How to Start a Small Farm? – A Guide for the Beginners
Whether you live in a country or city, you have been dreaming about becoming a farmer, growing not only for yourself but for the community. Your dreams might be pie-in-the-sky, or might be all set to start, but it is a good idea to get complete knowledge about how to start a farm. It will help you in following the right directions.
It can be difficult to figure out where to begin. You might wonder where to start, what to do, especially if you do not know about farming, owning land, or going off-grid for energy. Even if you are seeking how to start a homestead, you need to know about farming. We are here to guide you about starting a farm and farm business.
To many, the idea of living in rural settings, growing your own food, and working on land sounds ideal. The planet needs nutritious and healthy food, and it requires intelligent and thoughtful people to grow it. So, if you are serious about farming and considering it as your career, here is all you need to know.
What is Farming?
Farming is the process of growing crops and keeping animals for food and raw materials. The process involves working the ground, growing edible plants, and raising livestock.
If you want to start a farm business, then it is different from hobby farming. In the hobby farming, all you need to do is own a moderate-sized garden, own some cattle, goats, or chicken mainly for recreation or pleasure.
The farm business is different from the homestead, in which you cultivate the land for personal consumption and self-sufficiency. In homesteading, you might sell something, but that is not the main intent.
If you plan to grow crops and raise animals for earning, then it is essential for you to understand farming appropriately and need to understand how to manage assets and debt.
How to Start a Farm?
The first question that you need to ask yourself before you start a farm: Is farming the right choice for me? You need to think about your reason for farming. How much do you know about farming – the labor, garden, livestock, and techniques? Having answers to all these questions is essential before you start a farm.
Learn About Farming
Some people inherit a farm; they grew up on a farm; therefore, the skills required to run a farm are passed down to them. If you are new to the world of framing, you need to make more efforts. Farming is similar to parenting; videos, books, and articles can provide you knowledge; they can provide you information about the realities you will face. However, for better understanding, you need to do it.
You need to have real-world experience and make efforts to educate yourself about starting a farm. Do research, ask questions, and get as much knowledge you can get about how to start a farm. You can contact the state agriculture department and local extension services to get valuable information about farming in your chosen area.
See if you can find an internship or job on a farm. It will help you in learning the basics of farming. You can also visit farms frequently and talk to small farmers to learn about how to start a farm. Try to find a mentor from whom you can learn directly; it will prove helpful to you. It is a good idea to attain adequate experience before you begin.
Decide the type of Farm You Want
Now the next step is to decide what type of arm do you want? Do you want a small farm business or homestead or hobby farm? Do some soul searching. If you want to make a living from farming, it is better to start a proper small farm and then make efforts to run it.
If you are a retired person and have other income sources, and you want to run a farm for fun, you can opt for a hobby farm. In the case of homesteading, people set a farm for self-sufficiency, but they also run a business from there.
Consider Animal and Crops
A small farm can range from half-acre to 40 acres, depending on what you want to have on your farm. You can have laying hens, dairy cows, goats, pigs, a veggie garden, and field crops. You need to limit your choices according to your resources and land, but as you grow your business, you can later get to all your choices.
First of all, decide what vegetables, grains, and fruits do you want to grow? What animals do you want to have? What are the best farm animals? Make a list of everything that you want to have on your farm.
In order to consider your animals and crops, it is a good idea to assess your land and resources. There are various small farm animals and profitable crops that you can have on your farm. Assessing will provide you appropriate information about planning your first year of farming.
Plan Your First Year
Planning your first year is when your dreams meet reality. Check the list of things that you want to grow on your farm and the animals you want to have there. Read appropriately about all the animals in order to get the right information about animals, what they eat, how much space they require.
Also, check your farm resources. Check if you have sufficient land for five cows or you need more. Do you have sufficient financial resources to buy animals or fencing for different animals? In order to plan your first year, it is a good idea to analyze your resources and then plan the farming accordingly.
Monitor Your Farm
Planning a farm is an ongoing process. As you execute the plan, you might find the requirements to adjust it. After completing some time of farming, check out everything is going according to the plan? Check your farm plan and determine what you want to tackle during the coming summer, fall, and spring. Monitoring your farm will help you in analyzing your growth.
How to Start A Farming Business
Once you know how to start a farm, you can also start your farming business. Now you must be thinking about how to start a farming business. If you are planning to start a small farming business, you might be thinking about what steps you need to take or where to begin.
Owning a farm for farm business is different from hobby farming or homesteading. But if you know how to start a farm, you are halfway there. Now you need to know how to start a business from your small farm. Below mentioned are some steps that you can follow to start a farm business.
Plan Your Farm
One of the most important of starting your farm business is determining what your farm will be. What do you want to have on your farm? Do you want to own a vegetable farm? Do you want to have a diversified farm with different crops or animals? In order to plan your farm properly, it is better to visit farms and talk to small farmers. It will help you in attaining appropriate information about how to plan and design a farm.
Get a Loan
When starting a farm, you might not have enough capital to start a farm on a big scale. You can also start small; check out how much you enjoy farming on a small scale. Use the earnings to invest further in the farm. However, this method would not be good enough if you want to start a big farm.
If you use the above-mentioned method, you would not be able to invest a big amount sufficient to take your products to the market. There are different loans and grants available in the market that are aimed at beginning farmers. In fact, help is also available for the farms that are already established. If you want to start a farm business, it is good to opt for a loan or grant. It will allow you to run the business on a bigger scale.
Get the Business Permits and Licenses
In order to start a farm business, you need to take a business license and permit. When it comes to requirements for establishing a farm business, your state and local laws may vary, so it is better to do proper research on the laws.
Basic laws for establishing the farm business are the same. You would require to register the name of your business. You will have to purchase a license and product liability insurance. You will also have to get an employer identification number.
Identify Your Market
Before you create your business plan and strategy farming, you need to identify your target market. You would not be able to sell your fruits without a market. Therefore, it is essential to decide the market in which you are going to sell the products.
Generally, three are strong markets for pork, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, and vegetables. In case you are raising goats, then you might have a smaller market. Before you start farming, analyze the products you want to sell and the market for your products.
Create a Business Plan
Now you must be thinking about what is the need for a business plan? A simple answer to this question is that if you want to start a business through your farm, you will need a business plan. While creating a business plan, you will have to consider market demands and supply.
You will also have to consider anything and everything that is related to your farm operations, financial operations price points, products, and management structure. Designing and planning a farm are interconnected. A business plan is highly essential to start a farm business.
Once you are done with the planning part, the next step is to start your farm business. Take a look at how you can increase your business with some stater ideas like egg business, chicken broiler business, or alternative crop.
Now that you know how to start a farm and a farm business, it is time for you to start one. If you have already started a farm or are in learning, we would love to hear your experience. What have you learned? What challenges have you faced? Let us know by dropping a comment.