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There 5 Small Farm Ideas Are Astonishingly Profitable

Looking for the best small farm ideas for novice growers? Small growing environments can be challenging, but they also offer a multitude of lessons that those new to the practice can take away to develop their farming skills.

In this blog, we’ll discuss some small farm ideas that anyone can implement, from those just starting out to experienced farmers, and everyone in between. We’ll also name the top 5 profitable crops for small farms and discuss the best techniques for mitigating crop damage due to environmental impact.

What Do You Need to Know About Farming in Smaller Areas?

There are a few key concepts to keep in mind when you’re trying to cultivate crops in a compact area.

Farming offers growers unique challenges no matter the size of the farm, but there are some things that small space farmers should keep in mind to ensure a profitable and resource-efficient operation. Here’s some basic concepts that all small farm growers ought to keep in mind when working with space and budget constraints:

  • Understand the limitations of outdoor growing, and what you can do to mitigate its impact
  • Learn about greenhouses and how other inside growing techniques can benefit your operations
  • Implement controlled environment agriculture concepts to your small farm
Two farmers and a dog walk on a dirt road next to a farm.
Small farms struggle with problems of limited resources, small returns and difficulty finding experienced workers.

Ensure Profitability with These 5 Small Farm Ideas

Small farms come with their own unique challenges. However, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, small farms have relatively low amounts of farm debt compared to larger operations. Small farms can be difficult to operate on low budgets, but they can be more financially stable, especially during difficult economic periods.

Let’s examine 5 profitable small farm ideas that can help small farms succeed in a variety of circumstances.

1. Sell “Imperfect Produce” At a Discount

In recent years, a market has developed for “imperfect produce.” Companies like Imperfect Foods provide sustainable, affordable and convenient produce delivery directly to consumers. See, not all crops that grow to maturity can be sold in supermarkets. Grocers have high standards for their products, and even discard crops that have cosmetic quirks, but are otherwise safe for consumption.

As a farmer, as much as 20% of your harvest can be labeled as “imperfect produce.” That means they can be tossed before it even makes it to the grocer. Think of that! All that hard work, down the drain because someone else thinks that the healthy produce you’ve spent months cultivating has aesthetic flaws.

Luckily, some customers will gratefully buy these types of crops, and will happily take them off your hands if you offer them a discount. Operations like this can prevent food waste, by finding customers for products that would have otherwise gone unsold. So don’t let food (or your valuable time) go to waste, start an imperfect produce program today!

A farm house sits in the background of a wheat field. A cloudy blue sky is above.
Farms can make money in more ways than just selling crops. Farmers on small farms can bring in seasonal revenue by charging for experiential activities, like pumpkin harvesting or pick-your-own produce.

2. Charge for Farm Visits, Informational Tours or Wedding/Prom Pictures

In addition to being places where our food is cultivated and harvested, farms are also educational and leisure areas for many people. From schools looking to book trips to show students how crops are grown, to couples wanting to announce their weddings, baby showers and more, your farm can bring in some side income by charging entry to an area of your farm.

Pick-your-own farms can be very profitable, sometimes more profitable than harvesting and selling the crops on your own. A tip: Clear and fence an area away from other farm areas specifically for visitors. Fencing in the area helps direct your visitors and keep them away from other areas of your operations.

Additionally, grow crops that have seasonal appeal: take pumpkins during the fall, for example. They’re a popular crop for photo opportunities and a lot of people will pay a premium to secure the perfect pumpkin for their Halloween jack-o-lantern.

3. Utilize Greenhouses for Indoor Crop Cultivation

Another great small farm idea is to use greenhouses to give your operations a bit more control over the climate conditions that affect your crop. Greenhouses offer an indoor growing environment that still utilizes energy from the sun but can provide a layer of protection against environmental effects.

While outdoor crops grow seasonally, greenhouses allow you to grow crops all-year round, preventing harm to crops that may have otherwise occurred following sudden increases or decreases in temperature or humidity.

Wheat and corn crops develop in rows next to each other on a farm.
Growing a variety of crops can be a great idea for small farms. From herbs to microgreens, commodity crops and more, small farms would benefit by growing crops that are in demand in their area.

4. Grow Herbs & Microgreens

Herbs and microgreens are a great option for small farms. They have shorter growing cycles than other crops because they’re harvested before they grow to maturity.

While you can grow microgreens outside, they’re fragile seedlings and need protection against extreme weather events and fluctuating climate conditions. That’s why microgreens are a great option for indoor growing techniques like greenhouses as well as the next small farm idea on our list:

5. Use Hydroponic Systems for Complete Climate Control

Hydroponic systems can be a great way for small farms to increase their production without buying more land. With reliable access to power and water, buying a hydroponic farm allows you to cultivate out of season crops or grow produce that otherwise wouldn’t suit the surrounding climate.

Here’s some of the key differences between hydroponic farms and traditional agriculture:

  • Uses powered lighting instead of sunlight
  • Crops develop in grow media instead of soil
  • Less dependent on outside climate conditions

Hydroponic systems like vertical farms or container farms allow you to cultivate a wide range of crops in a climate-controlled environment. Even greenhouses are dependent on sunny days to cultivate crops, but hydroponics gives you the freedom to grow what you need, in any climate around the world.

These systems are typically compact, growing in several layers inside an insulated, climate-controlled area, making them an asset for small farms that want to get most of the limited land they have.

Breen romaine lettuce grows in a hydroponic container farm.
Hydroponic farms can be a good option for small farmers because they allow even small farms to grow crops with controlled-climate agriculture, providing farms with a versatile growing environment in every season.

Summary

In conclusion, the journey of small-scale farming is one filled with innovation, adaptability and the promise of sustainability. Whether you’re a novice grower or a seasoned farmer, the small farm ideas presented in this blog offer a blueprint for success in the world of compact farming.

From embracing the quirks of imperfect produce to harnessing the power of hydroponics, each strategy is a step towards a more efficient and profitable farm operation.

At Pure Greens, we stand ready to support you with expertise and solutions tailored for the unique challenges and opportunities of small space farming. Together, let’s cultivate growth, one small farm at a time.

We provide hydroponic container farm solutions that empower farmers with cutting-edge technology that allows them to have precise control over their operations. Interested in learning more?

Contact us and let’s discuss how we can work together to increase the effectiveness of your farming operations.

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