Earn Extra Income with your Garden or Greenhouse
Have you been thinking about how you can start a greenhouse business? A greenhouse is a great investment for the entrepreneur. Why not take your hobby to the next level? Now you can enjoy the rewards of greenhouse gardening, feed your family nutritious food, and share in your bounty while making money with your greenhouse business venture. Here are some very creative ideas for making money with your greenhouse.
by Werner Buccholz
From Garden and Greenhouse Magazine
Every serious backyard grower, small acreage farmer, and greenhouse grower eventually seems to run into the same situation and comes to the point where after working diligently in starting seeds, propagating cuttings and transferring plants to increasingly larger pots. What to do with all those seedlings and plants that you just don’t have any room for.
Being a serious grower can be and is a costly enterprise and despite all the personal satisfaction and all the oooh’s and ahhh’s from admiring friends and neighbors, it still costs plenty of green to keep your enterprise going, sometimes that cost continues year-round.
So why not turn some of that green into cash. Due to the high cost of transportation and the eco-trend to buy locally, now is a great time to create an outlet for your plants and make some extra income.
No matter where you live, or how big or small your growing enterprise is, you can locate many places to sell to. Some outlets are great for just a few plants at a time and others work best for larger and higher volume sales. In this article I will give a few examples of where you might want to pursue selling your plants. These are just a few examples and with a little creativity and depending on your local markets, you should be able to come up with a bunch more.
Flea Markets are an obvious market for your excess plants. Where we are located in Florida, flea markets are available all year long with a tremendous amount of tourist traffic as well. There are many flea market operators that have made a full and part time business selling at these types of markets. Most flea markets charge 20-30 dollars for a weekend sale and considering the amount of traffic you get, it is a very reasonable way to sell your plants. If you do not want to invest the money or spend a weekend at the flea market, another approach would be to see if one of the more permanent flea operators would want to buy your plants for resale, or you could even offer them on a consignment basis. This way you have no investment in time or table fees and you can collect your cash and any unsold plants at the end of the weekend.
Florists are a great place to sell your excess plants especially if you like to combine plants or pot your plants into nice and attractive containers. Most florists will take your plants on a consignment basis and pay you at the end of the week or month depending on the type of arrangement you work out. The upside on working with florists is that they can become a very stable and steady market for your plants, and they can advise you months ahead of time about what seasonal plants they may be looking for. Don’t forget about cut flowers from your garden or greenhouse as well, especially if you have local flowers that the florist cannot get readily from their suppliers.
Florists are usually premium product sellers and therefore your profit from this type of sale should be very good, quality and presentation will be the rule.
Farmers markets work essentially the same as the flea markets other than farmers markets will tend to focus on fruits and vegetables not just from growers but wholesale produce sellers as well. You can work the farmers markets the same way as you would the flea markets. Also if you do not want to invest in the space you can take the same approach and see if one of the regulars will share some table space and sell your plants for a commission.
Health Food Stores
What a great place to sell your herbs, healing plants, tomatoes, peppers, cut flowers and just about anything else you can grow in your garden. You can sell your items as ready to eat or to grow in pots and containers. Health food stores are especially on the outlook for local suppliers. The key to this market will be your ability to supply products to this market on a regular basis. If you have a greenhouse and can provide fruits or vegetables that would be typically out of season is a great plus and will help to bring you premium prices for your products.
How can you sell your greenhouse and garden products to pet stores? Think live catnip for cats and grasses for hamsters and birds. I know of several companies that sell tens of thousands of these plants in 3 and 4 inch pots to pet stores throughout the country. In this case as others there is a real advantage to having a local supplier providing fresh quality plants on a weekly basis to your local stores. Many times when they have a national supplier, the pet store usually runs out of plants and re-orders too late resulting in lost sales to the pet store owner. These plants also do well in health food stores as buyers are always looking for fresh and healthy things for their pets as well.
The world is your marketplace when it comes to selling your product on the internet. There are some cautions you need to exercise however when approaching this market. There are state agricultural laws that prohibit certain or even all types of plant sales across state lines. In addition some shippers will not ship soil, or heat sensitive shipments. Check all issues carefully before you invest time and money in this venture. This is also a good marketplace for seed sales and the restrictions on seeds are a lot easier to work with. Another issue that may limit your sales is that the cost of shipping is sometimes more than the cost of the plant and makes it more difficult to procure a sale.
Don’t forget about all those seeds you have collected from your growing seasons and in your greenhouse, including some of those heirloom plants that you have been cultivating for years. With all those hybrid and crossbred proliferation of plants out on the marketplace, there is a high demand for quality heirloom seed material. You can use the internet suggestions on how to sell your seeds. You may want to research your states requirements on selling seeds as many states have regulations on the packaging and selling of seeds for a particular growing season.
If you happen to have just a few seeds of a bunch of different varieties, don’t forget the on-line trading sites, where for the price of postage you can trade for other seeds or plants you are looking for.
My guess is that you plan your greenhouse or garden for seasonal plantings. Keep this in mind when you wish to sell as well. Miniature sunflowers sell great in the summer and fall, vegetable and annuals in 4 inch pots sell well in the spring. Ask your local retailers or go to the large garden centers to see what they are selling at various times of the year. When in doubt, it is always good to watch what the big boys are doing.
Having a garage sale? Why not add some of your plants to the sale, or have a yard sale with just plants. Your neighbors will make great repeat customers and you can do it at your convenience right outside your front door. A small yard sale ad in your local newspaper as well as a few well placed yard and street signs will bring lots of potential customers your way. You will probably run into other local gardeners that may share similar growing interests. You can even open up your greenhouse and garden and let your customers pick a fresh harvest and pay by the pound.
Most convenience stores are very comfortable selling inventory on consignment. Just ask the owner if you can place a simple stand right outside the front door. All those hundreds of customers will be walking past your plants on the way to pay for their gas and getting their other items. It is a great spot for impulse sales and I have sold many plants using just this method. Show up at the end of the day to collect your sales and take home any unsold plants.
Don’t forget that there are probably dozens of other markets that you can pursue. Just recently we did a plant sale at a local elementary school the Friday before Mother’s Day. We sold 1000 plants in 5 hours donated some of the profits to the school and made lots of kids happy. Check out local plant club chapters, PTA fundraisers, local arts and crafts shows. The opportunities are endless.
Werner Buchholz is a freelance writer, he also develops and markets plants grown by micro-propagation, plant tissue culture, as well as carnivorous plants. You can reach Werner at email@example.com, www.bbgroup.us