growing larger quantities of one thing might mean less space for something else.

Now, when it comes to livestock, this is where the limits of a 5-acre land come into play. As seen above, you may only raise small farm animals because raising a cow on pasture will already take 1 acre off your 5 acres.

Five acres is a livable and sustainable size for beginners in farming. It can provide food and forage, but you must do well with managing and planning your space well.

You May Also Like

How many acres do you need for a tree farm.

Different trees have varying growing requirements and space needs. Think about the tree species you want to cultivate and the recommended spacing between trees. …

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Homesteading on 5 acres: Layout, Plan, Ideas, Living

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With hard work and determination, homesteading on 5 acres works out beautifully for most new homesteaders. The ability to grow food and live a slower, more intentional life is drawing many people away from the cities and into rural spaces. From small scale protein to large scale production, we have all you need to know about homesteading on 5 acres.

homesteading-on-5-acres

Is Homesteading on 5 Acres Possible?

Of course it’s possible to homestead on five acres of land. You really don’t need too much space in order to set up a place to call home and grow some food. 

Homesteading is a state of mind, of producing more than one consumes. Of using what one has in order to become less reliant on anyone else to grow some food. To work towards closing the loop for your particular needs on those systems.

For example, keeping a vegetable garden is a pretty common practice amongst homesteaders, but how will you feed that garden? Well you can compost kitchen scraps and leaves from your property to add back to your garden beds. You’ve just closed a loop by looking at the relationship between your kitchen and your garden.

But you can take that further. What will you do with the spent plants at the end of their season? And the buggy, poorly producing plants? Set up a chicken coop near your garden and feed that to your chickens. Then pull chicken manure out to add to that compost pile.

You’ve just built upon that relationship by adding in chickens. Now you have eggs, meat, pest control, nutrients to add to the garden, and the produce that comes out.

That is the mindset of homesteading. Now, let’s apply that to all other parts of the homestead, working in conjunction with one another so that you have a closed system of production.

homesteading-on-5-acres

Things to Consider When Homesteading on 5 Acres

Here are six key considerations when looking for or building your homestead :

1. What’s Your Homesteading Dream ?

Start by listing out all of the specific goals that you want to accomplish on a homestead. From the little stuff to the seemingly impossible, write it all out. Consider your long term plan for a built-out homestead. What types of animals will you want? How many kinds of fruit trees will you grow? The sky is the limit when you’re homesteading on 5 acres.

2. Proximity of the Homestead

Where do you want to be? Consider weather conditions and microclimates. Think about school systems, commuting to a job, hospitals, local stores, neighbors, police response times. Make sure that you are building in an area that is conducive to your lifestyle dreams, but also the life you need to live to make it happen. 

3. Rules and Regulations

Make sure that you do your due diligence to research where you are and what you’re getting. Purchasing title insurance when buying your property should let you know about deed restrictions and homeowners’ associations that may have rules that will impede your homestead goals.

Even 5 acre tracts of land can have some of these restrictions, and rural areas of the county aren’t immune to them either. “No swine” is a common one that we’ve seen in our local rural spaces. I can’t imagine not raising pork while homesteading on 5 acres.

Further, look at specific county or town zoning requirements. Each local government is going to have a different set of rules. Some may be completely relaxed while others are too strict.

5 acre farm business plan

4. Community

Look through local social media pages for homestead community. How far away are your neighbors? If you want to keep a cow for the first time, is there someone with cattle experience nearby who might be willing to help you in an emergency?

Check out the local feed cooperative and farmers markets. We still small talk there and read through bulletin boards to communicate. You can’t do it all alone. Community is so important.

5. Topography

What is the layout of the land? Does it have a stand of tall pines? Is there water running through it or good drainage? Is it the side of a mountain? What’s the soil like? You can do anything anywhere, but a rocky mountain side or a swampy gully might prove to be more difficult to keeping a milk cow.

6. Sunlight

Make note of the time of day when you walk property for your potential homestead. Where will the sun rise and set? Will the grass get enough sunshine to grow? Are you going to need to remove some trees? Or is it all sunshine, no trees, and you may need to establish some shade for your future garden space?

5 acre farm business plan

Buying Land for Your 5 acre Homestead

​Do not be afraid to use a real estate agent, licensed in your state, to find the right property for you. It will cost you nothing, as the seller’s agent pays your agent a portion of his commission. Find a good agent who knows the area in which you’re looking for land.

Be open to something that needs work. Sometimes you have to be willing to find a diamond in the rough to fit your budget or to get into the area you want to be in. That large-property dream may not work out exactly as you intended, but the smaller scale will get your started in your homestead dream life.

Many new homesteaders find that this way of life is too much work in the first year, and they want to scale down to less land. That’s okay too.

The path is different for everyone. Be realistic in what you want to accomplish, and go from there. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to homesteading on 5 acres.

5 acre farm business plan

What You Can Do on Your 5 Acre Homestead

What can’t you do when homesteading 5 acres? This is enough space to achieve most homesteaders’ goals. On five acres, you can:

  • keep an orchard of fruit trees
  • grow enough food in your gardens for an entire year
  • raise small livestock for meat such rabbits and chickens
  • keep laying birds like quail, chickens, and ducks
  • raise sheep for meat
  • keep goats for dairy
  • keep a couple of beehives
  • have a hedge of berry bushes
  • build a pig pen
  • create rain catchment for water systems
  • rotate pasture space for a single dairy cow if given the right piece of property
  • grow an apothecary garden of herbs
  • and even more …

Of course these things won’t happen overnight, but you can build upon your homesteading journey over time until you’ve wisely used up all of your 5 acres.

5 acre farm business plan

A Self-sufficient Homestead on 5 Acres

Can you be truly self-sufficient homesteading on 5 acres? Sure, if that’s your goal, you can do anything. Most of us think of self-sufficient as being off grid, not connected to the local power grid or other public utilities in any fashion. 

You can certainly go the route of solar panels for energy and a hand-pumped well for water, but most states require at least the ability to connect to the local power grid in order to issue a Certificate of Occupancy.

This is a difficult lifestyle, and if I’m completely honest, is not one of my goals at all. Homesteading is hard enough with electricity and running water. I enjoy modern amenities like air conditioning (in Florida) and a dishwasher. Can I live without them? Absolutely, but I have zero desire to force myself to live that way if I don’t have to.

That said, I’m always striving to become more self-sufficient to close that loop. We aren’t there, but doing this takes time.

I’m still building soil for my gardens through composting, I’m still buying in feed for my meat birds. Ideally, I’d like to attempt to grow their fodder, but we need to work on that. I’m still buying hay for my cows because our land can’t support the number that we have. 

Further, this is where community comes in. You can’t do it all. Be willing to do the things that you’re really good at, and barter with or support others in your community that are doing the rest. Trading 5 dozen eggs for a quart of honey, for instance, is a way to accomplish a self-sufficient system that isn’t actually doing it all.

5 acre farm business plan

​ Designing Your 5 Acre Homestead

Your 5 acre homestead layout will vary widely on the shape and topography of your land. Again, don’t try to keep dairy goats in the swamp, and don’t try to keep the beef mini cow on the rocky mountain side. Homesteading on 5 acres can have many different designs.

Experts say that you should watch your property for one full year before making any solid plans on your homestead. While I think this is a noble plan, it’s not realistic. People are excited to get to their land and start working their small homestead. Don’t be afraid to start doing something right away. You can make changes later if needed.

If you can get an enlarged, overhead picture of your property, you can easily draw what things you’d like to do. This is a great way to draw to-scale, by square feet, for an accurate view of what your plans will look like.

Make yourself a master plan and start working those homestead goals.

5 acre farm business plan

Getting Started and Setting Homesteading Goals

Alright, no matter how much land you have, setting goals for your 5-acre homestead is easy. Remember that dream list you made that has all the things that you could ever dream of doing on your own land? Start organizing that list by order of priority. Put your list into the order of most important to least important.

Pick the top five things that you’d like or need to accomplish first. Circle those items, and make new lists for each one. The new lists are the actionable steps that you need to take to make them happen. I have found this to be the best way to realistically accomplish projects on our homestead.

What’s the most important thing for you to use as a starting point homesteading on 5 acres? Maybe it’s not the most fun thing, like fencing. Or maybe it is. Perhaps its the thing that’s going to give you the most bang for your buck, like an easy chicken tractor with a handful of laying hens. 

5 acre farm business plan

Here’s a quick example:

My dream list starts with 

  • composting system
  • chickens for eggs
  • ​vegetable garden
  • chickens for meat
  • dairy goats

I started with a composting system because if I’m doing nothing else for my homestead, I’m creating waste. I at least have food scraps and green and brown materials throughout my property. That’s the easiest place on my list to start. 

To make this happen, I need:

  • kitchen container for scraps (I don’t need fancy, I have a 1 gallon bucket with lid to keep under the kitchen sink.)
  • an outdoor container of sorts (I want the tumbler in our scenario.)
  • enough brown material to add to my kitchen scraps
  • build time into my routine to add to and turn the tumbler

From there, I can establish the goals into my spending budget and purchase the tumbler that I want. I can scoop dead leaves or peat from the woods to add to the tumbler as soon as it arrives. I have taken action to do the next thing on my smaller homestead.

5 acre farm business plan

I’m ready to move on to the next thing, laying hens. I will need:

  • chicken tractor (list supplies to build or cost to purchase)
  • hens (place to purchase and breed desired)
  • build time into your day to move and care for them

​Keep taking the next steps to move forward building your homestead, and keep adding to the list. Before you know it, you’ll have so many working parts on your five acre farm. 

Fencing Your Homestead Property

​The best advice that I can offer in your homestead plan is to make fencing your first step, and do it right the first time. The homestead fence is your barrier against predators to future livestock, and it’ll keep them in. It’s also a visual boundary to you and others. No matter what amount of land you have, start with fencing.

​Homesteading on 5 Acres for Food Production

​Producing food is what homesteading is all about. You may not have room for a lot of large livestock, but you still have plenty of room to grow a lot of food on your piece of land.

Check out these ideas for growing small scale protein sources , like meat chickens. Add in a large garden, and you’re providing a lot of your own food in no time.

5 acre farm business plan

Gardening on Your Homestead

The garden is a good way to start working your homestead. You want to be able to run out the back door and quickly grab a couple of tomatoes from a kitchen garden to prepare a meal.

Most importantly, make sure that you position your main garden space in an area that gets full sun throughout the growing season. Also, consider your nearest water source for your vegetable plants. 

If your local soil is rocky, raised beds or hugel mounds are great options. If your soil is clay or sand, till in some compost. 

Ground-level gardens can be used in imperfect soils too. Skip the hard work by laying down cardboard and piling up compost. 

You can make large amounts of compost by getting truckloads of wood chips delivered. Turn the pile with a tractor every week or so, and you’ll have a large batch of fresh compost to build that garden in no time.

5 acre farm business plan

​Homesteading 5 Acres to Generate Income

​Finally, the homesteading dream often involves generating income. The truth is, most folks still have to carry an off-farm job to fund the homestead because farm life is not cheap. However, the small space farm can help you pay your way to building up the dream.

If you want to raise your own pork, for example, don’t just raise one pig. Grow double what your family needs, and sell the other half to cover the cost of yours. A lot of people don’t want to do a lot of work, but they want the fresh food. That is your market. Sell them the extra. You can have a lot of extra when homesteading on 5 acres.

But what if you grew out three instead of two pigs? One for you, one to cover expenses in raising them, and the third is all profit. Be careful. This game can be a slippery slope, and you may find yourself designating an entire chunk of your land to pig farming. But maybe you find that you love it.

Maybe you want to keep a market garden, intensively planting, and growing abundant harvests to take to market. Learn what it takes to do it, write down the list of steps to take, and do it. Incorporate a space for larger scale growing in your five acre homestead design, and work on making fresh produce part of your income.

Be willing to diversify for income, but not too much. You need to understand that food grows seasonally, so having a few different streams of income is wise. But stretching yourself too thin so that you don’t do any of them well will not serve you either.

Just like building up your homestead, add in one thing at a time.

5 acre farm business plan

Final Thoughts, Homesteading on 5 acres

So there it is, your five acre homestead. You don’t need fifty acres to call yourself a small farmer. You can grow so much more than you think on less space, and I bet that homesteading on 5 acres is more realistic than you thought. I hope you’re encouraged to get out of the city, and grow a little food of your own.

You may also enjoy reading The Pros and Cons of Composting

Happy Homesteading!

donna

Donna and her family have been  homesteading  for most of their 20+  years together in some shape or fashion. She currently lives on their 20 acre farm where they grow as much food as possible. What started as a just a few laying hens, has grown into large gardens, pastured poultry, pork, and lamb. They are continuously evolving their small farm to not suit their family’s needs, but also providing to their local community. Donna’s favorite part of the family farm is her self-built micro-dairy, where she gets to love on dairy cows while serving her local community. Milking, cheesemaking, and processing dairy have become the soul of their homestead and the center of their farm.

I really appreciate your work, Great post.

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5 acre farm business plan

You Asked, We Answered!

Starting a Small Farm: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Starting a small farm can be a challenging and rewarding experience. As someone who has started their own small farm, I can tell you it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

Still, it is also incredibly fulfilling to see your crops grow and your animals thrive. ,,

Whether you’re looking to start a small farm for personal consumption or to sell your products at local markets, there are a few key steps you’ll need to take to get started.

The first step in starting a small farm is to identify your niche. What do you want to grow or raise? Are you interested in sustainable agriculture, organic farming, or specialty crops?

Once you’ve identified your niche, you’ll need to find suitable land to start your farm.

This can be challenging, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Still, various resources are available to help you find affordable land.

Once you’ve secured your land, you’ll need to develop a business plan and figure out how you’ll finance your farm. This may involve applying for grants or loans or finding investors interested in supporting your vision.

You’ll also need to consider marketing your products and building relationships with local consumers and businesses. With the right plan and hard work, starting a small farm can be fulfilling and profitable.

Assessing Your Goals and Resources

Starting small farm

Defining Your Goals

Before starting a small farm, it is essential to define your goals. Ask yourself what you want to achieve by starting a farm. Do you want to grow crops, raise animals, or both?

Are you looking to make a profit or just have a self-sustaining homestead? Do you want to sell your products locally or nationally?

Defining your goals will help you determine the size and scope of your farm, what resources you will need, and what steps you need to take to achieve your goals.

Assessing Your Resources

Assessing your resources is also an important step in starting a small farm. You need to determine what resources you have available to you, such as land, water, equipment, and capital.

Start by evaluating your land. Do you own land or will you need to lease or purchase it? Is the land suitable for farming, or will you need to make improvements? Consider the soil quality, drainage, and access to water.

Next, evaluate your equipment needs. Do you have the necessary tools and machinery to operate a farm? If not, what equipment will you need to purchase or lease?

Finally, assess your financial resources. Starting a small farm can be expensive, so it is important to determine how much capital you have available and how you will finance your farm.

Consider applying for grants or loans from organizations like the USDA or local banks.

READ ALSO: How Farmers Can Earn Money From YouTube (Complete Guide)

Choosing a Farming Method

Permaculture garden

Conventional Farming

When it comes to conventional farming, the focus is on maximizing yield and minimizing costs. This method relies heavily on synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to control pests and maximize crop yields.

Conventional farmers also use genetically modified seeds engineered to resist pests and diseases.

While this method can be effective in producing high yields, it can also negatively impact the environment and human health.

Organic Farming

Organic farming is a method that relies on natural processes to cultivate crops and raise livestock. This method avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides and instead focuses on building healthy soil through the use of compost and other organic matter.

Organic farmers also avoid using genetically modified seeds and instead rely on natural methods to control pests and diseases.

While organic farming can be more labor-intensive and may result in lower yields, it has many benefits for the environment and human health.

Permaculture

Permaculture is a method of farming that focuses on designing sustainable ecosystems that mimic natural systems.

This method involves using a variety of plants and animals that work together to create a self-sustaining ecosystem.

Permaculture farmers focus on building healthy soil through the use of compost and other organic matter, and they avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

This method can be highly effective in creating a sustainable and resilient farm ecosystem. When choosing a farming method, it’s essential to consider your goals and values as a farmer.

Conventional farming may be a good choice if you’re looking to maximize yields and minimize costs, but it can negatively impact the environment and human health.

Organic farming may be a better choice if you’re looking to build healthy soil and cultivate crops in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Permaculture may be the best choice if you’re looking to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that mimics natural systems.

Ultimately, the choice of farming method will depend on your goals, values, and resources as a farmer.

READ NEXT: Farm Insurance vs. Homeowners Insurance: A Quick Comparison Guide

Selecting Your Farm Site

Farm site

When starting a small farm, choosing the right location is crucial to success. Here are some factors to consider when selecting your farm site:

Climate and Soil

The climate and soil of your farm site will determine which crops and livestock you can raise. Research the average temperature, rainfall, and growing season length of your area.

You can also test your soil to determine its pH level, nutrient content, and texture. This information will help you decide which crops will thrive on your farm.

Water Resources

Access to water is essential for any farm. Look for a site with a reliable water source, such as a well or a nearby stream.

You should also consider the quality of the water, as it can affect the health of your crops and livestock. If you plan to irrigate your crops, make sure your site has the necessary infrastructure in place.

Access to Markets and Customers

Consider the proximity of your farm site to potential markets and customers. If you plan to sell your products at farmers’ markets or to local restaurants, you’ll want to be within driving distance.

You should also research the demand for your products in your area to ensure a viable market for your farm.

By taking these factors into account, you can select a farm site that will set you up for success in the long run.

RELATED: Is Farm Insurance Necessary? Here Are The Answers!

Planning Your Farm

Developing a farm

Developing a Business Plan

To start a small farm, it’s crucial to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it. Developing a business plan is an essential step in this process.

A business plan is a written document that outlines your goals, strategies, and financial projections for your farm. It can help you secure funding, attract investors, and make informed decisions about your farm’s future.

When developing a business plan, consider the following questions: What crops or livestock will you produce?

Who is your target market? How will you market your products? What are your start-up costs and ongoing expenses? What are your projected revenues and profits?

Creating a Farm Layout

Creating a farm layout is another important step in planning your farm. A farm layout is a map or diagram that shows the location of buildings, fields, and other features on your farm.

It can help you optimize your use of space, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. When creating a farm layout, consider the following factors: What is the size and shape of your land? What is the topography and soil type?

What are the climate and weather patterns in your region? What is the water source and availability? What are the zoning and land use regulations in your area?

Choosing Crops and Livestock

Healthy sheep

Choosing the right crops and livestock for your farm is crucial to success. You need to consider factors such as market demand, climate suitability, and profitability.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right crops and livestock for your farm:

  • Research market demand and trends for different crops and livestock in your area.
  • Consider your climate and soil type when choosing crops. Choose crops and livestock that are well-suited to your level of experience and resources.
  • Consider the profitability of different crops and livestock, including the cost of production and potential revenue. By developing a business plan, creating a farm layout, and choosing the right crops and livestock, you can set yourself up for success when starting a small farm.

READ NEXT: The Key to Safe Towing: Understanding Trailer Tongue Weight

Financing Your Farm

Farm finance

Finding Funding Sources

As a small farmer, it can be challenging to find funding sources for your farm. However, there are several options available to you.

The USDA offers various programs and services to help farmers get started or grow their operations, including farm loans, crop insurance, conservation programs, and disaster assistance.

Additionally, there are private lenders, grants, and crowdfunding platforms that you can explore. When researching funding sources, it’s essential to consider the eligibility requirements, interest rates, repayment terms, and any other fees associated with the loan or grant.

It’s also crucial to have a solid business plan to demonstrate to lenders or grant providers that you have a clear vision for your farm’s success.

Applying for Loans and Grants

Once you’ve identified potential funding sources, it’s time to start the application process. Applying for loans and grants can be a time-consuming and challenging process, but it’s essential to be thorough and accurate in your application to increase your chances of approval.

When applying for loans, you’ll need to provide financial statements, tax returns, and other documentation to demonstrate your ability to repay the loan.

You must also provide a detailed business plan outlining your farm’s goals, objectives, and financial projections.

When applying for grants, you’ll need to provide detailed information about your farm and explain how the grant will help you achieve your goals.

You may also need to provide financial statements, tax returns, and other documentation to demonstrate your eligibility for the grant.

In conclusion, finding funding sources and applying for loans and grants can be a challenging but necessary process for small farmers.

By researching your options and being thorough in your application, you can increase your chances of securing the funding you need to start or grow your farm.

Managing Your Farm

Farm managing

One of the most important aspects of running a successful farm is managing it effectively. This involves managing your finances, marketing your products, and managing your land and livestock. In this section, I will discuss each of these areas in more detail.

Managing Your Finances

Managing your finances is crucial to the success of your farm. You need to keep track of your income and expenses and ensure you stay within your budget.

This can be done using financial software or by hiring an accountant.

It is also important to have a solid business plan in place. This will help you stay on track and make informed decisions about your farm. Your business plan should include your goals, marketing strategy, and financial projections.

Marketing Your Products

Farm products

Marketing your products is another key aspect of running a successful farm. You need to identify your target market and develop a marketing strategy that will reach them.

This can include advertising, social media, and attending farmers’ markets and other local events.

You should also consider offering CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. This is a great way to build a loyal customer base and secure a steady source of income.

Managing Your Land and Livestock

Managing your land and livestock is essential to the success of your farm. You need to ensure that your land is being used efficiently and that your livestock is healthy and well-cared for.

This involves regular maintenance and upkeep of your farm, including fertilizing, planting, and harvesting. You should also have a plan in place for managing pests and diseases.

When it comes to livestock, it is important to provide them with proper nutrition, shelter, and medical care. You should also have a breeding plan in place to ensure the sustainability of your herd or flock.

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Jack is the owner, chief editor, and senior writer of this website.

Machinery, engines, and farming have always been a passion of his since he was a young boy. Growing up on a small farm in rural America, he learned the value of hard work and dedication from an early age.

After completing his degree in Engineering, he decided to follow his dream and became a farmer in 2009.

Since then, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. He has grown a variety of crops, tended to farm animals, and worked with all sorts of farming machinery. Continue reading…

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Small Farming Business Plan

5 acre farm business plan

Want to transform your small land into a farming business? Indeed, a brilliant business venture to undertake. After all, all sorts of farming businesses enjoy a vast market.

Anyone can start a farming business. However, a detailed business plan is essential to drive this business to its desired potential and secure funding if required.

Need help writing a business plan for your small farm? You’re at the right place. Our small farming business plan template will help you get started.

sample business plan

Free Business Plan Template

Download our free business plan template now and pave the way to success. Let’s turn your vision into an actionable strategy!

  • Fill in the blanks – Outline
  • Financial Tables

How to Write A Small Farming Business Plan?

Writing a small farming business plan is a crucial step toward the success of your business. Here are the key steps to consider when writing a business plan:

1. Executive Summary

An executive summary is the first section planned to offer an overview of the entire business plan. However, it is written after the entire business plan is ready and summarizes each section of your plan.

Here are a few key components to include in your executive summary:

Introduce your Business:

  • This section may include the name of your small farming business, its location, when it was founded, the type of small farming business (E.g., vegetable farming, bee farming, aquaculture, organic farming), etc.

Market Opportunity:

  • For instance, you may include fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices as products and mention organic produce, exotic fruits, and local produce as some of your USPs.

Marketing & Sales Strategies:

Financial highlights:, call to action:.

Ensure your executive summary is clear, concise, easy to understand, and jargon-free.

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2. Business Overview

The business overview section of your business plan offers detailed information about your company. The details you add will depend on how important they are to your business. Yet, business name, location, business history, and future goals are some of the foundational elements you must consider adding to this section:

Business Description:

  • Vegetable farming
  • Bee farming
  • Aquaculture
  • Organic farming
  • Describe the legal structure of your small farm, whether it is a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, or others.
  • Explain where your business is located and why you selected the place.

Mission Statement:

Business history:.

  • Additionally, If you have received any awards or recognition for excellent work, describe them.

Future Goals

This section should provide a thorough understanding of your business, its history, and its future plans. Keep this section engaging, precise, and to the point.

3. Market Analysis

The market analysis section of your business plan should offer a thorough understanding of the industry with the target market, competitors, and growth opportunities. You should include the following components in this section.

Target market:

  • For instance, farmers’ markets, specialty retailers, and local customers would be an ideal target audience for smart farming businesses.

Market size and growth potential:

  • For instance, the global smart farming market is expected to reach 53 billion dollars by 2032, so it is crucial to define the segment of your target market and its growth potential.

Competitive Analysis:

Market trends:.

  • For instance, agrotech and automation have a booming market; explain how you plan on dealing with this potential growth opportunity.

Regulatory Environment:

Here are a few tips for writing the market analysis section of your small farming business plan:

  • Conduct market research, industry reports, and surveys to gather data.
  • Provide specific and detailed information whenever possible.
  • Illustrate your points with charts and graphs.
  • Write your business plan keeping your target audience in mind.

4. Products And Services

The product and services section should describe the specific services and products that will be offered to customers. To write this section should include the following:

Describe your farm products:

Describe the type of products your small farming business will offer. A vegetable farming business may include a detailed description of crops and their varieties here.

Mention products:

Provide a list of products that will be available at your small farm. This list may include,

Value-added services:

Quality measures:.

  • This may include quality control processes, clear service standards, regular maintenance, and training.

Additional Services

In short, this section of your small farming plan must be informative, precise, and client-focused. By providing a clear and compelling description of your offerings, you can help potential investors and readers understand the value of your business.

5. Sales And Marketing Strategies

Writing the sales and marketing strategies section means a list of strategies you will use to attract and retain your clients. Here are some key elements to include in your sales & marketing plan:

Unique Selling Proposition (USP):

  • For example, organic and sustainable practices, fresh local produce, and exotic products could be some of the great USPs for a vegetable and fruit small farm.

Pricing Strategy:

Marketing strategies:, sales strategies:, customer retention:.

Overall, this section of your small farming business plan should focus on customer acquisition and retention.

Have a specific, realistic, and data-driven approach while planning sales and marketing strategies for your small farming business, and be prepared to adapt or make strategic changes in your strategies based on feedback and results.

6. Operations Plan

The operations plan section of your business plan should outline the processes and procedures involved in your business operations, such as staffing requirements and operational processes. Here are a few components to add to your operations plan:

Staffing & Training:

Operational process:, equipment & machinery:.

  • Explain how these technologies help you maintain quality standards and improve the efficiency of your business operations.

Adding these components to your operations plan will help you lay out your business operations, which will eventually help you manage your business effectively.

7. Management Team

The management team section provides an overview of your small farming business’s management team. This section should provide a detailed description of each manager’s experience and qualifications, as well as their responsibilities and roles.

Founders/CEO:

Key managers:.

  • It should include, key executives(e.g. COO, CMO.), senior management, and other department managers (e.g. farm manager, sales manager.) involved in the small farming business operations, including their education, professional background, and any relevant experience in the farming industry.

Organizational structure:

Compensation plan:, advisors/consultants:.

  • So, if you have any advisors or consultants, include them with their names and brief information consisting of roles and years of experience.

This section should describe the key personnel for your small farming services, highlighting how you have the perfect team to succeed.

8. Financial Plan

Your financial plan section should provide a summary of your business’s financial projections for the first few years. Here are some key elements to include in your financial plan:

Profit & loss statement:

Cash flow statement:, balance sheet:, break-even point:.

  • This exercise will help you understand how much revenue you need to generate to sustain or be profitable.

Financing Needs:

Be realistic with your financial projections, and make sure you offer relevant information and evidence to support your estimates.

9. Appendix

The appendix section of your plan should include any additional information supporting your business plan’s main content, such as market research, legal documentation, financial statements, and other relevant information.

  • Add a table of contents for the appendix section to help readers easily find specific information or sections.
  • In addition to your financial statements, provide additional financial documents like tax returns, a list of assets within the business, credit history, and more. These statements must be the latest and offer financial projections for at least the first three or five years of business operations.
  • Provide data derived from market research, including stats about the small farming industry, user demographics, and industry trends.
  • Include any legal documents such as permits, licenses, and contracts.
  • Include any additional documentation related to your business plan, such as product brochures, marketing materials, operational procedures, etc.

Use clear headings and labels for each section of the appendix so that readers can easily find the necessary information.

Remember, the appendix section of your small farming business plan should only include relevant and important information supporting your plan’s main content.

The Quickest Way to turn a Business Idea into a Business Plan

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This sample small farming business plan will provide an idea for writing a successful small farming plan, including all the essential components of your business.

After this, if you still need clarification about writing an investment-ready business plan to impress your audience, download our small farming business plan pdf .

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Frequently asked questions, why do you need a small farming business plan.

A business plan is an essential tool for anyone looking to start or run a successful small farming business. It helps to get clarity in your business, secures funding, and identifies potential challenges while starting and growing your business.

Overall, a well-written plan can help you make informed decisions, which can contribute to the long-term success of your small farm.

How to get funding for your small farming business?

There are several ways to get funding for your small farming business, but self-funding is one of the most efficient and speedy funding options. Other options for funding are:

  • Bank loan – You may apply for a loan in government or private banks.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) loan – SBA loans and schemes are available at affordable interest rates, so check the eligibility criteria before applying for it.
  • Crowdfunding – The process of supporting a project or business by getting a lot of people to invest in your business, usually online.
  • Angel investors – Getting funds from angel investors is one of the most sought startup options.

Apart from all these options, there are small business grants available, check for the same in your location and you can apply for it.

How do I write a good market analysis in a small farming business plan?

Market analysis is one of the key components of your business plan that requires deep research and a thorough understanding of your industry. We can categorize the process of writing a good market analysis section into the following steps:

  • Stating the objective of your market analysis—e.g., investor funding.
  • Industry study—market size, growth potential, market trends, etc.
  • Identifying target market—based on user behavior and demographics.
  • Analyzing direct and indirect competitors.
  • Calculating market share—understanding TAM, SAM, and SOM.
  • Knowing regulations and restrictions
  • Organizing data and writing the first draft.

Writing a marketing analysis section can be overwhelming, but using ChatGPT for market research can make things easier.

How detailed should the financial projections be in my small farming business plan?

The level of detail of the financial projections of your small farming business may vary considering various business aspects like direct and indirect competition, pricing, and operational efficiency. However, your financial projections must be comprehensive enough to demonstrate a complete view of your financial performance.

Generally, the statements included in a business plan offer financial projections for at least the first three or five years of business operations.

What key components should a small farming business plan include?

The following are the key components your small farming business plan must include:

  • Executive summary
  • Business Overview
  • Market Analysis
  • Products and services
  • Sales and marketing strategies
  • Operations plan
  • Management team
  • Financial plan

Can a good small farming business plan help me secure funding?

Indeed. A well-crafted small farming business plan will help your investors better understand your business domain, market trends, strategies, business financials, and growth potential—helping them make better financial decisions.

So, if you have a profitable and investable business, a comprehensive business plan can certainly help you secure your business funding.

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5 acre farm business plan

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How to Start a Small Farm

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Are you ready to design your small farm right from the beginning? Sure, you've been planning it in your head for years. Now you're ready - you have the time and energy, and you've possibly even bought the land to make your homesteading dreams a reality. But the choices can seem overwhelming. So, where do you start?

1. Is Farming Right for Me?

That's really the first question you need to ask yourself. Some things to think about: What are your reasons for wanting to farm? What do you know about farming —about the labor, the techniques, and how to garden? Will you be able to slaughter an animal or part with one you've become attached to?

2. Set Goals

Before you start scouring the local paper for livestock, take a step back. What are your goals for your small farm? What kind of farm are you planning? It might be a hobby farm , where your farm is a supplement to a full-time job, something relaxing you can do for fun in the evenings and on the weekends. It could be that you want your farm to make money , eventually replacing your current job. Or, your goal might be to produce all the food (and possibly power) that you and your family need - homesteading or self-sufficiency.

3. Consider Animals and Crops

A small farm can range from a half-acre with a few laying hens and a small veggie garden , to 40 acres with cattle, dairy cows, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, and acres of field crops and veggies. Some of your choices will be limited by your land and resources, but we'll get to that later.

First, let yourself dream. What animals appeal to you ? What vegetables, fruits, and grains do you want to grow?

Make a list of everything you envision on your farm - even if it's years from now. This is your dream, your ideal small farm.

4. Assess Your Land and Resources

This is a great exercise for learning about your land and what's on it. Assessing your land will give you the information you need to take your vision past step two and plan your first year of farming.

5. Plan the First Year

Here is where you marry your dreams with reality. Look at your list of things you want to grow and animals you want to raise. Read a bit about each animal to get a sense of how much space and care they require. Now check your farm resources. Do you have enough pasture land for those five cows, or will you need to build that over time? Do you have the financial resources to buy fencing for goats ?

If you plan to begin a farming business , you'll want to write an entire farm business plan . The dreaming and assessing you just did will help you get started with your mission statement, which is a great place to begin.

6. Monitor and Reassess

Farm planning is an ongoing process, a work in progress. As you implement your plan, you may find it needs adjusting. Every season, take out your list of dreams from step two and the pencil-and-paper sketch of your land from step three. Have your dreams changed? Is there more to add, or things you now know you don't want to do?

Each year, sit down with your farm plan and decide what you want to tackle during the coming spring, summer, and fall. Before you know it, you'll be well on your way to making your small farm dream a reality.

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  • Tips for Starting Your Hobby Farm
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  • Invaluable Tips for the Beginning Homesteader
  • How to Feed and Tend Goats on Small Farms
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  • How to Start an Egg Business
  • These Animals Are Easy to Raise on a Small Farm
  • From Grassroots to Global, Group Works to Improve Animal Conditions
  • Prepare Your Soil
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From Scratch Farmstead

10 Best Homestead Layout Tips + 5 Acre Example

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Laying out your homestead is simultaneously one of the most exciting and overwhelming tasks to take on. In this post we’ll explore some basic homestead layout principles and share our 5 acre homestead layout as an example.

Starting Your Homestead Layout

You won’t find a plug-n-play template for laying out your homestead. No two homestead properties are alike, after all.

Even if you find two with nearly identical layouts, you’ll likely find varying soil types, emphasis on one crop over another here, one animal over another there, buildings will serve different purposes, and other ever evolving nuances.

And if you see a system you like on another homestead, it’s unlikely it will replicate exactly the same on your property. You may be able to use it for inspiration and end up with something similar. But it will take creatively and ingenuity on your part to make it work on your own land. 

That said, with the right inspiration and guidance, it’s entirely possible to plan out your dream homestead layout! This is your time to reach for the stars and have fun with it!

chicken tractor and three sisters garden

So, whether you’re starting with a blank slate of land, or a property with an existing home, outbuildings, and infrastructure, where do you begin?

Let’s first look at a concept that has led the way in designing land for food production and sustainability.

An Introduction To Permaculture Design

The concept of Permaculture came about in the 1970’s by combining two words, “permanent” and “agriculture.”

This permanent agriculture gave farming and homesteading a new mindset. Rather than fixating on how to extract the most out of the land and what brings the biggest profit, Permaculture instead considered what was best for the land, the farmer, and their long-term health and viability.

In it’s simplest form, both land and caretaker of the land must serve each other. One is not master over the other. They form a symbiotic relationship to truly be sustainable for the long haul.

Core to Permaculture is efficient design.

Most any Permaculture Design book will provide a simple zone map for your land. Zone 0 is your home, or where you spend the most time. Zone 1 is what immediately surrounds your home and is most easily accessible. This proceeds all the way out to Zone 5, which is the furthest out reaches of your land.

permaculture design zones

The concept is that you want to stack as many everyday functions as you can within those first couple zones. Feeding chickens, watering your garden, taking out kitchen scraps to the compost heap—all occurrences that will happen most days, or even multiple times a day.

It simply wouldn’t make sense to put your chicken coop at the furthest corner of your property where it would likely get neglected—unless you’re in more of an urban homestead setting.

My point here is not that you need to read every book on Permaculture (although perusing one from you local library or elsewhere might be time well spent!). Or, you don’t necessarily have to take one of the intensive Permaculture Design Courses (PDC) being offered around the country and globe, either. 

While I did take a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) a few years back, grasping just a few basic Permaculture design concepts is enough to help you get going on your homestead layout!

10 Homestead Layout Tips

Many of the following homestead layout considerations are derived from different Premature Design principles.

1. Personal Values & Goals

Your homestead layout needs to match with the homesteading lifestyle you envision. In other words, your values and goals as a family should serve as a filter for shaping your homestead layout. This big picture perspective is your starting point. 

If a top value is to travel, then building your homestead around a milking animal may not make the most sense. Or, if above all you have a goal to be living off-grid, then maybe focusing your efforts on food production needs to take a back seat until you have your desired alternative energy systems in place as a foundation. 

If your family’s values and goals aren’t yet crystal clear, consider NOT doing anything too drastic on your homestead until you really develop a strong sense of long-term vision and direction. 

2. Location, Location, Location

Most homesteading endeavors involve seasonal, weekly, or even daily time. Sometimes even multiple times a day. 

You’ll want to very carefully consider things like: 

  • Where and how will I store feed and/or hay ?
  • Where is my source of water and how will I get water to animals or crops?
  • Where should I place fence gates?

how to use round hay bales on a small farm

It may not seem like big deal initially to haul a 5-gallon bucket of water out to a field. But when you add those trips up over a decade, that becomes a tremendous time and energy pit. 

Some even count the number of steps to different areas of their property before deciding where to locate something. Your time will be your most valuable resource on your homestead, and placement of structures, storage, and infrastructure can really make or break your efficiency.

3. Plan with the Whole in Mind

Your land is not a singular entity. It plays a part in a larger ecological system that surrounds it. And on a smaller scale, different systems or areas within your homestead don’t simply exist apart from the whole. One system very much can and will impact other systems. 

Don’t just plop something somewhere without considering the impact it will have on what’s around it. This can be on your land, your neighbors land, or the greater system of wildlife, waterways, plant life, and other natural features and patterns that surrounds you.

4. 3-Objectives Rule

I don’t recall if it had an actuall name or not, but something that stuck with me from my Permaculture Design Course I call the 3-Objectives Rule. 

This was a Permaculture concept that anything you implement on your land should never just serve one singular or shortsighted purpose. Rather, you should be able to explain multiple positive outcomes that your idea is accomplishing. 

For example, you could simply say, “I’m going to plant a garden here.” Or, with the 3-Objectives Rule in mind, you could say, “Planting a garden here will provide optimal sunlight and drainage for my crops, I’ll utilize no-till growing methods to promote the most microbiology in the soil, and I’ll focus primarily on crops I can preserve or store that will feed my family all year round.”

harvesting kale in the garden

The goal here isn’t to overthink or overcomplicate anything.

The goal is to maximize the design of your homestead layout by stacking functions. It’s also a tool to help you adhere to the prior point and observe how the system you’re implementing interacts with the whole of your land and what’s around you.

Looking at the many objectives versus the singular objective helps you feel confident and purposeful in your layout decisions. 

5. Consider Temporary or Moveable Solutions

Joel Salatin is the master of avoiding permanent anything on his farm. To maximize your options long term, temporary or moveable systems and infrastructure on your homestead will be your best friend.

This can be especially valuable early on in the life of your homestead when you might still  be finalizing all the details of your long term design. 

Not sure yet if an area should be fenced pasture or serve another function you’re considering? Find a temporary fence setup that gives you flexibility down the road.

Having a hard time figuring out the right location for your chicken coop? Build a coop on a trailer or skids that gives you the option to move around in the future.

free ranging chickens in a frame chicken tractor

And if you’re not ready to commit to a garden layout or location yet, try starting with pots or small planters. Or just till up a small plot, maybe even in various potential garden locations, to begin growing in. 

Trialing different temporary setups can give you the time and assurance you need before locking in to something permanent.

6. Listen to your Land

Your land has a powerful voice. The native plants, the flow of water, the soil types, the sunlight captured at different gradients—all of these can help inform what your land is best suited for.

Many will recommend you do nothing on your land until you’ve lived on it for at least one full year. The point is to observe it throughout all four seasons and allow what you observe to speak to your homestead layout. 

The area where water collects may not be the best spot for a garden but may be suitable for elderberry or other medicinal herbs. The opening where young mulberry saplings naturally sprung up may already be a start for a future orchard .

7. Plan Incremental Changes

Nature moves slow. Often we are wisest to work at natures pace when it comes to land design.

When we moved onto our property, the back pasture was in sad shape. It was an old hay field that sat fallow for the better part of a decade. The many layers of undergrowth piled up and suppressed much of the clover, alfalfa and other native plants and grasses in the field.

I was tempted to just plow and replant the whole field. But instead, through rotationally grazing our cows on it, slowly removing the undergrowth, and managing the pasture when necessary with mowing, the health and diversity of the field has improved dramatically in just a few short years.

Maybe instead of completely regrading the land, a small swale or berm can take care of some drainage issues. Rather than coming in and completely clearing out a wooded area, selectively thin it out over time.

Trust nature, come alongside what it is already accomplishing, and work at its pace.

8. Get Input

Seasoned farmers and homesteaders have a lot of knowledge to offer. Run some of your ideas past them. Or ask for their own unique thoughts. 

A neighbor in particular may have unique insights or thoughts to share as they’ve interacted with the previous landowner of your property or worked with a similar land type. 

how to take care of cows in winter

It may even be worth hiring a consultant to give professional design input. They can help design garden layouts, food forests, grazing patterns, and other infrastructure and building layouts. And perhaps they can even offer input on a timeline and cost estimate of when and how to implement your design. 

You’ll have to do some searching for design experts offering consultation in your area. But start by connecting with nearby Permaculture Design Course instructors or other local organizations focused on land and ecological stewardship.

9. Take It Slow

Shaping your homestead can be (and many would argue should be) a long, slow process. Don’t expect everything to take place overnight. 

We like to try and tackle one major project a year on our homestead. When we’ve broken this rule and tried to tag something on to an already overloaded plate is when we’ve learned the hardest lessons.

Maybe year one is getting some fencing in place and starting small with animals. Year two is establishing an orchard . Year 3 is building a chicken tractor and raising meat chickens . Then, year 4 you build a coop and add laying hens. Year 5 you’re finally ready to finalize a garden layout and location!

Burnout and fatigue from being too gung-ho early on is very real in the homesteading world. Each new homesteading adventure comes with a learning curve.

Take it as slow as you need to when getting something new off the ground. Then, only add more as capacity allows. 

10. Learn from Failure

You are going to make mistakes when designing your homestead. And that’s OK!

Instead of beating yourself up over things that don’t turn out as expected or focusing on the negatives, view them instead as an opportunity!

There are lessons and takeaways in every failure. Let them be your greatest teacher. Use them to refine yourself and your homestead.

Something may not have gotten placed in the most ideal spot. Maybe you didn’t fully think through getting equipment in and out of a fenced area. Or maybe you didn’t account for that tree you’re planting blocking the nice view you have of your neighbors pond until after it’s in the ground… yep, that happened to us.

All these are opportunities to learn from and improve your homestead with over time.

Our 5-Acre Homestead Layout

By way of example, we’ll go through all that we have going on at our 5-acre homestead . Remember, the goal isn’t to replicate exactly what others are doing. But we hope it can help spark inspiration for what’s possible on a small homestead .

We’ll follow the Permaculture zone system as we talk through the areas of our homestead. So, starting at our home (Zone 0), we’ll then move outward as we talk through our property.

5 Acre Homestead Layout

Many homesteads will come with a home already in place. This was the case for us. If you are building a home, you’ll likely be working with an architect or civil engineer on the placement. What we appreciate about the placement of our home is that it’s surrounded by a canopy of mature shade trees. Even on the hottest days it helps keep our home cool and provides nice shade for outdoor homestead activities, like processing chickens . Our house also sits at a high point on our land for good drainage. The home isn’t central on the land, which we don’t mind. We’d prefer it be tucked more toward a corner like it is to allow the most space for whatever we are growing on the land.

We will mention that if there’s one part of a home that’s absolutely essential on a homestead it’s the Mud Room! Our Mud Room gets heavy use all year round—from sloppy early spring when winter thaws to an entry point to our basement storage racks for all our fall harvesting. You want a space that’s functional and where you won’t get upset when the dirtiest of outdoor jobs or play get tracked back inside!

Perennial Foods & Plants

Planting food producing perennial plants around our property has been a priority for us. Just outside our back door is a large asparagus patch we planted. A small wooded section behind our home is thick with black raspberry bushes. Near our kitchen garden lies a rhubarb patch and red raspberries. And we’ve also enjoyed numerous mulberry trees sporadically planted around our home and fence lines. 

young asparagus popping up

Also tucked into the small wooded section behind our home we put up some hog panel for a pig pen. The walnut and pine trees drop forage for pigs seasonally while providing some natural shelter. And it is also an easy location for us to run kitchen scraps out to being just out our back door. As part of the pen we installed a fencer for running electric fencing around the property. I’ve appreciated being able to glance out my back window, especially on cold winter days, and see the blinking light of the fencer assuring me it’s on and working properly.

hogpanel pigpen in wooded area

Compost Area

Our compost pile is currently inside the pig pen. This works for now because we’ve been slow to actually get more pigs to fill our pigpen until we know we have enough capacity to care for them. The long term plan is to build a compost bin system out of easy to track down materials like pallets. Either way, keeping your compost close by to your home where you can easily discard kitchen scraps is a must. We also have a compost pile near the barn that collects animal manure we clean out of there.

backyard compost bins made of pallets

Screen Shack

We inherited a slightly rundown, screened-in outdoor space that we dubbed the Screen Shack. It’s awesome! Because of the small wooded area behind our home, mosquitoes and other bugs can be terrible certain times of year. The Screen Shack allows us to eat meals together outside, setup food when we host outdoor gatherings, or just have a nice place to cozy up with a good book, cup of coffee, and enjoy the beautiful views this screened room offers around our property. 

screen shack central in our homestead layout

Barn + Chicken Coop

A 25’ x 50’ pole barn with electric and a water hydrant has become the hub of our homestead. This is where we raise our chicks every spring in the brooder . All our feed, hay , tools, and equipment are stored in there. About 1/3 of it is built out as an animal stall that gives our cows shelter when weather gets bad. And we even decided to build an 8’ x 16’ chicken coop right inside the barn. All my daily chores and tasks around the homestead operate out of this space. So it’s nice that our barn is just a short distance out our back door and mudroom, but still far enough to have a bit of separation from daily family activities.

chicken coop built inside pole barn

Vegetable Garden

We located our summer kitchen garden outside of the tree canopy surrounding our home so it gets full sun. Yet, this space is close enough to keep close tabs on how things are growing, the weeding we need to keep up with, and what needs harvesting. While I’d love to someday build a nice looking permanent fence around our garden area, we’ve found that electro-netting fencing has done an adequate job keeping our chickens and other unwanted garden intruders out—especially early in the spring as things are getting established.

homestead vegetable garden

Kid-Friendly Orchard

Just beside the garden we planted 4 dwarf apple trees. We have a separate larger orchard that’s further out, but the goal for this space was to be accessible and welcoming for hands of any size. The dwarf trees stay small, so our kids or visitors can easily go pluck off a ripe apple whenever they’d like!

Permanent Fenced Paddock

Beside the barn we have a 1/2 acre paddock surrounded with a permanent woven wire fence. If you have animals, it would be hard to get by without some area of permanent fencing. And it’s also beneficial for this area to be relatively close to home and easily within view to check on things. This is where we overwinter our cows. The addition of an automatic heated waterer has really helped cut down on winter chores and also given us a place to keep our animals when we leave the homestead and be assured they’re staying put and have constant access to water.

family milk cow in front of barn

1/4-Acre Self Sufficient Homestead Garden (storage crops, orchard, meat chickens)

This 1/4 acre self sufficient garden space is a fun example of putting many Permaculture Design principles together. We began by planting 3 long rows with 10 fruit trees each. Between those rows we plant storage crops where one row grows our potatoes and the other we plant the three sisters in—corn, beans, squash. Those 5 rows are spaced with 6’ grassed alleyways between each row so we can pull chickens tractors through and raise a year’s worth of meat chickens . 

three sisters garden with chicken tractors

It wouldn’t hurt to locate this system close to home since so much happens there. But in reality, the orchard and meat chickens only need seasonal tending and once the storage crops are established they require little attention until fall harvest. We do run an automated drip irrigation system out to this area which also helps it be a bit more hands off.

Back Pasture (with temporary fencing)

The largest chunk of our land (about 3.5 acres) is set aside for our cows (or other future ruminants) to graze on. This field has no permanent fencing around it. We purchased a bunch of Premier 1 electro-netting fencing used off of Facebook Marketplace and use that for rotational grazing . So, about May through November, our cows are out on pasture being moved to a new paddock to munch on each day. The temporary fencing has worked great to keep our cows in, but, as we mentioned, would not be suitable to handle snow loads during the winter months. 

grazing cows on pasture with electro netting

There’s no getting around grazing being expansive on your land and potentially time consuming, especially if rotating your animals often. We have no utility vehicle to quickly run to the far reaches of our property. We also run multiple 100’ hoses from the hydrant in our barn to fill water troughs wherever our cows are located. Someday, we may be able to afford options like a permanent permitter fence, running a water supply more conveniently out to back field, or some sort of ATV for quick transport. But for now, it’s a calculated cost for this slow and methodical process of how we rotate our animals in our back field.

Future Homestead Layout Plans

We’ve been able to get quite a bit up and running on our homestead in just a few years. But we always have ideas and thoughts for what’s on the horizon. Here are some future homestead layout ideas we’re hoping to get to!

Small Ruminants

We would love to include a small flock of sheep or goats into the mix. The hope would be to fence off a large section of the lawn surrounding our house and utilize the grazing to reduce the amount of mowing we need to do. We’d also love to graze them occasionally in back with our cows for the benefits of multi-species grazing where they can help clean up whatever the cows leave behind. Plus, sheep in particular can provide a source of fiber on the homestead to produce a totally new material for turning into clothes and other goods.

Pigs in the Orchard?

Part of the thinking long term with the orchard/storage crop area was that, at least part of the year, we can move pigs onto the grassed alleyways to raise them on pasture. We’d need the fruit trees to be mature enough to handle this. But the windfall fruit from the orchard could then get put to very good use helping to provide natural forage for pigs, and possibly other small ruminants.

pigs on pasture

More Perennials

We’ve learned that perennial plants don’t happen overnight. They often take time to establish, and then more time to start producing. We’ve started as early as possible with fruit trees , asparagus, raspberries, and rhubarb . But we’d love to keep expanding that! Fruiting bushes, medicinal herbs, edible landscaping. There’s an upfront cost and effort with getting these up and running. But long-term they provide food year after year with little-to-no hands on time.

We’ve been quick to discount flowers in the past. If it didn’t provide nutritional value, we didn’t see the need. But we’re trying to slow down a bit and enjoy all the aesthetic beauty that nature has to offer. We’ve started planting wildflowers around our home, but we’d love to grow some more flower varieties that can be both enjoyed in our home, and shared with friends, family, and others in the community.

Food Producing Trees

Both for benefit of shelter and food production, our hope is to plant some larger fruit and nut producing trees throughout our back pasture. This Savannah, or park-like, landscape can, 1) allow for a thriving pasture to grow beneath it, 2) provide valuable shade for our animals on warm summer days or shelter during storms, and 3) grow food for us to gather up as a family.

Your Homestead Layout!

So there’s a little glimpse into our homestead layout and some of the principles we used to get to where we are.

Remember that your homestead is unique to YOU! There’s no pressure to match or replicate what anyone else is doing. Every step you take is moving you and your family toward a more resilient future.

And lots of small steps add up to really great things over time!

We’d love to hear what you’re considering for your homestead layout, or where you’re feeling hung up!

Drop us a note below and happy homesteading, friends!

Pin it for later!

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How To Write A Farm Business Plan?

June 21, 2021

If you’ve never written a business plan before, it can seem quite daunting and could leave you feeling more than a little overwhelmed. In this article, we will look at how to break it down step by step into simple, manageable chunks. Then you’ll soon see how to write a farm business plan without stress.

What You'll Learn Today

What is a Business Plan?

Why do i need a business plan, how do i write a small farm business plan, 1. executive summary, 2. business description, 3. market analysis, 4. competitors, 5. products and services breakdown, 6. marketing & sales, 7. organizational structure, 9. financial goals and expectations.

what is a business plan

A business plan is a document that provides a road map to clearly define your proposed farming business in detail. It helps you to decide how you will do specific things such as locate, fund, sustain and grow your venture.

You will also be able to state your ambitions, and how you envisage achieving them, and when. You’ll need to look at viability, the size of the market, any competitors you’ll have, and the predicted future growth of the industry you’re interested in.

The choices are vast. It could be raising chickens, growing specialized crops, or micro-farming.

A good business plan should be:

  • Easy to follow
  • Comprehensive

why do i need a business plan

A well-written business plan not only increases your chances of getting additional funding, such as loans or grants but also gives you a way to ensure all your goals are being met as you go along.

Having a detailed document to follow as a guide helps you stay on course and provides a greater chance of success.

By charting an ideal course of action, you may discover things you hadn’t initially thought of. These might be additional ways of making your enterprise profitable or finding potential pitfalls before you’ve invested a single dime.

If, for example, your farm is reliant on producing a specific crop that depends on a long growing season, you need to figure out what happens if it fails. Certain things, such as the weather, are completely out of our control.

It could be that you can’t rely on just growing one thing and need to grow additional crops that don’t depend on the same conditions or diversify in some other way. Many small farmers increase their revenue by adding other strings to their bow and diversifying .

Another consideration is, just because the market you’re interested in is strong right now, it doesn’t mean it will continue to be so. A business plan lets you decide what you would do if there was a dramatic drop in demand/income.

As well as planning for the worst, you’ll also be able to decide what you’d do if things go better than expected. Should your chosen farming idea flourish and you can’t keep up with demand, what happens then? A plan would help you know how best to expand under these circumstances.

Without a solid plan for your farm, you won’t be able to secure any help in the form of grants or loans, and you never know when a cash injection might be needed down the line.

To write a successful business plan, you’ll first need to do a lot of research. This involves investigating how all aspects of your project will work by looking at how it is achieved by others.

If you want to apply for grants or loans, find out precisely what information they will need before you start. That way, you won’t need to do a load of extra work later on.

Talk to professionals; this could be farming associations, other farmers in your area of interest, banks, government offices, potential customers, machine manufacturers, breed societies, anyone who can give you concrete facts about what you want to do.

In this short video, the basics of how to write a farm business plan are explained.

When you start writing your plan, be sure you have all your ducks in a row and know very clearly in your mind how you envisage things working. Break it down into its component steps to make it easier to write.

What Are The Steps In Planning Farm Business

You’ve done all your research, and you’re ready to start writing, but what do you need to include and in what order?

In truth, there are a multitude of ways to write a farm business plan, and none is more correct or better than another. The key is to ensure you have as much detailed information as possible to follow in the future or use to gain funding.

An executive summary is usually written last but appears first in your finished document.

It summarizes the expectations you have about what you are aiming to accomplish.

It should be a compelling read that reveals your mission statement and gives a brief description of the farming you will be doing and what products you will be producing.

You can also include why you want to start your farm, what your inspiration is and what background experience or training you have.

Here you give a detailed description of your farming goals, who you will be serving, and why you stand out from your competitors. Include any notable strengths, differences, unique solutions, competitive advantages – anything that will give you an edge.

In this section, you need to show how the specific type of farming you will be doing works. Substantiate the strengths you talked about in the farm description by detailing statistics, market trends , and any other proof that your idea is viable.

Discuss how similar businesses are doing and how they succeed. Identify your market, who will buy what you’re selling, and why they want to get it from you.

Figures count, so be sure to include as much detail about what profits can be reasonably expected as possible.

All businesses have competitors, and farming is no different. If there are already much larger farmers offering the same things in your area, it will be hard to compete. It’s better to look for a niche market that is needed but not catered for.

In your business plan, you should state who your competitors are and list their strengths and weaknesses. You must demonstrate exactly how you are going to be successful when competing against them.

In the business description, you gave an overview of what products and services you would be offering. Now it’s time to expand on that and provide more details about what you’ll be selling. Don’t forget to include how much, who to and why what you have to offer is needed.

You also want to show which suppliers you’ll be using (feed, seed, equipment, etc.), what you will be buying, and the costs involved.

What you’re selling was outlined in 5 above, but here you need to explain how you’ll find customers for your produce. Will you, for example, have a stall at various farmers’ markets? Or perhaps sell a specialty plant for making a valuable essential oil to a specific manufacturer?

List all the methods you’re intending to use to promote and sell the produce and ensure you create a realistic budget to go with it.

Will you be doing your own marketing and sales, or will you get someone to do it for you? Do you need to build and manage a website, social media accounts, or direct marketing materials?

It’s one thing to produce a product to sell, but it’s another thing to actually get anyone to buy it. For this, good marketing is key.

In this element, you describe how your farm will be run. Will it be just you doing everything, or will you have family or employees to help?

If you do take people on, will they be part-time or full-time? Employed or casual? Seasonal or long-term?

What skills will the people you take on have? What will their responsibilities be? What will the chain of command look like? All of these things will need to be talked about in detail.

Will your farm be run as a sole trader proprietorship, a partnership, or something else? How will this work and why are you choosing that particular setup.

It’s very usual for some level of additional funding to be needed. Agricultural machinery, land, buildings, animals, seed, and so on can all be costly.

In this part of your business plan, you need to focus on how much it will take to set up your farm and where your starting capital is coming from. Will you invest your own money or require it from an outside source?

It’s a good idea to include some kind of timeline that shows when additional funding may become necessary to grow the business, or buy new equipment, and so on.

In the final section, refer back to your market research and calculate what your financial goals and expectations should be.

Create a projection of what you anticipate your revenue will look like in the first 12 months of trading. Then do the same for the following five years.

It’s very tempting to be over-ambitious and write down overinflated (optimistic) figures, instead of more realistic ones – be honest, flights of fancy are not helpful.

If you know you’re going to need a loan of some kind, then sound, sensible, well demonstrated financial information is going to be required. You also need to document what will happen if things don’t go according to plan. What contingency do you have set aside in case of an emergency?

Although writing a business plan for your farm is a big project, don’t be put off. It will prove to be a really valuable document in the long run.

Keep everything simple, and don’t be in too much of a rush to get it done. Use lists, graphs, charts, photos, or anything else that helps make your vision clear. Do your research thoroughly.

It’s easy to get carried away with the idea of something and to jump in without finding out if it’s really viable. Doing a business plan will help you see not only any potential pitfalls but hopefully also some new opportunities too.

Every business is different, and your business plan will be utterly unique to you.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how to write a farm business plan and wish you every success in your venture.  

To read more of our “starting a farm” articles, why not take a closer look at our site .

1 thought on “How To Write A Farm Business Plan?”

It’s good to have a plan, but I think not so many people really make a detailed plan with everything mentioned above.

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Sara Bowles

Sara runs a 5-acre homestead with her own chickens, horses and a veggie patch. She studied business, equitation, and agriculture which has led to an interesting career - from working on murders with the police force, to running her own farm.

6043 S Drexel Ave Chicago, IL 60637

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Off The Grid News Better Ideas For Off The Grid Living

How to make a living on a 5-acre farm.

Josh Volk

Many homesteaders wrongly believe they must have a big farm – and hundreds or thousands of acres – to make a living off their land.

But this week’s guest on Off The Grid Radio says that with only five acres and a little bit of patience and work, any homesteader can transform their land into a compact farm and a career.

His name is Josh Volk, and his book — “Compact Farms: 15 Proven Plans for Market Farms on 5 Acres or Less” — profiles people who have made a career out of their small farms.

Josh give us an overview on what he discovered, including:

5 acre farm business plan

  • How a five-acre “compact farm” provides benefits that a larger farm does not.
  • What you can grow on your compact farm to make the most money.
  • Why organic methods often work best and keep costs down.
  • What someone who wants to start a “compact farm” should do first.

Finally, Josh gives us ideas on where the produce from a compact farm can be sold. (Hint: It’s not simply at a farmers’ market.)

We learned a lot from talking to Josh … and you will, too!

compact farm featured josh volk

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Farming and agriculture are complicated businesses. To be successful, you need more than a green thumb and the willingness to get your hands dirty. You need to know how to operate your agricultural enterprise efficiently and not just forecast your crop rotations, but your cash position and revenue. To do that, you need a business plan.

How can a business plan help your farm or agriculture business?

A good business plan will help your farm or food production business grow. It can improve your chances of receiving government grants or loans, help you manage your business through hard times, and identify additional forms of revenue like tourism or consulting. Most lenders or investors require a business plan before they even consider funding a project. When you add in the numerous elements of running an agricultural business, and the factors like weather and government regulations that are often beyond your control, a business plan becomes an essential tool for effective management, strategic planning and communication across all the key stakeholders in your business.

Find the right agriculture business plan template for your business

If you’re not sure where to begin, check out our farms, food growers, food production facilities, and other agriculture-related sample business plans for inspiration.

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Starting a Business | Tip List

27 Most Profitable Small Farm Ideas

Published September 6, 2023

Published Sep 6, 2023

Meaghan Brophy

REVIEWED BY: Meaghan Brophy

Karina Fabian

WRITTEN BY: Karina Fabian

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This article is part of a larger series on Starting a Business .

Starting A Business?

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  • 1 Rural Agriculture Small Farm Ideas
  • 2 Low Capital Small Farm Ideas
  • 3 Urban Agriculture Small Farm Ideas
  • 4 B2B Small Farm Ideas
  • 5 Agritourism Small Farm Ideas
  • 6 Bottom Line

Technology and imagination have created more opportunities for farmers to develop a profitable business. Small farms (earning less than $50,000 annually or occupying less than 180 acres) in particular can profit from less traditional farming like beekeeping, microgreens, or even hops, as well as alternative income sources like agritourism.

According to the USDA , in 2023 net farm income will be 26.6% above its 20-year average (2002–2021) of $115.2 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Looking for new ways to add life to your farm? Here are 27 of the most profitable small farming ideas:

Rural Agriculture Small Farm Ideas

Rural farms are located in outlying areas of the country. The vast land area is perfect for cultivating food crops, rearing livestock, and hunting; however, farming activities are highly dependent upon the seasons and natural weather conditions. Here are some profitable small farming ideas suited for rural areas.

1. Tree Nursery

A tree nursery can be a great investment when done right. Most farmers start with 10–20 seedlings on a small plot, and with the right marketing strategy, have the baby trees sold out before they mature. Seedlings run from 15 cents to $1.50 per tree, and a sapling of two years can sell for $20 to $100, making for a large profit, if you have the time to wait.

Spend some time researching how to organically source the trees you want to grow. Fruit tree propagation, for example, can be done by grafting or budding (joining parts from multiple plants), and this increases your chances of producing the same variety of trees as opposed to using seeds.

If you have 10 or more acres, experience growing trees, and the right climate, Christmas tree farms can be a profitable option. You need to watch the trees as they grow, pruning them to make sure they are healthy and bushy for the holidays.

You might also consider this spin on the tree nursery idea:

“Start an adopt-a-tree program. This allows farmers to do what they do best—grow things. To start, you’ll need to have a simple website. But if you run a farm, you should have one anyway. The next thing you’ll need are the actual trees and the tools to plant them. Invest in a good quality camera to take pictures of the trees for the people adopting them. Take pictures when you plant them and as they grow to use as proof that you planted the trees. Finally, have certificates printed up to show adoption of the trees and ones that are to be given as a gift or memorial.”

— Julie Austin, CEO, Creative Innovation Group

2. Fish Farming

Fish farming is an ideal business idea for investors with available land, and it doesn’t always require a body of water. You can start a fish farm either by creating fish ponds or investing in fish tanks; it’s a highly scalable business idea. Once you have the proper knowledge of fish raising, you will be able to decide the type of fish to raise. According to FinModelsLab , a well-run fish farm can produce a return on investment (ROI) of 5%–10%.

Fish such as tilapia, cod, trout, and catfish are popular because they are easy to raise and in high demand. Small-scale farms are the usual suppliers of fish in their local supermarkets and restaurants.

Other popular varieties of fish that are commercially raised are:

  • Yellow Perch

Not all fish are raised for food. Goldfish and koi are popular fish to farm as well.

The decision as to which fish you want to raise will ultimately rely on your skill, financial capacity, market demand, and agro-climatic condition. This refers to the normal soil types, rainfall, temperature, and water availability that affects the type of vegetation in the area.

3. Dual Crop Farming

Dual crop farming or multiple cropping can be either mixed cropping or intercropping. Mixed cropping refers to raising two or more types of crops in the same area while intercropping is raising different crops in close proximity. Dual crop farming is very popular among farmers because it optimizes the use of equipment, soil, and water as well as farming supplies; it also maximizes the production of a small farm all year-round.

Farmers like that it reduces the risk of total loss from calamities, drought, pests, and diseases. Some good examples of multiple cropping are growing strawberries and watermelons in Florida or wheat and soybeans in addition to corn and canola in the Carolinas.

4. Goat Farming

Goats are highly versatile livestock. Goat milk products are expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7% from 2023 to 2030 as more and more people seek an alternative to cow’s milk for infant food, allergies, and nutrition. A quick look online shows goat milk selling for $4.50 to $23 per gallon, and the milk can be made for cheese or even soap. The initial outlay for milking equipment can be expensive, and goats need to be milked twice a day.

Goats aren’t just for milking. Angora goats produce mohair and cashmere. Plus, you can rent goats out for brush removal, as petting animals, for photo shoots, and even for goat yoga! The demand for goat meat is increasing as well and can sell for as much as $22 per pound. Different breeds of goats are needed for milking or meat (although they all will eat the weeds).

Three goats peeking out of a log fence. By MabelAmber on Pixabay.

Goats are versatile animals for profitable small farming. (Source: Pixabay)

No matter the business, you’re going to need a way to accept payments. Whether selling at a market or online, Square’s free point of sale is a great place to start. It’s quick and easy to set up, and you’ll have no long-term commitments. Even accept payments while offline. Get started today with Square POS .

5. Alpaca Farming

Alpaca ranching is easier than cattle or horse ranching, and with as little as an acre of land, you can raise five alpacas. They are best for fleece, which is sheared annually. Raw fleece runs $3 an ounce , so they are better as a supplement to your farm. The bigger profit is in breeding and stud fees. Plus, they’re so cute that some farms get side income from photos or social media.

Alpacas will live amiably with other livestock and are good guard animals, ready to run off a fox or defend their territory or fellow animals. Some farmers have found a side business in renting out their alpacas as “guard sheep.” You can also sell their manure, as it’s a good source of nitrogen and potassium.

Low-capital Small Farm Ideas

If you’re short on capital, there are some low-cost business ideas that are easy to start. While these types of farm businesses usually earn less than other farms that invest in land and equipment, they continue to provide a steady stream of income.

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6. herb gardening.

According to Profitable Plants , “Just one small backyard growing bed with 100 square feet of growing space will hold 400 potted herb plants with a retail value of over $2,400.” When starting your own herb garden, emphasize variety and choose herbs in local demand for easier sales. You can start an herb business with small farmers market sales from your backyard, selling herbs that you cut, the plants, seeds, or all three, but also check with local restaurants, herbalists, or essential oil makers. If you grow catnip, you can sell it to pet stores, or make catnip toys. Also, consider selling your herb and herb products online.

7. Bee Farming

Apiculture or beekeeping often starts as a hobby, and the capital needed to begin is quite low. According to Beekeeping for Newbies , it costs about $760 for the first year for a single hive, protective gear, and basic tools. In addition to honey, you can sell bee byproducts such as beeswax, bee pollen, and royal jelly. Bee pollen and royal jelly are considered superfoods and are sold at a high price. You can also rent out beehives for added income.

You only need a small area in your backyard but need to check local ordinances (and HOA if applicable) to make sure beekeeping is allowed.

There are many ways to get your first set of bees:

  • Catch a swarm: If you live at a location where bees are often found, you can opt to catch your own swarm for free.
  • Buy a bee package: This package consists of about 3 pounds of bees with a young, mated queen. Large bee farms regularly sell bee packages in the spring for about $180 each.
  • Nucleus hive: Typically consists of a box with five frames of bees, brood, pollen, nectar, and a fertile, laying queen bee. They are sold between April to June for about $200.
  • Full hive: This simply means an entire hive setup, including an existing colony that large beekeepers sell to beginner bee farmers for around $300 each.
  • Split hive: Split hives are created when several frames of an existing colony are moved to a new box where a new queen is introduced. They’re often sold for around $200 each.

Beginner bee farmers are encouraged to purchase a nucleus hive as it helps them learn the basics of beekeeping and nurture its growth. You will also need other equipment such as protective gear, hive tools, a bee brush, and a honey extractor.

In today’s world, profitable farming includes online as well as in-person sales. To sell your farm products online, you’ll want an easy-to-use ecommerce software. Shopify is one of the best ecommerce software as it is easy to use and feature-rich and has a mobile and register point-of-sale option if you sell in person on the farm or at farmers markets.

8. Aquaponics

Aquaponics is a farming method that combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). This means farmers produce crops using less water and land. That means lower investment and a faster yield. Experts advise beginners to start small and expand as they learn how to maximize their production.

Aquaponics is expected to have a CAGR of 7.15% between 2023 and 2027 . Getting started costs between $2,000 and $7,000 for equipment and stock, and a well-run farm can generate profits of $5–$10 per square foot per year, per BootstrapBee .

9. Microgreens Farming

Microgreens are young vegetables or baby plants that are around 10–14 days old and one to 3 inches tall. They are the small edible vegetables that restaurants use in salads or as garnish. Chefs add them to create depth of flavor. According to Microgreens Farmer , a standard rack can produce $800 or more. The microgreen market grew from $1.71 billion in 2022 to $1.94 billion in 2023 with a CAGR of 13.7% .

Beginner farmers should consider this business because microgreens are easy to grow, turnaround time is high, and it requires little investment to start. You can grow them indoors or outdoors, although for year-round yield, you need a greenhouse, which can get pricey. Plus, most microgreens like temperatures similar to our homes. While any young vegetable can work, here are some of the more popular microgreens:

  • Mustard greens
  • Swiss chard

vegetable farming

With the right strategy, farming herbs and microgreens for commercial use can be a very lucrative small investment venture.

Generally speaking, the more land required to start a farming business, the higher the investment cost. As the cost of an acre of farmland averages to around $3,800 across the country, maximizing the use of a small area can help in bringing down the cost of starting a farm business.

Urban Agriculture Profitable Small Farm Ideas

Urban agriculture is a farming business located in densely populated areas such as cities. This mostly refers to cultivating, processing, and distributing food products but can also include small-scale livestock and fishery. Space and pollution can be challenges, but local restaurants and supermarkets may seek urban farmers for a closer supply of fresh produce.

10. Vegetable Landscaping

Starting a landscaping business can be expensive, but farmers who want to opt for a greener path should enter this world of edible landscaping. This option creates more flexible opportunities so your required startup capital will be considerably lower. You will mostly be investing in tools to grow vegetables either on freshly tilled soil or in containers. When using pots, remember to purchase the ones that are eight to 12 inches deep; also, space them out evenly, so you can maximize your yield.

“Urban areas have many food deserts—places where there are no quality products available for residents. There are also many suburban homeowners with too much landscape to maintain on their own. By launching an urban vegetable landscaping business, you can tap into readily available lawns that homeowners do not wish to maintain themselves. They will pay you for your work (and workers), and all you need to do to keep them happy is offer a few vegetables in return each week. Take the surplus product, and sell it at a local farmers market or on street corners if permissible.”

— Gregory Heilers, Agricultural Technology Writer, G.P. Heilers Writing & Editing

11. Hydroponic Farming

Hydroponics is the process of growing crops with nutrient-rich water kept in contact with the plant roots instead of using soil. This process significantly reduces the risk of wastage and pollution that can harm the produce and cause diseases, which appeals to health-conscious consumers. Like aquaponics, the minimal use of land area needed also makes hydroponics a low-cost investment. Plus hydroponic plants grow 40% faster and produce 30% more than those grown in soil. This means you will have more products available to sell.

There are different hydroponic systems farmers can learn and try:

  • Static: Plants are grown in tubs or plastic buckets. Water may be unaerated or gently aerated (water infused with gas).
  • Continuous flow: The nutrient-rich water solution constantly flows past the roots, so plants can absorb oxygen better.
  • Aeroponics: Plant roots are only misted with a nutrient solution instead of submerged in liquid.
  • Ebb and flow: Plants are flooded with water and then drained several times a day.

Hydroponics is all about careful management of the environment for your plants. So while it seems like an easy business to try as a beginner farmer, take your time analyzing your options and learning about hydroponics from experts before you start your own.

12. Cannabis Farming

If you live in an area where cannabis use is legal , cannabis is another profitable farming alternative. Although you can produce better quality plants in a controlled environment, the easiest way to start is by growing them outdoors. Having a large backyard is an advantage; It helps keep your investment low while giving you a flexible space with which to work.

Growing cannabis outdoors can cost as little as $10 per square foot , although a greenhouse helps by providing an efficient, controlled environment. According to Medicgrow , a 5’x5’ grow space indoors costs about $225 per pound, with a 10.5-pound yield.

  • Best Cannabis Payment Processing Companies in 2023
  • Cannabis Insurance: Cost & Coverage

13. Rooftop Tea Garden

A rooftop tea garden, a twist on the more common rooftop gardens found in many cities, has many potentials for profit. Naturally, you can grow a variety of aromatic and medicinal herbs and greens to sell directly to consumers. But if you have the ability, you can also create a rustic coffee and tea shop directly on the rooftop. You’d need to partner with the landlord or whoever has legal right to use the rooftop, and of course, it helps to know or partner with someone for running the cafe.

Some important things to consider before designing your rooftop garden:

  • Review building codes: Check with your local government to see if there are rules about creating rooftop gardens in your area. Also, ask about possible restrictions that can affect the kind of business you want to put up.
  • Monitor how much the roof is exposed to the elements: Sun and wind exposure are critical if you want to properly grow your tea garden. Make sure that your plants will get enough sunlight and shade and are protected against strong gusts of wind; it’s a good idea to include solutions for these issues in your business plan.
  • Determine your rooftop’s loading capacity: Rooftops do have a maximum limit to the weight they can hold, and it is important to know and take this data into account when designing your garden. Consult with a structural engineer who can determine this information exactly and keep the building and your business safe.

It can take a lot of work to start your own rooftop tea garden, but a well-designed and run tea garden cannot only provide profit but also a beautiful escape from the city without having to leave the neighborhood.

rooftop farming

Rooftop farmers have the advantage of creating a versatile space for a combination of business ideas.

As with any business, there are certain risks involved when starting your own farm. Rural farms, in particular, can be seriously affected by calamities and natural disasters that threaten both crops and livestock. It is, therefore, important to be prepared by knowing your options such as how to apply for disaster loans .

B2B Profitable Small Farm Ideas

B2B farming is a business method that farmers use when producing agricultural products to supply business clients. Businesses—including restaurants, grocers, and even brewers—prefer to deal with farmers directly for the low cost and quality. While many of the suggestions above can also work in the B2B market, here are some favorites.

14. Snail Farming

Heliciculture, or snail farming, can be a very lucrative business venture. Most large snails are edible and can be sold at a high price, but some breeds are more popular in specific locations, so find out what businesses in your area are after. That helps you create the right habitat and food sources, too.

Snails thrive in areas like California where the climate and well-tilled soil are suited to their growth, and since they are considered agricultural pests, you can easily ask organic farm owners to let you harvest them.

Some of the things you need to consider when starting a snail farm are:

  • Climate control: The ideal temperature for growing snails is between 16° to 24°C (60° to 75°F); they also need humidity, so include sprinklers and humidifiers.
  • Soil requirements: Snails thrive in well-cultivated soil and groomed gardens because of their nutrient-rich quality. Calcium in the soil is important for the snail’s shell. Soil should also be at least 2 inches deep for egg-laying purposes.
  • Farming system: Protect and contain snails in pens that are either inside a building or greenhouse or with plastic tunnel houses.
  • Food source: Snails drink water and eat various types of feeds, but they also survive on natural food such as vegetables like cabbage, flowers, fruits, most green leaves, and microscopic algae.
  • State regulations: Interstate movement and shipping of snails are strictly controlled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as these creatures are considered invasive plant pests. Check for your state’s rules and requirements on raising a snail farm so you can obtain the necessary permits to operate.

Snail farming is still considered a niche in the US, so there is more opportunity for farmers to profit by supplying fresh snails to restaurateurs and other snail enthusiasts. There’s also a growing demand for snail slime in the cosmetics industry and even live snail facials.

15. Mushroom Farming

Mushrooms are relatively easy to cultivate, considering that they can grow in the wild, even in the harshest of conditions. Making a profitable business out of mushroom farming will depend on knowing which mushroom strain to cultivate and how to maximize your production to become a steady supplier to other businesses.

Gourmet mushrooms such as oyster and shiitake are some of the most sought-after variations of mushrooms in the market. Indoor production provides a better harvest; they can even be grown in bags. It only takes an average of six weeks to grow and harvest mushrooms that are ready to be sold. Mushroom farmers harvest an average of 25 pounds of produce per square foot every year and sell them for $6 to $8 per pound .

16. Organic Farming

Generally speaking, organic farming is a method of raising crops and livestock, but thanks to a growing market of health conscious-consumers, this method has created a niche of its own. Nowadays, you’ll find restaurants and supermarkets that market specifically for organic produce. These businesses rely on organic farmers to supply them with organically grown fruits and vegetables and organically raised, or free-roaming, livestock.

While the yields are generally less than conventional farms, organic foods command a higher price. You may also need to go through a certification process to be registered as officially organic in order to sell to businesses that promote their foods as such.

Some of the popular organic farms to consider are:

  • Farm-to-Table Restaurant
  • Organic Grocery Wholesaler
  • Organic Dairy Farm
  • Organic Produce Farm
  • Organic Livestock Farm
  • Organic Fish Farm

The global organic farming market is expected to grow to $187.84 billion in 2023, at a CAGR of 11.1%, and to $287.83 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 11.3%. It’s also a more environmentally friendly way to farm and good for the health-conscious farmer as well as consumer.

17. Poultry Farming

Chicken farms, especially organic ones, can achieve profits of 60% or more per batch of chickens. Plus, you can sell eggs and even poultry manure. Some farmers find profit (and fun) in raising rare breeds of chickens to sell the chicks. The downside is that poultry farming is highly regulated to ensure the safety and health of the residents within the community.

Poultry farming

Poultry farming is still one of the most profitable businesses for farmers who are looking to break into the B2B market.

It costs anywhere from $200 to $8,000 to build a chicken house, depending on the complexity and size. When building, think about protection, ease of access for gathering eggs, and whether you need climate control. You’ll need different breeds of chickens for different purposes.

  • Sussex hens
  • Rhode Island Red
  • White Leghorns
  • Plymouth Rock

Meat (broilers)

  • Cornish Cross
  • Jersey Giant
  • Freedom Rangers

Running a farm involves tracking expenses, inventory, sales, and more. A strong accounting software can make this process easier. QuickBooks offers a variety of built-in tools and expansions (including payment processing) to help you stay organized. Check out our QuickBooks Online review .

18. Plant Nursery

If you simply love gardening, then a plant nursery might be a way to indulge that love for a profit. Backyard nurseries can turn as much as a 95% profit . Plants can be grown from seeds and sold for an average of $7. If you grow outdoors or use pots, the startup costs are minimal, although if you need a greenhouse, this can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on size and complexity.

When starting a nursery for profit, research what kind of plants are in demand in your area. Is there a local flower shop that would welcome quality orchids? Is there a demand for poinsettias during the Christmas season? Does the local nursery always sell out of ground cover plants?

19. Hop Farming

The growth of microbreweries has led to an increase in the demand for quality, local hops. Hops can be grown in as little as 1 acre of land. Starting costs can be expensive—about $12,000 per acre—and usually need a year to establish their root system before they produce well. If you have the time, however, you can harvest up to 1,800 pounds of hops, which sell from $3 to $15 per pound.

Hops require at least 120 frost-free days. They grow on bines (the technical term for hop vines) that can reach 25 feet and weigh over 20 pounds, so you need strong, tall trellises. The soil needs to be loose and well-drained.

Starting a small farming business aimed at supplying a large volume of produce to your local market can be costly. You may need a grant or even a business loan to get started. A well-written business plan is a first step for securing funding, plus it helps you ensure you’ve considered all the aspects of building a thriving business.

Agritourism Profitable Small Farm Ideas

Agritourism or farm tourism is a business model that derives the majority of its income from attracting visitors to experience and learn about farm life. Agritourism activities include visiting a working farm and selling fresh, organic, or even homemade produce. Both urban and rural farms benefit from this business structure, but business owners will have to invest more in advertising and marketing strategies.

To succeed in agritourism, you need a professional website. Check out Bluehost for reliable web hosting service to make sure your website is always online. It also offers domain registration and a business email address, all for just $2.95 per month. Sign up to get your online shop hosted today.

20. Flower Farm

Flower farms are a popular destination for tourists, but apart from that, this type of business is versatile. It can create other avenues for income such as supplying flower shops and event organizers. You can start a low-cost flower farm in your backyard for about $2,000 and grow from there. Like other businesses, research is key to growing your flower farm.

“One example of an agricultural business idea is a sunflower maze. A business owner can plant hundreds of sunflowers and charge a small fee for visitors to stroll through the beautiful fields of flowers every summer. They can then sell bouquets of sunflowers and other sunflower decor items at the entrance to the maze. Also, local photographers and brides will pay to reserve the field for special photo shoots. Startup costs are low—just seeds, labor, and the reasonable rental fee for an unused field by the roadside.”

— Marsha Kelly, Marketing Consultant, Best 4 Businesses

21. Forest Gardens

Forest gardens are picturesque and make efficient use of the land to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables together. It requires a canopy of mature trees (nut trees are good, although any native tree works), shorter fruit trees, berry-producing shrubs, perennial vegetables like rhubarb or dill, root vegetables like carrots, ground cover like Canadian ginger, and edible vine plants like cucumbers or beans.

These kinds of gardens are great community projects, although small farms can use them as part of an overall tourist experience—imagine a hike through the woods where you pick the ingredients for your own dinner!

22. Recreational Fish Farming

Fishing is a very popular recreational activity in the US, so if you’re a fish farmer, you can start accepting visitors to fish in your ponds or lakes. Extra-large fish farms can even host different types of sport fishing and draw in more crowds. You can charge visitors by day or per pound of fish that they catch. A good marketing strategy to help you boost sales, especially if you charge per pound of fish, is to create an area for barbecuing or a rustic-style restaurant where visitors can ask to have their freshly caught fish cooked for them.

23. Animal Petting Farm

Most farmers get into the petting farm business to augment their income from selling eggs, dairy, and livestock. Petting farms are not only for student field trips; families like them because they provide a more interactive experience for their children. A traveling petting zoo can be a big sell for birthday parties. Some businesses use them as an opportunity to hold team-building events. Also, be open to giving customers a sample of the products (eggs, dairy) you get from each animal and have a small store where they can buy more food products to bring home.

Customers who pay the entrance fee expect an educational experience, so have them engage with the animals while being supervised by your staff. Safety will be your first priority when you invest in a petting farm. Make sure your staff is well-trained to instruct and supervise. They will also need to know how to administer first aid.

24. Fruit Picking Farms

Fruit picking is a popular weekend activity for families, and small farms have found this to be a lucrative venture. While most entrepreneurial farmers who consider offering fruit picking have had a running farm for some time, hobbyists can also use this to generate income from the tourism aspect of the farm.

One advantage of having a “pick-your-own farm” model is that you’re able to hire fewer people to harvest your products, which reduces overhead costs. Additionally, buyers come to you, so you also reduce the cost of transporting your produce.

Fruit-picking farms interact directly with customers, so there are additional things to consider:

  • Consider planting more than one type of produce if possible. Berry picking is also popular and can attract more customers.
  • Provide ample parking space for visitors.
  • Carefully consider the pesticides you use for your crops because your customers can be exposed if not properly handled.
  • Invest in customer service training for your staff.
  • Don’t ignore opportunities to supply other businesses with your produce.

Your business will largely depend on customer feedback. Be sure to make your farm safe and clean and ensure that your staff is efficient and helpful. Also, have a QR code handy at the exit or end of tours so that it’s easy for customers to leave a review on Yelp.

people harvesting vegetable from farm

Pick-your-own farms are a popular destination for families and large groups looking for quick weekend trips, so make sure you provide the best experience.

25. Wedding Venues

Farms can be idyllic locations, which makes them a big demand for couples that want a beautiful backdrop for their wedding. Even small wedding venues can bring in $10,000 or more per year. Converted barns are popular places for ceremonies and receptions. Of course, the longer you keep them celebrating on your property, the better your profit, so also think about preparation rooms, cocktail hours, after-party arrangements, and even a rustic honeymoon suite.

However, it requires more than just clearing out the barn and throwing open the doors. Here are some minimum requirements:

  • Check local ordinances including noise and parking.
  • Check with the local fire marshal about how many people your barn or venue can hold.
  • Make sure you have a clear (and preferably mud-free) walk from parking to the event area or areas.
  • If the wedding is planned for outdoors, do you have a last-minute foul-weather alternative?
  • Consider whether you’ll rent or purchase tables, chairs, place settings, etc.
  • Get to know local caterers and florists.
  • Do you need an alcohol license? (It may be covered by the caterer.)
  • Check to see if there is any liability insurance you may need.
  • Invest in a website and photographer to take beautiful photos of your land.

If you grow flowers or vegetables, consider offering these for the catering and decor. With some imagination, beautiful centerpieces can be made with local foliage as well.

Wedding venues are profitable but can have a downside. Wedding venues can be time-intensive for the days leading to the big event. You may also be dealing with high emotions from the families during plans. Guests may get drunk and wander from the area.

Learn more: Special Event Insurance: Cost & Coverage

26. Educational Farms

Educational farms take petting farms to the next level. You provide tours, hands-on experiences, or even classes about the animals and crops on your farm. If you have a farm craft, like making herb soap or raveling alpaca fleece, then you can teach these as well. You can offer tours and classes to schools or home schooling groups, 4-H and other clubs, or local universities. You can also sell farm products or educational materials on the side.

Not all your classes need to be in person. With good webinar software, such as those in our best webinar software guide , you can also sell classes online. Or you can create a 10-minute mini-class to post on social media as a lead magnet to your farm.

Like with other agritourism ideas, you’ll need to check your liability insurance and consider having students sign waivers. You’ll also want to develop a program and practice beforehand, including anticipating questions. However, it’s a great way to share your love for the farm life, and in some cases, even get some help.

Make sure your guests have something to remember the experience by. Souvenirs with your farm logo or photos make great mementos and promote your farm to others. Check out this list of the best swag ideas , many of which make great options for souvenirs.

27. Farm Stay Experience

Farm experiences, where a vacationer stays on a farm, actually participating in farm life, have been popular since the 1990s. Farm stays are about having a wholesome experience in a natural environment, which makes small farms well-suited, especially those with organic farming. You can advertise online or through services like Airbnb.

Usually, vacationers stay on the farm (sometimes in a cabin or dedicated campsite) and help out with the chores, like feeding the animals. They may be treated to a tour or a small course on farming; others will simply take part in daily farm lifelike one of the family. Be sure to research the applicable liabilities and ordinances, decide what you want to offer, and, like with all agritourism experiences, consider extras like souvenirs, samples from the farm, or add-ons like actual classes.

Bottom Line

Small farms are often started for the love of the land, a desire to be self-sufficient, and an appreciation for the farming lifestyle. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t turn a tidy profit. If you are seriously considering going into the farming business, our list of farming business ideas can help you get started.

About the Author

Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian

Karina Fabian has more than seven years of experience writing on business topics and reviewing software. Before writing for Fit Small Business, she reviewed business software and services for other online websites. Karina has also worked as a marketing content specialist for Naviga. After her husband started a rocket company, Karina got a crash course on the ins and outs of starting a business and all the work that goes into launching a startup. In her free time, she writes science fiction and fantasy.

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5 acre farm business plan

Discussing Key Resources and Risk Exposure in Your Farm Business Plan

  • Margaret Lippsmeyer, Michael Langemeier , and Michael Boehlje
  • Center for Commercial Agriculture
  • Purdue University

Introduction

Developing a business plan for your farm helps align day-to-day operations with overarching business goals.  In this article, we explore the importance of assessing current business resources and exposure to risk while creating a business plan.  We provide discussion on risks to your business’s key resources, a framework to evaluate the strength of your farm’s resource base, and an outline of how to craft an effective business plan.  These topics link back to our previous articles on integrated risk management (Lippsmeyer, Langemeier, and Boehlje, 2024a) and key resources (Lippsmeyer, Langemeier, and Boehlje, 2024b) where we discussed how macroeconomic factors and other external shocks can influence timing and effectiveness of investments in key business resources.

Assessing Resources

Availability and strength of key resources—including financial, physical, human, organizational, and information technology—should shape your business objectives and determine an effective business plan.  Business objectives and business plans should focus on strengthening your farm’s key resource base.  This resource base acts as a foundation for potential farm expansion, or ability to withstand shocks or stresses in the business environment.  Evaluating key resources is a critical initial step in business planning, ensuring you have accurate benchmarks for your business’s resources.  These benchmarks help to identify which key resources to leverage and which need to be strengthened.

In the next sections we discuss different types of key resources and major risks associated with each.  In addition to this discussion, Figure 1 poses a series of questions which can be used to assess the strength of your farm’s key resources.  These questions are intended to pinpoint potential shortcomings in a farm’s resource base, thereby assisting in the development of a business plan that addresses resources needing improvement.  Figure 2 illustrates risk exposure by resource category.

Figure 1. Assessing Strength of Business Resources

Adapted from Olsen (2007)

Organizational Resources

Organizational resources are the glue which binds together physical, financial, human resources, and information technology, giving direction and meaning to a farming operation.  Organizational resources include business reputation, core values, operational structures, and systems, and play a vital role in differentiating your farm from competitors.  For example, most operations can effectively produce yellow corn, but consistent product quality, reliable logistics, trustworthy relationships with input suppliers and product distributors are ways in which your organizational resources may yield a competitive advantage.

Many risks associated with organizational resources are considered strategic risks.  Strategic risks are caused by external shocks or stresses which create a misalignment between a farm’s business strategy and available resources and capabilities (Lippsmeyer, et al., 2023).  These risks lack off-the-shelf risk mitigation strategies, making them particularly threatening for businesses.  Risks to organizational resources exemplify strategic risk: coming from a variety of sources, are known to cause brand erosion, tarnish reputation, obscure business strategy, and lack effective tools to mitigate these risks.

Adverse weather conditions reducing crop yield is often categorized as a production risk.  However, if as a consequence your operation fails to fulfill a sales contract, the risk becomes a strategic risk, impacting your business’s reputation.  Although distributors may have alternative sources to compensate for your shortfall, your farm’s reliability in meeting contractual obligations could come under scrutiny.  This could adversely affect your future prospects of securing contracts with the same distributor.

Brand erosion and loss of reputation frequently relate to three factors: price, timeliness, and quality.  Balancing a competitive price and product quality is a challenge which impacts a farm’s ability to maintain a positive reputation and retain customers.  Moreover, perceptions of certain farming practices (i.e., production using certain chemicals or hormone treatments), negative publicity, or increases in competition may also contribute to brand erosion and reputation loss.

The clarity of a business strategy is another component of strategic risk.  Business strategy may become compromised due to complexities of relationships between operators, employees, and outside parties; or through attempts to expand to seize economies of scope.  For example, business strategy may become unclear during periods of high employee turnover or when a business expands into new market channels.  Periods high turbulence, when structure, goals, and values become unclear, are when resilience is most necessary.  Operational resilience can serve as a dynamic buffer, enabling quick adaptation to internal and external pressures, and sufficient slack resources to provide leeway while maneuvering through unforeseen challenges (Lippsmeyer and Langemeier, 2023).

Information Technology

Information technology draws parallels between the collection and use of farm data to the concept of ‘surveillance capital’ used to enhance social media platforms (Lippsmeyer, Langemeier, and Boehlje, 2024b).  In the context of production agriculture, information technology provides data-driven insights, helping producers identify operational inefficiencies, and assisting in on farm decision-making.  The effectiveness of this resource is highly dependent on data collection, organization, and ability to accurately analyze the data and draw correct interpretations.

A common risk associated with information technology is data security.  Whether it is financial data collected by a lender, input supplier data, or your farm production data, there are significant concerns about how to protect data from being stolen or accessed without permission.  Strategies to limit data accessibility include user authentication to ensure only authorized users can access your farm records, data encryption for sending sensitive information, and access control limits to restrict who can view, modify, or delete data.  In the age of increasing data collection and use, it is critical to read and fully understand contracts with equipment or information technology companies prior to signing away rights, and subsequently, knowing how to revoke access if necessary.

Risks relating to information technology span beyond data security.  Often even if data collection and storage is done in a secure manner, there remain difficulties or limitations associated with data processing.  This poses potential issues of uninformed or ill-informed farm decisions if incorrect conclusions are drawn from analysis, despite best efforts to use data driven insights.

Financial Resources

Financial resources include cash, investments, equity, and receivables, all of which provide liquidity to fund business expenses and updates to physical resources.  Sufficient financial resources ensure farming operations can pursue new opportunities when they arise and have ability to weather through unexpected periods of high input costs or low market prices.  Risks to financial resources include limited access to debt or equity capital and insufficient liquidity.  Without the availability of financial resources, the ability to grow or seize new opportunities is significantly constrained, if not entirely unfeasible.

Physical Resources

Physical resources include land, machinery, buildings, and inventories.  These assets are characterized by significant initial investment, continual need for maintenance, and a lack of liquidity relative to financial resources.  Assessments of physical resources may vary based on the type of farming operation and the type of resource but generally take into account the resource’s useful life, initial level of investment, quality of maintenance, and salvage value.  For example, maintaining land resources may involve soil testing, use of fertilizers to improve nutrient content, or use of cover crops to prevent erosion.  While other physical resources like planters and combines need much more frequent maintenance and replacement after exhaustion of their useful life.

One of the major risks related to physical resources is inefficient use (i.e., low utilization rates).  Inefficient use of machinery or storage facilities results in higher than necessary production costs.  However, inefficient use may be justified in some scenarios.  While inefficient use of physical resources is undesirable in the long run, for an operation that plans to grow, having some degree of slack may increase flexibility.

Other risks include improper care and overuse of a resource.  These risks are often attributed to poor management or lack of investment due to ownership structure – for example, producers who rent versus own machinery or farm ground are typically more hesitant to make major investments because there is no guarantee they will reap the future benefit from the investment.

Inventories are the final physical resource we will address.  Inventories, particularly stored crops, present unique risks including contamination with aflatoxin, insect infestation, or fire in storage bins from inadequate drying procedures.  Inventories are the most liquid physical resource for farming operations, typically being sold within one year of harvest, and often used to supplement financial resources.

Human Resources

There are two varieties of human resources we will discuss: those internal to an operation and those which are external.  Internal human resources include employees, management, company owners, as well as the relationships, knowledge, and competencies of each.  These resources have extensive operational and industry knowledge which is built through time.  Prior research shows experience displays positive relationships with profitability and financial efficiency (Vanhuyse, Bailey, and Tranter, 2021).  Lippsmeyer, Langemeier, and Boehlje (2024b), discuss the importance of human resources and provide strategies for how to attract and retain quality employees.  Risks relating to internal human resources include talent shortages, insufficient workforce, employee retention, and lack of experience.  Losing employees incurs significant operational costs, both directly (due to insufficient labor availability) and indirectly (due to loss of tacit operational knowledge) (Spender and Grant, 1996).

External human resources include customer relations, interactions with and knowledge of suppliers.  These relationships are more challenging to control due to their indirect connection with a business, yet remain critical for success.  Risks relating to customer relations include losses of long-term customers and related market opportunities.  Often these risks are closely related to product quality, pricing, and timeliness, as well as organizational resources.  If customers perceive you as an unreliable supplier, relationships will deteriorate quickly.  Maintaining consistent product quality, efficient logistics, knowledgeable employees, and quality service are all strategies businesses use to encourage longevity of reliable customer relationships (Claycomb and Martin, 2001).

Supplier risks include untimely deliveries, varying quality of inputs, and excessive or unexpected costs.  These factors have the potential to influence quality or price of a product, potentially reflecting poorly on your business.  Careful and frequent evaluation is necessary to decide which suppliers to continue doing business with, how to set and maintain input standards, and strategies to reward suppliers for desirable behaviors.

Setting Business Objectives

Obtainable business objectives are a critical part of every good farm business plan, so a direct path can be plotted from current performance levels to improved performance where objectives are met.  Objectives may vary by enterprise, but likely revolve around improving quality standards, profitability metrics, and timeliness.

Objectives may include achieving specific quality benchmarks for products, retaining a specific proportion of contract agreements from year to year, ensuring a given percentage of deliveries are completed on time, or having management take part in strategy, business, or leadership improvement workshops.  Objectives relating to information technology include learning to collect and store yield data, or developing systems to analyze the impact of different inputs on crop health.  Objectives for financial resources include achieving specific financial ratio benchmarks, paying off high-interest lines of credit, or saving to invest in a new piece of machinery.  Objectives to enhance and maintain human resources might involve hiring additional staff, offering career development opportunities, or offering incentives for loyal customers.

Developing A Business Plan

Using Figure 1, we encourage you to evaluate each of your farm’s key resources to help pinpoint any weaknesses in your resource base and subsequently identify areas in your operation needing improvement.  Business plans should begin by identifying strengths or weaknesses of current resources, assessing the implications of relative strengths (or weaknesses) in achieving business objectives, and then focus on setting up step by step plans to achieve those objectives.

Once your business plan has been created, considerations also need to be made for the timing of major organizational changes or substantial investments.  Both external shocks (e.g., macroeconomic uncertainties) and available operational slack must be considered to identify optimal timing to improve your resource base (Lippsmeyer, Langemeier, and Boehlje, 2024b).

In order to identify actions effective in making change, regular evaluations with consistent standards must be used to assess resource strength and progress made towards achieving objectives.  Continually assessing strengths and weaknesses of key resources and identifying potential improvements can prevent businesses from developing a ‘needs-based strategy’ which waits for major issues to arise, then scrambles to control damage.

Conclusions

This article has provided a discussion of key resources and risks associated with each.  By considering the strengths and weaknesses of your resource base, combined with the appropriate timing for investments, you will be better equipped to develop an effective business plan.  Using the tools provided in this article, we prompt you to critically assess your farm’s key resources and develop a business plan which progresses from your current resource base to achieving business objectives.

Claycomb, C. and C.L. Martin, C. L. (2001). “Building Customer Relationships: An Inventory of Service Providers' Objectives and Practices.” Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 19 (6). https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000006109

Lippsmeyer, M. and M. Langemeier. (2023). “ Agility and Absorption Capacity .”  farmdoc daily (13):75, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, April 24.

Lippsmeyer, M., M. Langemeier, J. Mintert, and N. Thompson.  (2023). “ Resilience to Strategic Risk .”  farmdoc daily (13):115, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, June 23.

Lippsmeyer, M., M. Langemeier, and M. Boehlje.  (2024a). “ Integrated Risk Management: Developing an Asset-Based Business Strategy .”  farmdoc daily (14):54, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, March 18.

Lippsmeyer, M., M. Langemeier, and M. Boehlje.  (2024b). “ Key Resources Determining the Future of the Farm .”  farmdoc daily (14):60, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, March 27.

Olsen, E. (2007). Assessing Your Business and Its Capabilities. In Strategic Planning for Dummies (pp. 121-140). Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Spender, J., and R. Grand, R. (1996). Knowledge and the Firm: Overview. Strategic Management. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.4250171103

Vanhuyse, F., A. Bailey, and R. Tranter. (2021). "Management Practices and the Financial Performance of Farms." Agricultural Finance Review, 81(3) . https://doi.org/10.1108/AFR-08-2020-0126

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Using partnerships and corporations to transfer farm assets

  • Managing a farm
  • Transfer and estate planning
  • Utilizing partnerships and corporations to transfer farm assets

Quick facts

  • Establishing a business entity, such as a partnership or corporation, can help with the process of transferring a farm business to the next generation.
  • In Minnesota, there are two major categories of partnerships: partnerships and limited partnerships. 
  • The two corporation entities available to farm businesses are S corporation and C corporation.

Developing any business entity is a complicated process. Seek assistance from a qualified legal expert and accounting assistance if you plan to explore developing a business entity.

Transferring the farm business to the next generation can be a daunting task. However, there are strategies and methods that can help simplify the process.

When operating as a sole proprietorship, it can be challenging to establish a transition plan. There are many individual assets that need to be accounted for such as machinery, equipment, livestock and land. It is difficult and time consuming to transfer separate, individual assets.

One possible solution is to establish a business entity such as a partnership or a corporation to accomplish the business transition. As members and owners of the entity, the parents are issued ownership shares or shares of stock in the entity. These shares can be sold, gifted or passed through an estate to the entering generation, over time, as a method of transferring the business. This does away with the need to transfer separate, individual assets. This also spreads out the parent’s income and thus tax obligations. It allows the entering generation the ability to acquire assets over time thus minimizing their need for large amounts of capital. 

In Minnesota, there are two major categories of partnerships: 1. partnerships and 2. limited partnerships. There are separate entities under each category which function differently.

1. Partnerships

There are two entities: general partnerships and limited liability partnerships.

General partnerships (GP)

Two or more people are required for the GP and are referred to as general partners. All partners are generally liable for all debts and obligations of the GP. There is no liability protection for their personal or partnership assets. Minnesota state law does not require a written partnership agreement. However, such an agreement outlining decision making and job responsibilities might be useful. If the name of the partnership is that of the partners (Henderson Family Partnership), the entity does not have to be registered with the State of Minnesota. The entity is taxed as a partnership, pass-through entity, with income allocated to each partner based on their ownership and included in their personal income tax.

Limited liability partnerships (LLP)

The LLP is similar to the GP with exceptions. All partners are general partners (no limited partners) but their liability exposure is limited to the assets they have placed into the LLP. Their personal assets are protected from liability exposure. The LLP is required to register with the Secretary of State in Minnesota. The LLP is taxed as a partnership, pass-through entity.

2. Limited partnerships

There are three partnership categories: limited partnership (LP), limited liability limited partnership (LLLP), and limited liability company (LLC).

Limited partnership (LP)

Two or more persons are required. There are both general and limited partners. General partners have no liability protection for their business assets but do for their personal assets. The limited partners’ assets in the LP as well as their personal assets have liability protection under the LP. The LP is required to register with the Secretary of State in Minnesota. and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to comply with the Minnesota Corporate Farm Law. The LP is taxed as a partnership, pass-through entity.

Limited liability limited partnership (LLLP)

Two or more people are required. There are both general and limited partners and they have liability protection of both their LLLP assets and their personal assets. The State of Minnesota requires the LLLP be registered with the Secretary of State and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to comply with the Minnesota Corporate Farm Law. The LLLP is taxed as a partnership, pass-through entity.

Limited liability company (LLC)

Requires only one person as a member of the entity. From a tax standpoint, the LLC can be taxed as a partnership pass-through entity or as an S Corporation. In addition, the LLC can afford tax savings via discounting assets and potential savings of self-employment taxes. The LLC provides liability protection much like that of a corporation.

The LLC has both members and managers. Members elect or appoint a board of directors. The State of Minnesota requires that the LLC register with the Secretary of State and the Minnesota Corporate Farm Law of Agriculture to comply with the Minnesota Corporate Farm Law.

The LLC can offer one additional level of liability protection by being registered in one of what are referred to as “protective states”. Although the list changes occasionally, some of the protective states include: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming. These states have written their LLC statutes to include an additional level of liability protection as long as the LLC members abide by all the statute rules. It is legal to register, for example, your Minnesota farm business in one of these protective states and still operate in Minnesota as you have been. You would need a contact in the state where registered. That contact would establish the entity on your behalf and at year end send you a K-1 form for income and you file your tax return just as you do now. This is a complicated process so seek expert legal help if you decide to develop an LLC in one of the protective states.

Registering with Minnesota Department of Agriculture

For the entities that are required to register with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture  for compliance with the Minnesota Corporate Farm Law, this is an annual requirement and there is a $15 fee required to file the documentations. In addition, land held in trust must also register annually with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for compliance with the Minnesota Corporate Farm Law.

As mentioned, partnerships pay no income taxes. All profit/loss, capital gains and credits are passed through to the partners on a prorated basis, depending upon the percent of ownership. However, the partnership must file a Form 1065 informational tax return, which is due each year by April 15.

Advantages and disadvantages

An advantage over sole proprietorship is that the owners have ownership units or shares. These units or shares can be sold, gifted or passed through an estate as a means of transferring the business over time to the entering generation.

One disadvantage with a partnership, except the LLC, is that the death of a shareholder or willful withdrawal by a partner can seriously disrupt partnership operations. The partnership agreement, if put into place at time of formation of the entity, should clearly describe buy-out provisions or state how the remaining partners are protected, no matter how circumstances change.

Partnership tax laws

Partnership tax laws are similar to individual tax laws. A partnership can generally take over the depreciation schedule of contributed machinery or buildings. A partnership can claim the Section 179 depreciation expense which is passed on pro rata to the partners. Each partner can claim depreciation, which includes his or her portion of the partnership allocation plus any other personal Section 179 depreciation.

Partnership members are self-employed individuals and must pay self-employment tax on their share of earned partnership profits. Partnerships do not receive the favorable tax treatment on fringe benefits (medical, accident and life insurance, housing and meals) as do “C” corporations. However, it generally costs less to form a partnership than a corporation and partnerships can be less formal to operate.

There are two corporation entities available to farm businesses. They are: S corporation and C corporation.

1. S corporation

The S corporation offers a higher level of asset liability protection than a sole proprietorship and some of the partnerships. It must be registered with the Secretary of State in Minnesota. The S corporation is taxed as a pass-through entity with profits allocated to the stock shareholders based upon their ownership percentage. The income then shows up on the shareholders personal income tax. There is no double taxation issue.

Business operating assets can be placed into the S corporation or they can be left out with only the corporate checkbook as part of the corporation operating entity. Placing assets into the corporation is a non-taxable event but getting them out is not. For that reason, it is a general rule of thumb not to place land into the corporation. See your attorney and accountant for advice specific to your situation.

2. C corporation

The C corporation also affords a higher level of asset protection than the sole proprietorship or some of the partnership entities. The C corporation offers longevity to the business because it is technically an entity onto itself with a life of its own. That is, people can enter and leave the C corporation and it continues on without interruption. It also affords many tax advantages regarding deductible expenses.

The C corporation however, can be subject to double taxation. The dividends paid to shareholders are taxed. If the corporation is not growing or acquiring new assets resulting in the corporation retaining earnings, those earnings can be taxed as well. Corporate tax rates are generally higher than other tax rates. Business operating assets can be placed into the C corporation or they can be left out with only the corporate checkbook as part of the corporation operating entity. Placing assets into the corporation is a non-taxable event but getting them out is not. For that reason, it is a general rule of thumb not to place land into the corporation. See your attorney and accountant for advice specific to your situation.

One additional point that applies to both S and C corporations. Shareholders have to maintain an employer-employee relationship with the corporation. If the shareholders maintain personal ownership of what they consider corporate assets, charge corporate business expense against those assets, are audited by the IRS, they may be denied those expense deductions because the assets were owned by the shareholders, not the corporation.

A corporation is established under state law. Each state permits corporations the right to do business. A corporation consists of owners who are called shareholders. The shareholders are the basic decision making group. They elect a board of directors to act for them on most operational decisions. Majority vote governs corporate decisions. Ownership of 51 percent or more of the stock gives you control. Minority shareholders have little if any decision making control unless permitted to do so by the majority shareholders.

Once a corporation is created, it functions much as a self-employed individual might. Corporations must establish their own name and bank accounts. The corporation can become an employer, a lessor or lessee, a buyer or seller, or engage in any other business activity.

Reasons why farms incorporate 

  • It is easy to transfer shares. Shareholders can gift, sell or pass through an estate, shares to others as they see fit. A majority shareholder can transfer up to 49 percent of the outstanding shares without losing control of the business.
  • A corporation may simplify estate settlement in that it may be easier to value shares than individual farming assets.
  • Self-employment (SE) tax can sometimes be reduced with a corporate structure. Instead of paying SE tax on all the Schedule F income as a self-employed individual would, the farmer becomes an employee of the corporation and social security taxes are paid only on wages they receive. See your accountant.
  • A portion of meals and lodging furnished to employees of a C corporation are generally deductible to the corporation, but not taxable income to the employee. If lodging is provided on the farm and is a condition of employment, the home’s depreciation, heat, electricity and interest become deductible to the corporation. Remember the employer-employee relationship issue.
  • Fringe benefits are deductible by C corporations. Health, accident and up to $50,000 of term life insurance is deductible to the corporation, but not taxable to employees.
  • The corporation offers perpetual life, some economic efficiencies regarding capital acquisition, and provides income and social security tax flexibility. It can also provide continuation of a farm business through several generations.

Potential concerns related to the corporation

  • Getting into a corporation is generally a tax-free event. Getting out is a taxable event. Don’t start a corporation unless you plan to continue it for many years.
  • If the C corporation is profitable but is not growing and acquiring new assets, it can be troubled with retained earnings or excess profits. This can result in a tax obligation.
  • Corporations have a different set of rules. Corporate meetings, extra record keeping, corporate income tax returns, reporting requirements, and quarterly tax estimates are part of corporate life. Complying with extra legal and regulatory requirements cost time and money each year.
  • Minority shareholders have no power in directing the corporate business and can be easily “frozen out.” A majority shareholder (farming heir) can direct that no dividends be paid. Minority (non-farm heirs), may own shares that generate no income, and hence have no practical value.
  • Corporate ownership of a house eliminates the use of the exclusion of gain or a sale of personal residence.
  • Corporate ownership sometimes reduces independence and individual pride of ownership.
  • It can be very difficult for a retired shareholder to receive any retirement income from an operating corporation. This is especially true if the retiree has no rental property, discontinues working for the corporation, and the corporation pays no dividends.

The farm corporation can be a valuable tool in tax planning and in the transfer process. However, it is a major commitment and a complex task to start a farm corporation. Before starting a corporation, make sure it fits your goals, objectives and business personality.

Self-employment tax on land, buildings and facility rent regarding entities

The US Eight Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that if you are a member of any business entity (such as a partnership or corporation explained above); own land, buildings, or facilities that are outside that entity; and rent those items to the entity; the rental income is exempt for self-employment tax IF the rent is fair and reasonable.

This applies only to those states in the eighth circuit which include Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. With any of these laws, they are subject to change so seek legal advice on this matter.

Discounting business entity assets

An additional strategy that may be useful is the discounting of assets being placed into a business entity, such as any of the partnerships or corporations described earlier.

When you place business assets such as machinery or livestock into the business entity, you can elect to discount those assets. The main reason for discounting assets being placed into the business entity is to reduce the size of an estate in order to get below the federal and perhaps even the state estate applicable exclusion amounts. Doing so will reduce or eliminate any estate tax.

Justification for the discount is based upon lack of marketability of the assets due to a fractional ownership interest.

One disadvantage of discounting is that you have artificially lowered the basis of the assets in the entity. This can be a problem if the entity is discontinued and the assets are sold as a result. This could result in a tax obligation. If the assets are replaced due to use, this is not an issue.

Assets being discounted and placed into an entity should be appraised. If, at a future date, the entity is audited by the IRS, you can document the value of the assets placed into the entity. For machinery and equipment, simply take the depreciation schedule to the local implement or equipment dealer and ask them to put a value on all machinery. Have them put the values in writing on their dealership letterhead along with a signature and date. For livestock you can take a list to a livestock auction facility or someone who deals in livestock and would have a grasp of the values. The values should be put in writing and listed on their letterhead with a signature and date. For land, seek the help of a realtor who deals with ag land. Simply have them do an estimate or appraisal of the land, put it in writing on their letterhead, with a signature and date.

Note:  In late 2016, the Internal Revenue Service and the US Treasury Department enacted 2704 rules which drastically changed discounting rules and during which situations they may apply. If assets are transferred and then sold, discounting will definitely not apply.  If you are contemplating discounting any assets seek legal and accounting assistance to make sure you are in compliance with 2704 rules.

Business entities and maintaining homestead classification

When using a business entity for ag land ownership, caution must be used in order to maintain eligibility for the Minnesota Qualified Small Business Property Qualified Farm Business Property estate exclusion. In addition, utilizing limited liability companies (LLCs) as a business entity have new rules to comply with due to passage of the Minnesota Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act of 2015. The law states the land-owning LLC and its members must be the ones farming the land on behalf of the owner LLC. If the owner LLC rents the land to someone else, even another member of the LLC who then farms it personally, homestead classification is lost and therefore the qualified farm property estate exclusion is also lost. New LLCs must have complied with the new law as of August 1, 2015. Existing LLCs must have complied with the new law by January 1, 2018.

Ag land held in any trust, except a revocable living trust, as well as land in limited partnerships, limited liability limited partnerships, S and C corporations and LLCs must file documentation with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture under the Minnesota Corporate Farm Law in order to be eligible for the qualified farm property exclusion. The application must be done annually and there is a filing fee of $15 per application.

For more details on the Minnesota Homestead Classification requirements see maintaining farm land homestead classification and qualification . This is a complex area and there is a lot at stake regarding the qualified farm property estate exclusion so seek legal advice specific to your situation when establishing any entity that owns ag land.

Farm Service Agency (FSA) payments and business entities

Under the current farm bill, there are some restrictions regarding commodity program payments made to individuals versus entities. Entities that limit member’s liability exposure (all entities except the general partnership) are limited to one maximum payment limit regarding FSA commodity program payments.

This is a complicated issue. If you have any questions or concerns related to your situation, check with your FSA office for details of the program.

Caution: This publication is offered as educational information. It does not offer legal advice. If you have questions on this information, contact an attorney.

Gary Hachfeld, former Extension educator; David Bau, Extension educator and C. Robert Holcomb, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2017

© 2024 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

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