How to Start a Strawberry Farm in 14 Steps (In-Depth Guide)

Updated: February 22, 2024 is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Strawberries remain one of the most popular berries in the country, with demand steadily rising over the past decade. In 2022, the market hit a $19 billion evaluation and should reach more than $32 billion by 2031. For those considering strawberry plants as a source of income, now’s the time to plant strawberries.


As health consciousness grows, so does interest in berries. With versatile uses for snacking, salads, baking, jams, and more, homegrown strawberries appeal to consumers across demographics.

This guide will walk you through how to start a strawberry farm. Topics include market research, competitive analysis, marketing, customer focus, registering an EIN, obtaining business insurance, forming an LLC, and more.

1. Conduct Strawberry Farm Market Research

Market research is essential to any business planning to grow strawberries. It offers insight into the best time to start growing strawberries, when to avoid planting strawberries, top forms of fruit production, your local target market, and more.

Some details you’ll learn through market research for your strawberry farming business include:

  • The average American consumes a staggering 6.5 pounds of fresh strawberries per year.
  • Berries now rival oranges as the most popular fruit choice.
  • The best harvest often comes from June bearing strawberry plants. June-bearing strawberries develop flower buds late in the summer season.
  • Nearly 90% of consumers report purchasing strawberries in the past 3 months.
  • Strawberries support heart health, blood sugar control, anti-inflammatory response, and cancer prevention.
  • Most states can support local strawberry farming during the warmer months.
  • Homegrown berries command premium seasonal prices, often fetching 2-3 times more per pound than wholesale California berries at the grocery store.
  • Beyond fresh eating, strawberries hold appeal for baking, jams, beverages, juices, and more.
  • Kids, teens, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers all enjoy strawberries, making them relevant across demographics.

While land, labor, and initial investments pose barriers, profit potential remains high. Smaller farms can net $15k to $60k per acre, with premium organic fetching 2 to 4 times more. Direct marketing through farmers’ markets, farm stands, and “pick-your-own” u-pick ventures can boost revenues.

2. Analyze the Competition

Competition analysis is essential for any new farming venture. For strawberry farms, key competitors fall into a few categories:

Research larger commercial strawberry operations in your state or region. In areas like California, prime growing areas are dominated by sizeable producers exporting berries across the U.S. Smaller local farms generally supply direct-to-consumer channels instead.

Profile nearby u-pick/agritourism farms. Search online directories and county extension guides to identify alternatives. Compare acreage under production, operating months/hours, pricing, and any value-added products or farm activities offered. This establishes the competitive bar.

Evaluate availability and pricing at regional farmers’ markets and farm stands. Visit markets during peak strawberry season and note key vendors and pricing across different berry cultivars. This can help shape competitive pricing and positioning.

Finally, search online to review the web presence and digital marketing of competitors. Assess their professionalism, product photography/messaging, website optimization, search visibility, and social media engagement. This flags areas for differentiation.

While the commercial berry industry is consolidated, opportunities exist through direct farm marketing channels. Carving out your niche requires the vigilance of regional alternatives consumers have to source and enjoy fresh, locally grown strawberries.

3. Costs to Start a Strawberry Farm Business

When budgeting to start a strawberry farm, numerous expenses arise. We’ll review key start-up and ongoing costs to provide realistic financial expectations.

Start-Up Costs

  • Land Purchase or Lease – Acquiring prime land suited for strawberry cultivation tops the list at $15,000 per acre or more to buy, or $1,000+ yearly to lease.
  • Site Preparation & Soil Amendments – Clearing, tilling, grading, installing drainage systems, enhancing soil nutrition, and fumigating for pests often add $5,000-10,000+ per acre.
  • Irrigation & Water Access – Drip irrigation, pumps, pipes, and water access can tally $2,500-$10,000 per acre.
  • Plants & Propagation Materials – Procure day-neutral bare root or plug starter plants from reputable nurseries, budgeting around $4,500 per acre.
  • Propagation materials like containers, trays, grading equipment, and plant food total $500-$1,500 more.
  • Field Supplies & Equipment – Priced from $3,000-$15,000+ depending on scale and whether buying new or used equipment.
  • Facilities & Buildings – Basic storage sheds or shade structures run $2,500 on up. Cooler rooms for storing freshly picked berries can cost $5,000-$10,000.
  • Professional Services – Lawyers and accountants help guide business formation, trademarks, food safety protocols, employee policies, taxes, and insurance at an initial cost of $2,000-$5,000.
  • Business Formation, Licensing & Insurance – Forming an LLC or corporation brings state fees of $500-900.
  • Working Capital – Keep at least 6 months of operating expenses accessible, so $10,000-$30,000+ depending on your monthly costs. This financial cushion safeguards through unforeseen issues.

Ongoing Costs

  • Hired Labor – At $15-$20 hourly for farmhands, labor represents one of the largest recurring costs. For small operations of 1-5 acres, allot $15,000-$50,000+ annually for workers.
  • Input Supplies – Fertilizer, pest control, harvest containers, frost protection, field tools, and irrigation parts collectively amount to at least $2,500-$7,500 outlaid each year.
  • Equipment Maintenance – Expect $500-$5,000 for the yearly upkeep and seasonal servicing of tractors, field implements, facilities, drainage systems, and more.
  • Marketing, Insurance, Utilities, etc. – These easily sum $5,000-$15,000+ per year for small operations. Larger enterprises and agritourism farms cost considerably more to promote and run.

By budgeting smartly for all start-up land, crop, tooling, labor, distribution, and infrastructure expenses, new strawberry farmers can create a bountiful business. Committing sufficient working capital until reaching annual profitability is key.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

When establishing a strawberry farm, properly structuring your business entity brings key legal and financial advantages. We’ll compare options to steer new growers towards an optimal framework.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship represents the simplest and most common small business structure. Strawberry farmers function as independent owners declaring farm profits/losses on personal tax returns. Low initial paperwork and compliance needs benefit new operations.


General partnerships allow strawberry farmers to combine resources with joint ownership distributed across partners. Partnership flexibility assists businesses in changing strategic direction. Unlimited personal liability still leaves owners vulnerable. Ambiguity around authority can breed conflict between partners over time.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

For small to mid-sized strawberry farms, LLCs offer the best of both worlds. As LLC owners, farmers limit personal liability and shield personal assets to the business investment amount. LLC income/losses pass through to members’ taxes, avoiding corporate double taxation.


C corporations stand as separate legal entities from owners, providing full liability protection. Ownership is easily transferrable through selling stocks. Outside investments can fund major farmland, facility, or distribution network expansions.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

Forming a formal business entity like an LLC requires obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Much like a Social Security Number for an individual, EINs provide unique identifiers for tax and filing purposes.

Securing an EIN is mandatory for any LLC with employees, or otherwise necessary in opening business bank accounts, applying for licenses/permits, and documenting farm revenue.

Registering online streamlines the process. Simply navigate to and search “apply for an EIN”, then click to reach the online EIN Assistant. This walks applicants through a series of questions about the LLC structure, ownership details, and responsible parties.

After specifying the LLC is being formed to operate a strawberry farm, the Assistant then prompts filing as needed for employment taxes, excise taxes, or both depending on your hiring plans. The tool auto-generates an EIN confirmation which can be printed directly without awaiting mail delivery.

The entire online EIN process is free and takes under 15 minutes from start to finish. Providing the EIN thereafter to financial institutions when opening business bank accounts or applying for farm loans simplifies those applications.

Additionally, small businesses must register with their State Department of Revenue to collect/remit sales tax on goods sold. For example in Florida, berry farms must file for a state Tax ID through the Department of Revenue’s convenient online portal.

The $5 registration cost and minimal quarterly filing burden pose a small price to legally operate. Thankfully no federal or Florida permits exist specifically for berry farms – the EIN and sales tax ID complete the major regulatory needs so the focus can remain on nurturing those sweet, ripe strawberries.

6. Setup Your Accounting

Meticulous financial tracking is essential for new strawberry farms. Without organized expense reporting, inventory controls, and sales documentation, crucial tax deductions get missed which lowers profitability.


Accounting Software

Implementing small business accounting software like QuickBooks establishes the digital infrastructure for consolidating financial data. QuickBooks integrates with bank/credit card accounts to automatically import and categorize income and expenses, saving hours of manual entry. This software often runs $10-50 monthly.

Hire an Accountant

Enlisting an accountant handles bookkeeping, payroll, quarterly/annual tax paperwork, and optimizing write-offs so farmers focus on nurturing berries. Expect fees of around $100 monthly for basic QuickBooks assistance and up to $500+ monthly for comprehensive accounting support. Come tax season, accountants charge at least $500+ for filing Schedule F and other small business returns.

Open a Business Bank Account

Using a dedicated business checking account facilitates tracking farm-related banking. Single-member LLCs allow personal depositing to simplify transfers, but strictly business activity simplifies documentation. Recording all revenues and separating vendor payments while filing regular Profit &

Apply for a Business Credit Card

Small business credit cards help track expenditures without commingling personal budgeting. Building business credit also spurs access to higher limits and better terms than relying solely on consumer cards. Have your EIN and LLC documentation ready when applying to banks.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Before welcoming your first customers, strawberry farmers must validate full legal compliance. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

Nursery Registration Since strawberry farmers propagate thousands of plant runners for fruiting, all growers require a state nursery license. In Florida for example, registering as a nursery growing stock for commercial resale costs $100+ annually through the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Cottage Food Operation Value-added products like strawberry jams, preserves, or baked goods allow farmers to maximize crop usage while boosting revenues. For approved low-risk offerings produced in home kitchens, consider a Cottage Food permit which runs around $150 annually.

Certified Farmers Market Registration Many strawberry farmers directly market through local farmers’ markets. State departments of agriculture oversee certifications to vend approved products publicly.

In Florida for instance, an annual farmers market permit starts around $350. This reviews application criteria like vendor product sources, handling practices, inspection results, and liability insurance maintenance. Registration simplifies getting approved to vend at local markets countywide.

8. Get Business Insurance

Though extra costs strain farm budgets, business insurance defends berry growers against scenarios jeopardizing their harvests, properties, or livelihoods. General liability coverage insulates owners if visitors get injured onsite. Produce coverage shields against crop loss from unavoidable issues like storms, diseases, or equipment breakdowns.

Without protection, a guest breaking an ankle on uneven ground could pursue legal and medical fees from personal assets. Crop insurance provides vital income stability when forces beyond control damage yields.

Additional uninsured threats like fire, vandalism, or vehicle accidents open scary liability. One student group wanders unsupervised smashing thousands of green fruit. A neglected brush pile ignites flames which spread destroying your barn. An inexperienced driver crashes your produce van rushing berries to market.

Securing coverage begins with inventorying assets on hand plus documenting annual revenue and expenses. Insurers also evaluate risk factors from location, crop types, and onsite activities. Understanding these inputs allows brokers to source plans balancing ideal protection and affordability.

Expect to provide lots of specifics on operations, land, equipment, staff, and financials. Multi-peril packages blending general, product, and equipment insurance cost around $5,000 annually for small berry farms, decreasing on a per-acre basis for larger growers. Review all policy terms to avoid surprise loopholes or delays if catastrophe strikes.

Strawberry crop yields and farm continuity depend on many unforeseeable factors, making insurance an essential business safeguard.

9. Create an Office Space

Though centered outdoors, securing office space assists in developing strawberry farms by providing infrastructure for administration, planning, and off-season work. We’ll compare facilities with potential use cases.

Home Office

Converting a spare bedroom or basement into a basic home office running $500+ offers farmers without public venues an inexpensive starting point. This backyard hub supports daily paperwork, quick computer tasks, or phone calls in a quiet, convenient setting separate from family activities.

Shared Coworking Space

As farm staff expands or more collective storage is needed, leasing desks within shared coworking spaces like WeWork allows convenient access to printers/copiers, conference rooms, and front desk staff to handle mailings. Coworking rates range from $200-$500 monthly per dedicated desk, with flexible membership tiers to meet evolving needs.

Retail Farm Stand Office Strawberry operators vending from on-farm stands position small office nooks or clearance areas to stash supplies when not serving customers. Mini-sheds, retrofitted shipping containers, or a blocked-off barn corner minimally furnish spaces for daily operations or quick sales data entry at the point of commerce.

Commercial Farm Office Ambitious strawberry farmers managing larger teams or commercial volumes can invest $1,000-$5,000+ monthly leasing conventional office suites. While pricier, the professional setting and ample room to house multiple employees keep everything conveniently accessible in one secure headquarters.

While day-to-day strawberry farming remains outdoors, maintaining some office footprint matching current and future administrative needs saves time, provides operational infrastructure, and lends professional legitimacy as the berries and business continue growing.

10. Source Your Equipment

Properly equipping a new strawberry farm spans securing land, irrigation, facilities, field implements, and harvest gear. Balancing costs and reliability leads most farmers to blend channels.

Buying New

Shiny tractors, berry containers, and the like project professionalism but squeeze startup budgets. Still, directly purchasing critical items that directly contact edibles like food-grade storage bins from commercial suppliers ensures peak sanitation and durability. Try Equipment Wholesalers for farm tools.

Buying Used

Gently used equipment significantly discounts spending while still meeting needs. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist reliably connect farmers to previous owners selling quality tools, contingent upon careful inspection. Cold storage units, diesel generators, and many implements easily transfer between owners.


Seasonal or midscale equipment avoids massive upfront investments by renting only as needed. For example, tilling extensive acreage or erecting special event tents temporarily shifts costs to periodic rental fees rather than ownership. Rental shops dot most regions offering reasonable rates and equipment flexibility.


Committed berry farmers preferring the latest gear every few years can leverage leasing agreements, essentially long-term rentals eventually returning implements. This frequently applies to expensive harvesters, conveyors, transplanters and processors best sourced new but too burdensome to purchase outright.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Cultivating an identifiable brand helps farms stand out from commodity produce by showcasing their unique growing practices, fruit qualities, or customer service. Memorably branding your berries makes impressions stretching long after those sweet, ripe flavors delight patrons.


Getting a Business Phone Number

Acquiring a dedicated business phone line professionalizes communications versus relying solely on personal devices. Services like RingCentral deliver call routing, voicemail transcriptions, nationwide numbers, and even text functionality across your devices for $30+ monthly.

Creating a Logo and Brand Assets

Logos encapsulate brands instantly, whether opting for illustrative, symbolic, or typeface-based marks. Looka‘s logo generator quickly crafts custom images like a playful strawberry mascot matching your vision and color palette. Those farm-defining graphics can adorn packaging and all other visuals.

Creating Business Cards and Signage

Hard copy collateral like Vistaprint business cards and exterior signage makes memorable first impressions while establishing legitimacy. When networking or negotiating wholesale partnerships, professionally printed cards support credibility.

Purchasing a Domain Name

Securing aligned domain names ensures customers locate you online while relaying offerings. Services like Namecheap make registering and managing domains simple, typically running under $20 annually.

Building a Website

Every farm requires an online hub detailing offerings, hours, contact forms, and e-commerce functionality. Leveraging DIY website builders like Wix expedites the creation of stylish, responsive sites without coding expertise, typically running $10-$50 monthly. Those less web-savvy can hire experts online via marketplaces like Fiverr to handcraft sites around $500+.

12. Join Associations and Groups

Beyond networking, plugging into local berry grower organizations, trade events, and online communities gives farmers continual insight into amplifying yields, adopting best practices, and building market visibility.

Local Associations

Area strawberry commissions and growers associations like the North Carolina Strawberry Association or Florida Strawberry Growers Association connect producers for marketing promotion coordination plus events like summer field days with guest speakers covering novel growing techniques.

Local Meetups

Attend area farming tradeshows, panels, or agritourism seminars like those discoverable on sites such as Meetup. These recurring events allow growers to exchange insights into maximizing berry quality and productivity. They also build local camaraderie between regional farms as harvests approach.

Facebook Groups

With over 54,000 members, the Strawberry Farm Facebook group and others facilitate crowd-sourcing answers to production issues from pest management strategies to preferred berry varieties and direct marketing innovations.

13. How to Market a Strawberry Farm Business

Spreading the word about your flavorful, ripe berries requires strategic promotion to entice initial customers and maintain buzz as each seasonal harvest approaches. Balancing word-of-mouth referrals, digital discovery, and targeted advertising makes your farm more discoverable across demographics.

Referral Marketing

Everyone craves community connections. Early on, tapping personal networks to sample berries helps validate quality. Satisfying those initial visitors sparks invaluable referrals, especially if thanking cheerleaders with farm gift baskets showing your gratitude.

Digital Marketing

  • Run Google/Facebook ads geotargeting nearby fruit lovers, optimized per click or impression with monthly budgets as low as $100
  • Start an email newsletter with seasonal availability updates, new product launches, and special subscriber promotions to drive repeat purchases
  • Post videos displaying behind-the-scenes processes for educational and transparency appeal, distributing across social media
  • Optimizing SEO elements like page titles/descriptions improves search visibility for niche terms around u-pick berries

Traditional Marketing

  • Design eye-catching print flyers for placement at local shops, libraries, and realty offices to complement digital promotion
  • Sponsor a little league team or community festival to tie the farm to hometown happenings
  • Place ads in regional gardening publications to inspire amateur growers with your propagation at scale
  • Negotiate an underwriting trade out on community radio stations potentially exchanging berries for underwriting shoutouts

The most effective outreach interweaves digital discovery and one-to-one sharing. This cyclical promotion between virtual mediums and physical connections, constantly referencing each other in where to first encounter your berries, builds synergistic impressions ultimately accelerating trials.

14. Focus on the Customer

Strawberry farming depends on recurring customer purchases to support operating expenses across tight seasonal production windows. Building genuine community connections through exceptional service quality cements loyalty even when commodity berry prices fluctuate at grocers.

Delighting patrons with every interaction differentiates the farm-to-table experience from impersonal produce aisles. For example, infusing warmth into each check-out conversation instead of merely transactions shows you treat community members like family.

Inviting field trip groups and explaining propagation methods in student-friendly ways creates positive impressions reaching parents across the region. Families then visit to anticipate that same educational hospitality around your organic practices or bee pollination partnerships distinguished from industrial competitors.

Human-centric hospitality remains the special sauce that has helped beloved strawberry farms thrive for generations, despite agribusiness mechanization. Sustaining community trust through quality service makes all the difference.

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