Start a pumpkin farm by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your pumpkin farm. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a pumpkin farm?
You’ll need to pay about $300 per acre, for harvesting costs. As for starting capital, expect to pay as much as $3,000 per acre for maintenance, harvesting, and growth. If you’re starting a small patch, however, the costs will be much lower.
What are the ongoing expenses for a pumpkin farm?
You’ll need to spend about $10 for a bag of pumpkin seeds. Aside from this, your ongoing expenses aren’t too critical. Your land’s rent is determined by its size. Expect to pay about $200 per month for equipment servicing, water, and other materials.
Who is the target market?
A pumpkin farm’s best customers are seasonal. As a pumpkin farm owner, you’ll need to focus on Halloween pumpkin shoppers. Other valuable customers include locals who make food with pumpkins. All in all, most pumpkin farm customers are the same. That said, customers should be careful around a farm’s pumpkins. While pumpkins are pretty durable, customers can accidentally ruin them. Children and animals require extra attention.
How does a pumpkin farm make money?
Pumpkin farms make money by selling pumpkins. Normally, pumpkins are sold by size or weight. Some pumpkin farms may offer hayrides or corn mazes for entertainment. Others may sell pumpkin carving stencils and tools. Get creative! Most pumpkin patches are similar, so those offering unique products can become local favorites.
A few pumpkin farms may want to sell other grown goods. Corn, squash, and other vegetables are great to sell. They can be grown easily, and can even be grown in the same plot as the pumpkins.
How much can you charge customers?
Customers can be charged about $5 for a soccer-ball-sized pumpkin. You can sell small, hand-sized pumpkins for as little as $1. Charge customers about $10 per person for hayrides, and use competitive prices when selling other products.
How much profit can a pumpkin farm make?
The average, small pumpkin farm can make about $30,000 per year. Profit varies greatly, however, as all farms are different sizes. Farm tourism is a multi-million-dollar industry in the United States, so location matters a lot.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Differentiate your patch as soon as possible. Around Halloween, a ton of pumpkin patches will pop up. Offer hayrides or other services, and offer competitive prices. Your location, too, should be thought out. Sell to families, and make your farm visible to schools.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your pumpkin farm is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a pumpkin farm business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Certificate of Occupancy
A pumpkin farm business is generally run out of a plot of land. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a pumpkin farm business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your pumpkin farm business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
If you plan to sell food at your pumpkin farm business, you will need licensing from a local health department. All establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection. Tips for faring well on a health inspection can be found here.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a pumpkin farm
Promotion and marketing should happen at the local level. First, figure out your market. Then, cater to shoppers who may want to avoid Big Box stores, or even grocery chains. These providers offer cheap pumpkin prices, and they’re your biggest competition.
Reach out to schools, carnivals, and small businesses. Ideally, you should be well-known around Halloween time. If you offer hayride services, games, and other amenities, market your business on Facebook for special events. It’s a good idea to promote your patch through carnivals and other events, too, keeping your customers informed through multiple providers.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Customers will be attracted by good prices and quality pumpkins. Because pumpkins don’t have much diversity, offering competitive prices is your best bet. Differentiate your pumpkin patch by being incredibly available, offering pumpkins year-round or by offering unique products.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Pumpkin Farm In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
The pumpkin farm business is great for farmers, Halloween-lovers, and those with a “green thumb.” If you like planting and selling crops, a pumpkin patch is a great business to own. Owners should be people-oriented, and they should love bargaining. A good pumpkin patch owner will also have a love for Jack-O-Lanterns and everything else Halloween-oriented.
Growing pumpkins isn’t too hard, and it’s a rewarding career. Even if you don’t have much experience growing or maintaining pumpkins, you can learn quickly.
What happens during a typical day at a pumpkin farm?
Pumpkin farm owners have several responsibilities. First, they need to plant pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin patch owners need to determine sunny, fertile areas. They also need to take care of drainage and watering. Soil needs to be tended to, and weeds need to be removed.
The patch needs to be fertilized, and disease needs to be warded off. Beetles, aphids, and bugs need to be protected against. Year-round, a pumpkin patch owner focuses on keeping their grounds safe. During autumn, they focus on selling pumpkins to people. Pumpkin farm owners must also pay hired hands, market their products, and reach out to the community.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful pumpkin farm?
To run a successful pumpkin farm, you’ll need to make sure your crops are properly maintained. Learn to grow, maintain, and harvest pumpkins before starting a farm business. An important part of crop maintenance is keeping away the various bugs and pests that can ruin your pumpkins, so you will need to know how to successfully keep them away from your crops . A pumpkin farm owner will need to understand seasonal growing cycles, harvesting techniques, and mildew prevention.
On the production, marketing, and management end of things, a pumpkin farm owner needs to understand the ins and outs of local marketing. A lot of a pumpkin farm’s business comes from local buyers, so having a good handle on the local economy can help, too. Pumpkin farm owners should be able to manage a few workers, talk with customers, and make a welcoming environment.
What is the growth potential for a pumpkin farm?
Most pumpkin farms are small. Some, in fact, are only seasonal. If your pumpkin farm has a long-standing history, however, it can get assistance from supporting groups. A lot of resources are available, and a successful pumpkin patch can easily become a local attraction.
To become a preferred pumpkin farm, however, you’ll need to connect with your area’s farm association. Farmer’s market associations, market cooperatives, and food associations are your friend, as they can help your business succeed and expand. A very successful pumpkin farm can even sell pumpkins to local grocers. While rare, some pumpkin patches may expand to providing pumpkins to large-scale produce providers.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a pumpkin farm?
Integrate with local schools and institutes. You should enter the market from a fun perspective. For this reason, you should connect with younger audiences. Keep track of your number of customers, and scale up based upon profit alone. Also, learn to gauge your farm’s average pumpkin yield, annually. You should compare this yield to your area’s other providers. By tracking these metrics, you’ll be able to price your pumpkins better. Record all sales, and use any data to plan for future years.
How and when to build a team
You should build your team as soon as possible. Your pumpkin patch should have between two and three extra hands from the get-go. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to run a pumpkin farm—labor-wise. If you have a larger farm, however, you’ll need a team of three to five before completing an entire growth season.