10 ways to make money from your fruit trees

Do you want to make money from growing fruit?

Berries for sale at a local market

It’s easier than you may think – and we’ve put together our top 10 tips to get you on the right track.

On our study tour of America we saw farm stands, farm stalls and farm shops everywhere. Farmers and passionate gardeners on every scale are putting up their shingles to take advantage of the passing trade.

A typical roadside stall in New England
A typical roadside stall in New England

Of course conditions in Australia are different with our much smaller population and more restrictive planning regulations (commerce seems to be allowed everywhere and anywhere in America), but much of what we saw fits nicely with our 20 years of experience selling fruit in Australia.

Making a living from fruit growing is a big commitment, but if you have a passion for growing and making, it’s not too much of a stretch to turn your hobby into what Scott Pape (author of the Barefoot Investor) calls a “side hustle” and earn some extra cash.

Toffee apples with variations!
Toffee apples with multiple variations!

And if you think you’re too small a grower, or the market for “local/organic/home-grown” is saturated, think again!

In Australia farmers markets are a rapidly growing and highly successful sector, but it still only supplies a tiny percentage of food to a small percentage of the community.

There’s a big and largely untapped market of consumers who are increasingly interested in buying locally produced food.

Quince vinegar for sale at a cheese farm shop
Quince vinegar for sale at a cheese farm shop

So, how do you turn your passion for fruit growing into a source of cash?

Here’s our top 10 tips:

  1. Feed yourself first (including preserving some of your summer crop for winter). The more of your own food you grow, the less income you need. Plus food you’ve grown yourself is more nutrient-dense and satisfying than any food you’ll ever buy.
  2. Focus on quality, both in your growing and your presentation. This is exactly what the Grow Great Fruit program focuses on, so if you’re serious about making some extra cash from your fruit trees, we definitely recommend you join the program.
  3. Offer choices to maximise your profitability. Different types of fruit or other produce, different varieties, different price points, different value-added products – all will help you sell more. We explain how to plan your trees for maximum variety and a long harvest in Grow a Year’s Supply of Fruit.
  4. Know your stuff – for example, the name of the variety you’re selling, or the technique you’re using to make cider. Become the expert.
  5. Be transparent – for example don’t make up BS excuses for why it’s “too hard” to grow organic. Just be honest about what you do and why.
  6. Find and know your market(s). There are SO many ways to connect with potential customers these days, and thanks to social media (see #7) many are free or low cost. Farm stands, online sales, Open Food Network, CSA, local school networks, farmers markets, weekend markets, deliveries – there’s a a lot of ways to manage the logistics of getting the food you grow to the people who want to eat it.
  7. Connect with your customers through social media, particularly Instagram (which devours food photos). Social media marketing is really simple – just tell your story of why you love growing food and how people can buy it. It just takes some care, time and dedication.
  8. Value-add. Aim to use everything you grow in some way, and particularly to turn your low-value produce into something delicious: jam, vinegar, cider, juice, baked goods, pickles, preserves, sweets, pies…the list is limited only by your imagination.
  9. Be creative – what do you have/grow/make that somebody wants to buy? Or what “waste” products could you source from other farmers and repurpose? Think outside the box, and don’t be scared to try something different.
  10. Set some goals and have a “can-do” attitude. While you’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress by staying within the relevant laws (eg, using a registered kitchen), there’s still many ways to legally and safely grow food for sale.

In a world where many people are completely disconnected from where their food comes from, micro-growers can play an important role.

Not only can you help feed your community with your excess produce, but you’ll also be setting a great example of how to grow your own food, as well as making some extra cash and proving that money really can grow on trees!

A small orchard stall selling peaches, maple syrup and maple walnuts - yum!
A small orchard stall selling peaches, maple syrup and maple walnuts – yum!

6 thoughts on “10 ways to make money from your fruit trees”

  1. Hi there,
    Wanted to quiz you on No 8 – Value – Add.

    It is all very well to suggest that people with small excess amounts of produce sell the the public.
    However, there are some serious considerations regarding where value added products a created. In most small holder set ups this would not extend to a commercial kitchen, as it isn’t in mine. Yet, it is my understanding that any products created must be from a commercial kitchen. Also, it is my understanding that all such stalls must be registered with Streat Trader.

    May I have your comments and any input you may have on this issue, as I am constantly conflicted about what the right thing to do is.

    Regards,
    Irene Brooks,
    Trentham, Vic.

    1. Hi Irene, you raise some great points – yes, you’re right that in Victoria value-added products need to be produced in a registered kitchen, and as we mention in the article we don’t advocate breaking the law, the risk isn’t worth the cost and hassle. (Lobbying for changes to food laws that unnecessarily restrict access to locally produced food is a great idea though). Luckily, there are lots of kitchens around that are available for a fee. Different ways of keeping the costs down may include making as much as possible within the session, combining with a friend who also wants to make stuff, or doing a deal to exchange produce/labour with someone who’s kitchen has downtime. Also, getting a home-kitchen registered may be easier and more affordable than you think depending on what you want to produce. A great starting point would be to talk to lots of other small producers about how they’ve solved this problem, eg stallholders at farmers markets. Lots of stallholders also do their cooking/production in their temporary stalls, so that’s another way to think about it, or getting someone with a commercial kitchen to make your stuff on consignment. Streatrader is a very easy online process.

  2. Many areas have commercial kitchens for reasonably-priced hire Рhere in the Sunshine Coast, for example, there’s a super one just outside Coolum.

  3. Hi Katie,
    My thanks for your comments to my query – I’m most sorry that I didn’t read passed No8!

    I have been thinking about ‘borrowing’ a commercial kitchen for ages, but have always found myself stymied by not knowing how to go about finding one – do you and/or Angela have any suggestions on that?

    Thanks in anticipation,
    Irene

    1. Hi Irene, I think two good places to start would be the local Council, and the local farmers market – both by asking stallholders if they know of or rent out their commercial kitchen, or check in with the market management to see if they’re aware of any kitchens that are available. Best of luck!

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