Funding Your Homestead with High Value Cash Crops

Anyone moving to the country and starting a homestead is faced with how to pay the bills. After all, there aren’t many jobs in most rural areas. One option is to finance your homestead with high value, easy to grow, easy to sell crops.

Consider growing organic heirloom plants that are relatively unique (as opposed to widely available generic hybrid plants). Those who can afford to will pay a premium for top quality and hard to find items. My blog post the other day about Buying Local used an example of super delicious mangoes. I realized later after writing the blog post that that mango farmer was not optimizing sales. They were selling premium mangoes at a pittance to passersby (mostly other poor farmers). They could have distributed them to high end health food stores at much higher profit. That’s just one example.

Value added crops: Look for ways to increase profitability. Maybe sell canned apple butter in attractive jars rather than just raw apples. Consider making hot sauce out of your chilis so they have longer shelf life and can be shipped anywhere in the world. Another option is drying food in a solar dryer to reduce shipping weight and extend shelf life. Maybe you grow awesome tomatoes with extra you could sell. Or maybe you have a greenhouse and can provide fresh produce when prices are highest.

I really like the idea of making all natural pickled veggies. There are lots of free recipes on the Internet. A friend said he simply uses whatever veggies are available, adds a bit of salt and fills the jars with spring water. He lets the jars sit on the counter for a few days (experiment to see what works best in your climate) with loose fitting caps. This allows some bacteria into the jars to start the fermentation process. Put in the refrigerator for long term storage. These are just a few possibilities. Let’s hear your ideas.


12 thoughts on “Funding Your Homestead with High Value Cash Crops”

    • GREAT ARTICLE, Jay! Thank you! This is a must read article, everyone. Unfortunately though, most readers won’t see this now and I hesitate to do too many gardening articles since it’s only tangentially related to natural building. This is life changing information though so maybe I’ll plug the link in an upcoming blog post.

      Here’s one brief quote from the article to entice others to read it.
      “Wild dandelions, once a springtime treat for Native Americans, have seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, which we consider a “superfood.” A purple potato native to Peru has 28 times more cancer-fighting anthocyanins than common russet potatoes. One species of apple has a staggering 100 times more phytonutrients than the Golden Delicious displayed in our supermarkets.”

      We all want to be healthy, right? Of course it’s worth a little extra effort to track down heirloom varieties and wild plants. This is perfect timing because we’re currently planting our forest garden now.

      Three examples for our local food:
      – Moringa is like a weed tree here. Its nutritional value is off the chart compared to other foods.
      – We have a wild crab apple. No one eats them because big luscious, better tasting fruit is readily available. I had no idea crab apples were so much more nutritious than typical apples. I just recently decided not to plant a crab apple in our forest garden because no one eats them. I’ll definitely plant one now.
      – I’ve been getting some funky sweet corn lately. Two times now I’ve taken a couple bites and just threw it away. It’s tasteless mush.

      The NY Times article is by Jo Robinson, author of “Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health.”

      • Glad you appreciated the article.

        As I was first reading the article, my thoughts went instantly to the Eden Foundation, which has previously been discussed on this blog.

        This article casts a bright new light on the work being done by the Eden Foundation.

        Learning all the nutritional food sources available to us is not only a matter of feeding the poor, and adapting to harsh climates. Learning about all the thousands of untapped food sources is a matter of healthcare, longevity, and disease prevention too.

        • I’ve been researching this very topic. Naturally we wanted to choose the most nutritious food for our forest garden. I even bought two books on local plants. This article you suggested just lit a big fire under my butt. Eat the wild/heirloom varieties and get 10x the nutrition, save money, plus they grow like weeds and are almost unphazed by plant pests and diseases. As most gardeners know, modern varieties can be real fickle. In summary, highly nutritious, easy to grow wild/heirloom varieties match the philosophy of forest gardening.

          • Well, if this has lit a fire under your butt, I hope one of those heirloom plants produces a nice salve to soothe butt-burn.


            I think it makes sense to have a variety.

            A variety of all types of plants.

            There is nothing wrong with someone growing the foods that are popular that people will be willing to purchase. Clearly having some of the more common varieties can be a good thing. At least you’ll be growing those common varieties in a manner where nutrition inside them will be maximized due to the natural growing methods. That’s a good thing.

            At the same time, having varieties that maximize nutrition, no matter what the population of lemmings led around by commercial advertising think.

            Growing food for income, and growing food for personal nutrition both have their place.

            Over time, hopefully we all will diversify our nutritional sources, but that doesn’t mean someone needs to completely abandon what will currently generate an income to do it.

            Meanwhile, I’ve heard Aloe Vera is good for burns, but I don’t know if it will grow in Thailand. Perhaps you might want to investigate whether or not you can plant some to soothe that burning butt of yours. ;)

          • This discussion helped me realize to diversify our plants. I also learned how to do the ultimate superfood diet:
            1. grow the most nutritious heirloom plants and wild plants organically (add rock dust for trace minerals, compost, worm tea, etc.) for the healthiest plants. Include superfoods such as moringa and plants from Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health.
            2. pick fresh fruit, young leaves (baby greens) and other veggies and make green smoothies every day. Read reviews of the top 5 green smoothie books here: (your body absorbs far more nutrients in liquid form)
            3. include wild fermented foods, sprouted beans and grains, etc. for maximum impact
            4. combine with an exercise program like lifting earthbags all day and training for marathons in the morning

            Ex: drink a blender of green smoothies for lunch instead of solid foods. At the same time, try to add healthy variety in your diet (skim websites for ideas and make a list) and eliminate items in your diet that are less healthy than others.

          • The best thing about this entire concept of diet diversification, is that each individual person can customize their diet to match their own personal tastes, lifestyle, and goals.

            One person may only want to expand their dietary horizons by a few items, while another may want to take it as far as they possibly can.

            When each of us was an infant, our parents started introducing us to new foods as we were weaned.

            That process should be a lifelong exploration of wonderful new tastes, flavors, textures, and health benefits. Never stop trying new things. Never stop the adventure.

            This doesn’t stop only at trying different plants, but different cultures and different places.

            I may not have the money to go visit Owen in Thailand, but I can at least have a taste of Thailand by trying food and dishes from there, and it doesn’t have to stop at Pad Thai.

            It’s cheaper to taste Thailand in my own kitchen than to fly there on an airplane. Besides, that way I can partially visit Thailand anytime I want.

            We each can also create similar escapes in architecture. No reason why your garden shed has to be a boring box. Style it to match a favorite part of the world or vacation site.

            What could be more “natural” in architecture than to customize your living spaces to fit your own natural mindset, your own lifestyle, your own hopes, dreams, and memories.

            It’s not all about the materials used, it’s also about how those materials impact your life directly every day.

            Want to visit some exotic place? Build a piece of it on your property. Any time you feel the urge to visit that place, cook a meal from that place, and eat it in your own sanctuary from that place.

            Some might call that an artificial reality.

            I call it making your own reality.

    • I’ve heard this book recommended before. Looks like a great book. I’m gearing up to start fermenting veggies in the near future because there are so many benefits (health, low cost way to preserve food, easy to do, fun to create different taste treats…).

      • hmmmm…

        My internet intuition is telling me that you might be considering reading the book and writing a book review.


        • Maybe. We’re planting a large garden now and so we should have lots of veggies before long. But all these projects take time and I can’t do everything when I want. Eventually though I get things done. A prime motivator is the fond memory of pickled veggies from when I was young. The memory still makes my mouth water. The pickled veggies I used to eat look exactly like those in the video. The recipe may be a little different though. It will probably take some experimenting to get the taste just right. And by the way, this is a great way to get extra vegetables in your diet. It’s non-fat 100% organic food.

        • Hey… here comes that guy splitting hairs again.

          It’s only 100% organic if you only use 100% organic ingredients.

          Such as 100% organic sugar. Or another organic sweetener when a sweetener is used in a fermentation.

          Yeah… I’m 100% positive that you already knew this. Hey… that’s what hair splitting is all about right? ;)

          Now… if only I could find a nice organic herbal remedy to repair all these split hairs that keep popping out of my head. I guess I could use an all natural alternative and shave my head.


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