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Small Farm Organic Gardening for Profit on Just 1/8 Acre

From gardening for health to the “accidental” farmer.

In early 2013 after too many years of battling with high blood pressure, David decided to make a real change in the kind of food he was putting in his body. This is his inspiring story.

Going Organic

Today’s agriculture uses predominantly chemical pesticides and fertilizer, Genetically Engineered (GE) and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) seeds. These are bound to have negative effects on the population and the environment, so I decided that I wanted to go organic.

The Prodigal Gardener

Living in the farm country of western NYS on a few nice acres made it seem like a no-brainer to have a garden. This was not a totally new thing to me, as I grew up in New England and the family garden was always a part of life. So like anyone should, I started reading and researching everything I could on both old and new ways of thinking on the organic garden. When I felt that I was confident enough in what I was doing, I sat down to draw up a garden plan.

Next, how David got started with 20 raised beds.

Getting Started: 20 Raised Beds

Actually, I may have been over-confident! I wasn’t going to be happy with a 10′ by something patch. No, I had to find a local farmer willing to turn some land over for me, not a lot, but it had never been opened and it was hard to dig. Then I found a sawmill to have the lumber cut to make 20 raised beds.

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Next came the purchase of a 20×12 hoop house, 26 yards of fine screened rich topsoil, along with all the other amendments. Now at this point, one may think “Ok not bad. Build the beds, set up the hoop house and get some stuff growing”.

Throw in a Lasagna Garden Bed

Except that now I still had another 600 square feet of space cleared but not being used. With this area, I decided to try a layered garden bed called a lasagna bed which used a no dig method, making it easier to utilize. My careful planning, construction and just plain blind luck, combined with an early mild spring and a house full of starter plants grown from seed, yielded an unexpected bounty from my little 1,240 sq. ft. garden.

All Veggies from my Head To-ma-toes

Seeing now I had grown way more produce than I could possibly use, I set out to save face with my wife by trying to sell some of these fresh veggies to recoup some cost. I started with looking at the local farm markets of my area but found the fees to be just more money out of pocket and not something I felt was wise enough to take on at this point!


I Had a Tiger by the Tail

So door knocking I went. I found a couple of local businesses happy to offer me free space in their parking lots to set up a small farm stand. And I was lucky enough to find a local restaurant willing to work with a greenhorn, wannabe veggie farmer. Things started to happen fast! The next thing I know, I have nowhere near enough produce and I have myself a tiger by the tail. Suddenly the light comes on, there is a real niche to be filled.

Profitable Garden on Less than 1/8 Acre

With the seemingly endless patience of my dear wife, some good friends and my stockpile of dumb luck, I decided to go for it. I came up with a name for my pipe dream and filed the DBA. Since I first decided to have a garden to grow my own healthy veggies, the too big to dig 1,240 square foot garden is now at about 4000 square feet. Granted, still very small at less than 1/8th of an acre, but producing surprisingly large amounts of healthy food with acres of land still to expand on.

David's greens produce from his garden
David’s greens, fresh from his garden

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for 2016

I branched out in 2016 to a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA). The idea of a CSA appeals to me because I know the produce I grow has a home waiting for it. I grow a wide variety of produce and I am open to trying anything our regional conditions allow, providing there is a large enough call from my customers. I want to make my first step into the CSA world very small the first few seasons, so that I can be sure that I can give my best efforts to those who choose to grow with me.

Gardening with Priceless Benefits

Ultimately, this is not just about my attempt at becoming a successful entrepreneur. It is about being able to provide the community with clean, healthy food from a local source at reasonable prices.

Oh, and my blood pressure? Not a problem now. In fact by the end of the first season’s harvest and only eating my home grow vegetables the doctor had taken me off all blood pressure meds!

We love David’s story, and bet there are many more like his. Help us share the good news. If you have a story or know of one, please send an email. We’d love to hear it, and if you like, share it.

You may also be interested in this article on growing and buying local foods.

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