Last year I started watching the show “Filthy Riches” on National Geographic. Well, technically I started watching it on Netflix, National Geographic is the station that created and owns the show. If you haven’t heard of this show, they show some really unique ways people are making money from nature these days. I thought I would share with you some of the ideas they aired on the show, and then some additional ideas that the every-day person can do. Please note, I have not personally tried any of these ideas, but found them very intriguing so I wanted to share. Let me know what you think down below!
Searching for Bloodworms
If you have experience fishing, you probably have heard of a bloodworm. Bloodworms typically live in the mud of oceans. They are called bloodworms because they are full of blood which attracts larger fish. To find bloodworms, you have to live near an ocean and have a license to dig for them. Now this isn’t a normal rake/hoe this is a short hand-held rake with 4 or 5 prongs that is specifically built to dig through the mud. Here is how this works.
Once you have your license, you need a rake/hoe, thigh-high mudding boots, warm clothes, a bucket, and a partner. Once you have donned your “mudding” attire, grab your bucket and your rake and wait for the tide to go out so you can go search on the mud flats. Always go with a partner because there are spots of mud that are like quick sand that could quickly make this outing very dangerous for you. Once you are on the mud flats, dig for bloodworms until the tide comes back in. Just make sure if you happen to cut into a bloodworm to put in back into the mud. Otherwise, it may harm your other worms. Once you are done collecting your bloodworms, return to your “worming station”, rinse off and count your worms, and get a check before you walk out the door. The guys on the show typically walk out with $100-$200 in their pocket in each day from a few hours of digging for worms.
Fishing for Eels
On the “Filthy Riches” show, there is a guy who is kind of like an engineering genius. He lives alone in a house right beside the river, and every year builds and takes down his eel trap called a weir. He then takes the eels he catches and smokes them in a special smoker room he built. Once they are ready for eating, he sells them at the store connected to his house. They are considered quite a delicacy and he is able to make a decent living from doing this. Now he will tell you, all he does is work and there are not enough hours in a day to do all the tasks that are required to keep his business going.
If you decide to try this style of living, just remember he has been doing this for years and still experiences setbacks. Bears and eagles may try to eat your eels, heavy rain and high waters can flush away your eel trap, your smoker may start to overheat and ruin all the smoked goodies inside, you may have no customers come to your store, and you need a lot of equipment and preparation to keep the whole operation running.
Diving for Urchins
Urchins is valued for the orange goodness it holds inside of its hard exterior. This is called its inner roe or uni. Urchins are in high demand but there are a lot of restrictions on how often you can dive, collect, and sell them. To help protect the urchin population, you must have a license and you are placed into either zone 1 or zone 2 which gives you a 15 day or 38 day window to collect a certain limit of urchins each trip. The two men on the “Filthy Riches” show would bring in around $2,000 a day by doing this, but if you decide to explore this remember that you will need to invest in diving equipment, and hire someone to man your boat, or you will have to rent someone else’s boat if you do not have one.
Foraging for Mushrooms
I personally do not enjoy eating mushrooms, but the mushrooms they are picking on this show look delicious. I had no idea there were so many different types of mushrooms such as “shrimp mushrooms” that are good to eat with seafood, chanterelles that have a fruity taste, and morels (worth up to $20 per pound). Again, you must have a license to be able to gather and sell mushrooms. You must also have a great knowledge of the different types of mushrooms that are edible and those that are not. You could easily make a couple hundred dollars a day doing this depending on the quality of mushrooms you find and who is willing to buy them.
Ginger is a highly coveted plant mainly for its medicinal qualities known to boost energy and increase concentration. On the first season of the “Filthy Riches” show, a family had started a business foraging, gathering, and selling ginseng. Again, you will need a license to harvest Ginseng and you will need to live in the eastern part of North America or Canada. Ginseng can be found in the forest regions such as the Appalachian Mountains. If you decide to pursue this, please make sure to do your research and be sure to plant the ginseng berries every time you dig up the plant.
Digging up Burls
Before this show, I had never heard of what a burl was and perhaps you haven’t either. A burl is a bump or growth near the base of a tree trunk. They are highly sought after because of their beautiful coloring and swirling grain patterns that is used to make high-end furniture and guitars, and even used inside luxury vehicles. These burls can bring HUGE payouts. We are talking about thousands of dollars. But gathering these burls involves a lot of work.
You first have to find the burls, then get permission to dig up the burl from the landowner. Typically, getting permission usually involves paying them. Then once you are able to dig up the burl, you need heavy excavating machinery which is going to be a large investment for you. Then you need to safely dig up and cut down the tree the burl is attached to so that you can bring the burl to your buyer where it will be shined up and eventually put in someone’s vehicle or office.
If you love animals and have the ability and space to own them, you may want to look into breeding. I know this isn’t technically making money from “the land” per se, but I think this is still a great way you can make money. There are tons of species of animals that you could breed and then sell for a profit. Just be sure to use fair breeding practices and be respectful of your animals.
If you have the space and the land to own chickens, ducks, or quails you can harvest their eggs. Eggs from chickens are definitely the most common and are probably easier to sell, but you could also try other animal’s eggs as well.
If you have an animal that produces milk, then you can try to make cheese. You can eat the cheese you make which will save you money, or you can sell it to help make you some extra money. Personally, I would probably eat all of the cheese I made, because I love cheese, but I hope that you are able to show some self-control J
If you own a pond, or some source of natural water on your land, you could stock it with fish and then either charge a minimal amount to fish in your water source, or have fishermen pay to keep what they catch based on weight.
Please remember that many of these options require a special license, and for you to behave respectfully and responsibly. You will want to make sure to familiarize yourself with your area’s local laws as well as the national laws of your business. I think all of these suggestions are perfect for you, if you don’t particularly enjoy sitting in an office at a 9-5 job or if you love being in nature.
Share below the creative ways that you have found to make money from the land! Also feel free to share, and like this post on social media.