Income Generation for HomesteadersJul 10, 2023
Income Generation for Homesteaders
From Produce to Partnerships
Creating a sustainable income is a vital aspect of homesteading.
Homesteading is just like so many other small businesses in that it produces a variable income.
And like many other small businesses, it can be seasonal. If you think of a gift shop in a beachy coastal area. You can guarantee they turn over a higher amount in the summer and holiday seasons than they would in the middle of winter.
Like farming, the costs of running the business are still there just not the income.
Homesteading is no different really, it's just that our products tend to be best sold fresh and they are fresh during the spring, summer and autumn months.
While traditional farming practices such as mono-cropping can provide a solid foundation, especially on a very large scale, for smaller farmers diversifying your income streams can help maximize your financial potential. This ensures the long-term viability of your homestead.
Money is not the baddy here, everyone deserves to be paid what their products are worth. Handmade or regeneratively farmed products are worth more than the standard product for several reasons.
They are better for the environment if produced regeneratively!
Remember sustainable means to maintain the systems without degrading them, however, regenerative practices recognise the current impact and seek to restore the system while also improving productivity.
This doesn't mean the end for sustainability. There are some systems that are operating well and sustainability is all that is needed right now. Sustainable systems are still awesome, regenerative systems are just better.
So we can all agree we need to earn enough to cover all our costs and pay us a wage that is in line with the fact that we are investing a huge part of our life into producing livestock, plants and all the value-added items that are healthy and if not regenerative then at the very least sustainable.
By this definition, all farmers and homestead owners using these practices should be millionaires.
Sadly we are still waiting for the community to realise the service we provide.
So let's discuss several avenues for income generation that go beyond selling products alone.
From value-added goods to agritourism, let's dive into the world of diversified income opportunities for homesteaders.
Selling Produce, Products, or Value-Added Goods:
The most common stream of income for homesteaders is selling fresh produce, eggs, fruit, vegetables, honey, nuts, seedlings or seeds.
Think outside the circle for a second and consider expanding your product range to include value-added goods like jams, preserves, baked goods, or handmade crafts.
Adding value to your products can significantly increase their market appeal and profitability.
Raw wool for example could be washed, dyed and spun before selling. For example, 1 kg of washed raw is selling on Etsy for $27.50, however, spun wool same weight is selling for $57.45.
For those on larger acreages don’t be put off by selling whole cows, sheep, goats for meat.
We have just started looking at selling firewood and timber, which through winter in our cold climate area, is always in demand.
One option we are yet to try but will likely give a go in summer is to capitalize on the growing interest in local, sustainable food by offering farm-to-table experiences.
For example, you could host farm dinners, cooking classes, or tasting events that showcase your homestead's bounty.
By connecting consumers directly with your farm, you can create unique experiences and build a loyal customer base. It also gives you an opportunity to open your farm shop up to people to showcase your products, and possibly make some sales.
We are considering doing a “meet a goat kid” this spring, to help families understand more about farming
This one is big on my list of future income ideas and is using the extra space we have to tap into the growing agritourism industry.
My goal is to have a tiny house with its own water tank, solar panels, bio-toilet and outside fire pit. Allowing people to come and stay in a rural environment knowing they are not impacting the area.
I would like to offer welcome baskets of fresh eggs, honey, cheese and preserved food for them to consume or take home with them. This exposes new customers to your products for future purchases.
If you don’t have the space or you would rather not have people staying on the farm, then offer farm tours or workshops for visitors seeking an authentic agricultural experience.
This not only generates income but also fosters a deeper connection between urban dwellers and rural life.
Online Platforms for Sales:
It took some time for me to get my head around Shopify and Amazon but I now sell on both.
Just because we want to live a simpler hand-made life, it doesn’t mean we can’t embrace the power of technology by leveraging online platforms to sell our products.
Set up an e-commerce store, Shopify, or join established marketplaces, Amazon, Ebay or Etsy, to reach a broader customer base.
Utilize social media and content marketing strategies to showcase your products and engage with your audience.
I have found reels on Instagram and Facebook work best for farm-based businesses, as people love seeing videos of our livestock.
I also have a massive following on TikTok, pretty good for an oldie.
Partnerships for Income Generation:
If you have the roadside exposure to have a farm store, you should consider collaborative opportunities with local businesses or artisans to create mutually beneficial partnerships.
Stock their produce! Remember gone are the days of fierce competition, small business owners are discovering collaboration over competition. There are enough customers for everyone and while your product may not be right for them, your neighbours might be perfect!
Helping a person to find their best buy says a lot about a business owner, and the community remembers that. I am a very strong believer in karma, so sending the goodwill out into the universe will definitely reap rewards.
You could also cross-promotion, join forces for product development, or share resources to reduce costs. By joining forces, you can tap into new markets and expand your reach.
Examples of this might be sharing a market stall, having a modified product produced and sharing the expenses to get the product to market, or going halves in expensive equipment.
Identify unique and niche markets that align with your homestead's specialties.
Are you extremely passionate about pasture-raised livestock or maybe pesticides free?
Hone in on your “thing”, it's your point of difference and should be celebrated.
You could cater to specific dietary preferences (e.g., organic, gluten-free), focusing on heirloom or rare varieties, or catering to a specific customer segment (e.g., restaurants, specialty stores).
Finding your niche can lead to loyal customers and higher profit margins because a small loyal band of customers is worth way more than a large unengaged group.
Diversifying income streams is essential for the financial success of a homestead.
Remember, each income stream requires careful planning, marketing, and dedication. Embrace the opportunities that align with your homestead's values, resources, and goals, and watch your income grow while sharing the beauty of your homestead with the world.
By exploring various avenues such as selling produce, value-added goods, agritourism, online sales, partnerships, and niche markets, homesteaders can generate multiple streams of income and build a resilient and sustainable business.
Most importantly we need to not “just cover costs” we need to be making a profit appropriate to the work we do to feed, clothe and care for the community.