The Backyard Market Garden

getting started

You can earn some extra cash with a backyard plot and the willingness to do some gardening. There are a number of ways anyone who has some gardening skills, the desire to grow and some space can create their own market garden business.

You could specialize in herbs, salad green, gourmet vegetables or a number of different products.

You do not even need your own space to do, it is possible to negotiate the use of someone else’s property for your urban agricultural enterprise.

Let’s take this step by step. You will need to conduct a market study in order to determine what herbs, vegetables and small fruits (berries) are being sold in yoru location and who is selling them.

You want to know what the price of the various items is because you must be able to price your product competitively in order to capture a share of that market.

Second you may want to fill a niche, grow and sell something that is not being sold by others but before launching into that determine if there is a market.

You will have to determine how much time you can devote to the business: is it a hobby business that generates a few extra bucks each month and cuts the cost of growing yoru own food or its it your main source of income?

If you have your own backyard then assess the space in light of how much time you plan to spend growing, marketing, harvesting and delivering. Running your own business is more work than growing only for you and your family.

You may find that the growing is the easiest part of the process.

Your Backyard Farmer

getting started

If you do not have a yard of your own, then give some thought to approaching, a friend, neighbour or family member and ask if you can sue their yard for your agricultural enterprise, offer them a portion of the food you grow in exchange for the use of their property. As your business grows you may even be able to pay them in cash.

You do not need a large space to grow for the market place, for example you could grow heritage cherry tomatoes, herbs and salad greens in containers and sell them at a weekend farmers’ market.

You may want to do a survey of the restaurants near you, especially the high end ones who may well be in the market for heritage varieties and a steady supply of fresh herbs in season.

You will need to talk with the head chef and that may not be easy so be sure to have a business card and take a sample of what you are selling along with you. The chef is looking for quality and may even make some suggestions as to crops but the chef is also looking for consistency. They want the product delivered when they need it. If you cannot guarantee this do not enter the restaurant business.

My first venture into the market garden business went fairly well because I started small; in fact, I only grew three kinds of basil. I had two small specialty grocery stores buy the herb and I sold potted plants from a store front that a friend let me use. It worked because my overhead was minimal.

That was the marketing plan phase and the business would have expanded if I had not moved.

I am not planning a similar venture, however, I am working on another concept.

Another way to approach this is to set up a community shared agriculture project. You solicit members to buy a share at the beginning of a season; for their purchase, they get a basket of whatever is available each week.

You can even give them the opportunity to get their hands dirty and help in the planting and harvesting. This shared experience gives you the money you need to get the seeds, etcetera; you need and guarantees them a fresh return. Of course they also share the risks should the season be a bad one.

I would get a few years of growing and selling in before I ventured into this territory.

Now and this you must do first, find out what the bylaws and zoning laws are where you live. You do not want to get a thriving enterprise set up only to find it contravenes local ordinances. Municipal officials may not be forgiving so a do it and say sorry later approach is not going to work.

To recap, how much time are you devoting to the urban agricultural enterprise; how much property do you have or have access to; who is your competition; what are you planning to sell, for what price and to whom?

Answer these questions and you are on the way to be an urban market gardener and by the way , if you do not know much about gardening, do not be discouraged, grow some of yoru own food this season and next and then take a look at going commercial.

More by this Author

Comments 15 comments

C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 7 years ago from NW Indiana


I intend to do this to help supplement lost income from my room mate's loss of job. It might not cover all the needs but every bit helps. I hope to use your hub here for reference. They came today to til up some extra garden space. This was my thought to work on since the flood. The grass was damaged from tractors so I figured WHY NOT? I have customers set up as I have been promoting all winter. Home grown rocks! Thanks for the guide lines.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome and all the best.

marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

Great ideas for growing cash!! We hope to sell tomatoes and vegetables from a bountiful garden in Oklahoma. I'm mentalling building my chicken coop, and my middle son is enthusiastic about the little cluckers...tho' I think he just likes to build things. =)) Farm Fresh Eggs!! yuMM

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Chickens now that is something I'd like to do, grow some eggs.

marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

LOL then, we're back to which came first, the chicken or the egg? either way, they're both delicious!! But, I do tend to make pets out of the chickens.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

Lots of good ideas--whose time has come again. I'm sure lots more people will be doing this.

As usual, I'm getting ready to plant my garden. I don't sell, but do get some good will from giving out the extra produce.  You can't eat chickens your grandchildren have named, but we do have lots of eggs to use. Also, the hens absolutely love the tomato hornworms I fling into the chicken yard. They can't get enough.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

It is difficult to cook Gertrude for Sunday supper but the eggs she traded for her room and board are another story.

jess standridge 7 years ago

had the chickens until the ratcoons came thay like chicken too out of business now. still trying to catch the varmunts

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Ratcoons, i get that, thanks for dropping by.

Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 7 years ago from Central Oregon

I love this idea. Great article and some great ideas.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for dropping by.

Tim 6 years ago

If you start a vegetable garden for your own needs,and if you start small and smart, you can save some money on groceries. And to sell the extra produce and supplement lost income is really taking the whole home gardening idea up to a new level - growing cash, excellent! :)

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Growing cash, I like how that sounds, thanks for dropping by.

megni profile image

megni 5 years ago

Good informational article. Thanks for for sharing

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article