Why People Are Starting Hobby Farms

Written by on January 21, 2019 in News Flash with 0 Comments

A hobby farm can take on different meanings for different farmers, but the basic idea of a hobby farm is a small-scale farm primarily maintained for sustenance and pleasure.

Typically, the owners of a hobby farm have some other form of income, such as a job or retirement income. While some hobby farms can and do turn a profit, the main point of a “hobby” farm is to be just that – a hobby.


Homesteading and Hobby Farming

While there is a great deal of overlap, not all hobby farmers are homesteaders, but most homesteaders tend to be hobby farmers out if necessity. Hobby farmers aren’t necessarily driven by self-sufficiency as their primary goal, whereas homesteaders usually are.

Basic Reasons to Start a Hobby Farm

The main reasons people choose to start hobby farms include:

  • To address dissatisfaction with their current job by pursuing something a bit more meaningful. More often than not, as a reaction to too many years of boredom in a hated 9-5 routine.
  • To produce fresh and healthy food for their families and communities.
  • To achieve a small, but meaningful, social, economic and ethical impact.
  • To attain autonomy and job independence. While hobby farms are typically just hobbies, some people are able to convert that hobby to financial independence.

Professional aquaculture Courtney Edwards and partner Dan Adelman, founders of Blue Roots Farm, started out small but managed to build their hobby farm into a financially successful aquaponics farm.

  • To capitalize on the economic opportunities afforded by emerging industries.

Health Benefits of a Hobby Farm

Health is a top reason why many people choose to start a hobby farm. Concerns over pesticides and antibiotics used in the mass production of crops and livestock give many people pause.

As such, producing their own organically raised, non-GMO crops and livestock in a sustainable way is one of the main reasons why many people consider operating a hobby farm as a good way to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Environmental Sustainability and Community Involvement

One of the biggest issues facing society today is the stability and availability of quality fresh food. Hobby farms can provide healthier food for the local community, as locally-grown foods don’t require long transport chains.


Mass-produced foods, many imported from out-of-state and foreign countries, are typically weeks old by the time they reach the supermarket. This causes a lot of fresh food to lose nutritional content by the time it reaches consumers.

Diane Moeller, an environmental engineer at Off the Roots Hydroponics, says too many environmental problems are solved retroactively. However, Moller believes small community farming is an opportunity to take a proactive approach.

Selling Goods and Products to Your Community

A small, but productive, hobby farm can be a wonderful way to build a part- or full-time family business that can be passed onto future generations, leaving a meaningful legacy. While most hobby farms don’t produce mass cash crops, profits can still be significant, if smaller. Plus, the rewards of sustainability and helping serve the community can be highly rewarding.

Matt Marsh and his wife built American Heartland Acres,an aquaponics basil farm, specifically to create a lasting family legacy. Lee Speigel at Pulaski Grow runs a training program for youth on her farm, providing hands-on work experience for local youth and workshops for adults, as well as access to fresh produce.

Planning

As with anything, conducting enough adequate research is an important step towards achieving success. Begin by deciding what types of animals and\or crops you’d like to raise. This will enable you to conduct the research required to determine what you’ll need to make raising your crops a success.

For example, producing farm-fresh eggs will require purchasing laying hens, but raising chickens also requires a rooster or two, as well as a chicken coup. You just need to keep in mind the amount of available land you have in relation to the needs of the animal(s).

For instance, if you only have one acre but two cows you will need to reconsider how to proceed, as cows need over an acre of pasture each to properly sustain themselves. However, smaller animals like goats can be raised for meat and/or milk, and rabbits raised for their meat. As far as crops are concerned, plants like radishes require well-drained soil, whereas other crops, like corn, require high amounts of nitrogen in the soil.

Preparation

If you’re planning to preserve food for your family, you’ll need to assemble a full array of canning supplies, such as water-bath and pressure canners and jars. While this will of course require an upfront investment, the money you save in the long run will result in significant savings.

Finds Ways to Save Money

While it may be surprising to some, it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of upfront capital to get started with a hobby farm. To keep costs down, small farmers need to seize upon everything they can in the effort to try and save money. This might include growing their own animal fodder to save on feed bills, or building a rain-catchment system to help water livestock and plants.

If you find down the road that you are in need of some small-scale equipment to keep your farm running smoothly and conveniently, sourcing out used equipment is a great way to cut down on costs.

Equipment can also be a source of income if you have other hobby farms or small business farms in the area, you can lease your equipment to them for a small fee to keep things cost effective for yourself and your community.

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