Many of us dream of one day earning our living away from the standard 9-5 job. Some of us even imagine being able to make a living off the land we own or hope to own. What could be better than waking up on your own small farm, working closely with the land, and bringing home a paycheck for all that enjoyment? While the reality may be a little dirtier, the work a little harder, and the results a little smaller, it is possible to earn a living from a small farm.
One of the best ways to generate farm income is to sell things you make or grow at your local farmer’s market. Some markets will allow crafts as well, so even if you don’t have your farm yet, you can get involved and become an active member of a local market. I have sold handmade jewelry at markets for several years, and really enjoyed the experience.
What really sells best, and what spawned the explosive growth of markets across the country, is honest-to-goodness, homegrown farm produce. Even if you have very limited space, you can make a couple beds of lettuce and sell salad mixes, which happened to be one of the best-selling items at markets I frequented.
You can choose to specialize, like the guy at our market who is known as “the garlic guy”, or provide a wide selection, which seems to be more successful. If you are just starting out, try one or two common crops, such as lettuce, onions, garlic or tomatoes, and gradually grow from there.
It is absolutely possible to make a very comfortable living by selling at a farmer’s market, but it requires a lot of work and total dedication. Many of the growers I know are up at the break of dawn to pick fresh produce for the day’s market, and in bed after dark because of long travels to the market.
If you really long for the lifestyle, you can be successful, so long as you are willing to do the work.