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Old 03-28-2011, 06:28 PM
 
Location: Randolph County
29 posts, read 40,148 times
Reputation: 50

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I'm not sure if any of ya'll could help me, but then again, maybe you can. I've always dreamed of using my favorite hobby (raising vegetables) as a career. My ideal job would be raising vegetables on a several acres and selling them at a stand or a farmers market. Is this dream completely crazy or can it be done? If it can, how would I get started? I'd love to hear what you think.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:23 PM
 
1,964 posts, read 4,427,237 times
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It's a money pit unless you're growing specialty produce like heirloom varieties and have access to 4-start restaurants within driving distance who're willing to pay a premium for your hard labor. Maybe 5 or 8 yrs ago middle-of-the-road bistros & gastropubs were willing to shell out money for organic local produce, but right now with the great recession they've cut costs to the bone & that extra dollar for chioggia beets could well mean the difference between treading water or sinking.

That being said, it could be profitable on a very small scale like an urban farm, if you're able to offset the cost of land with say rental income from a duplex on the same property. Your best bet would be to choose a liberal college town whose residents are affluent & green & willing to support a CSA-type of arrangement. Even better would be if you enlisted high school kids or homeless youth or ex-cons to help out, so that your operation looks philanthropic
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:27 PM
 
Location: Destrehan, Louisiana
2,192 posts, read 6,033,749 times
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How to Grow a Vegetable Garden by The Bayou Gardener

This guy has a lot of good information on running a farm. He may be able to help you out.


busta
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:44 PM
 
3,573 posts, read 5,451,982 times
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I also dream of making a living selling heirloom seeds, fruits, herbs and veggies. Here's a link to Baker Creek that I think is the best from what I've read so far. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - 1400 heirloom garden seeds!

What I like about them is they have very unusual heirloom seeds. They go to Turkey, Afghanistan and other countries and collect their seeds and offers them for sale. I think in my opinion this is the way to go in the future.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:30 AM
 
2,626 posts, read 5,838,961 times
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Certainly it's not an easy row to hoe (bad pun, I know), but I think it's a great idea. The explosive growth of huge commercial farming oeprations over the past 30 years has driven most smaller farms out of business. The big boys make money by selling lots of mediocre-quality goods (mostly to the fast food industry), such that it's hard to find even normal local produce like corn and beans, much less quality organic/specialty items. The backlash against corporate farming is creating demand for quality locally-grown foods, so from that perspective this seems to be a good time to start a small farm.

And as smokingGun noted, I think your chances for financial success would be much greater if you can find several local restaurants to buy your goods. Not only does that provide consistent sales for you, but having your name mentioned prominently on their menus will bring in additional business from home consumers.

And yes, taking advantage of cheap labor is a good way to keep your costs down. While I was in high school, several of the local coaches would contract with farmers to provide labor. They had a ready and willing supply of workers (the school kids), and the farmers were more than happy to take advantage. We worked long hours in the heat of summer, but we were paid well (compared to other available student jobs) and somewhere along the line I think we learned a lot about the value of hard work and persistency.

Best of luck to you if you decide to do this!
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Old 03-29-2011, 10:07 AM
 
4,755 posts, read 8,380,470 times
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If you live up north, you can make this a viable business especially if you can provide fresh organic vegetables in the middle of freezing winter !! It may take some experimenting to figure out how to do this, but that's a part of your passion, isn't it? Local people are willing to pay a premium for high quality fresh vegetables.
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Old 03-29-2011, 10:19 AM
 
Location: North Western NJ
6,591 posts, read 19,765,259 times
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i think its doable given a few stipulations.
1: low bills, pay off everything, buy your house in cash in an area with a good growing season but LOW taxes. go "off grid" or at least semi off grid if possible with well septic and put in solar/wind power generators ect, wood or multifule stove for heat ect. the idea being lower bills mean you can focus more on making a go of it even when funds are tight.

2: lots of money set aside for start up...youll want green houses, grow lights and cold frames to extend your season as long as possible, plus the "big" money is in local organic heirloom (or none gmo) seeds/veggies/trees ect. youll pay more for your starting seeds, rootstock and such.
plus theres no way to grow enmasse with hand tools so investing in a good rear tine tiller or tractor is going to set you back.

i do think its doable to support yourself off your land IF you are smart about it, have a passion for the work (no matter what the weather), know what your doing...and can locate yourself close enough to your target market to reach the people willing to pay more for these items, BUT far enough away that your not paying big city taxes ect.
i think "hip" cities are the best bet for selling enough to sustain yourself on just your veggie gardens. places where theres plenty of young professionals with some free money to spend and are concerned about what their eating ect.

you might want to look into adding things to your "farm" to bring in more money too, cutting flowers, a small orchard ect, or focusing on something "hip" but not wildliy available in your area (elderberries are one thats becomming more popular right now) to add to your draw.

i think with the right planning, your never going to strike it rich...but you MIGHT be able to support yourself in a small efficient home.
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:17 AM
 
Location: outnabout
97 posts, read 194,279 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DixieMan'61 View Post
Is this dream completely crazy or can it be done?

Speaking from experience...I would stick with your 'hobby' gardening, start selling, work your way up to a larger operation. DON'T quit your day-job
You will need to learn along the way. Too many variables such as frost, disease, storms, pests, etc. that WILL try and thwart your operation at every chance
You don't want to invest everything into one venture and end up with nothing.
Not saying it can't be done, just ease into it and keep notes on what does/not work. A lot have tried and failed. Just look hard at your - locale, experience, potential, resources, equipment, etc.
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:18 PM
 
4,755 posts, read 8,380,470 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by outnabout View Post
Speaking from experience...I would stick with your 'hobby' gardening, start selling, work your way up to a larger operation. DON'T quit your day-job
You will need to learn along the way. Too many variables such as frost, disease, storms, pests, etc. that WILL try and thwart your operation at every chance
You don't want to invest everything into one venture and end up with nothing.
Not saying it can't be done, just ease into it and keep notes on what does/not work. A lot have tried and failed. Just look hard at your - locale, experience, potential, resources, equipment, etc.
Sage advice for ANY business start-up
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:25 PM
 
Location: Randolph County
29 posts, read 40,148 times
Reputation: 50
Thak ya'll. This is all good advice. I've also thought of getting a job maybe in green greenhouse or at a feed and seed type place. I might could do that and sell vegetables on the side. Again, thank you!!!
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