Here is a good way to earn money for those who have a green thumb. And you don’t need a lot of land, a small garden, even not necessarily yours, is enough to grow some fruits and/or vegetables that you can sell to your family, friends, and neighbors, or even elsewhere as we will see.
- Here's the program
- What is it all about?
- Growing organic?
- Who can do it?
- What vegetables to plant?
- How do you get started?
- How much can you earn?
- Pros and Cons
- Information recap
What is it all about?
As you can guess, it’s about planting fruits and vegetables in your garden and then selling your harvest. And even if your garden is quite small, you’d be amazed at how much fruit or vegetables can be grown on just a few square meters of land. And if it works well, you can always find a way to produce more later.
So, the key to getting started is to have a plot of land that is both large and fertile enough. If you live in an apartment with just a 1.5m² (16ft²) balcony, it might not be enough, indeed, but there are ways to overcome this problem.
Start by looking for people you know (family, friends, neighbors, colleagues…), by explaining your project and in exchange of some products that you will have taken out of their land. Alternatively, you can look for a small piece of land to rent (non-buildable lands are much cheaper). You should also know that some cities that are trying to green their spaces, make cultivable plots available to their inhabitants, sometimes even for free.
Then, you have to learn how to start well. Because if you start like that, just relying on your common sense and the few basic knowledge you think you have on the subject, you risk losing a lot of time.
No, the best approach is to learn good practices in order to optimize the quality and the yield of what you will produce. But don’t worry, you don’t need to study agronomy for a long time to be efficient, because there are a lot of good books that will allow you to learn and progress quickly. And there are also to help you, but also videos on YouTube.
If you are starting from scratch, the first year will most likely be one of discovery and trial, which means that your harvest will not be optimal and may even be quite disappointing. But you could start selling after just a few months if you apply what you’ve learned and don’t get discouraged too quickly.
That’s a great idea, yes. Because producing organic fruits and vegetables has many advantages for the environment and human health. First, by reducing the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers that sometimes have a catastrophic impact on biodiversity, but also by improving the quality of the groundwater and the soil. Growing organic food therefore allows us to preserve natural resources for future generations.
Concerning human health, in addition to avoiding the potentially deleterious effects of chemical residues in conventionally grown foods, organic foods may also have an increased nutritional value due to slower plant growth and preserved genetic diversity. In addition, they may taste better and be more flavorful than foods found in the supermarket.
Of course, there are some trade-offs to growing organic. Seeds can be more expensive and production can take more time and effort, especially to control weeds and pests without using pesticides. But the labor/quality balance is mostly in favor of organic.
Be careful, because if you start producing enough to sell your products on the local market, you may need to get an organic certification. Not all countries require this, but the EU does, and you will have to meet a number of fairly strict criteria.
Who can do it?
First of all, it’s important to have a green thumb (it’s a metaphor). This doesn’t mean you have to be born with an innate gift for gardening, but if you don’t like growing stuff, you might get bored very quickly. Also, it’s easily learned as we’ve seen, but you need to be motivated enough not to get discouraged if your first attempts prove unsuccessful.
Also note that anyone who wants to start this activity must have the necessary free time to take care of the various stages of growing a vegetable garden, such as preparing the soil, planting the seeds, watering the plants, maintaining them, and finally harvesting. This whole process is not necessarily very time consuming (depending on the size of the plot of land you are growing), but it is mostly about being in sync with nature, as each step has to be done in a window of time that is sometimes quite small.
Patience is also needed because fruits and vegetables do not grow in a day. If you are the type of person who wants immediate visible results, you may be disappointed. Mother Nature has her own rhythm, so you will have to respect it.
As for living in the city or the country, each has its advantages and disadvantages: In the city, you will generally have less space to grow, but also less competition, while in the country, there may be fewer customers (having their own production), but you should be able to produce more.
What vegetables to plant?
This is a question that all those who are starting out ask themselves. The variety of fruits and vegetables is so large, without counting the sub-varieties, that it is difficult to choose. So here is a list of 14 of the easiest vegetables to grow in the US (and more globally, in Canada and Western Europe). I have also added the approximate sowing period for each vegetable and the time until the first harvest, but be aware that this can vary depending on the region you live (altitude, temperatures, sun exposure…) and the varieties you plant. Finally, I’ve also included information on other vegetables that you can grow together if you want to plant different types of vegetables on the same plot of land.
|Vegetable||Seeding period*||Time to first harvest||Good combination|
|Carrot winter/summer||April to June
May to July
|2 to 3 months||LMeek, onion, lettuce, peas, radish, tomato|
|Lettuce||April to August||8 to 10 weeks||Carrot, turnip, garlic, cabbage, radish, beans, peas|
|Tomato||May||4 to 5 months||Cabbage, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, carrot, asparagus, spinach|
|Zucchini||May to July||2 to 3 months||Asparagus, carrot, celery, spinach, leek, radish, lettuce|
|White Radish||April to September||30 to 45 days||beans, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, parsley, lettuce|
|Spinach||January to August||1 to 2 months||Bean, cabbage, lettuce, celery, onion, leek|
|Green bean||May to July||about 2 months||Carrot, cabbage, peas, radish, beet, cucumber|
|Leek||March||6 to 7 months||Carrots, turnips, spinach, celery, tomatoes|
|Beet||April to March||About 3 months||Onion, kohlrabi, cucumber, bush bean|
|Broccoli||February to July||About 5 months||Beet, celery, cucumber, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, tomatoes|
|Cauliflower||April||5 to 8 months||Potato, onion, spinach|
|Bell pepper||February to April||5 to 6 months||Cabbage, onion, carrot|
|Onion||August and September||5 to 6 months||Tomato, carrot, lettuce, cucumber, beet|
|Eggplant||January to April||4 to 5 months||Oignon, carottes, haricots verts, pois, épinards|
*Sowing outdoors. Indoors it can be 1 to 2 months earlier.
How do you get started?
The first vegetables you harvest will be yours. Make salads, soups, or side dishes out of them, so you can judge the quality you produce.
Then you can supply your family, friends, and neighbors. If you have no idea what price you can sell your produce for, look at the prices at the market or on the Internet and start from there. You can then decide to sell for less to start, then even a little more if the quality is there.
And then, if you produce enough, you can eventually decide to sell part of your production to small local groceries, in the markets of your region, to local restaurants that are always looking for quality fruits and vegetables, or offer home delivery…
In the US it is legal to sell vegetables and fruits produced from home, subject to certain state and local regulations. Some states may have specific requirements for the sale of home-grown produce, such as obtaining a food handler’s permit, following food safety guidelines, and labeling requirements. It is advisable to check with your local authorities to determine what regulations apply in your area. Do it also if you live in another country though.
To make your products known, you can create a page on Facebook and accounts on social networks, and invite everyone to follow you. You can also distribute flyers in mailboxes and local businesses, but your best bet will be word of mouth, be sure.
In your communications, insist on the quality of your fruits and vegetables, on the fact that they are organic (if it is indeed the case), and always accompany your texts with nice photographs of your products. By the way, if your goal is to sell to more regional quantities, learning some marketing basics could be very useful.
I would like to take this opportunity to make a small aside on agroforestry, a cultivation technique that some call revolutionary. It consists in combining trees and food crops on the same plot of land to create a diversified ecosystem. The advantages of this method are multiple because it allows to:
- Increase overall productivity through the judicious use of available space.
- Improve the quality of the soil, protect it from erosion, and stimulate the quantity and quality of beneficial micro-organisms.
- Maintain the water balance of the soil and protect crops from extreme climatic variations.
- Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity by creating habitats for many animal and plant species and by serving as ecological corridors for wild animals.
Using this technique is not always applicable, but it is a really interesting topic that I invite you to learn about if you are considering growing fruits and vegetables at any level. Then you can decide whether or not you can use it at your level.
And if you want to know more, you can start by watching this video from DW.
How much can you earn?
As is often the case, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine how much you could earn from this activity. There are too many factors that come into play such as the quantity and quality produced, the state of the local market but also the economic situation of the country where you live, etc.
Some people produce just enough for their own consumption, which is not bad, and others manage to earn a good income. But if your ambition is to make it your main activity, and thus to earn a living from the sale of what you produce, you will need both space and manpower, and thus become a farmer, in short. You could even join or create a small cooperative, because there is strength in numbers after all.
Health and the environment are among the main concerns of consumers in Europe, US, and elsewhere, so offering healthy and fresh products is likely to interest them. Your beginnings will not necessarily be easy, and you will have to spend a lot of time learning and working. But with courage, trials, and above all love for what you do, success should not be long in coming.
Do not ask yourself too many questions. Go for it. You will see that it is a very rewarding experience. Experiment, grow old varieties and other than those found in the supermarket, try more exotic ones (with climate change, some species adapt more easily), look at trends on the web, be imaginative, and never stop learning.
Involve your children too—it will allow them to see where the food they eat comes from, but most of all to discover how nature works. It’s a great school for them.
If you live in the city and you don’t have much space (the small 1.5 m² balcony I mentioned in the introduction), start small and see what happens. Some fruits and vegetables grow very well in pots if they are properly watered and have good exposure to daylight.
And if it really doesn’t work for you, and for some reason you decide to give up, at least you will have learned how to grow your own fruits and vegetables. With the various threats of collapse that we sometimes hear about (collapsology, survivalism…), this may additionally come in handy when the time comes 😬.
Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.
These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.
As I said in the article, more and more people are refusing industrially produced food because it is both harmful to us and to the environment.
The number of scandals that have made the headlines, not only in the last century but also recently, such as dioxin in chickens, Monsanto’s PCBs, chlordecone in bananas, bisphenol A, neonicotinoids, not to mention the controversial glyphosate… In short, these repeated scandals have led consumers to distrust, and for some people, not to trust the promises made by the agri-food sector.
Organic and “eco-friendly” products are therefore increasingly popular among consumers. And even if they are often a little more expensive, consumers are often willing to pay the price for items whose quality and nutritional value are undeniably superior to those offered in the supermarkets.
So, if you want to help people eat better and also help save the planet, produce ORGANIC.
- A very rewarding activity where you will learn a lot of interesting things.
- Produce ORGANIC, and you will help both the planet and the consumers.
- You will no longer have any doubts about the quality of the fruits and vegetables you eat.
- Income is very variable and depends on various factors such as the quality/quantity of what you produce, the state of the market, the local economy…
- Organic farming is a little more work than conventional farming.
- Location: In your garden or not far from your home
- Investment: Buying some tools, and possibly renting a piece of land too.
- Earnings perspective: Variable
- Required: Like to grow things, have patience and rigor, don’t be lazy (because nature doesn’t like to wait).
- Risk level: Low. And at worst, if it doesn’t work out, you will have learned how to grow your own vegetables.
- Implementation time: A few months minimum, the time to prepare the soil, to sow, then to harvest your first vegetables.
- Material needed: A few gardening tools (no need to run out and buy a tractor 😋).