Do you want to make money from growing fruit?
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.
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.
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.
So, how do you turn your passion for fruit growing into a source of cash?
Here’s our top 10 tips:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!