Niche Farming Offers Way Back To Land

The New York Times:

Starting a small farm can pay rich dividends, especially if the farm produces niche foods like artisanal cheeses or truffles. But don’t quit your day job.

Sarah Beth Aubrey took that advice several years ago, after, she says, she “got sick of driving to work.” She succumbed to an entrepreneurial itch by founding Aubrey’s Natural Meats, a 31-acre farm in Elwood, Ind., where she and her husband, Cary, raise cattle and pigs.

She started her meat venture in the fall of 2003, with her husband, who also grew up raising cattle, as minority partner. The business is thriving, though it doesn’t pay the bills. But Mr. Aubrey has kept his state job as an agricultural specialist, and she has leveraged her farm expertise into consulting work and books, including “Starting & Running Your Own Small Farm Business.”

Her No. 1 recommendation to people thinking about getting into farming is to “wean yourself slowly off outside income.” From that follows No. 2: Create a contingency fund.

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Photo by Heidi Schumann.

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