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Can a suburban lot be profitable as a farm? Pt 2

Can a suburban lot be profitable as a farm? Pt 2

In the last post I wrote about if it is profitable to run a suburban homestead farm. The answer was it depends. There are so many variables to consider. We touched on rabbits, and fruit trees. Today we are going to cover a few more items that in combination with reduction in spending and layering could make a suburban homestead profitable.

We touched on fruit trees and on using the fruit trees for home-made products such as jams and jellies. If you are to expand the fruit tree aspect to also include home based jams, jellies and baked goods you are adding additional function to your income stream without having to add to your space needs. Most if not all of the preserves will be prepared indoors without the need of additional growing area. Each area is different on the regulations required. Some states, cities, and counties will allow an individual to prepare and sell preserves on the farm without any additional requirements. Some areas require that a commercial kitchen be used, while others will allow it to be prepared on farm, sold off farm, if the kitchen is inspected. Do your research, and there are not only the preparation requirements, but also labeling requirements, on a federal, state, and sometimes local level. Do not be discouraged by the regulations, as many are not too over burdensome. If you are going to make preserves, there will always be waste in the forms of peels, seeds, core of the fruit (as with apples or pears), pulp etc. This is not a waste product. This could also be turned into income, in the form of compost, worms, compost tea, or bartered for other useful products. One local farm will barter fresh meat, in exchange for these types of waste, providing that it is chemical free (no pesticides, herbicide, fungicides etc.). The farm will take your waste and feed it to their pigs, and chickens. This can offset meat and egg purchases. If you are raising your own animals, this could offset any feed costs you may have. While you could also include baked goods, pies, cakes etc. in the same operation relatively easy, and would probably need the same level of inspection or regulations, you would be dependent on outside grains for flour, milk, and possible eggs for such an operation. This is not to say it isn’t profitable, especially if you buy flour in bulk, or have a niche market only using organic flour, or gluten-free products.

Composting can take a waste and turn it into a profit center. Composting isn’t hard, and it can be done indoors or outdoors, small-scale or large. It all depends on your climate and location. Some areas will have regulations on compost, but this is usually on a commercial-scale. We have a varied size of compost activities from an indoor box in a recycled cat litter container, to the 3 bin pallet composting, and each one has different purposes, and contents. The indoor system will use some household composting materials and shredded junk mail, cardboard, and fiber board (cereal boxes). There is no smell, and the worms do all the work. We use only non-glossy paper in these systems. These worms do not process large volumes of materials, and is mainly a use for compost tea, keep worms through the winter, and indoor soil amendments. The outdoor system has yard wastes, leaf litter, grass clippings, left over’s from the vegetable gardens, rabbit manure, and bedding from the chicken coup. People who are just getting started are on the lookout for worms to start their own composting system, or maybe something happened and killed off their worms. This is why it is good to have redundant system and only add questionable materials to one system, or rotate what gets the new materials. You always have a back up worm supply. Some people sell them by the pound, some count out the worms. You can also sell the worm casting, or compost tea. The casting can be added to plants indoor and out, gardens, lawns, around fruit and berry bushes. It is a fertilizer that will not burn, there are no chemical additives, and can be applied at any time. The tea is taken from the castings and made into a liquid fertilizer. Some people sell the tea in 1 gal jugs, others sell the dried castings and instructions on how to make your own tea. Like the castings, the compost tea can be put around any plants, indoors or out. The added benefits of the liquid are that it is readily absorbed by the plant during the application, and when sprayed onto the plant leaves acts a bio-barrier against pests and disease. The compost tea promotes a beneficial biological layer that will detour pests, but also aids in preventing many harmful molds, viruses, and bacteria from colonizing on the leaf surface. Will you be profitable from compost tea alone? Not on a suburban lot. But this is a way to take a waste product and turn it into something beneficial, both for your own farm or homestead and possibly turn a profit.  If you want more info on composting with worms check out Castaway Compost.

In part 3 we will talk chickens. We have hit on them a little here and there, but more details to come. So a recap of what we covered thus far in the series, is Fruits, Rabbits, Compost and worms, and preserves and baking. All of these can be managed at the same time on a suburban lot in conjunction with each other.