Making money is, of course, not the be all and end all. Permaculture food production can add value in many, more important ways. When trying to work out the value a permaculture scheme can add, it is important not to only think about money. It is also important to consider the environmental and social value such a scheme can add.
Since we live in a capitalist system, however, there will be times when it can make sense to turn a successful food producing garden into a financially sound, even profitable business. So how can you make a market garden pay?
It is relatively easy to get to the point where a market garden can pay for itself and be self-sustaining. But it can be more of a challenge to turn it into a business from which you can actually make a living. It can be difficult, but I know of a number of market gardeners who make a decent living, and even profit rather nicely from their efforts in financial terms. If you want to achieve this goal for a sustainable food producing business, here are a few tips that may help you:
- Maximise the yield you can achieve from your space. (Consider space saving ideas, fertility, water, successional planting, supplemental/ side yields, year-round growing etc..)
- Do your research – make sure you know your market. Who will buy what you offer? What will your sales outlets be?
- Focus growing efforts on crops that grow well in your market garden, and offer the best returns and sell best where you live.
- Diversify. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Find a few key areas of focus rather than just one to maximise your chances of success and make your business more resilient.
- Consider ways to process produce before sale to maximise profit margins. Rather than just selling fresh produce, think about making preserves, drinks, baked goods etc..
Market gardening can be a great way to make a living. But if you are trying to make money from your garden, you do need to treat it like any other business. Make sure you have a good plan in place – for your land and for your business as a whole.