You may be asking, “Can I start a farm?” Farming and how one can start a farm business, especially with no money down, has changed over the years. In North America, in many cases farms are no longer the simple little family farm, where people make a simple living, allowing the land to provide them with the food they require to live with a little bonus cash on the side from sales for the little extras in life.
I came into this world as a farmer. My parents moved from Holland after WWII and started a new life for themselves in Canada. Coming from a country where every square inch of land could not be spared, then coming to a country like Canada where they were practically giving the rights to use the land away, was a perfect reason for them to move and start farming.
Farming was the ultimate work-from-home business opportunity for their time. Coming from another country with only $50 to their name, farming had the growth and time flexibility they needed to start their business/lifestyle.
I say business/lifestyle because farming does fall into a special category that not too many other companies can claim. It’s the type of business where the whole family gets involved at any age.
This is the reason I state, “I came into this world as a farmer.” We had a dairy farm, so both parents needed to be in the barn to do chores, with older siblings already going to school, my parents had no choice but to bring me to the barn as a baby. They would place my crib/playpen in the barn beside cows and calves. When I was old enough to walk, I would be sweeping the allies, feeding the cows and calves and so on. Until I was old enough to start school, then my parents would only have us help out after school.
Get an Education
My Parents always emphasized the importance of education, even if we decided to keep farming, education would be essential to maintain a viable business. This also holds true for anybody, anywhere and in any life situation. Fortunately, my parents also sent us to a French school, which allowed us to be bilingual. Unfortunately, my parents did not speak French, so we were not able to practice outside of school, and although they did speak English, which they learned from local farmers and construction workers, they mixed it up with some Dutch. So the mastery of either language was not in my favor, but that is a story for another blog.
When your parents are farmers, the kids are farmers as well, until they are old enough to make their life decisions and move on if they wish. In my case I remained a farmer until I was 26, maybe I was a little slower at making my life-altering decisions. I studied and worked part-time off the farm after I turned 18, but something kept pulling me back to the farm until I realized that the life I wanted with my new girlfriend did not consist of the farming lifestyle.
I do look back and wonder what it would be like if I had decided to stay on the farm, but one must not regret the decisions and paths they chose to take. The past cannot be changed, it is no longer in your control, time to take the path ahead.[/hypotext]
The first question would be what type of farming are you considering to start? I ask this question, as some types of farming businesses require you to buy quota through a regulating board, which is the case here in Canada for Dairy and Eggs for example. The quota system is very competitive and expensive. A small dairy farm with maybe 30-40 milking cows can expect to spend a million+ just on the quota required to sell their milk legally. That is if they can get the quota licensing as it goes through a bidding process, similar to the stock market.
Unless you have some major investors or have a nice nest egg of cash to dig into, I suggest NOT to jump into a farming business that requires the purchase of quotas.
I think the best way to start farming is still the same way my parents did it. They had a property, in their case they rented a farm, they worked regular jobs, and when they could afford it, they bought livestock. Over time, they accumulated enough livestock and, (of course, animals do multiply) with the livestock and accumulated inventory of machinery, they were able to finance and purchase a farm.
You can do the same, if you are currently working, whichever type of farm you plan to start, start small. I have seen people have a backyard shed with chickens, rabbits or you can start a garden, start with selling your extra vegetables or fruit.
You will need to check your local county /municipality office about having animals, how many, types that are allowed before starting. You may need to adjust
your type of farming accordingly, or if you are serious about having the farming lifestyle, then you may need to move to an actual farm.
Keep in mind that when you have animals or a crop, they need daily tending. So you will either need to be home every day, or have somebody willing and capable of caring for your animal or crop.
This type of agriculture business can be ideal in an area where neighbors may be close as rabbits are silent and do not take too much space. With rabbits, you can raise them for meat and fur, but with these rabbits being so darn cute you may find it hard to serve them up for supper or use their fur for clothing. So think this one through thoroughly, have a family conference before thinking about having rabbits for farming, not as pets.
Things to consider:
Chicken farming can still be done in one’s backyard type setup as they do not take too much space, but things that may bother the neighbors would be the noise and smell they can create. So ideally, you would want to be living in an area where you have a few to a hundred feet in between properties to keep your neighbors happy. You can raise chickens for eggs and meat, and some breeds can provide soft enough feathers for down filling.
Things to consider:
If you have some green space, soil that is, on your property you can start a market gardening business from the ground up – sorry for the pun.
Interesting Fact – Nowadays soil is not even a requirement for hydroponic farming technology. If you take a look at Google Earth, focus on Spain you will see some white covered areas. The white areas are greenhouses, that grow most of the fruit and vegetables hydroponically. Zoom into the white areas in the map below to see for yourself.
My Market Gardening Experience
When I was growing up on my parents dairy farm, we supplemented our income with growing sweet corn and selling on the roadside. I remember the first day my mother went out to sell our sweet corn. We filled the rear box of our half ton truck, drove to a nearby town and parked it on the side of the road. Before she was able to get out of the truck and set up her table she three customers waiting, actually helped her set up her stand. My mother sold all of it in just over 3 hrs, and this continued daily for the season. We used approximately 10 acres and grew 2 different varieties of corn as to expand our season, we were able to sell a half ton truck full daily for 6 weeks every summer. We also tried to grow and sell strawberries, but the time required was much more than growing corn and we were already busy enough with the dairy farm. After 2 years of trying to grow strawberries for a market, we abandoned them and we focused solely on sweet corn.
For the sake of starting small, at low or no cost we will stick with conventional in the ground, backyard type gardening business. This type of business will be seasonal and the amount of fruit or vegetables will vary depending on your space and climate. As you become increasingly comfortable managing a gardening market you may expand on your property, or even take the next step and buy a farm.
Things to consider when starting a market garden
Here is a link to Eden’s Garden website that also has some great tips for gardening from using seaweed as organic material to how to control pests n your garden
Jean-Martin Fortier has some great information in his book
Check out Jean-Martin’s Video
Someday I do plan to return to the farm lifestyle! I do have it on my map of goals, as it offers a life of flexibility, tranquility, and self-sufficiency one cannot get from any other business.
For now, I have started to expand the garden in my backyard to cut down on having to buy our fruit and vegetables. More of a saving than an income, but sometimes it is not how much you make, it’s how much you can save that helps in cushioning the ride on an ongoing bumpy global economy.
In the meantime, I will continue to work full time as a registered nurse and expand my online business.
You can learn more about my wife and me here.
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My online journey started in 2008 when I was tired of working for somebody else. I searched the internet for years trying to find out how to make a living from home with an online business. In 2015 I finally found the information and support from a website just like this one
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