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Open Acreage

Investments
How to make your land work for you

So you finally did it. You followed your heart (or your honey) out of the city and into the country and bought yourself a patch of land.  You arrived with a vague dream of churning butter, collecting eggs, and living off the land. But your pet chickens aren’t exactly laying golden eggs. You still work your nine-to-five (albeit remotely). And you haven’t quite figured out what to do with your acreage.

Don’t worry. Not everyone jumps directly from city life to full-fledged homesteading overnight, but there are a few things you can do to make your land begin to generate a little bit of income. Of course, what you can do depends on many factors, including what kind of soil you’re working with, and what kind of climate you’re in. We can’t guarantee you’ll be able to quit your job anytime soon, but with time, care, and patience, some of the following options could one day put some money in your pocket – and some satisfaction in your soul.

 Grow

–       Gourmet mushrooms:  You never know, you could catch the interest of nearby restaurants that serve local fare.

–       Fruits and vegetables: Set up a roadside table, paint a sign, and sell your crops drive-by style.

–       Fruit trees: Plant saplings, grow them, and sell the mature (dwarf) trees.  This will take a couple of years to get the first saplings to mature, but if you plant new saplings every year, you’ll have a new batch ready to sell each year.

 Produce

–       Honey: According to MotherEarthNews.com, once you get your hives in order, “If you’re in a good beekeeping area, if the weather’s great that year, and if your bees do well, you can get 100-200 pounds (30-60 gallons) or even more from one hive!” Be sure to follow permitting and labeling guidelines if you bottle and sell your honey.

 Raise

–       Tilapia: Get a small greenhouse, a 125-gallon aquarium, a couple of 10-gallon aquariums nearby (for multiple births), a 29-gallon aquarium for the fingerling-to-juvenile stage, and you’ll have your very own tilapia farm. Stay abreast of regulations with this one, too.

–       Worms: This requires a year-round mild climate, and it might be most worth it if you’re in an area where fishing is popular. Sell your worms to local bait shops and at-home composters.

 Rent

–       Garden space: If you’re close-ish to an urban or suburban area, you might be able to rent out some of your land to those interested in growing their own fruits and vegetables.

–       Camping space: This is a bit more complicated than just inviting campers to pitch tents on your land. Not only should you be near major attractions like great hiking trails or bodies of water, but you’ll also need to have the right facilities and follow American Camping Association guidelines. Still, you left the city to see what you’re made of, right? Once the campground is up and running, it could be just the thing that allows you to spend your summers churning butter and collecting eggs.

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
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