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This is not really something I should be giving advice on, because my garden attempt has been quite the disaster so far. I still keep hope and enjoy the idea of some day, having some fresh, organic, delicious fruits and vegetables growing in the backyard. So far, it is a bit of basil and a handful of mini potatoes. Far from the gigantic harvest I was hoping for. Anyway, if you are more gifted than me, you can take advantage of your green thumb and make money with your garden.
Sell your crop
If you have a garden, you know that all the vegetables of a kind will be ready to harvest roughly at the same date, unless you did a progressive planting from seeds. So on August 15th, here you are with 100lb of tomatoes. Enough for a year. Rather than let it rot, put a sign by the side of the road, or even a little stand, and offer your tomatoes for sale. Don’t forget to mention if they are organic. Putting the price on the sign can bring more people and help you avoid time wasters who will say it is too expensive.
For delicate fruits like berries, package them in small containers that you have already weighted to save time. You can also get cardboard cases from the market to put your bigger fruits like apples and peaches. Make bulk bags, 10 pears for $2, a tray of melons for $10…
Make a big discount on very ripe produce, better get something out of it than nothing. My grandma often buys heavily discounted fruits to make jams, a few are bad but she does save a lot. You will get people interested in them for the right price.
Be realistic with the quantity you think you will consume yourself, freeze or can. Overestimate, and you are missing out on income. Underestimate, and you will have to buy more produce at the market for a premium, after selling yours cheaply.
Sell your plants
There is a neighbor who always has a few dozen pots in front of his house with growing plants and flowers. People stop once in a while to buy some. It is quite an informal business, if you are gifted with transplants and know how to reproduce your species, convert your passion for gardening into a source of income! If you have many plants in your nursery, you could rent a spot from the council on market day and sell your flowers and plants there too.
Sell canned goods
One starts to can fresh vegetables to consume them over winter. But if you still have too much produce, you can sell a few jars to your neighbors and community. You will need to be pretty good at it, and try a few times before you put your stock on the market. A friend makes canned tomato sauce, but says about 1 in 10 jars goes bad earlier than it should. You don’t want your products to have a bad reputation from year one.
Buy the jars in bulk, or save glass jars for marmalades during the year, and price according to the weight.
If you make jams and jellies, why not sell a few as well? The school fair, the town’s event, the local delicatessen are great places to start and put your products.
You can try to open an online shop, that could get you a better price in states with more demand for your products. If everyone has blueberries in a 100 mile radius, targeting out of state customers where blueberries are scarce is a smart move. But don’t forget to include in your price the shipping fees and a fee for the time you’ll spend going to the post office.
Swap with neighbors
Not technically a way to make money, but if you have enough tomatoes to feed four families, go around and ask your neighbors if they have a surplus in one of their harvests. Tomatoes for corn, beans for carrots, soon you will have a diversified stock of fruits and vegetables.
This works especially if you have an early or a late harvest, and your neighbors don’t have that variety yet. It can help you save a lot of money on your grocery bill.
You could also exchange your crop for something you need. I talked about how BF is the king of barter over at Budgets Are Sexy, and if we had food in abundance, I am pretty sure he would have swapped it for something else.
Considering the price of produce those days, your strawberries can get you a few hours of yard work, your plumbing fixed or your kids carpooled from school. I would trade one of my chickens for its price in corn, since the hens eat corn.
Even if you don’t expect much in return when you bring a basket to a neighbor, he will owe you one, and you should be able to cash in the favor later.
Save on gifts
Usually, when I want to say thanks to someone, I give them something I bought, a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates… and it isn’t cheap. Put a nice bow over your can of homemade gooseberry jelly, and you have a thoughtful gift that cost you pennies but doesn’t look cheap.
Same thing for Christmas, a food basket with your homegrown products is a fantastic gift because it is personal, and people will eat it, so you aren’t cluttering their house with stuff they don’t need.
The church is asking for food donations? give part of your crop or your jars, instead of money or store bought products.
You can save hundreds per year by keeping a bit of your jars for gifting.
Have you made money with your garden? Would you share your fabulous marmalade recipe with a beginner?