Generating income - what does it take?
There are many factors that will influence what you are able to do and understanding what opportunities there are in your area is vital. Being clear about what you want to do, and why, is an important first step. The following issues will also need consideration:
- People power: Do you have the right balance of people and skill set in your enterprise, and can they commit the time needed? Or do you need to seek funding to employ someone in the short term?
- Your product: Have you planned what you will grow and sell? Growing produce to sell means that a high standard must be met. There are also issues of consistency and having the foresight to be able to keep up with customer demands. It might also mean finding out what sort of produce people want to buy, and then matching this with your growing plan.
- Location of the growing site, size of the site and transport options: Thes factors should act as a reality check on who you are able to sell to and how long it is going to take you to reach them. You will need to think about the scale of the site that you are growing on and how viable it is to run a profitable enterprise. There are examples of commercial projects growing successfully on a range of scales from half an acre to 20 acres.
- Market opportunities: You will need to find out if there are people and organisations who would be interested in buying your produce, and then talk to people about what produce they are interested in, and what would be the best way in which to provide the food to suit their needs.
- Diversifying: Trading in food might not be the only activity you are interested in pursuing. Complimentary activities can support your food growing, and also generate support or income, such as running a box scheme, doing catering, or running training and consultancy services. Such activities could create an outlet for your own produce, or else subsidise charitable or community activities by generating additional income.
Advice for small-scale food producers
The Ecological Land Co-operative have released a report, Small is Successful, which shows the potential for income generation from small-scale food production on less than 10 acres of land.
Workshop: Grow your own business
The Local Action on Food network is organising a training event on 17 March, 2011 called Grow your own business: An event for community food growing projects that are looking to trade their produce. Currently, the event is fully booked, but we will be sharing findings from the event on these webpages. To find our more, contact Polly Higginson: email@example.com or call: 0203 5596 777. Details can also be found on a separate page of this website. Following the workshop, and feedback from participants these web pages will be updated with information on:
- Distribution and outlets
- Social enterprise
- Finance systems
- Commercial urban growing
- More case studies and useful organisations
Join the Local Action on Food network to receive news of this and similar work to support local and sustainable food systems.