For many of us, having a small farm is a lifestyle choice; a chance to get away from the noise and hustle of the city and get our hands dirty. But sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of extra spending money even if you just reinvest it in improving your farm!
If you are looking for some ways to make some extra cash from your small or hobby farm, here are our top seven ideas!
Agritourism, or the merging of tourism and farming, is a fantastic opportunity for small farmers to make some extra income. You don’t just have to focus on international tourists – stressed out city dwellers everywhere are looking for opportunities to escape busy metro life for a change of pace.
There are different ways in which small farmers can offer tourism experiences to visitors including:
Farm Stay or Bed and Breakfast
New online resources like AirBnB make it simple than ever to rent out a spare room or self-contained accommodation like a granny flat for guests. This can range from basic, family style self-catering accommodation through to a luxury experience in a renovated farm cottage, with a cooked farm-style breakfast. Small farms that are located on the outskirts of major metropolitan areas are well-positioned to offer weekend getaways, while those in more remote areas can cater for longer stays. Tourists can enjoy experiences on the farm such as feeding baby animals, horse riding or fruit picking or simply use the accommodation as a base to explore the surrounding area.
Now as we know, sleeping on the cold, hard ground and packing the car full of gear isn’t for everyone! Glamping (glamourous camping) is taking off in many parts of Australia and usually involves providing high quality camp-based accommodation (including permanent safari tents, luxury bedding, showers, and toilet facilities) in areas of outstanding natural beauty. It’s a way for visitors to take a break close to nature, but without the hassle and grime of ‘real’ camping!
Making your small farm a glamping destination doesn’t come without effort or investment, but it does compare favourably against costs such as building holiday cottages.
Many tourists love to use their holidays as a chance to learn a new skill or try a new activity. Depending on the capacity of your small farm and your own skills, you could offer farm tourism experiences such as:
Cooking classes using local produce
Cheese making or preserves
These farm tourism experiences will appeal to both individual and family tourists, and to workplaces or other interest groups as they offer something out of the ordinary.
- Grow a niche product for sale
It’s hard for small farmers to compete with larger commercial enterprises when offering produce to the market. But sometimes there are niche products that are in demand and un-catered for by larger farmers. Some ideas for niche areas small farmers can specialise in include raising goats or free-range pigs; marron or yabbie farming; heirloom vegetable growing (including seed production); duck eggs; and farming chickens for eggs.
- Sell farm by-products
You can make money off the by-products of farming as well as your core products. If you have animals and poultry, sheep, goat, chicken, cow, or horse manure can all be sold to gardeners to improve their soil structure. Most manures should be hot composted or matured for at least six months, to kill parasites and pathogens that can affect humans. If you have a very productive worm fam, you could even consider selling worm castings or ‘worm wee’ some of the most concentrated and valuable liquid formula to use in gardening.
- Rent out space for caravan or motor home parking
Many city dwellers love to go caravanning but don’t have the space on their property to conveniently store their caravan when it is not in use. If you have an unused area of hardstand on your small farm, you can hire out space for people to store their caravan or motor home until they need it. This can be particularly useful if you are located on the periphery of one of the larger cities, so it’s not too great a distance for caravan owners to make collections when getting ready to go on a trip.
- Speak or teach about farming matters
Have you developed expertise in an area of farming such as beekeeping, tree grafting or preserve making? If you are confident enough to share your knowledge, you can speak or teach other interested people to do what you do. Local community associations, university summer schools, councils and shires may have opportunities for you to teach where they will look after the marketing and ticketing for you, making it far less administrative. You may want to offer a few sessions for free to hone your presentation skills before offering this as a paid service.
- Provide agistment for horses
Is your property set up for horses? Providing agistment services for horse owners that don’t have the land to keep horses themselves can be a good income source, especially in peri-urban areas near major cities. You should ensure that if you are taking responsibility for housing and caring for other people’s horses, your property is safe and has adequate pasture and shelter. You should also check that you have adequate insurance coverage to offer this service. Insurance, water costs and infrastructure maintenance are just three things to cost out when planning how much to charge for agistment services. This can be a great additional source of income if you are in an area with access to riding trails, pony clubs and other horse related businesses making it more of a destination.
- Sell at Farmers markets
This may seem obvious, but selling at farmers’ markets is a fantastic opportunity to make some income from your farm. Unlike selling wholesale, when you sell your produce at a farmer’s market, you will receive the entire retail price minus the cost of your stall. With a growing interest in knowing how our food is produced and buying local, farmer’s markets are on the rise all around Australia including in suburbs where more people have high disposable incomes and are willing to pay for quality.
To sell at farmer’s markets you will usually need your own public liability insurance as well as a love for getting up early and chatting to shoppers about your produce. It’s a great idea to do some competitor research by visiting local farmer’s markets to see what’s on offer and the prices being charges before working out if this will be a profitable avenue for you.
Don’t forget the taxman!
When looking at ways to generate extra income from your small farm, take the taxman into consideration. If you are classified as a primary producer for tax purposes, this can impact your tax reporting obligations. The ATO has toughened up on hobby farmers claiming deductions in recent years and it’s best to be safe than sorry, so check out the helpful articles below and contact your accountant for specific advice about your situation.
Visit Hobby farm tax deductions and business structures in Australia and When is a small farm considered a business? articles for more information.
If you have any questions please give us a call on 9651 1312 or drop in to our Moora or Yerecoin store. We are an independent local family-owned Western Australia rural store, and we love sharing our knowledge and experience with our customers.