Listen to this article here
Do you have a green thumb? Are you eager to maximize your patio, level up your backyard, or elevate your garden, all while contributing to the fight against climate change? Then, starting a small hobby farm may be right for you.
Keep scrolling to learn all about a sustainable farm, what items are needed to get started, and score beginner tips to ease into your new hobby.
What is a sustainable hobby farm?
According to Westfield Insurance, a sustainable hobby farm (much like its name) “refers to a farm somewhere between a conventional farm fully operating as a business and a homestead that’s completely sustainable.”
In most situations, it is at most 10 acres. It’s small enough to raise a humble crop but also large enough to potentially serve as a side hustle, providing a secondary income source.
There are various hobby farms, including those that keep bees, grow fruits and vegetables, harvest microgreens, and raise chickens for eggs (among others).
What items are needed to get your hobby farm started?
While the list of tools needed will vary based on your space and goals, Hobby Farm lists the following as essential items:
7 Tips for Beginners:
1. Budget for upfront costs. Develop a realistic budget and consider initial startup costs (like essential tools, soil, and seed) along with ongoing operational expenses such as fertilizers, seed, car or truck expenses, insurance, and more.
2. Do your research. The foundation for excelling in anything is education. Begin by talking to local farmers to gauge their experience. Local farmers’ markets are a great option to soak up knowledge from someone who has “been there, done that.” Once you’ve narrowed in on an area of interest, visit your local library for additional resources — read, read, and read some more.
3. Take your time. It’s important to note this is a long game. Be mindful of the time you have available to dedicate to your new hobby, and understand there will be a lot of trial and error. So, make a plan, stick to it, and iterate as needed to maintain consistency.
4. Prioritize soil health. According to experts, conducting soil tests regularly aids in monitoring nutrient levels and pH. This process aids in getting ahead of plant problems, increasing crop production, and informing you when/if your crops are at risk of contamination.
5. Provide regular maintenance. Start by grouping crops and plants with similar water and sun exposure needs. Create the proper watering system for your crop. Pull the occasional weed and watch for pesky wildlife wanting to nibble on fresh greens.
6. Engage with your community. It takes a village. By networking with fellow green thumbs, you can tap into a pool of knowledge and resources to further support your goals. It may also be worth exploring community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs.
7. Keep your eye on the prize. Starting a sustainable hobby farm can be a great side hustle. However, don’t be pressured by the idea of generating profit. Enjoy the process, and remember WHY you initially started a hobby farm.