Friday, March 13, 2015

Nursery

This post is a continuation of the series "Dreaming Big", If things don't make sense you might want to read that article first.
 
Why start with a nursery?
  • It makes effective use of the land right from the start. The last thing I want is for the land to sit idle.
  • It's a low cost business to get started. Yes, you can buy expensive equipment but that's more as the business scales larger. For a start, there are very few things needed to be successful. Especially if I don't take on debt to get the land.
  • The labor is mostly bench work to start, meaning I could likely do my grafts, rooting, sprouting, etc. during the week and take them to the land on the weekends and by making  effective use of passive watering systems I shouldn't have to worry about babysitting when I'm not on site.
  • Since I will be commuting to the land anyway, it might be possible to deliver plants personally without additional fuel costs.
  • It is a high demand business with a very wide market. I won't have to develop the market from scratch like I will with some things.
  • I can sell wholesale as well as direct without tons of legal hassle. This means that even if I don't get a premium price for wholesale, I can at least keep income coming in while I develop a direct market.
  • Trees can be potted and sold off site at farmers markets if time allows.
  • It's easy for people to support the farm by buying something local that you are likely going to buy anyway; and if you buy direct you might get it for around the same price you would pay anyway.
  • For people interested in helping with farm work, say an intern, the chores involved in a nursery are pretty strait forward for people to do without requiring a lot of training or prior skill. That means that no matter how many higher skill businesses we add, we always have a good place to put people that will actually help the farm; and gives them a feeling of being successful instead of throwing them in over their head and having them not enjoy the experience.
I've done a lot of thinking about what would be the best first business to build the backbone of 500 Year Farm on and I can't think of anything that would be a better fit than a nursery.

Much of my information on running a nursery comes from Grant Schultz from Varsaland and I encourage you to check up on his work. He is a fantastic resource.