How to start homesteading in New Mexico | Hello Homestead (2023)

New Mexico is known as the “Land of Enchantment,” and with stunning geographic diversity, from snow-capped mountains to white gypsum sand dunes, it is easy to see why.

How to start homesteading in New Mexico | Hello Homestead (1)

When it comes to agriculture, New Mexico can be quite enchanting, too. The state is probably best known for its iconic chiles, New Mexico is a great place to buy land (farmland here is the cheapest in the country) and raise a variety of livestock. Growing crops in the dry climate, however, can be challenging, and irrigation is generally required.

If you are enchanted by this corner of the southwest, here’s how to start homesteading in New Mexico.

Buying farmland in New Mexico

Farmland in New Mexico is the cheapest in the United States. According to 2019 data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average cost of farm real estate in New Mexico was $570 per acre, compared to the national average of $3,160 that same year. The average cost per acre for cropland was $1,550 and $417 for pasture.

According to the USDA’s 2018 State Agriculture Overview, New Mexico has 40.5 million acres of farmland and 24,700 farms. The average farm size is 1,640 acres.

Most business owners must register the structure of the business with the New Mexico Secretary of State, but sole proprietorships and general partnerships (which many small working farms are) do not have to register.

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Growing crops in New Mexico

New Mexico’s leading crop is hay used to feed cattle. Pecans rank second behind hay and account for three to four percent of the state’s total agricultural receipts. New Mexico is also a leading producer of chili peppers and onions. Some cotton, grain sorghum and wheat are also grown in the state. Other New Mexico specialty crops include piñon nuts and pinto beans.

The USDA hardiness zones in New Mexico range from 4b scattered across the northern mountainous regions to 9a in the southernmost deserts.

New Mexico’s Sunset climate zones, which are often considered more accurate in the Western United States because they consider factors like maximum temperature and elevation, include zone 1, the coldest mountain and intermountain regions of the contiguous United States; zone 2, the cold and warmer-summer intermountain climates; zone 3, the mild intermountain climates, which is great for deciduous fruit trees, annual vegetables and perennials; and zone 10, the dry high-desert areas.

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Cool-season vegetables that will grow in New Mexico include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, turnips, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, onions, peas, radishes, mustard greens, beets, carrots, parsnips, endives, cauliflower, swiss card, potatoes, celery and lettuce. Warm-season vegetables that will grow in New Mexico include snap beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, black-eyed peas, cucumber, eggplant, lima beans, muskmelon, okra, bell peppers, chiles, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes and watermelon.

Water is scarce in New Mexico, so most croplands must be irrigated. The Agriculture Compliance Section also prepares groundwater Discharge Permits for discharges from dairies and non-dairy agricultural facilities that have the potential to impact groundwater quality. Permits are issued for five-year terms. Currently, the Agriculture Compliance Section manages approximately 250 active sites.

There is a wide range of soils throughout New Mexico. The state soil is the Penistaja soils, which cover more than 1 million acres of New Mexico. They are very productive rangeland soils and are excellent for livestock grazing. Penistaja soils occur in a beautiful Southwest setting of sandstone mesas, snow-capped mountains, and desert grasslands.

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Raising animals in New Mexico

Dairy and cattle ranching are the most important agricultural activities in New Mexico. About 39 percent of the state’s total agricultural receipts are generated by dairy products, and 37 percent by beef cattle and calves. Sheep, lambs and hogs are also important to New Mexico’s livestock economy.

According to the New Mexico Livestock Board, all livestock imported into New Mexico require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Specific requirements for different types of livestock can be found on the New Mexico Livestock Board website.

New Mexico has “open range law.” According to New Mexico Fence Law, landowners must conspicuously mark the line of their lands so that such the mark may be easily seen by persons handling livestock and post a notice upon the land conspicuously warning against trespassing. If they do, it is unlawful for a person or his agents or employees having charge of livestock to permit or allow the livestock to go upon the lands of others in this state for the purpose of grazing or watering upon any waters upon the lands without the permission of the owner.

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The boards of county commissioners of the counties of this state are authorized to prohibit livestock running at large within the limits of any conservancy, irrigation district or military reservation within the district. An owner who willfully allows livestock to run at large in violation of the order is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished in accordance for each offense.

The sheriff, other peace officer or proper military authority will impound livestock found running at large and sell the livestock at public auction to the highest bidder for cash after giving notice of the time and place of sale in some newspaper published in the county where the violation occurred three days prior to the day of sale. The owner of livestock impounded may redeem the livestock at any time prior to sale by paying the impound fees and costs incurred for each day or portion of a day that the livestock has been in custody.

There are several livestock auctions that regularly take place throughout the state of New Mexico, including the Roswell Livestock Auction Sales Inc., the Clovis Livestock Auction and the Cattlemens Livestock Auction.

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Selling food in New Mexico

There are 116 farmers’ markets listed on the New Mexico state website.

With the exception of markets in the city of Albuquerque, there is no permit required to sell fresh fruits and vegetables at New Mexico farmers markets, though vendors should contact individual markets to find out about market rules, fees, application processes and required permits for the local city or county.

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The city of Albuquerque is outside of the New Mexico Environment Department’s jurisdiction and is thus governed by different regulations. Food vendors at Albuquerque markets are required to have a permit from the City’s Environmental Health Department. The cost of the permit for selling raw produce and/or pure, raw honey is $15. The cost of the permit for selling processed food, eggs, meat or seafood is $50. Vendors pay only one permit fee and need only one permit to sell at all member markets in the City of Albuquerque. Once a vendor has been accepted as a vendor at an Albuquerque growers’ market, the market manager will provide an application for the Growers’ Market Permit. Residents of the City of Albuquerque are not eligible to receive a permit for a home-based food processing operation permit.

Cottage food operations elsewhere in New Mexico must be permitted annually by the New Mexico Environment Department. There is a $100 annual permit fee for cottage food operators in New Mexico. The permit will identify a specific listing of the food products permitted to be produced by the cottage food operation. A cottage food operation may only produce those specific food products listed on their permit. This permit shall be displayed at farmers markets, craft fairs, and charitable organization functions where cottage foods are sold.

A cottage food operation is allowed to produce food items that do not require temperature control for safety. The following list of foods are examples of products that may be produced by a cottage food operation. Although not all inclusive, it provides for most types of approved cottage food products, including loaf breads, rolls, cakes, pastries, candies, fruit pies, jams, dried fruits, dry herbs, cereals, nuts, vinegar and popcorn.

Before a permit is issued, the New Mexico Environment Department will send a representative to examine the home kitchen facilities. Aspiring cottage food operators must give permission for a representative from the regulatory authority to enter their home during normal business hours.

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A cottage food operation must comply with all applicable county and municipal laws and zoning ordinances that apply to conduct a business from a home residence prior to permitting as a cottage food operation.

Any cottage food operation which has a private water supply must have the supply tested prior to permitting and at least annually thereafter and demonstrate through a written record of testing that the water supply is potable. The regulatory authority may require more frequent testing as deemed necessary.

Owners of cottage food operations in New Mexico are also required to successfully complete a food safety training program that includes training in food processing and packaging, and that is recognized by the regulatory agency.

Products produced by a cottage food operation must be sold directly to the consumer. Direct sales at farmers markets, craft fairs, and charitable organization functions are permitted. Sales by internet, mail, phone and sales to grocery stores and restaurants or at wholesale are prohibited.

A cottage food operation may only sell cottage food products which are prepackaged with a label affixed containing (in English) the name and address of the cottage food operation; the name of the cottage food product; the ingredients of the cottage food product, in descending order of predominance by weight; the net weight or net volume of the cottage food product; allergen information as specified by federal labeling requirements; nutritional labeling as specified by federal labeling requirements is required if any nutrient content claim, health claim, or other nutritional information is provided; and the following statement printed in at least 10-point type in a color that provides a clear contrast to the background label: “Made in a Cottage Food Operation that is not Subject to Routine Government Food Safety Inspection.”

There are no licenses required for selling ungraded eggs in New Mexico farmers’ markets, but ungraded egg vendors are required to register with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. To sell graded eggs, vendors must obtain an egg dealer license based on their production size. Licenses range in price from $10 to $50.

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New Mexico organizations for new farmers

How difficult is it to start homesteading in New Mexico?

Because irrigation is central to production, New Mexico can be a challenging place to start growing crops on a farm or homestead. The network of local producers is strong, however, and New Mexico is a great place to graze and raise livestock. With such inexpensive farmland, there are also many opportunities to experiment with different farming and homesteading projects without breaking the bank.


Is New Mexico good for homesteading? ›

Because irrigation is central to production, New Mexico can be a challenging place to start growing crops on a farm or homestead. The network of local producers is strong, however, and New Mexico is a great place to graze and raise livestock.

Can you still homestead land in New Mexico? ›

Homestead Statutes in New Mexico

New Mexico law limits the homestead exemption to a property value of $30,000.

How do I start homesteading today? ›

10 Ways to Start Urban Homesteading
  1. Get A Compost Bin Up And Running. ...
  2. Grow Your Own Vegetables. ...
  3. Start Collecting Rain Water. ...
  4. Build A Backyard Chicken Coop. ...
  5. Cut Back On Household Waste. ...
  6. Learn To Preserve Food For The Winter. ...
  7. Work Towards Eliminating Debt. ...
  8. Install A Clothesline.
14 Aug 2019

What makes the most money on a homestead? ›

35 Ways to Make Money on a Homestead
  • Sell Chicken or Duck Eggs. Chances are you will have extra eggs if you have chickens. ...
  • Sell Chicks or Fertilized Eggs. ...
  • Raise Quail & Sell The Eggs. ...
  • Sell Ducklings. ...
  • Sell Other Heritage Poultry. ...
  • Offer Goat – or Cow – Milk Shares. ...
  • Sell Dairy Products. ...
  • Sell Your Surplus of Veggies & Fruit.
29 Sept 2021

How do I file for homestead in New Mexico? ›

Claiming the New Mexico Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption

In New Mexico, the homestead exemption is automatic – you don't have to file a homestead declaration with the recorder's office to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy.

What is the cheapest place to live in New Mexico? ›

The Top 10 Most Affordable Cities in New Mexico
  • Las Vegas. ...
  • Lovington. ...
  • Roswell. Home Price to Income Ratio: 2.42. ...
  • Alamogordo. Home Price to Income Ratio: 2.69. ...
  • Gallup. Home Price to Income Ratio: 2.75. ...
  • Portales. Home Price to Income Ratio: 3.06. ...
  • Española. Home Price to Income Ratio: 5.28. ...
  • Clovis. Home Price to Income Ratio: 2.91.

How do I claim abandoned land in New Mexico? ›

To successfully file an unclaimed property claim with us you must prove that you are the rightful owner of the property. The required proof varies according to the property and the circumstances under which it was abandoned. The Unclaimed Property Office does not release property until it receives the required proof.

Is Off Grid Living legal in New Mexico? ›

Off-Grid Electricity in New Mexico

Disconnecting from the electric grid is legal in New Mexico. However, the New Mexico electrical code does have some language that implies that all dwellings must be connected to some sort of electrical system.

Can you homestead on one acre? ›

You don't need a lot of acreage to have a self-sufficient homestead. Even on a 1-acre farm, you can milk a family cow, raise livestock and reap garden harvests — all while improving your land's soil fertility with manure and proper grazing management.

How many acres is a good size homestead? ›

Even small acreages of 2 – 4 acres can sustain a small family if managed well. Larger homesteads in the range of 20 – 40 acres can provide a greater degree of self-sufficiency by setting aside much of the land as a woodlot, and providing room for orchards, ponds, poultry and livestock.

How many acres do you need to be self-sufficient? ›

The General Consensus is 5-10 acres to be self-sufficient

Even though a lot of those sources put the number at a lot less, the general consensus is that you really need at least 5 acres of land per person to be self-sufficient. And that's assuming you have quality land, adequate rainfall, and a long growing season.

How do you homestead checklist? ›

The Ultimate Homestead Checklist
  1. Start seedlings.
  2. Till the garden and grain fields.
  3. Transplant the seedlings.
  4. Grow cool-season crops in cold frames.
  5. Sow grains and vegetables.
  6. Order and care for chicks.
  7. Assist livestock births.
  8. Mild dairy animals.
23 Aug 2020

How do you homestead yourself? ›

Steps to Consider when Homesteading Alone
  1. Consolidate and Set Goals.
  2. Reconsider the Livestock You Keep.
  3. Calculate Your Exact Needs.
  4. Downsize.
  5. Proximity.
  6. Make the Farm Work for You.
  7. Maintain the Right Equipment.
  8. Learn to Barter.
15 Jun 2022

How do I start homesteading and making money? ›

Below are some of our favorite ways that you can make money homesteading.
  1. Grow Mushrooms. Growing mushrooms is obviously one of our favorite choices here at GroCycle. ...
  2. Sell Fresh Fish. ...
  3. Start a Christmas Tree Farm. ...
  4. Grow Microgreens. ...
  5. Sell Baked Goods. ...
  6. Raise Bees for Honey. ...
  7. Rent Bees Out for Pollination. ...
  8. Sell Extra Bees.

What are the disadvantages of a homestead? ›

Cons: Potential for a significant loss of revenue which could impact public services. Large tax exemptions could shift a majority of the tax burden over to businesses and other types of property that aren't eligible for the homestead exemption.

What is the best state to live in to Homestead? ›

Best States for Homesteading
  • Iowa. Iowa is has some of the most arable land in the United States, which makes it great for starting a self-sufficient homestead. ...
  • Wyoming. Wyoming has a lot of things going for it. ...
  • Arkansas. ...
  • Idaho. ...
  • Oregon. ...
  • Indiana. ...
  • Virginia. ...
  • North Carolina.

How do homesteaders make a living? ›

Go through the list and start thinking about ways you can make money from your homestead!
  1. Sell homemade preserves. ...
  2. Dehydrated goods. ...
  3. Expand your garden. ...
  4. Make dried herb and spice mixes. ...
  5. Plant extra seeds – sell seedlings. ...
  6. Sell broilers or chicken eggs. ...
  7. Raise and sell heritage poultry. ...
  8. Start a cow – or goat – share.
27 Nov 2019

At what age do seniors stop paying property taxes in New Mexico? ›

All New Mexico seniors at least 65 years old may claim a special exemption.

Who is exempt from property taxes in New Mexico? ›

Under New Mexico law, there are two New Mexico property taxation exemptions and several categories of institutional and governmental exemptions. Individual exemptions are available for head of family and qualifying veterans.

How do you homestead on a small property? ›

Landscape ideas for homesteading on a small property
  1. Pick a space that gets 6+ hours of sunlight. ...
  2. Make a list of vegetables, fruits, and herbs you eat [very important to only list what you eat], then plan accordingly.
  3. Be sure you give each plant proper spacing, or it will not grow as well due to root bound.

What is the poorest city in New Mexico? ›

New Mexico has the fifth lowest per capita income in the United States of America, at $17,261 (2000).
New Mexico counties ranked by per capita income.
CountyLos Alamos
Per capita income$49,474
Median household income$103,643
Median family income$118,993
34 more columns

What is the best small town to live in New Mexico? ›

1. Chimayo, NM. Located just north of Santa Fe, this historic village is more than just one of the best small towns in New Mexico. It is the home of the famous Chimayo weavers, the red chile pepper, and the legendary El Santuario de Chimayo.

What is the safest place to live in New Mexico? ›

The 10 Safest Cities In New Mexico: A Quick Look
  • Corrales.
  • Rio Rancho.
  • Alamogordo.
  • Anthony.
  • Sunland Park.
  • Portales.
  • Las Cruces.
  • Artesia.

Where do the rich people live in New Mexico? ›

"Part of the Albuquerque area of New Mexico, Corrales Village is a wealthy community known for its high real estate and professional residents.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in New Mexico? ›

While some cities can be more expensive than others, New Mexico's overall cost of living falls below the national average, especially when it comes to housing. A single adult would need to earn at least $33,800 to live comfortably in New Mexico.

How long before you can claim land as yours? ›

Minimum time requirements – Before any adverse possession application can be considered you must have been using (or in possession of the land) for at least ten years.

How long before property is considered abandoned New Mexico? ›

In New Mexico abandonment means the absence of the tenant from the premises, without notice to the landlord, for more than seven continuous days, and only after rent is delinquent. When abandonment is confirmed the rental agreement may be terminated, and the process of handling any personal property left behind begins.

Can you claim land if you look after it? ›

Generally speaking, if you have been occupying lands that you do not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use in excess of 12 years (or in the case of Crown lands 30 years), without any objection from the registered owner, you can claim what is known as “adverse possession”.

Can I wire my own house in New Mexico? ›

No, you need to have a New Mexico licensed contractor pull a permit, install the ductwork and call the required inspections.

Does New Mexico allow tiny houses? ›

Habitable space and hallways in tiny houses shall have a ceiling height of not less than 6 feet 8 inches (2032 mm). Bathrooms, toilet rooms, and kitchens shall have a ceiling height of not less than 6 feet 4 inches (1930 mm).

Can I camp on my own land in New Mexico? ›

The New Mexico State Land Office does not permit “recreational camping” on its trust lands. But, it does support camping for hunting purposes, in limited areas.

What state has the cheapest land for homesteading? ›

For homesteaders searching for the cheapest state to buy land, we highly recommend Arkansas. It offers plenty of outdoor activities, highly fertile soil for farming, and is perfect for nature lovers. Also, it is incredibly diverse, with country-friendly and urban dwellings depending on where you live.

What is a mini homestead? ›

Well, a micro homestead is similar. Micro-farming is defined as a farm that's five acres or less. Micro homesteading has a more subjective meaning that can range from growing vegetables, raising livestock, or just having productive and aesthetic permaculture.

Is Half Acre enough for homestead? ›

The good news is that you can homestead on a small property of one acre, half an acre, or even less! If you would like to increase your self-reliance you can definitely accomplish that goal on a one-acre homestead. You might be wondering what you can raise on such a small homestead.

Is 5 acres enough for a homestead? ›

Homesteading on 5 acres is possible with proper planning and management. There is enough space to grow enough food crops and to raise small livestock that can provide a protein source. The protein can be in the form of eggs, milk, or meat. A 5-acre homestead has enough space to make a profit.

What is the difference between a hobby farm and a homestead? ›

Hobby farmers are different than homesteaders in that they do not have the same drive to be self-reliant. They are different than what we call farmers because they are not trying to make a living. They will often have very good off-farm jobs that fund their farming habit.

Is 5 acres big enough for a farm? ›

Especially for a beginner. Five acres gives you plenty of room to try new things, develop preferences, and figure out what makes the most sense for your homestead or farm in the long run. And you may very well determine that 5 acres is more than enough to feed your family and meet your needs.

Can 1 acre feed a family? ›

Corn. For a family of four, a total of 6000 pounds of corn is consumed yearly. Since one bushel of corn weighs about 56 pounds and a total of 130 bushels can be produced on an acre of land. It is safe to say that you need an acre to feed a family of four for a year, with more to spare and serve as feed to animals.

How can I make money with 2 acres? ›

I know we aren't the only ones homesteading on small plots of land. I also know that you can make money on smaller homesteads and each year our income streams grow.
  1. Market Gardening. ...
  2. Start A CSA. ...
  3. Cut Flowers. ...
  4. Selling Fresh and Dried Herbs. ...
  5. Grow an Orchard. ...
  6. Start a Nursery. ...
  7. Selling Strawberry Plants. ...
  8. Selling Berries.
16 Jan 2018

What can you farm on 1 acre? ›

Plants to Grow on Your One Acre Farm

Plot 1 – Potatoes or sweet potatoes. Plot 2 – Beans and peas. Plot 3 – Cabbage and lettuce. Plot 4 – Root vegetables like beets, carrots, and turnips.

What is the first thing to do on a new homestead? ›

My Recommendations. If I had to recommend three homestead projects to focus on first, they would be: create a small vegetable garden, plant trees, and think about irrigation. Edible and/or ornamental trees are a quintessential part of a productive homestead, but they can take a long time to grow!

What is the first thing to do when starting a homestead? ›

How To Start A Homestead – Step By Step
  1. Step 1: Consider What Homesteading Involves. ...
  2. Step 2: Set Goals For Yourself. ...
  3. Step 3: Decide Where You Want To Live. ...
  4. Step 4: Make A Budget. ...
  5. Step 5: Start Small. ...
  6. Step 5: Continually Simplify Your Life. ...
  7. Step 6: Learn To Preserve Food. ...
  8. Step 7: Make Friends With Other Homesteaders.

How can I get into property with no money? ›

9 Ways To Get Into Property With No Money
  1. Get your head in the game. The first, easiest and cheapest thing to start off with is the right frame of mind. ...
  2. Take in a lodger. ...
  3. REIT. ...
  4. Property lease options. ...
  5. Peer to peer lending. ...
  6. Property crowdfunding. ...
  7. Joint venture. ...
  8. Use your own equity.

How can I get property with no money? ›

How to Get into Property Development with No Money
  1. Visualise Your Success. An essential foundation for success as an entrepreneur in any sector is adopting the right mindset. ...
  2. Learn about the Industry. ...
  3. Get Some Hands-on Experience. ...
  4. Informal Loans. ...
  5. Commercial Finance. ...
  6. Commercial Mortgages. ...
  7. Buy-To-Let Mortgages. ...
  8. Auction Finance.
25 Feb 2022

How do people afford homesteading? ›

The best way to afford a homestead is to start thinking about money management.
  1. Remove all existing debt.
  2. Create a budget you can live with.
  3. Change your Money Mindset.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  5. Live within your means.
31 Jan 2022

How many acres do you need to start a homestead? ›

Even small acreages of 2 – 4 acres can sustain a small family if managed well. Larger homesteads in the range of 20 – 40 acres can provide a greater degree of self-sufficiency by setting aside much of the land as a woodlot, and providing room for orchards, ponds, poultry and livestock.

How do I get funding for my property? ›

  1. Cash. Cash, if you have it, is likely to be the easiest way to finance property development. ...
  2. Buy-to-let Mortgage. Those planning on creating a rental income from their property may find themselves eligible for a specialised mortgage. ...
  3. Buy-to-sell Mortgage. ...
  4. Specialised Property Loan. ...
  5. Personal Loans.
12 Mar 2021

What is the fastest way to get a house? ›

The fastest way to buy a home is to pay all cash for the property. Assuming that everything works out logistically, it's possible to buy a home in a couple of weeks when paying cash. There are a few reasons why an all-cash transaction expedites the homebuying process.

How can I buy a dream house with no money? ›

How To Buy a House With No Money Down
  1. Homebuyer Down Payment Assistance. Down payment assistance (DPA) can help you buy a home without immediate cash. ...
  2. USDA Loans With No Money Down. USDA loans have no down payment requirements or credit score minimums. ...
  3. VA Home Loans With No Down Payment.

How do you build assets with little money? ›

If you're ready to start buying assets as a beginner, here are some assets you can buy with a smaller budget.
  1. Certificates of deposit (CD's)
  2. Bonds.
  3. Real estate investment trusts (REITs)
  4. Dividend yielding stocks.
11 Aug 2022

What are the disadvantages of homesteading? ›

Another key downside of homestead living is that you're quite cut off from modern society. This means you might not have access to a host of things you're used to having close by. I mentioned in this post here that rural living means you don't have access to instant care and shopping.

Can you run a homestead by yourself? ›

The number one thing homesteaders who are alone need to do is to consolidate and set goals! This means reducing the workload so that the homestead can be more effective overall. Amazing things can be done with a small plot of land so don't make it harder than it has to be. What exactly are you trying to accomplish?

Is 1 acre enough for a homestead? ›

You don't need a lot of acreage to have a self-sufficient homestead. Even on a 1-acre farm, you can milk a family cow, raise livestock and reap garden harvests — all while improving your land's soil fertility with manure and proper grazing management.

Can a homestead make money? ›

Making money on your homestead is very possible! You just might have to get a bit creative when it comes to figuring out what to produce and sell. Focus on whatever most interests you. If you enjoy farming or gardening, focus on growing crops.


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