alternative cash crop : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have some nice open flat bottom land and would like to try my hand at a cash crop. I was thinking along the lines of popular herbal ingredients (like echinacea, golden seal etc) or grains (flax seed, buckwheat etc.) I don't know anything about this so it may be dumb idea #156 but thought I would scout it out. Does anyone have any ideas and/or useful websites? Oh by the way, I live in central NY - zone 5. THANKS

-- teresa (, November 19, 2000


First you find a market, then you decide what to grow. You might raise the best flax seed anywhere, but if you can't sell it for an acceptable profit then it isn't worth growing. Is there a farmers' market nearby so you can see what others are selling?

Of course, the leading alternative cash crop is marijuana. A single large mature plant of good quality has a street value of about $1,000. But then, the downside risks are rather severe.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, November 20, 2000.

I agree with Ken, you need to know the market before you order the seeds. However, to give you some ideas on what to look into and basic instructions, take a look at:

and in particular click on the link:

"Extension Information on Alternatives"

It is a library of alternative crop information. The list is put together by the Missouri extension service, but has papers from all over the country.


-- paul (, November 20, 2000.

Teresa, start with Richters Herb Catalogue, then go for it!

Growing will only be half the battle, getting the word out, great information with your product and packageing will be important also. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (, November 20, 2000.

Goldenseal is a woodland crop, so you can forget about growing it in the open unless you want to make a major investment in shadecloth. A couple of books you may want to look at are "The Bootstrap Guide to Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field, and Marketplace" and "The Potential of Herbs as a Cash Crop". They give the pros and cons of several of the most popular and up-and-coming herbs. Sherri in IN

-- Sherri C (, November 20, 2000.


I would highly recommend that instead of trying to grow as many acres as possible, you look at how much money you can bring in for certain high value crops.

From my research, organically grown vegetables (certified or not) and cut flowers bring the highest return per square foot. The important key here is to sell retail- NEVER WHOLESALE.

You live in NY- if you have a good product (and tell people about it) you can get people to drive up to an hour to get to you.

Go to the library and check out books on Market farming and cut flower production.

Good Luck Amy

-- Amy Richards (, November 20, 2000.

I think I'd try to diversify a little. Maybe half in herbs and half in something else. That way if one thing didn't do well you would have something else to fall back on. Does that make sense? Anyway, good luck and let us know what you decide to do and how it turns out!

-- Suzy in 'Bama (, November 24, 2000.

Or grow an herb that you can use in a value-added product, like a tea or sachet. Then make the product (which is less perishable than fresh) and sell/market it. Our extension service has info on regional market conferences. Join your local Organic Growers and Buyers group. Try ATTRA on the web for free downloadable info.

-- Anne (, November 24, 2000.

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