How to Start a Farm From Scratch in 6 Steps

Starting a farm always seems like a walk in the park in movies and video games. As long as you have a decently sized land, several seeds to plant, and a chicken or two to make eggs, you’re already on your way to becoming a millionaire.
But this is real life. In real life, starting a farm is much more than just planting seeds and watering crops.
Alongside your early-morning duties, you'll also have to secure your financing, develop infrastructure, market your products, and study the topographical features of your land. It's equal parts challenging and rewarding.
To help you with your journey, this article guides you through a step-by-step process on how to start a farm from scratch.

Step 1: Draft a Business Plan

Before buying or starting a farm, you need a business plan. Where do you want it to be located? How do you want to get there? What are your business goals and objectives? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Transfer your vision onto paper and fill it in with numbers, spreadsheets, budgets, and more. If possible, ask for advice and support from local and experienced farmers. Who knows, you might even partner up with farmers and/or ranchers along the way and expand your business!
It's also a good idea to visit a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) office and benefit from the services they offer, including financial and housing assistance, conservation planning, livestock insurance, and even marketing improvement programs.

Step 2: Find Your Niche

Despite popular belief, starting a farm isn't only about planting and selling crops. Planting and selling are definitely a big part of it, but there's more to farming than just crops.
Farming can be categorized into several types:
  • Arable farming: growing and selling crops
  • Pastoral farming: rearing animals for their products (eggs, wool, meat, milk, etc.)
  • Mixed farming: a combination of arable and pastoral farming, meaning both plants and animals are grown and reared respectively for profit
  • Subsistence farming: growing and rearing crops and animals for personal and family use
  • Poultry farming: rearing chickens, turkey, goat, and other poultry for meat and eggs
  • Aquafarming: growing and rearing fish for their meat and eggs
There are a ton of other farming specialties on the market. Carefully choose what you want to specialize in and focus on it so you won’t be overwhelmed by your options.
If you're a beginner farmer, there's no shame in starting small. This not only makes your farm more manageable but also allows you to work out the details of your farm while gaining experience along the way.

Step 3: Do Some Market Research

If you're planning to turn your farm into a full-time revenue, familiarize yourself with the market.
Market research helps you understand the farming law of supply and demand. Likewise, it'll give you some perspective on the structure and needs of the local market. More importantly, it'll tell you who your potential clients and competitors will be.

Step 4: Find the Right Land

The success of your farm depends on multiple factors, including, but not limited to farmable acres, equipment, structural amenities (fences, barns, coops, etc.), and access to community services.
If you're planning to raise livestock, make sure the climate is appropriate and the land is big enough to accommodate them. On average, you'll need about an acre of land per cow, half an acre per goat, an acre for every 20 pigs, an acre for every 50 chickens, and about two acres per horse (plus another for every extra horse).
Crops are way more finicky than livestock. The land and climate conditions must be just so for a successful harvest. The land you're using must be fertile and rich in appropriate nutrients.
To test the pH and nutrient levels of the soil, send a sample to your local cooperative extension office so they can analyze it for a small fee.

Step 5: Put Your Strategies to Test

It's time to put all the preparation to the test. Once you've bought or leased the land, you now have all the power in your hands.
Most farmers learn as they go, so don't be too discouraged if your farm doesn't do as well as you initially expect it to. Be flexible and prepare for the unexpected. It may take a few months or even a few years to consistently make a profit through farming.

Step 6: Maximize Your Profit

To retain as much profit as possible, find ways to maximize labor productivity while reducing farm expenses.
For instance, instead of just selling crops, consider turning them into jam, jelly, juice, wine, and other crop-based products. Likewise, turn raw livestock products (eggs, milk, etc.) into mayonnaise, butter, cheese, and more.
People go ga-ga for natural and organic products, especially if they're conventionally grown. Selling these products also allows you to create a brand for yourself and expand your business nationwide.
Selling homemade products isn't the only way to maximize your farm profits. For instance, you can invest in alternative energy (i.e., wind turbines and solar panels) to reduce energy costs and increase profit.
If your land is large enough, consider leasing part of it to wind and solar companies for a monthly fee. You can also turn your field into a campsite for people who love spending time outdoors during vacations.
Other ideas include:
  • Upload and monetize farming videos online (how-to's, etc.)
  • Rent out beehives
  • Start a bed and breakfast
  • Sell and plants online
  • Raise fish and worms
  • Grow gourmet plants and medicinal mushrooms


Starting your own farm is a daunting process, especially if you’re starting from the ground up. However, once you get the hang of it, you'll reap its financial and spiritual benefits.
When your hard work bears fruit (literally), there's a sense of achievement that's unlike any other. The emotional journey of starting a farm is enough to make it worth a shot.