There are 43,560 square feet in 1 acre. The potential of netting $1 per square foot or $43,560 net profit from 1 acre is very real (remember you are selling direct). The catch is that 1 pound of produce per square foot equals 21.7 tons of produce per acre; you’ll need 400 to 1,000 customers to consume that much produce.

Researchers at Virginia State University (VSU) are trying to demonstrate the profit potential of small acreage vegetable farm operations. The research effort has been dubbed the 43,560 Project, noting the number of square feet in one acre. The goal is to gross one dollar per square foot.

This story was reported recently in the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it can be done if a person is willing to work,” said Cliff Slade, a 59-year-old retired agricultural extension agent and one of the researchers on the project.

A return of $43,560 per acre might be four times the return of a typical large-scale commercial vegetable farm. Though Slade notes that while many farms will figure out the production side, the problem might ultimately be finding the right marketing outlets.

Likely outlets for produce from farms using the 43,560 Project model would include pick-your-own, farmers markets, independently owned restaurants, and through shares in a community supported agriculture program.

Additional Resources

Expected Vegetable Garden Yields</>

Plant Spacings in a Square Foot Garden</>