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11 Ways to Make Extra Money From Your Farm or Homestead


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Whether you dream of escaping city life or you’re already living that dream out on a homestead, you still have bills to pay and kids to feed. There are also barns to repair, gardens to dig, and rusty equipment that constantly needs fixing. It can be a challenge finding income-earning opportunities when you live in a rural area, but you can find ways to earn some extra money using the assets you already have.

There are plenty of opportunities to earn a side income – or even a full-time income – using your farm or homestead. You just need to know where to look.

Ways to Make Money Off Your Homestead

You might have a full-time job in the city, you might be working from home, or you might be dreaming of the day you can transform your homestead into a business that earns you a full-time income. Whatever your goals, there are plenty of ways to earn some extra cash from your current or future land.

Some of these ideas only require sweat equity, while others require a financial investment. Keep in mind that all of these ideas, even the small ones, can help you build a trickle of income. Create a trickle here and a trickle there, and before you know it, you’ll have multiple streams of income that, together, combine to make a river.

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1. Rent Out a Room or Cabin for Tourism

The popularity of green, sustainable travel is growing, and so is the slow living movement. Together, these two trends can help homesteaders earn some extra money off their land. If you have a spare room in your home, an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), or a cabin somewhere on your property, you can earn money renting it out to vacationers using websites like Vrbo, Airbnb, Hipcamp, or FlipKey.

Some people choose to forgo expensive, hectic vacations in high-tourist areas in favor of slower, more relaxing vacations on a homestead or farm out in the country. Some simply want peace and quiet, while others want to help out on the farm and get a taste for what it might be like to homestead themselves.

“More and more people are looking to experiment with this rural, small-footprint, homesteading lifestyle,” said Stephanie Smith, who rents out a few cabins in rural California, in an interview in The New York Times. These people are ready and willing to help you milk a cow, weed a garden, build a fence, or harvest some vegetables. To some, these are novelty experiences, not “farm chores.”

There are some legal considerations to keep in mind before you rent out your house or cabin. For example, you’ll likely need to change your home insurance policy to protect against liability issues. Make sure you research your state’s laws for short-term rental properties and talk to your home insurer to find out what kind of policy you need for this venture.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

Rates vary depending on your location and the size of the room or cabin you’re renting out, but you could earn anywhere from a few thousand to $10,000 or more each year.

2. Rent Out Your Barn for Special Events

Do you have a picturesque barn on your property? If so, you might be able to earn a healthy side income renting it out for special events like weddings, family reunions, classes, or even corporate dinners or team-building events.

If you have a barn or other structure that would make an ideal meeting space, it will take some investment to get it up to code and make sure it’s safe for functions. Every state, city, and town has different zoning codes, so the amount of retrofitting you need to do depends entirely on the current state of your barn and where you live. You’ll need to get permits, which can be a complicated process. You’ll also need additional liability insurance, a sewage disposal permit, and a parking area.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

It depends on your area and the amount of work you’re willing to put in to turn your barn into a safe and inviting space. For instance, Ron and Diane Mellon, in an interview in FarmLife magazine, state that their barn is now a huge earner for their farm. They rent it out by the hour or by the event and earn anywhere from $500 to $5,900 per rental.

3. Turn Pretty Spots Into Photo Opportunities

If you don’t have a barn that would work for an event space, look at other areas of your property. Do you have a field dotted with wildflowers and shade trees during the summer? A beautiful creek and waterfall? A grove of flowering fruit trees in the spring?

All of these areas could be potential wedding spots or provide perfect backdrops for photographers, especially those who focus on wedding and family photos. If you have some skill as a photographer, you might also consider selling your own photography, either by printing it on canvas, selling digital prints, or even selling stock photography through websites like Shutterstock.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

The income potential with this idea is somewhat limited. You might earn a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year renting out spots to photographers. However, the benefit is that this income stream requires almost no effort on your part; it’s passive income.

If you decide to sell stock photography, you might earn several thousand to $10,000 or more each year. In 2017, stock photographer Michael Zwahlen, based in Germany, earned over $1,200 in four months selling his photography. If you’re interested in photography, this can be a nice side income.

4. Rent Your Land to Campers

Another idea is to rent out a field or grove for primitive camping, either for backpackers interested in tent camping or self-contained RVers who want to boondock for a night or two.

The benefit of renting your land to campers is that you don’t have to invest in any amenities if you don’t want to. Some campers are looking for a rustic, backcountry experience, while others would like a little cabin with a bathroom. Whatever you have to offer, even if it’s just a pretty field and stream, chances are you’ll find a camper looking for the same thing.

Sign up with HomeCamper or Hipcamp to advertise your land to backpackers and with Harvest Hosts or Boondockers Welcome to find RV campers.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

Again, it all depends on what you’re offering. Hipcamp says their average host earns $8,000 to $15,000 per year renting out their land to campers – and that’s the average. Their least active hosts make a couple thousand each year. So you can at least make a healthy side income doing this if you’re in a fairly desirable spot.

If you live near a horse riding trail or have horses yourself, you could also advertise your land to campers looking for horse-friendly campsites. Amenities like a fishing pond, hiking trails, or ATV trails will further widen your market and allow you to charge more. You can earn still more by offering products for sale such as firewood, homemade treats, or even a hot breakfast.

Land For Rent Home Grass Farm

5. Rent Your Land to Hunters

Do you have a well-stocked lake on your property? What about acres of wood or grassland with abundant game, such as deer, turkey, or elk? If so, consider renting out your land to hunters and fishers. Typically, hunters and anglers will pay landowners per acre or for a specified period, such as a week or a month at a time.

Keep in mind that anytime someone steps onto your land, they become your legal responsibility. You’ll need to write a lessee agreement (which you can learn more about at and make sure you have enough insurance to cover any accidents that might result from seasonal hunting.

If you live in the South or Midwest, check out Base Camp Leasing to get started. Or visit HLRBO, which helps landowners to find hunters anywhere in the United States.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

It’s difficult to estimate how much you can earn renting to hunters. A lot depends on the size and quality of your land and the amount of game on it. But most related websites agree you can at least earn enough to pay your property taxes each year. And if your land is rich with wildlife, you can earn significantly more.

For example, Georgia Outdoor News asked their readers how much they typically pay for hunting leases. The average lease was for 934 acres, and the average price paid was $10.10 per acre. In other words, the more land you can lease out, the more you’re going to earn.

6. Sell Vegetables & Herbs

If you don’t yet have one, it’s worth it to start a home garden. Even the tiniest homestead can support a garden, and you can earn extra money selling your produce and herbs at a produce stand. You can also sell your fresh vegetables and fruit at farmers markets, restaurants, and other local retailers. If your garden is organic, you’ll be able to command higher prices.

Another option is to plant extra seeds in early spring and sell older seedlings to help others get their gardens going. Buying or making a greenhouse can make this process easier. A greenhouse can also allow you to earn more because you have room to plant more.

When it comes to selling produce on-site, each state has its own laws. For the most part, however, if you plan to grow and sell produce on your own land, no special permit is needed. Just be sure to research your state’s regulations to make sure you’re following the law.

If your farm or homestead is out of the way or there isn’t much traffic on your road, it will be difficult for people to find you. It’s best to set up a stand on a busier road where you’ll be more visible to passers-by. In this case, you’ll likely need permission from the land’s owner, as well as a permit from your state’s commerce office.

Make sure the spot you choose is on a road that’s busy enough for plenty of people to see you, but not so busy that people are afraid to slow down and pull over. According to Hobby Farms magazine, successful roadside stands are located on the right-hand side of a straight, level highway within 10 to 15 miles of an urban center or tourist attraction.

Construct a stand that’s inviting so people will want to stop. Put out hay bales and baskets of fresh flowers, and make sure your vegetables are clean, bright, and top-quality so customers will keep coming back each week.

It can also help to make your stand appealing to children. If you have sheep or goats, consider bringing one or two of them with you to the produce stand most days, or bring your farm dog along. This will entice parents with children to stop and pet the animals, and they’ll likely stay long enough to buy some honey, eggs, or homemade cookies.

You can sell a wide variety of items at a produce stand, including plenty you can make yourself. Consider selling:

  • Fresh produce from your garden (sweet corn, tomatoes, and melons are the top sellers at produce stands, according to research cited by Hobby Farm magazine)
  • Fresh berries and fruit
  • Culinary and medicinal herbs (fresh or dried)
  • Local honey
  • Handmade scarves, hats, mittens, socks, baby blankets, or quilts
  • Potted flowers and hanging baskets
  • Fresh eggs (chicken, duck, or quail)
  • Herbal bath salts
  • Herbal table salt blends
  • Herbal salves and tinctures
  • Homemade bread
  • Homemade pies and cookies
  • Homemade jelly or jam
  • Maple syrup
  • Firewood
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh-cut flower bouquets (check out Lynn Byczynski’s book “The Flower Farmer” for more on how to make a great income as a flower farmer)
  • Mistletoe or evergreen boughs (during the winter months)
  • Veggie starter plants
  • Homemade plant markers for the garden
  • Flower seed bombs
  • Compost or compost tea from vermicomposting
  • Homemade jerky or fruit leather
  • Dried, edible seeds (such as sunflower seeds or seasoned pumpkin seeds)
  • Handmade soap or lotion
  • Homemade natural laundry detergent
  • Fresh or canned salsa or barbecue sauce
  • Heirloom seeds
Farm Income Herbs Side Hustle Greems Florals Blue Wood

To learn more about the logistics of running a produce stand, check out Mother Earth News. Also, be sure to understand your local laws for selling home-cooked food. These laws, called Cottage Food Regulations, differ in each state. There’s a great guide detailing each state’s Cottage Food Regulations at

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

How much income you earn from selling wares you’ve made, raised, or grown on your homestead depends on many factors: what you’re selling, where you’re located, how much traffic your stand or home is exposed to, as well as the quality of your wares. Some produce stands at farmers markets or on busy roadsides earn $1,000 or more per day, while others might not get a single customer.

7. Board Horses

Do you have a barn with stalls and some available pasture land? If so, you could earn monthly income by boarding horses.

First, you’ll need to make sure you have enough acreage for the additional horses you plan to board. Most states have strict ratios in place to ensure that horses have enough space to graze and roam. Each state is different, so talk to your county land use office before you do anything else.

You’ll also need additional liability insurance – specifically, Equine Commercial General Liability (CGL) and Care, Custody, or Control (CCC) policies. These policies are expensive and will increase your overhead costs, but they’re necessary to protect yourself, your horses, and your property.

Make sure you have the time and energy to take on additional horses. Horses require a great deal of care, and owners will expect you to keep stalls clean and be able to spot any illness, injuries, or signs of distress quickly. Of course, you could also structure your business as a labor exchange. With this type of boarding, owners pay you a rental fee for the stall, but they are responsible for cleaning, feeding, upkeep, and exercise.

Another factor to consider is the increased manure. One horse produces about 350 pounds of manure per week. If you take on four horses, that’s an extra 1,400 pounds of manure you’ll have to dispose of each week. If you have a lot of land, you might be able to compost this manure yourself. Otherwise, check with your local feed store or equine supplier for local manure hauling services.

To find potential boarders, create a listing through Local Horse or a local equine or farm magazine.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

Farms located on the outskirts of a major metro area will likely earn the most. After all, you’re marketing to customers in the city who love riding but don’t have the space to keep horses full-time. If you have amenities like an indoor riding arena or quick access to local riding trails, you’ll attract more boarders and be able to command higher prices.

Boarding prices can range from $200 to $800 per month per horse, depending on the contract and location.

8. Raise & Sell Animals

There’s an enormous market for local, organic, free-range meat. You can make a great side income by supplying locally raised meat to restaurants or shoppers at your local farmers market.

The challenge with raising meat animals is that the larger the animal, the more acreage it will take to make a profit. As a result, many hobby farms focus on small animals, such as chickens, ducks, goats, and rabbits.

As you might imagine, there are plenty of permits and hoops to jump through before you can sell meat to the public. All meat processing is regulated by the Federal Meat Inspection Act. In order to meet federal requirements, animals must be slaughtered in a facility that’s been inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In addition to federal regulations, each state has its own regulations for the slaughter and sale of livestock meat. In some states, you can be exempt from USDA inspection if you sell “shares” of the animal while you’re raising it. Some states require that the entire animal is sold before slaughter, while others don’t. In some states, a USDA official will need to inspect your farm and ensure you’re compliant with local laws before you’re allowed to sell the animals you’re raising. Research your state’s requirements fully before taking any steps to sell livestock meat.

You can find more information on raising and selling livestock at the Agricultural Marketing Research Center. Gail Damerow’s book “The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals” is another valuable resource to check out.

You can also earn money off ducks or chickens, without selling them as meat, by selling fertile hatching eggs. Fertile hatching eggs can be sold to other homesteaders in your area, through local retailers such as your local farm co-op, and even online. You’ll be able to ask for higher prices if you raise chicken or duck breeds that are rare or of show stock.

Another idea is to sell feathers. Heritage chickens often have beautiful and showy feathers beloved by crafters, fly fishers, and artists alike. Selling feathers certainly won’t pay off the farm, but you might be surprised at the steady trickle of income this produces, especially if you sell them online.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

Raising and selling animals is another money-making idea with a lot of income variability. You’ll likely earn more selling cows than goats, for example, and you’ll earn more if you sell heritage hens than regular layers.

That said, there are loose price guidelines you can follow to calculate how much you might earn from selling livestock for meat or eggs.

  • Grass-Fed Beef: $3 to $6 per pound
  • Free-Range Meat Birds: $3 to $6 per pound
  • Free-Range Eggs: $3.50 to $5 per dozen
  • Rabbits: $6 to $8 per pound
  • Grass-Fed Lambs: $30 per lamb or more

9. Sell Manure or Compost

It’s called “black gold” for a reason.

There are plenty of people who will buy your animal’s manure, as well as the compost that’s created from all your kitchen scraps.

Chicken manure can be collected from under roosts in the chicken coop and bagged. Sheep or goat manure can be collected from the pasture or barn after it’s been dry for a few days, using a shovel or pitchfork.

Simply bag the manure, set your price, and put up a flier at your local co-op or gardening center. If your road gets some traffic, you could put up a sign, leave out a few bags and a coffee can, and sell it at the end of your driveway.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

How much you can earn from selling manure depends on if you sell the manure plain or add water to make a “tea.” Loose manure typically sells for $5 per pound, while tea can sell for $10 per gallon or more.

10. Keep Bees

Another way to earn money on your farm or homestead is to keep bees. You can earn money by selling honey, propolis, or royal jelly. Beeswax can be used to make candles and skin care products. You can also “rent out” your honey bees to local farms to pollinate their crops.

If you want to start beekeeping, know that you’ll need a fair amount of tools and supplies starting out. It costs $200 to $500, on average, to buy the tools, hive, and other supplies needed to keep bees. Some companies offer starter kits that include everything you need, including the bees; these can be a good way to save money and start your first hive.

While there is a financial investment required to keep bees, the good news is that once you get the hive set up and thriving, bees are best left to themselves. Kelley Beekeeping estimates you’ll spend 15 to 30 hours per year on each hive. Compared to the time you’d have to invest in other endeavors, such as raising animals or tending a garden, this is minimal. That said, most beekeepers say that the more time you put into caring for your hive, the more you’ll get out of it.

You can also earn money from your beehive by teaching others how to get started with beekeeping. Once you’re experienced enough to feel confident as a teacher, you can hold classes or workshops on your farm. You could also start a blog, write a book, host a webinar, or create a YouTube channel to reach a wider audience and earn additional revenue.

How Much Can You Earn With This Idea?

The amount of money you earn from your bees depends on how many hives you have. American Bee Journal estimates that most beekeepers earn $80 to $250 per hive, per year, and experienced beekeepers can earn up to $500 per hive, per year.

11. Turn Your Farm Into a Destination

Many farmers and homesteaders have discovered that, with a little bit of investment, they can turn their land into a family-friendly destination or a place for schools to visit on field trips.

For example, you could turn your farm into a U-Pick farm, giving people access to your fields to pick fruit, vegetables, and berries themselves. In the fall, you can make a corn maze, let people pick pumpkins, and offer hayrides and bonfires. In the winter, you can sell homemade goods such as candy, cookies, and candles and offer sleigh rides, bonfires, and stargazing.

Turning your farm into a destination is another venture that will require some additional liability insurance, so talk to your carrier to make sure you’re completely covered. However, this is an income possibility that could earn your farm a full-time income or more, depending on how much work and investment you put into your property.

Farm Bees Honey Honeycomb Wood Jar

Final Word

Last year, after spending a year traveling full-time in an RV, my family and I bought a homestead in rural Tennessee. Our long-term goal is to earn a side income from what we can make, raise, or grow on our land.

We’re raising a flock of 13 hens and plan to start selling eggs this summer. We’ve cleared and planted a large garden and will start canning produce at harvest time. I’ve planted several beds of medicinal herbs, which could be an income source once they’re dried or tinctured. Some of our future plans are to raise goats and sell goat’s milk and to start beekeeping.

If you live on a homestead, what do you do to earn extra money on the side? If you dream of living on a small hobby farm, do you plan to work a full-time job or make the farm your full-time business?

Heather Levin is a writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.