Can I Use My Idle Land to Make Extra Money?

— Written By Bill Hanlin and last updated by JoAnne Gryder

question markOne of the most common calls I get is from Wilkes residents wanting to know what people can grow to make money. These folks have land that is idle or in pasture and it seems a waste not to do something with it. The answer on what to grow is not an easy one and it requires people to consider a number of variables.

Probably the biggest variable is how much time do you have to spend with the crop. Most people who want to grow on the side have a full time job and have very little time to devote to the endeavor. Some crops like vegetables and tree fruits require that you work in the crop at least every other day.

The size of the farming operation will also dictate how much time is needed. Some people have made the mistake of starting out too large and quickly get overwhelmed by the amount of time it takes to get chores done. We recommend that people start small to determine how much time is needed to devote to the operation.

Besides the land do you have any equipment that could be used to grow something? Start up costs can be so high that it takes a long time to recover the investment. Many crops require specialized equipment in order to do the job correctly.

Most importantly, do you have a marketing plan and know where you are going to sell your crop? It is a big mistake to plant something before you figure out where to sell it. You first need to decide how the crop is going to be marketed and develop a plan to achieve that goal.

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service will be offering a farm school beginning in 2015 that will help people who are interested in farming. The school will help people write a business plan and show people established farming operations. More details will be coming out in the next few weeks.