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If you’re like me (and I think you are!), you’ve been drawn to homesteading from a desire to quit the rat race, slow down, and live a simpler life. Unfortunately, though, not everyone can afford to retire early and live off the land.
Land still costs money, taxes will always be there, so most of us still need to make an income. I’ve collected the best ways to make money from the comfort of your homestead so you can live the homesteading dream AND make a living.
Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to sell your home-grown produce, without having to set up at farmer’s markets. If you grow enough of your own unique crops, you can set up your own CSA. If you prefer to specialize in one type of crop, there are some CSA’s that combine produce from multiple farmers to provide a varied shipment to their members.
To get you started, check out my series of 30 second guides to growing all of the most popular veggies.
2. Farmer’s Market
If you prefer to go out and sell to your customers face-to-face, Farmer’s Markets are a great place to sell your produce or homemade crafts. Some Farmer’s Markets will charge you a fee to set up a space, but buyers want to put a face to a name, and buy from a real person. They like to see and hold things before they buy them, and having you there let’s them ask questions if they have any.
For all of the information you need to get started growing your own produce, check out my post on How to Start a Garden From Scratch.
3. Sell Young Plants
In addition to produce, selling seedlings or young plants is a great way to make some money. If you start your produce plants from seed, start a few extra to sell. You can sell these through CSA’s, at the Farmer’s Market, or online. Your local Facebook marketplace is a great place to list young plants for sale.
4. Sell Unique Plants
For a bigger profit margin, specialize in unique plants. A simple search for “rare plants in [YOUR STATE]” will give you a ton of rare plants native to your area. Grow endangered trees, or herbs and make a profit, while conversing a rare species of plant.
5. Grow Mushrooms
While growing mushrooms takes an initial investment of the spores and environment, but kits like this one from Gourmet Mushrooms, lets you grow morels in your backyard for years to come.
6. Wooden Pens
If you’re handy with a lathe, or even just looking to start – turning wooden pens are an excellent place to start. With a wood blank (purchased from Amazon or check out this link on how to make them yourself), you only have to buy the assembly kits. This kit from Amazon contains the wood blanks and the rest of the pen pieces for only $25. These pens, finished, sell for $60-$100 depending on the type of wood used.
7. Compost or Vermi-Compost
If you’re already making compost, or collecting manure from your animals, other farmers without access to compost will pay healthy amounts for yours! Entire businesses have sprung from worm farms. Vermicompost (worm casings compost) is cheap to start – simply purchase a starting colony of red wigglers and let them go to town. They love manure, food scraps, leaf litter – just avoid putting in large chunks of fruit. It will ferment and kill them off.
8. Boutique Soap
Soap making is a fun, creative way to earn an income. Kelly’s book Natural Soap Making for Beginners is my favorite soap making instruction book. Her photographs are gorgeous, and her instructions are so easy to follow, even I could do it! You can sell your soap at farmer’s markets, on etsy, on Facebook, etc.
9. Beauty Products
A very good friend of mind created an international million-dollar business creating healthy, organic beauty products. She developed recipes for everything from shampoos, to deodorants, to soaps and now sells her products in grocery stores across the US. Lots of people are looking for beauty products they can feel good about using. Make them!
I’ve made a number of candles and it’s an extremely enjoyable past-time. With very little initial investment, and a little patience, you can create beautiful scented candles that others would happily purchase from you. Get creative with your ingredients and containers. I’ve seen beautiful little tea cups made into candles, I’ve cut wine bottles and made candles out of them, or simple mason jars can be candle containers.
11. Jams, Jellies, Salsas
Jams, jellies and salsas are staples at farmer’s markets. People can never seem to get enough. Shoppers will pay an extra premium for you to make the jam or salsa for them. If you have a good enough product, you can create a cult following.
There was a farmer in my home town who was known for his salsa! Affectionately known as the Chile Man, he grew all of his own tomatoes and peppers and blended the salsas himself. Unfortunately, his business closed due to a nasty divorce, but where it’s been done before, it can be done again!
12. Natural Remedies
If you’re experienced with combining herbs to make medicinal teas, or salves, or tinctures, you can always offer these products for sale. I’ve seen natural remedies sold to friends and family, on etsy, or via Facebook.
Be careful to add a disclaimer that you are not a doctor (unless you are!) and that you’re not diagnosing anything. Basic disclaimers can be found online.
If you’re a budding herbalist, or are interested in becoming an herbalist for a living, check out Herbal Academy‘s online training programs. It’s a fascinating career path that you can easily do from your homestead!
To get you started, I created a free tincture-making checklist:
Farm fresh eggs are a favorite of budding homesteaders. Chickens, being a gateway animal, are small and easy to maintain. In addition to pest management, you get the added benefit of having your very own egg factory in the backyard! While you may only be able to sell them for $2-$5/dozen, they don’t require a ton of work (on your part).
14. Goat Milk
If you already have a milking goat, selling off an extra quart or two is a great source of supplemental income. Or if you’re adventurous you may be able to make a living out of it. Raw goat’s milk can sell between $8-$15/gallon depending on the area. If you have the knowledge and time, you can always use your goat’s milk in value-added products like goat cheese or goat’s milk soap.
15. Dairy Shares
While it is often illegal in certain areas to buy unpasteurized cow’s milk, many co-ops get around these rules by purchasing dairy shares. People band together and pay monthly for a “share” of a milk cow’s production.
If you raise your own animals for meat, it’s usually not much more expensive to add an additional animal or two alongside yours to sell. You can sell half-shares or quarters, or individual cuts, depending on how much time you want to invest and if you have the storage space for individual cuts.
Local honey is a delicacy that usually sells out early at our farmer’s markets. In addition to honey, you can sell beeswax, or entire bee hives if yours do well enough to swarm and divide.
18. Young Stock
If you have the infrastructure, breeding animals and selling off the young stock is a great way to make some money on the homestead. If you have a rooster and a broody hen, you’ll have an endless source of pullets you can sell at $10-$20 a pop. Piglets, calves, lambs, kids (the four-legged variety – I do not condone selling the two-legged kind), and baby rabbits (or kits) are all great options for selling young animals.
19. Heritage Animals
With the transition from family farms to factory farms, the genetic diversity of livestock has suffered dramatically. In fact, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy says that over 36 breeds of chicken are in danger of extinction. The chickens used in modern industrialized farms are hybrids, selected for rapid growth and size. Factory-farms account for well over 90% of the chickens in America.
Breeding heritage animals helps conserve genetic diversity, and increases the value of the animals you’re raising.
20. Bait Worms
Another low-maintenance option, bait worms are a great source of income for someone who doesn’t want to (or isn’t able to) put in a lot of back-breaking work. Worms will reproduce with little influence by a person. All you have to do is provide them the environment to thrive, and let nature take it’s course.
Certain types of wood can fetch a hefty price, and you don’t have to log your entire forest to make a profit. Ceder poles (over 24′) in our area sell for $45 to hop yards. In addition to valuable wood types, some buyers will purchase trees with burls if you have any.
Or, if you’d like to log a portion of your property, you can contact your local forestry department or ag school to come out and give you an assessment. The service is usually free, and they will let you know what types of trees you have and which ones are valuable enough to log. Then you can take that information and call up logging companies to see who will pay the most for the trees you have.
For more information on the types of wood and their uses, check out my post.
22. Wild Mushrooms
Whether you gather them or let a professional mushroom hunter hunt your land, mushrooms are a delicacy and many restaurants and individuals will pay a hefty sum for morels, matsutake, or chantrelles. Just make sure you know what you’re picking or work with an experienced hunter.
This past year, people on Facebook locally were offering $100 for a bucket of morels.
Ginseng is another foraged plant, but it has been over-hunted lately and takes a very long time to reproduce. For that reason ginseng foraging is highly regulated. If you’re looking for a long-term investment, however, you can plant a stand of ginseng in your forest and wait a few years. Ginseng grows best in cool, temperate hardwood forests that receive 20-40 inches of rainfall in a year. If that sounds like your place, you might want to look into how to legally harvest ginseng in your area.
While a lot of horse farms will give away their manure to anyone willing to come pick it up, farmers and gardeners will pay good money for manure, especially if it’s already aged. While chicken and horse manure are the most popular ones, rabbit and sheep manure sell as well.
If you have a knack for bees and want to dive into hive ownership, you can put a few thousand employees to work and sell local honey at farmer’s markets or to friends and family. We talked about running a honey factory above, but in addition to selling honey, you can sell the beeswax and entire hives if you have extras.
Any good permaculturist will be saving their own seeds. While a lot of vegetable seeds are sold at relatively low prices, take a look at the trees and flowers around you too. Shiso seeds and wild cherry seeds are popular and sell for more.
27. Fix Things and Sell Them
Estate sales, auctions, and yard sales are great places to find used or broken things for sale for cheap. Buy a lawn mower or motorcycle or truck that doesn’t run, fix it up and turn around and sell it. If you’re mechanically inclined, handy, or just like a challenge, it’s a great way to keep things out of the landfill and make a little extra money.
28. Buy Things and Resell
In the same vein as above, but with a lot less effort, you can simply buy things (online, at thrift shops, or yard sales) turn around and sell it for more. I know of a handful of people that have made small fortunes, doing just that. Freecycle is a great place to start.
BONUS: The response to this post has been amazing! I’ve added readers’ suggestions below:
- Miranda from The Reluctant Cowgirl raises freezer cattle as well as sells maple syrup.
And it seems obvious, but I missed it when I first published this post, but rent out your skills! If you’re a good carpenter, or photographer, or anything, post your services for sale online and to friends and neighbors! You never know what might come out of it.
Now it’s your turn! How do you make money on your homestead?