3 Supplemental Income Streams for a Homestead


Remember when your friends all thought your garden and backyard chickens were just your elaborate hobby? As the landscape continues to shift in the wake of the current pandemic more and more, I find this homestead is not and has never been a “just a hobby”. This homestead has been my classroom, my laboratory, and my research site, where I learned how to do what is now absolutely necessary for the food security and financial stability of my family.

With the stay-at-home orders in my area, I have had to press pause on my learning lab to keep my students and my farm safe. But with pausing comes a loss of income for my family. “Homestead Engineer” remains an a job description that is considered essential where I live (especially being a farm equipment machinist), but my income has gone from a few hundred dollars a week to — zero! Yet, over the years I have read, toiled, and researched the “how to” for days such as this when I would need to find a way to use my skills to provide for my family in innovative ways.

Supplemental Income Streams for the Homestead

Selling home-canned goods. As an avid home canner, I reached out to the local cooperative extension and Health Department to learn the guidelines for selling home-canned goods. Under cottage law in Maryland, I am able to sell jams, preserves, breads, and cakes at my family’s existing farm store by following through with some simple guidelines and USDA standards of best practice without any additional licensing. Given the recent explosion of the Buy Local movement as more people try to avoid the commercial grocer, I am processing and selling at least a case of homemade preserves each week!

Understanding cottage food laws. With what I’ve learned in these years about thrifty shopping and food preservation, I am able to turn a profit with just three jars from each case covering my cost and the other nine jars being pure profit. A great place to learn more about cottage law and how you can get started can be found at the National Agricultural Law Center.

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