If you enjoy gardening, a family-run farm business can be very rewarding. You can provide produce for a roadside stand or to sell at a farmer's market. There are many choices of what to grow and how to sell it, for instance, you can produce speciality crops such as elephant garlic, honey or organic eggs. It can be a profitable endeavour and help your family members become closer as they work together to ensure the success of the family-run farm business.
- Skill level:
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Decide on the type of crops you would like to produce. Plan for growing speciality crops alongside regular garden crops. Take into account the amount of land you have for farming and what is currently available locally at farmer's markets and roadside stands. If you can find a crop or niche that complements something already available, you will be more successful than trying to compete head-on with existing farm vendors.
Make a list of all tasks that will need to be completed to successfully grow and market the crop. Also make a list of all family members and their skill levels. Young children can help plant, water and pick crops, while older children can help with weed pulling and selling.
Look at the financials. Calculate how much money will be necessary for start-up costs such as hiring a tractor and buying seeds and tools. Also consider how your family members will benefit from the farm business. If you decide to pay family members on an hourly basis, you will have to budget in those amounts. You can also decide to split revenues on a percentage basis. For beginning family-run business farms, it may be better to split the revenues rather than pay hourly wages, as you may not be able to project revenues from a new enterprise.
Start small and grow together. If you start with just a small garden and a few hens for organic eggs, see how they do the first year. If things went as you expected or better, plan on increasing the business the next year. As the kids grow, they will be able to take on more responsibility and your home-grown labour force will be able to do larger projects.
Tips and warnings
- Use the "Small Farm Decision-Making and Enterprise Planning Workbook" from the University of North Carolina to help you plan your business.
- Do not sell something as "organic" unless you have certifications from the USDA. It is false advertising.
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