Are you someone who dreams of living sustainably on homesteading but has limited space to do so? Do you want to find ways to make an income or make it more affordable to live on your land?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that even if you have only 1 to 5 acres of land, you can still make a good income with sustainable practices.
In this article, we will explore seven different ways to make money on small acreage, without the need for a large-scale operation. These methods range from farming to Airbnb rentals, and everything in between, allowing you to live your homesteading dream without having to sacrifice sustainable practices.
So let’s explore how you can turn your limited space into a profitable and sustainable homesteading venture!
7 Ways to Make a Living On 5 Acres or Less
The following 7 strategies are great for small-acreage homesteaders and provide several means of earning an income.
1. Start a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is a sustainable and profitable way to make money on small acreage. By starting a CSA program, you can grow fruits and vegetables for local customers who purchase shares in exchange for produce each week.
CSA has several advantages: providing a steady income, access to different types of crops, and connections with local communities.
Here are some steps that can help you get started with a CSA program:
- Plan your production: Plan your production and figure out what you’d like to grow, how much, and who your target market will be. You can consider niche crops that are in high demand, such as heirloom tomatoes, hard-to-find herbs, and varied salad greens.
- Get to know your customers: It’s important to understand the tastes and preferences of your customers to better grow and manage your farm.
- Develop a pricing strategy: Decide how much you want to charge for your CSA shares based on your production costs, the value of your produce, and your target market.
- Market your CSA: Advertise your CSA through local community groups, social media, and other platforms. Consider developing relationships with local businesses, restaurants, or schools to enlarge your customer network.
- Build an infrastructure: Build an infrastructure, including beds, greenhouses, irrigation, and other necessary tools and equipment that you may require to start your CSA.
- Maintain the community’s trust: Be sure to deliver high-quality, delicious, and fresh food every week to keep your customers satisfied and build trust in your community.
2. Grow Culinary (or Medicinal) Mushrooms
One unique way to make money on small acreage is by cultivating mushrooms. There are many different types of mushrooms that can be grown for profit, including shiitake, oyster, and white button mushrooms, among others.
Mushroom farming requires a bit more complexity than other crops. However, with the right knowledge, tools, and setups, it can be done in a small space with little trouble. In fact, it is possible to grow mushrooms on a quarter acre or less, making it a great option for those with limited space.
The approximate selling price for mushrooms is around $6 to $10 per pound, with an approximate cost of production ranging from $3 to $5 per pound. This means an estimated profit of $3 to $5 per pound.
It’s a great way to earn money, and if you grow enough mushrooms, your profits can add up fast.
Mushroom farming doesn’t require a lot of space, making it a great way to use the land you have efficiently. For instance, you can even grow mushrooms in a barn or indoors without dirt.
Additionally, mushroom farming doesn’t require regular watering, making it a low-maintenance crop.
Looking for the perfect book that will walk you through the entire process of mushroom farming, from getting started to harvesting? Here are the 8 most comprehensive books about mushrooms that are worth checking out.
3. Produce Honey and Beeswax
Bees are one of the most efficient pollinators in nature, and they can also be a great source of income for small-acreage homesteaders with a little piece of land.
By keeping bees on your property, you can produce both honey and beeswax to sell to your local community. From mead makers to candle makers and from cosmetic companies to health food stores, the demand for these products is strong.
Honey typically sells for around $4 to $7 per pound, while beeswax goes for about $12 per pound.
Beeswax is used for a variety of products, ranging from furniture polish to candles and soaps. Honey, on the other hand, is a great source of sweetness for baking, cooking and even medicinal purposes.
To get started with beekeeping, you’ll need to purchase the necessary equipment like hives and protective gear. You can also join a local bee club to learn more about the process and find helpful resources.
The Bee Culture magazine offers a database of beekeeping clubs in the U.S., as well as a wealth of information on how to get started.
Once you begin harvesting, you can either sell your products directly to customers or via an online store. You may also consider partnering with local businesses that are interested in using locally produced honey and beeswax for their products.
4. Start a Dog Daycare
Starting a dog daycare is another way to make a lot of money on small acreage, especially if you love animals. Dog daycare businesses have been on the rise in recent years, as more and more pet owners prefer to leave their pets in a trusted environment with trained professionals while they’re at work or away from home.
Here are some steps for setting up your own dog daycare:
- Legal Requirements: Research legal requirements for starting a dog daycare, such as zoning and licensing requirements, and ensure you follow all the rules.
- Create a business plan: Create a business plan outlining the services you’ll provide, the target market, pricing, and estimated income and expenses.
- Insurance: Take out appropriate insurance, including liability insurance, to protect your business and your customers.
- Space: Evaluate your space and consider how you will divide the area into indoor and outdoor play areas. Determine the number of dogs you can accommodate and plan for ample space per dog.
- Equipment: Invest in necessary equipment such as feeding and watering stations, toys, beds, and crates or kennels.
- Marketing: Start marketing your dog daycare business on social media or by distributing flyers in your local community.
- Hire trained staff: Employ professional and experienced staff who can handle dogs with care and attention.
By starting a dog daycare, you can make a great living while providing a valuable service for local pet owners. With proper planning, investments in adequate space, equipment, and staff, your dog daycare business has the potential to grow and prosper.
Additionally, other aspects of pet care can also be integrated into your dog daycare, such as grooming or pet sitting services, to generate even more income. So if you’re a pet lover with limited space, starting a dog daycare could help you make your homesteading dream a reality.
5. Grow Microgreens
Growing microgreens is a great way to make money on small acreage. Microgreens are tiny, nutrient-packed greens that are harvested just a few weeks after germination. They are a popular ingredient in salads, smoothies, and garnishes, and often command high prices in specialty markets.
To grow microgreens, you’ll need a small area with good lighting, a growing medium such as soil or peat moss, seeds, water, and a place to store the growing containers. It’s relatively easy to start producing your own microgreens with a little bit of research and some preparation.
Once you have your microgreens, you can choose from several different avenues to sell them:
- Farmers’ Markets: Head to your nearest farmer’s market to set up a booth where you can sell your freshly harvested microgreens.
- Restaurants: Many chefs like to purchase microgreens for their restaurants and will pay top price for high-quality products.
- Direct to Consumer: You can also sell your microgreens directly to consumers by setting up an eCommerce or social media channel, or even a roadside stand.
One of the greatest advantages of microgreens is their versatility, making them an excellent way to add diversity and depth to any meal. Some of the most popular microgreens include:
- • Arugula
- • Basil
- • Beets
- • Broccoli
- • Cabbage
- • Cilantro
- • Chard
- • Kale
- • Peas
- • Spinach
Growing microgreens is a low-input, high-output crop that can generate steady profits with minimal space and cost. Plus, it encourages a more sustainable and nutritious lifestyle. So, if you have limited space, growing microgreens could be the perfect solution for you.
6. Develop Creative Short-Term Rental Spaces
Creative short-term rentals are a great way to make money on small acreage. They allow you to rent out your unused space, such as tents, cabins, yurts, treehouses, and more for a short period of time. Not only do these rentals offer a unique experience for your visitors, they also provide a great source of extra income.
To get started, you’ll need to identify what type of rental units are available in your area and the price range for each. You’ll also want to invest in quality equipment that is suited for the type of rental unit you plan to offer. Consider marketing on websites like Airbnb or VRBO, as well as local listings to get the word out.
You can also let people stay at your space through the exchange network Work Away where travelers stay with you free of charge in exchange for doing chores around your homestead. This is a great way to meet interesting people, share cultures and get help with the upkeep of your land.
With creative short-term rentals, you can make money while still enjoying the serenity of living on the land. From a single room to a full build-out of your property, there are lots of opportunities to make money and keep your small acreage running smoothly. So if you’re looking for a way to generate some extra cash while still maintaining the simple life, consider creative short-term rentals.
7. Start a Food-Centric Cottage Business
A cottage business is a small-scale enterprise that is typically run from a home or homestead, using skills and resources that are readily available. These businesses often focus on traditional products, such as baked goods, preserves, crafts, and other handmade items.
Some items that cottage businesses produce include:
- • Jams and jellies
- • Pickles and relish
- • Baked goods (breads, cookies, pies)
- • Soups and stews
- • Herbal remedies
- • Honey and syrup
- • Soaps and lotions
One of the key advantages of a cottage business is that it allows for greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and production. This makes it an ideal option for those with limited time or resources, such as stay-at-home parents, retirees, or homesteaders who want to supplement their income.
Another advantage of a cottage business is that it can be started with relatively little capital. Many cottage businesses require only minimal investment in equipment, supplies, and marketing, making them an attractive option for those who don’t have a lot of money to invest.
One of the most popular types of cottage businesses is centered around food production. Homemade baked goods, jams, and other preserves can be sold at farmers’ markets, local stores, or directly to consumers via eCommerce channels. Additionally, many cottage businesses offer catering services for events such as weddings, birthdays, and corporate functions.
To start a food-centric cottage business, you’ll need to ensure that you comply with all relevant regulations and licensing requirements in your area. This may include obtaining permits, registering your business, and undergoing food safety training.
Once you are up and running, you can market your products through a variety of channels, such as social media, word of mouth, or through local advertising. By offering quality, handmade products that are unique to your location, you can develop a loyal customer base that will keep coming back for more.
Final Thoughts: How to Make Money On 5 Acres
With just 5 acres of land and a little bit of creativity, there are endless opportunities to earn a sustainable income while living your homesteading dream.
From mushroom farming to dog daycare, from growing microgreens to starting a CSA, the possibilities are endless.
The key is to find what interests you and build upon it, exploring new avenues and expanding your offerings as you grow.
Homesteading isn’t just about living off the land; it’s about building a sustainable lifestyle that allows you to pursue your passions while earning a reliable income.
It’s a challenging and rewarding journey, but with perseverance and dedication, it can be done. So don’t let limited space deter you from pursuing your homesteading dream.
Instead, let it inspire you to think creatively and find new ways to make your 5-acre homestead a thriving source of purpose-driven income.