Find a Niche for Your Farm
By Rebekah L. Cowell | Jan 29, 2010
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
- Freshwater prawns
- In-tank (live) tilapia
- Horse boarding
- Landscape ornamentals
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA food shares)
- Local organic wheat
- Deer corn
- Bees and honey products
- Vermicomposting (composting with worms)
- Growing mats (of sedum) or green roofs
- Fruit orchards (selling fresh and dried fruits and juices)
- 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.
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