Maximize your Profits with Organic Farming
Organic is healthier, studies say. Even the market seems to agree, with total organic sales reaching $39.1 billion last year. While it is just a fraction of the total food market, it holds so much potential as more and more American households are switching to organic products.
With this in mind, should you switch to organic with your own gardening as well? Organic offers a lot of advantages, not only to the consumer, but to the farmer as well. The demand for organic produce is on the rise as people become more health conscious and environmentally aware. Organic farming requires a smaller cash outlay as you save money on expensive chemicals, and offers a higher profit with the higher premium for organic goods. And because of its reliance on natural fertilizers and compost, you’re assured of healthier soil and crops that are more resistant to droughts compared to conventionally farmed produce that require more water.
But organic farming requires more paperwork and compliance with the US Department of Agriculture National Organic Program rules, you say. Not necessarily.
Certification largely relies on the scale of your operations. If you sell less than $5,000 in organic products, you can be exempted from getting certified. Of course, you can always opt to get a certification if you plan to sell more, but if getting certified is the main reason why you don’t want to try organic farming out, you shouldn’t let it stop you as long as your sales are within limits.
Factors to Consider to make your Organic Farm a Success
Making your venture into organic farming a success isn’t really that different from conventional farming. First, choose what to plant smartly by considering the size of your organic garden, your climate, and year-round growing conditions. Select plants that are well suited to your local environment and the length of your growing season.
Research the demand for organic produce in your areas. Find local buyers and markets and interview them about what they’re interested in and what sells. Ask them about the prices they’re willing to pay for certain crops and do the math to find out if it’s profitable to go into these crops. While theoretically, organic produce demands premium pricing, it is still largely reliant on the market demand.
Aside from the usual local buyers, try approaching restaurants directly as well. More and more restaurants are highlighting organic offerings, especially with more and more people switching to vegan and vegetarian. Restaurants may prefer to deal with you directly, cutting the cost of having a middleman. They may also have unique needs that you can supply, like unusual produce and herbs.
After scoping out the possible buyers, do your research on competition as well. Ensure that you’re planting different crops from other local organic farmers to avoid investing time and money on oversupplied produce.
Lastly, consider your skill level when choosing what to plant. If you’re a beginner, choose crops that are relatively easy to grow. Even if you’re an experience farmer, organic farming may have different nuances on crops you’re used to, so do your research. Also consider diversifying your crops, so you don’t only put all your eggs in one basket, you can also learn quicker as you try your hand at different plants.
While the learning curve and effort it takes to switch to organic farming may seem daunting at first, know that in the long run, it can help you earn more while being more environmentally sustainable.