Farm life can be fantastic, and comes with great responsibility. As well as being the caretaker for the land, you may also need to look after crops, plus livestock that will rely on you entirely to provide them with food and shelter. Their shelter may come in the form of one barn, or several barns—but what do you do with these buildings if you change the use of your farm, or if it’s no longer a farm?
Instead of having a building laying empty, you can change its use; maybe even get another, if your new venture becomes a success. So, here are some alternative uses for your barn buildings, which will help you to diversify your business
If your barn is anywhere near a road, then you might want to think about converting it into a retail space. It may be subject to additional code requirements because it will be a building that’s open to the public, but this is a challenge and an opportunity to generate income.
One of the obvious choices for this use is to have your own farm market. Selling items from produce, meat, and even fresh flowers is a great way to help pay the bills. The state agricultural laws do vary, so do your research in order to avoid problems later on, but your market may be able to sell items such as raw milk or home-processed chickens.
You could use your small whelping barn or a chicken coop to grow mushrooms. They like to grow in dark, climate-specific spaces, and these fungi will bring a profitable addition to a market stand—as well as a valuable extra to your dinner table.
Each variety has a preferred growing climate and method, so decide which type you want to try and research the process. You’ll need to limit the amount of light coming into your space, and stabilize the temperature for the best conditions. If you have room, the same environment also works well for growing sprouts. You could use metal barn kits to expand your potential growing space, too.
This is a great example of how farmers can develop a project that’s not farming-related in order to generate income on their land. The plan for one Missouri business, for instance, was that the space used for weddings could also be used for functions including reunions, birthday dinners, and even corporate retreats.
The barn had a kitchen added to it, plus wooden floors to complement the wood-paneled walls. A parking lot was also included, plus an outdoor wedding space and a gazebo for portraits. In this example, the wedding business has become their income.
Start a winery
There’s a grape, vegetable, and apple farm in Maine with a barn that’s been converted into a winery. Insulation and sheathing were added and, because it was partially built underground, it doesn’t need air conditioning. The owner said: “The most active part of winemaking happens in the cellar.”