Green Business Ideas for Rural Areas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThose who live outside the cities often are seen as a disadvantage when it comes to having a business. Think outside the box! Here are five businesses you can do in many areas especially those that are more rural.

Composting This is about as low input as you can want and one of the lowest cost businesses to start. You’ll need materials to make compost bins often these can be recycled. Old barrels, metal garbage cans, remnants of fencing materials, wooden pallets and a host of other materials can be used to create bins. Often this is materials other people are throwing out. You can surround your bins with flowers to block the view or even bushes that give the birds shelter and food. You’ll layer raw materials manure, vegetation matter and soil and mix occasionally. People with livestock often have plenty of manure they’d happily give you a pickup load. Vegetation matter is yard waste as well as wood shavings (often used as bedding with livestock), much kitchen waste and grass after mowing the lawn. A little good soil keeps the compost starting good.

Start up costs are as minimal or deluxe as you want to be. This is something that can be done discreetly alongside a garage or in a back yard on a small scale. It takes about six months to “cook”- the inside of the pile when deep enough heats up. Stir the pile occasionally to mix all the “ingredients” together. You can get started with a pickup for hauling things and recycled materials; or if you are looking at more volume, a small tractor with a loader on it to mix the pile and handle heavier work. The compost is wonderful for gardens. Some studies show that the #1 “crop” in the US is lawn grass and a great deal of that goes “away” into landfills.

Build bat houses Did you know that bats consume thousands of mosquitoes every night? Many bats are facing housing issues due to lack of habitat making bat houses for home owners to put in their trees can be a way to help the bats survive and help ourselves without sprays as well. Bat house plans are easily available online. For the person with basic tools already the only cost is the wood to make it with and often you can get free wood, with permission, from scrap bins on construction sites.

Build bird houses and feeders bird watching is a popular hobby bird houses and feeders give the birds housing and food. There are many varieties on the market but dig deeper. Many owls take a larger house with special dimensions in order to be happy and many of these raptors are losing habitat. This is a chance to not only help your income but also create a range of bird houses for those birds few think about that perhaps aren’t as well known and loved as the cardinals and finches. You can also go for simplicity making bird feeders from pieces of wood with the bark still on them. A few holes drilled to put hangers in, some perches and slather a peanut butter (chunky is good!) and bird seed mix that gives the birds more than the typical bird feeder. A small “roof” over it helps deter squirrels as well as extend the life of the feeder’ and can be as simple as a clean can over the end nailed or screwed in place. For those with tools the startup cost may be minimal scrap wood, cans and other “recycled” items have a use besides clogging landfills!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGrow something good! Do you love to get in the garden? Grow herbs, vegetables or even a small fruit orchard and sell at farmers markets. You can start seeds, make “natural” crafts from gourds and other crops, sell the finished crops or maintain a “pick your own” format. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Cost for basic garden tools and seed under $1,000. If you are eyeing larger areas a small tractor with attachments makes work much easier. Alternately, natural animal power can do the work although a big slower they don’t use fuels.

Just spin it natural fiber from sheep is, for many, a byproduct. Fiber can be from. Alpaca, llama, angora goat (mohair), angora rabbit and even dog hair can be spun, mixed and used to create yarn for weaving and knitting or crocheting. You don’t have to have the animals for this you can probably find those contacts that have fleeces for sale. These can make not only clothing but wonderful wall hangings and other items for around the home. Many of these fibers are available around the world and the cost is reasonable. If you are taking “raw” fleeces you need a way to wash them, card it (separate into sections for spinning). You’ll need a spinning wheel and loom which can vary greatly in cost. You might consider natural fibers or natural dyes. Cost to start under $1,000 US for spinning wheel and loom, additional $400-1000 for a drum carder which allows carding of fleeces faster.

The economy can close doors but it can open others. What are your talents and how can you use them for green and green business?