Find a Niche for Your Farm

Here's some useful tips and possible products for starting a niche market farm.

Goat Cheese

Basil decorates a plate of goat cheese, sliced and ready to eat.

iStockphoto.com/Joan Vicent Canto Roig

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Niche Markets and Small Farming are Types of Farming Viable to New Farmers 

Simple steps to creating a niche product: 

  • Look up your nearest agricultural extension agent; their goal is to help you find the right niche for your enterprise, www.CSREES.usda.gov/Extension/
  • Take local ag workshops and classes offered through your county’s extension office.
  • Visit farms within your county/region to get a feel for what is and isn’t in production.
  • Visit gourmet food stores to learn about the products other people are producing. Gourmet food stores and cooperatives are great places for ideas.
  • Determine the space you have to work with, the time you can devote to farming, and your retail market accessibility.
  • Once you’ve found your niche product, research the ins and outs of producing it. Visit farmers in other states who might offer you personal advice. Norma Burns visited a lavender farm in Virginia before purchasing her first lavender plants. The farmer was quick to tell her what had and had not worked for him, giving her hands-on information that informed and improved her process tremendously.
  • Create a business plan that includes costs for creating value-added products. Will you need to purchase canners (jams and jellies), distillation units (essential oils), larger ovens (baked goods), or find a processing plant for your animal products? Include those costs in your initial set-up.
  • Get growing!

List of products/services that fill a niche: 

  • Bottled milk and ice cream
  • Hay for horses
  • Homestead cheese
  • Pastured pork
  • Free-range chickens
  • Grassfed beef and lambs
  • Organic vegetables
  • “High-quality” (emphasis intentional) mushrooms, other than shiitakes
  • Truffles
  • Freshwater prawns
  • In-tank (live) tilapia  
  • Horse boarding
  • Landscape ornamentals
  • Herbs
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA food shares)
  • Local organic wheat
  • Deer corn
  • Bees and honey products
  • Composting
  • Vermicomposting (composting with worms)
  • Growing mats (of sedum) or green roofs
  • Fruit orchards (selling fresh and dried fruits and juices)
  • Nuts
  • Growing seed for seed companies
  • Generating solar energy for urban neighbors
  • Season extension and year-round production in high tunnels. Meaning you could have product to sell during under-supplied seasons.