Regenerative Business Ideas – Value Added Products

Saving the world is a big job… and while some of the biggest opportunities for impact lie in the agricultural, regulatory and forestry space, not everyone is a farmer or forester! But here’s the thing… when it comes to making an impact, you can start where you are, use what you have and do what you can!

In this short series of posts, I’ll introduce entrepreneurial spirited folks to five starter ideas.  You might be able to start something like one of these or apply it to your own business to do great things for our planet.  If everyone looks at their line of work as an opportunity to regenerate the world around us, we can succeed!

Value-add is the idea of taking a raw product and processing it in such a way that it yields a higher return.  You are converting your creativity, work and perhaps a magical combination of ingredients into profit. Perhaps the most basic of value-add examples would be turning flour into bread, berries into jam, meat into seasoned or smoked meat (ham, bacon, sausage, etc). These are the easy-to-see products from the farm turned into more expensive products.

What about the lesser known products or byproducts?  Many producers end up wasting a lot more than they’d like to and may not even be aware of all the unrealized opportunities in their waste.  You can read in various permaculture and regenerative growing literature about enterprise stacking. In short, it’s the idea of having overyielding enterprises by finding the closest, simplest, and cheapest enterprises to add to your own so that you have a variety of product from the same input.  That being said, some point out that this should be done strategically and carefully to avoid a slew of potential pitfalls and overgrown enterprise syndrome But we’re going to talk about the low hanging fruit. Converting “waste” to a profitable enterprise.  It just takes a little bit of creativity and vision to think through.

\"berries-blur-blurry-158116\"For instance, someone who grows organic raspberries could harvest a certain amount of leaves at the right time after the harvest to sell organic raspberry leaf tea.  Four ounces of red raspberry leaves sell for about $8-$10 online in very simple packaging. Perhaps the direct-to-market berry farmer doesn’t have the desire to take advantage of this value add opportunity.  If you sourced about four different tea leaf options from nearby organic farms. Pick four different harvest days, turn that useless shed into a drying facility and perhaps get your food-safe inspection. Congratulations!  For the cost of a solid brand, some packaging and little love to the farmer, you still have zero acres, but you now have a tea business. There are still a few things to take care of like customers but with free/cheap e-commerce tools or a solid local network you can likely fill that need in no time!

\"bowl-food-healthy-40814\"A local farm near my home in Pennsylvania called “Mirror Image” raises organic pastured chickens and actually posted on facebook asking if anyone might want what is leftover after chicken processing for an organic chicken stock business.  They saw the opportunity and the waste but weren’t interested in taking it on themselves. In this scenario, the farm is seeing an opportunity in getting a minimal return for something they might have thrown away. If you multiply that times the 300-400 chickens per year they process, its free money when compared to the way they used to do it.  That’s not the half of it, whoever takes them up on that offer has a solid source of organic chicken bones and trim. With a limited amount of infrastructure, has the potential to make more than $5 per chicken back. All you need is a couple of days in the community kitchen and a storage or distribution solution.

Here are some other ideas:

  • A hometown sausage company that sources local, pastured meats.  They make sausage recipes from around the world with zero nitrates!
  • Maybe you aren’t into meat, how about all natural sweets made with local honey?
  • Upcycle fence posts and barn wood into furniture.
  • Render lard and mix in local botanicals to make delightful bar soap.

Another opportunity in the value add space is using promotion as a price negotiator. Everyone benefits from the goodwill when you say this was “made with foraged leaves from Forest Ranch wineberries!

In any case, you can take commodity or excess products, add value and then sell!  In a lot of cases, these may be products that the farmer considered waste to begin with.  You need zero acres.. just an idea, some creativity and some time.

What it does:

  • You\’ve made something that people need.
  • You’ve gotten another product out of something before it is thrown away or decomposed.
  • You’ve shortened food routes.
  • You’ve kept dollars in your local community.
  • Chances are through either the reduction of waste, process, or distribution, you’ve reduced carbon emissions.

1 thought on “Regenerative Business Ideas – Value Added Products”

  1. Pingback: Moving the Food – The Forest Ranch

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