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Farming One Acre

You don’t need a lot of acres to make money growing things. In fact, with some elbow grease and determination, you can make $43,560 on one-acre of land. That’s one-dollar-per-square-foot. 

William Crutchfield is the director of the Small Farm Outreach Program at Virginia State University. He has been working with small farmers and researching the profitability of intensively growing vegetables on one-acre.  He says good soil fertility, crop rotation, and drip irrigation systems are important, but the key to success is finding the right market.

"There are some produce that are specifically designed for niche markets. So your best opportunity to be successful at this is look for a niche market because everybody’s growing sweet corn, tomatoes," says Crutchfield. "But there may be some group of demographics that are just looking for certain types of vegetables. And then that’s what you go after."

There is a learning curve, it’s labor-intensive, and the start-up costs are not cheap, so Crutchfield recommends starting out with a-quarter-acre. It usually takes three-to-four-years for people to work up to a full acre.

He says they’ve been exploring new technologies and equipment that the small farmer can use to make the venture more profitable. In the meantime, learn all you can.

"Work with your local USDA officials, your local cooperative extension officials, attend the workshops, and just be prepared to expect the unexpected. Because if you’ve got all the other variables taken care of, you’ve always got Mother Nature just looking around the corner at you," he says. "There’s only certain things you can control."

You will face challenges, and they will help you learn to be a better farmer.

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