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Once you’ve established your small farm and regularly produce, it’s time to sell your wares. You have an almost endless list of options as far as where you can sell your products, but for most, the choice comes down to selling from home or selling at a farmer’s market. Here are the pros and cons of each option. Remember, choose what works best for you!

Selling from home

Most states have rules called “Cottage Food Laws.” Cottage laws allow you to sell products from your home but under very specific regulations. The regulations vary quite a lot depending on where you live and what you’re selling. States also stipulate that you can only earn up to a certain amount under cottage law, which is usually in the five-figure range.

You’re not allowed to sell things like meat or low-acid canned foods since there’s a risk for botulism. Depending on the state, you might need a kitchen inspection or a food safety course.

Under cottage laws, you generally can’t sell your food in local stores or restaurants, either. That would require FDA compliance, a business license, and a more formal setup. So, while it’s legal to sell food from your home, it does require you to jump through a few hoops.

There are some great upsides to selling from your home. First, you get to keep your profits. Selling at a farmer’s market generally costs booth fees. Second, you don’t have to sell every week if you don’t feel like it. If your supply is touch-and-go, selling at home makes more sense as you scale production. The downside to selling from home is that you have to do all the selling and marketing yourself. It’s unlikely that you’ll get shoppers off the street to buy from you, which means making a living selling at home can be tricky.

Selling at a farmer’s market

If you rely on homesteading to make a living, the farmer’s market is a great way to earn regular income. You’re still subject to cottage food laws when you sell at a farmer’s market. However, there’s a big upside to the market in that you have ready-made marketing, hordes of potential shoppers, and fellow homesteaders to support you.

Farmer’s markets do come with added costs, though. Most charge vendors a booth fee or even require city permits. You also need to show up faithfully every week with fresh product; that can be tough if you’re just starting out.

Whether you choose to sell out of your home or at a farmer’s market, both approaches have pros and cons. Keep in mind that, no matter how you sell, you do need to comply with state and local food safety laws.

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Composting For Beginners

Composting is a fantastic way to minimize waste. It helps uses up food scraps while creating high quality soil for gardening.

Here’s how you can start composting right now.

Choose a bin and location

There’s a variety of both indoor and outdoor compost options. Some people prefer to buy fancy composters, but all you really need is some wire. I made my compost bins out of rolled fencing wire: I simply formed a circle with the wire and fastened it shut with zip ties.

Choose the right location for your compost bins. I put mine outside to minimize smell, bugs, and mess. Pick a spot that’s out of the way but easily accessible.

Fill it!

Compost is made of three types of materials:

  1. Dirt: you need existing dirt to help your compost form.
  2. Brown materials: These are dry things like leaves, hay, and shredded paper.
  3. Green materials: This includes grass trimmings and veggie leftovers.

Use these three types of materials to layer and fill your compost bin. The key to great compost is layering, so make sure you do this step!

  1. Layer 1: Fill it with six inches of brown materials, and then a layer of good soil on top of that. Hose with water.
  2. Layer 2: On top of layer one, add six inches of green material topped with more dirt. Hose again with water.
  3. Repeat this process until your compost bin is full. Remember to turn the compost every two weeks. This will help the materials break down more quickly by exposing them to air.

Compost is simple, but it can be finicky. Avoid putting these items in your compost or it will be unsafe to use:

  • Fat
  • Dairy
  • Feces
  • Meat
Use it

Composting is a waiting game. Some composts are ready to use in a matter of months, while others take a year to develop. It depends on the materials in your compost and how often you turn it.

Once it’s done, use compost for all your soil needs. It provides essential nutrients to plants and can even improve vegetable and fruit output. Compost whenever possible to prevent waste and grow better plants.

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