Farming & Growing

Smallholder advice – income ideas for your plot

Smallholder income ideas banner selling fruit

Five ideas to help your smallholding pay its way

Managing a smallholding can be the realisation of a lifelong dream and open the door to a more sustainable way of life.

With all the hard work that goes into it, in addition to the costs of starting a small farming business, generating a bit of income from your smallholding can be a great way to offset any outlays and make the most of your plot.

We look at five ways to help your smallholding pay its way:

1. If you want to sell, advertise

Locally-farmed produce is in increasing demand by consumers, which means that retail and hospitality businesses in your area may well be looking to source produce from the local community. 

If you do want to sell surplus, think about promoting your business if even on a small, local scale. You could create a Facebook page, and get friends and neighbours to like, follow and share it. Then you can update them regularly when you have stock to sell, tell them what’s new on your smallholding, or even offer some deals.

2. High-value items

If there’s one activity that you are having particular success with, or simply enjoy doing the most, look out for high-value opportunities in that area.

For example, could you rear rare breed animals? Rare breeds can command premium prices for their products such as meat, eggs, or as breeding replacements.

If plants are more your forte, do some research on what is difficult to source locally or what commands a higher value. A great place to start is by asking specialist growers which rare plants, edible flowers and unusual vegetable varieties are popular with consumers.

3. Adding value

Whether curing meats, making chutneys or knitting with your wool, a few extra steps can turn basic produce into high value ‘hand crafted’ items.

Another advantage can be an extended shelf life. While items like soft fruits and berries can be great sellers, they are also quick to spoil. Preserving these can give you a healthy stock of produce to use or sell throughout the year.

4. Unused spaces

Instead of using a garage or outbuilding as a dumping ground, consider renting it out.

If converting it into accommodation or office space is too much of a project, there are other opportunities. A local tradesman or hobbyist might need a workshop, or someone might simply be looking to store some furniture and boxes. But remember to talk to your local NFU Mutual agency office about the insurance implications before you start undertaking a renovation project.

5. Complementary activities

Lots of the activities on your smallholding can help boost the earning potential of others. One of the best things about a smallholding is the variety of opportunities available. 

If you keep animals or have a lot of vegetable waste, then turn it into manure and compost. Not only will it feed your soil for free, but others will pay good money for anything you don’t use.