Monday, July 30, 2012

Growing Herbs at Home for Profit


I started growing a herb garden a few years back because my husband is a Chef and his culinary recipes require fresh herbs. The herbs that he purchased at the grocery store were very costly so I decided it would be wise to offset the costs by growing our own. In passing, I mentioned to some friends that I was growing culinary herbs and they asked me to grow some for them too. In a few days, I had enough special orders for herbs to start a small part time business. 

If you enjoy gardening then you will love growing herbs for a profit. Start your business by having a business plan.  Study the demographics for your area to determine what herbs would sell best.  If there are many independent restaurants then culinary herbs would be marketable.  

If there are many  independent health  and  farmers markets then grow both culinary and herbs for tea or medicinal healing.  After you decide on the type of herbs that you will grow for a profit you would then check your business budget.  Know before you start a home business what funds are available.  Never start a business that cannot afford. 

Buying and Growing Quality Herbs
Look for quality herb plants to grow quickly for a quick return and also purchase seed in bulk.

Buy healthy and bushy herb plants at your local nursery at the end of season and grow them indoors or in greenhouse, under florescent grow lights . In the spring plant herb seed indoors 8 weeks before the last spring frost and then transplant outdoors into raised garden beds that are located in sunny section of your yard. 
Care for your outdoor herbs by installing a slow drip soaking hoses and set the hoses on a timer.  I set my herb timer to water the gardens from 6: to 7 a.m.
Check your plants daily for pests and brown spots on leaves.  Make sure your herbs are hydrated.  
Parsley Italian Flat Leaf Certified Organic Seeds

Organize your Herb Business
Organize your work day.  While my herbs were being watered I would check my website and answering machine for client orders. If there were orders I would contact the client and confirm address and give them a delivery time.  All herbs are picked fresh when the order is received and delivered to the client’s door.  

 To save on costs I purchased string, hole punch, and business cards. The business cards had my contact information, herb prices and the delivery information times and fee’s for delivery. The harvested stems of herbs were tied in a bunch with string and my business card was attached by looping string through the hole. I then placed the herbs in clear open ended plastic bags and sold the herbs in bunches that were either small or large.





Network Your Home Business
Network your herb business by handing out your flyer or business card to restaurants manager, friends, neighbors, and post on bulletin boards of churches, library, and gyms. 

Sell your herbs at farmers markets. Increase sales by selling herbs in larger quantities’ at 10 to 15% discount.  Offer the restaurant manger or natural food store a discount to entice client to buy more.  Sell high quality herbs to clients and they will advertise your herbs by word of mouth.
Raised herb garden with Swiss Chard, basil dill, chives, oregano, lemon mint rosemary

Tips:
1 An answering machine is essential, as you do not want to miss a client herb order; however it is better to have someone answering the phone.  Sometimes you lose the sale if you miss the call.

Design a website for your small business.  Take photographs of her herb gardens so clients can see that the plants are high quality.  Add your photographs to your website.

 Add your delivery fee into the price of the herbs. The client will assume that delivery is free and will order more herbs. Set your boundaries for your delivery area. 




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I made sample assortment of fresh herbs and gave to  my friends that enjoyed cooking.  I also gave them my business card.  By giving them the herbs I was able to introduce my business as well as my quality herbs to them. In return I gained new clients.  

Dill is my best selling herb. I sell out of it in June.  Here in my area people use it to pickle cucumbers. 

Start your herb business small and grow it over the years.  

Business Investment / Start up Costs
I used what I had and bought what I needed.  Here is a list of my costs for my herb home business.
Herb plants: $96.00
Starter Seeds $36.00
Bed installation: Weather treated wood and materials for frame $180.00 
(I made the raised garden beds )
Weed barrier: Newspaper liner $4.05
Gravel: shoveled gravel from creek. Used for proper drainage in bed.
Soil / Compost: Free made my own from compost bin
Mulch: Dried grass clippings
Soaking hose: 2 for $32.64
String /business cards: $20.00
Total $368.69

Tips
Growing herbs for a profit is a great home based business, for stay-at-home-moms or dads or for anyone who enjoys gardening. 

Start up costs for herb garden are minimal and the time required to care for your plants is part-time. Even if you work outside the home, you can maintain an herb garden and grow herbs for a profit.  



1 comment:

Deborah Waltenburg said...

A ton of excellent advice!! I love growing herbs...makes the menu so much more appealing when you have all that flavor to add!! Thanks for sharing this!