The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Community => Coffee Lounge => Topic started by: FarmerJiles on July 12, 2011, 05:57:40 pm

Title: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: FarmerJiles on July 12, 2011, 05:57:40 pm
Dear All,

I hope this finds you well.  I am seeking the opinions of the experienced and wise.   
The main question is "Is it possible to make a good financial income from farming 3-5 acres"?
I understand there are so many if's, but's and a myriad of variables but a starting point is essential for plan to form!


Parameters:
- Mainly vegetables, fruits and herbs
- Hopefully organic
- Might consider poultry
- UK based (may consider continent if the figures are better)
- Other than what is eaten by a 3 person family the rest is for sale

Questions:
- What is the output per acre in terms of produce or £'s? Ultimatley what potential turnover could there be?
- What is the capital cost per acre?
- How many staff are required for fulltime work?
- How difficult are the laws regarding accomodation on the farm?

Your advice is much appreciated,

Regards,

Danny



Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: shetlandpaul on July 12, 2011, 06:09:26 pm
totally dependant on the land.
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: katie on July 12, 2011, 06:10:13 pm
How long is a piece of string?

Where do you start really? To answer just a fraction of your post, it IS theoretically possible to make an income on such a small acreage but it would have to be very intensive - ie market garden - or a very niche market.
It IS possible to get permission to live on your land but it varies according to where you live and is not an easy venture - you typically would need a business plan showing profit over three years and demonstrate a need to be there. That's just off the top of my head. I'm sure others will be along shortly to fill in the gaps.
Basically, it's possible but it ain't easy - or we'd all be doing it!  :)
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: Hermit on July 12, 2011, 06:58:03 pm
Crikey, where do you start. Firstly I would consider polytunnels for more profitable exotics and a longer growing season. An orchard or suchlike for fruit could be an option. Organic status takes years to acheive and can be expensive, I would get in touch with The Soil Association for figures and regulations about that.Bedding plants along with pot herbs in early summer would fill a gap in the year and bring more folk in. For outdoor veg you will have to prepare land and create a good working rota system and cost veg well as some like potatoes and onions are too cheap and take a lot of room to be profitable on a small scale. 'Pick your own' invites stealing and waste so dont go down that route. Initial costs such as rabbit proofing , brassica protections, fruit cages, polytunnels all need to be costed as well but there maybe small business set up grants especially for country businesses( there are up here anyway.). Lots to think about but how exciting and good luck, I am sure you will make a wage eventually but not a living . :wave:
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: lachlanandmarcus on July 12, 2011, 07:25:46 pm
Most growing enterprises are fairly seasonal. Some friends of ours do this as follows:

They rent their house and ground in a cheap area of the country (NE Scotland)
They do veggie boxes in the summer
They do plant sales in the spring
They do photography all year round (incl calendars of local scenes)
They do jams and preserves in the autumn and winter

Even then it is a tough and frugal life!

You're unlikely to make a living if you are buying land in the SE of England to start it on. But choose the right area of the country and maybe not look to buy if land prices too high, maybe rent, then possibly it can be done.

Accommodation on the farm if not already there is a big minefield and a big gamble in planning terms. Also fighting for it would take a lot of time and energy which might impact on the actual venture. I would go for somewhere where land is cheaper and/or planners more relaxed. For me that means Scotland or East Anglia
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: Rosemary on July 12, 2011, 08:24:51 pm
Depends what you mean - you can probably make a gross profit, if you do your sums and run your enterprise well. If you have a lot of capital investment to set against the gross profit, well, that reduces it. Can you make enough profit to live of it? I doubt it unless you strike oil. But it depends how much you need to live on and what your other commitments are.
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: egglady on July 12, 2011, 09:51:42 pm
we dont make a 'living' from our land but we are working hard to get to some kind of self-sufficiency-ish! 

like others have said, it owuld be hard to make a decent income, tho it can probably be done.  i find that barter works very well for us
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: tizaala on July 13, 2011, 07:00:05 am
3 acres of cannabis or opium poppies would maximise your profit margins. other than that your going to struggle like the rest of us.
garden centres look like a licence to print money but the setup costs are enormous, and they need to be sited near a large population for your customer database. People want instant results with their suburban plots so specialising in the big, showy , spectacular blossoms , azaleas, hydrangeas, pellargoniums, etc might take ages to establish.
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: Millwood on July 13, 2011, 07:50:05 am
Well, can only echo what others have said, it is possible, it is a lot of hard work. We have three acres, and run a market garden and have chickens grow plants/flowers etc, and plan to set up a box scheme next year, as we see this as the only way to expand as a business, our weekly market stall has I feel come to an impasse. We are incredibly lucky in that we inherited both our land and flat, so have no huge expenditure in that reguard, however if we did we would have struggled in the early days, and even now things would be tight. Consider time and labour saving machinary such as a tractor, we've come to the realisation that it is a vital bit of kit, polytunnels are a must, as well as greenhouses to bring the seedlings on, and plan plan plan your season ahead!
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: fbb on July 13, 2011, 08:21:54 am
As said , depends on where you are and what you want to do.
We are in a tourist area and opened a visitor attraction with gardens, animals etc which will eventually allow me to retire from the day job. It has been hard work setting up with planning hoops to jump through and actually building animal shelters, gardens ,toilet facilities ,cafe and suchlike but it  can be done.
Our site is around 5 acres, and I think you could certainly do this to earn income and have the lifestyle of grow your own, keep livestock and be on site to enjoy family life.
I wish you good luck.
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: benkt on July 13, 2011, 10:40:45 am
I've posted a link to this before, but its dead relevant: "Creating sustainable livelihoods on ten acres of less"

http://www.ecologicalland.coop/sites/ecologicalland.coop/files/Small_is_Successful.pdf (http://www.ecologicalland.coop/sites/ecologicalland.coop/files/Small_is_Successful.pdf)

In planning our veg boxes, I've found this spreadsheet from the soil association to be quite a useful starting point:

http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=hdD%2fgiGRzeE%3d&tabid=204 (http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=hdD%2fgiGRzeE%3d&tabid=204)

Re location: Its more complicated than just choosing somewhere where the land is cheap - you also need a market. If you can market yourself correctly it is much easier to get a premium price for your product in some of the more expensive areas. We run a community farm where the members pay monthly subscriptions and come out and help on the farm. We have a guarenteed market for all of our produce and our members understand the cost and effort put in to producing premium produce and are happy to pay accordingly. This also saves us from the need to jump through hoops (and pay the costs) of registered organic status as everyone can see the methods we use and are happy with them. If you were to sell through farmers' markets then organic status might be more important.

From my limited experience and talking to other folk, it seems that somewhere between 1-2 acres is about as much intensive market-gardening as one person can reasonably manage. However, you can use the rest of your land for other activites that might bring in some cash - e.g. orchard or woodland for coppicing. Diversification is the name of the game, whilst most of your income might come from a veg box scheme, at the very least you'll need something else during the winter so consider crafts, tree-felling or any skills you might have 'left over' from your previous life!

You also need to get your expenditure right down, I don't see how it could be managed with a mortgage or other large expense!

Ben
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: FarmerJiles on July 13, 2011, 12:45:39 pm
Thank you all so much for your advice.

It is all duly considered.

Its a mamoth task it seems, but also doable.

Take care
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: hughesy on July 13, 2011, 05:03:23 pm
A mammoth task, yes. Doable, maybe. However it will probably take a good few years of very hard work to show a profit, and maybe several more to adapt what you learn along the way into some way of making a living. Good Luck.
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: doganjo on July 13, 2011, 05:42:03 pm
Oh and it's Farmer Giles I believe ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: Rebeccakristy on June 22, 2019, 09:27:28 pm
As said , depends on where you are and what you want to do.
We are in a tourist area and opened a visitor attraction with gardens, animals etc which will eventually allow me to retire from the day job. It has been hard work setting up with planning hoops to jump through and actually building animal shelters, gardens ,toilet facilities ,cafe and suchlike but it  can be done.
Our site is around 5 acres, and I think you could certainly do this to earn income and have the lifestyle of grow your own, keep livestock and be on site to enjoy family life.
I wish you good luck.


I like this- it is similar to our plan. We want alpacas and to do therapy with walking  them and felting their wool. I am an ot. We also want to grow traditional fruits and encourage wildlife. Do you think the is realistic? With the planners? We are in Cornwall aonb.
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: Steph Hen on June 23, 2019, 09:09:16 am
Small animal boarding? Chickens, guinae pigs, hens, etc?
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: macgro7 on June 23, 2019, 10:51:26 am
Realistically how much money are you gonna make from boarding guinea pigs? 50 quid a month?

Yo can make a living from only couple of acres of farming - I have seen it. But you have to grow quite intensively and quite high value crops.  For example to make a living from growing just baby greens and salads all you need is a largish poly tunnel or two. At the same time plant some fruit trees in between vegetable rows and have some (100-1000) laying hens as this is very easy to set up and manage.
At the end it's all about the marketing. You can sell those 1000 eggs a day to supermarket for pennies or convince people that these are THE BEST eggs they can ever taste - pastures hens that graze fresh herbs and grass every day and have never seen a massive ugly industrial barn.

That s what we are planning - egg laying hens in a movable coop (old trailer chassis) following couple of cows and sheep which are also moved every day to a new paddock.
Meat chickens in small movable coops again moves every day to fresh grass.
We have an advantage of living right next to the city of Leicester 30miles from Nottingham, Coventry, Northampton, Peterborough and 40miles to Birmingham to within 1 hours drives we have at least 3 million people! You can't say that in some other parts of the country though.
I know people who make a living farming 1.5 acres of just vegetables - however - if you wanna grow that much potatoes or other root veg - forget it. You would have to grow a lot of salads and greens - they grow fast so you have a quick rotation and they are relatively expensive per kg.
You could have veg box school, sell to restaurants (contract), farmers markets etc
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: SallyintNorth on June 23, 2019, 02:04:29 pm
Have a read of Hendersonís Farming Ladder
Title: Re: Could one make an income from 3-5 acres?
Post by: crusher on June 24, 2019, 10:30:28 pm
I made a good living for over 10 years from my 2.5 acre holding growing mushrooms.
In fact the mushroom tunnels only took about 6000 sq feet of land leaving room for other things.
I have retired from the mushrooms now but about 8 years ago I planted a 50 tree apple orchard which is cropping well now.
I produce traditional cider, apple juice and cider vinegar which I sell at Farmers Markets.                       It is absolutely possible to earn good money but you need to think outside the box and be prepared to work hard at it.  :thumbsup: [size=78%]   [/size]