It’s not easy to make a living off of a small diversified farm like ours. In fact, a couple of highly-publicized articles in the past year (one in the New York Times and one on Salon.com) argued that it is nearly impossible.
I choose to believe that it is possible to make ends meet, by living modestly and working hard. But one thing seems sure to me–in order to make it work it is necessary to generate multiple streams of income.
We’ve been able to add a few more this year and our hope is that in combination they will keep us economically sustainable. For anyone thinking of taking up this lifestyle, I highly recommend that you try to develop as many streams of income as possible, even if individually they seem small.
On our farm now we generate income from:
- Herbs (fresh and dried)
- Cut flowers
- Homemade granola
- Handmade aprons and other crafts
- Baked goods
- Farm stay rentals through Air-BnB
- Book sales (both Cherie and I published books this year)
- “Worm tea” plant food
- Bug bite salve
- Decorative plants
- And probably some other things I’ve forgotten
We’ll likely be adding jams, jellies, pickles, and hot sauce next year.
We sell our products at two farmers markets, by pre-order at drop points in nearby towns and on farm. Cherie also attends several craft shows each year.
We stay busy. We are the farm’s entire labor force.
Some of the “income streams” don’t produce much income (in fact, looking at it in comparison to more typical jobs, none of them do), but all help the bottom line.
By combining careful attention to expenses, a minimalist personal philosophy, and multiple streams of farm income, we’ve been able to make it work so far. And we’re trying to stay creative and remain receptive to new streams of income.