06 August 2008

Niche Farming

The New York Times has been running a good number of articles lately about niche farming. Their latest, today, has a nice profile of some widely divergent types of people who have moved to the country. It also has a nice bulleted list of advice, all of which I would heartily "second."

For entrepreneurs tempted by the rural life, Ms. Aubrey and Ms. Holmes offer these bits of advice:
¶ Do market research. Go to farmers’ markets. Walk around. See what products are common and which ones are missing. Talk to people. Ask if they would they buy your product.
¶ Check out the local labor pool to make sure enough workers are available.
¶ Get the advice of an accountant and an attorney.
¶ Decide early on whether to go into the wholesale or retail market.
¶ Ask yourself whether you will be able to adapt to the “farm lifestyle,” notably long hours of hard toil. If you doubt you will enjoy bending over crops under a hot sun, find another line of work.
¶ Do not make the common mistake of growing too big too fast. You will risk
discovering you do not have the cash flow to put into the equipment you need to
meet your orders.
¶ Choose a “value-added” niche product, like gourmet mushrooms, that is not sold widely in your area.

“Make sure they’re unique enough for people to buy them and eat them,” Ms. Aubrey said. “If it’s unusual and tastes good, people will buy it.”


Anonymous said...

Decent article. I'd add being handy as another pre-requisite. I am working on becoming more self-sufficient when it comes to things "handy". Plumbing, electrical, drywall, et al. My wife has skills I envy! Gifted woman. Her "artsy" side welds well with renovations and repairs.Once I close that gap... I think my wife will be more comfortable with an agrarian move for the family. She grew up on a farm. Not an uncharted lifestyle.

TYF said...

Agreed that "handiness" is a key skill, and one I wished I'd worked more on before we bought our first place in the country. And it's something you can practice pretty much anyplace you live.

Anonymous said...

I believe we have lost the ability to be handy... the masculine side of being handy, for men... lost in the current economic culture, if this makes sense. My dream of living off the land is born of this yearning to use my hands... And also from my Faith. Traditional Catholicism. Chesterton/Belloc/Pope Leo XIII... Fr. McNabb.... They were the catalysts... Here's praying my will is close to God's Will for my family... for me...