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Thread: Need advice on my Business Idea: organic veg gardening workshops/consulting

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    southern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    244

    Default Need advice on my Business Idea: organic veg gardening workshops/consulting

    I sure seem to be dominating the gardening section of the forum right now. Can't help but think about gardening a ton this time of year.


    An idea I've had for a long time is to make a business out of helping other people start up their own organic/ecological edible gardens. I figure that there are lots of people who want to start growing their own veggies, herbs, berries, fruits, etc., and who want some in-person advice.

    Sure there is the internet, there are books, there is personal experimentation, and people do just share knowledge for free too - - not everyone would pay someone money to tell them how to go about things.

    But that being said, people do pay to attend workshops. People do pay landscapers to do the work.

    Personally, my favorite thing in the world is to share what I know about growing food. Every farm I ever apprenticed on, I would be the main person to give tours to visitors/volunteers. This past summer when I co-managed a market garden, same thing - I loved showing people around, telling them all about soil health, companion planting, integrated pest management, the little I know about plant breeding, wild edibles, etc etc etc.

    So it only makes sense to turn something I'm extremely passionate, and moderately knowledgeable, about, into a business.

    2012 would see me doing this only on evenings and weekends while working 9-5 Mon-Fri, in the city. (Future years: full-time, but back out in the country).

    I'm thinking...

    (A) I want to write a basic 10-20 page "Intro to organic gardening" booklet, something for the first-time gardener, that covers the basics [Note: would double as something to iinclude in a teotwawki survival seed kit] - would be a mixture of science, and my own experiences and opinions, with a whole lot of "you could do this this way or that way."

    {A2} I've also been wanting to put together a simple "intro to wild edibles / edible weeds" booklet, also useful for pre- and post-collapse gardeners/foragers.
    - - Charge people something like $2 for either of the booklets


    (B) Teach 1-4 hour "Intro to Organic Vegetable Gardening" workshops, based around the booklet - which I would give to workshops attendees for free
    Maybe also do an "Intro to Wild Edibles / Edible Weeds" workshop, or, attach it onto the gardening workshop.
    Would do these in the my own garden, so I could demonstrate, not just talk.

    (C) Offer up my services for One-on-One consulting ("I will walk your yard with you, give you ideas, help you put together a design, a plan; advise you on places to acquire soil amendments, mulch, seeds, seedlings; direct you to some good books, websites, videos, etc,")
    - Not just consulting, but, physical help too, "I will help you break ground, improve your soil, make some raised beds, seed and transplant, mulch"
    - - Consulting / Helping would to some extent be the same as the workshop, but, one-on-one rather than in a group, and, in the clients garden not mine.

    (D) and (E) In the long run I would want to have a plant nursery business, so I could sell people seedlings rather than direct them to where to buy them. I would also want to fully plant people's gardens for them, and just teach them how to maintain and harvest their gardens - but I don't feel like I can do this just yet - and wouldn't want to do this until I had the nursery set up too.


    So... Feedback: I know everyone reading this will live somewhere different, but...
    Could you see there being a market for this?

    How much would you pay to attend, say, a 2-hour workshop? {I was thinking $10 per person, which seems to be way cheaper than my handful of competitors}

    If you were a rookie gardener looking for help, how much would you pay someone to walk around your yard with you, then sit down at your kitchen table, and help you plan out your garden? On a per hour basis, or, based on the garden size?
    {I was thinking $10 to $12 per hour}

    How much would you pay someone to help you plant or maintain your garden?
    {Again, $10 or so an hour}

    How much would you pay for consulting/labor if you still had to acquire the soil amendments, seeds, seedlings, tools, and the consultant just does the labor of putting it all together? {$10-12?}
    How much more would you pay if the person was more than just a consultant/laborer, but, actually a landscaper - supplying all the inputs? {$15 an hour, + cost of inputs}.

    Anyone on this forum done something like this (workshops, consulting, landscaping) themselves, and have experience to share?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by adamandah View Post

    But that being said, people do pay to attend workshops. People do pay landscapers to do the work.
    Yes, people do pay landscapers to do the work. I have done several garden installations in the last 3 years, everything from consultation to prepping the garden area to installing the plants.

    The sad part is that more than half of the customers do not continue to maintain the garden after I have it started for them. People do no want to put in the time and/or effort - they don't even water regularly when they have paid me to install irrigation for them.

    You will have a better response to advertising this type of service in a suburban area. City dwellers have no space, and country folk already have gardens. You might make more money if you are willing to do the actual labor to install a garden, especially starting with nothing but a section of someone's back yard that has only had chemical-fertilizer treated grass. Most people want the easy way, and will pay you to do the work if they want the garden bad enough. My best referrals, though, are from those people who follow up, heed my advice, and continue to ask for help when they need it. They usually end up with productive gardens that others see and then want for themselves. Those who do not put in the effort on their part may tend to blame you for their failure - get used to it. You cannot go to everyone's house to weed, hoe, and water for them on a regular basis.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    southern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    244

    Default

    Sgt.Psycho thanks for sharing.

    The area I'll be living post-April, i.e. where I would want to do most of the consulting, is somewhat suburban - (post WWII bungalows, bigger lots than those a few miles closer to downtown).
    It seems fair to assume I'd get more consulting/landscaping clients in the 'burbs, but think I would have an easier time with workshops closer to downtown (more hippies/yuppies there).

    Thanks for the heads-up, "Those who do not put in the effort on their part may tend to blame you for their failure - get used to it"

    Let me ask: how much of the landscaping work you do with organic(-ish) and edible? Do you do other types of landscaping work? Is it your main source of income? (If so, what do you do in the winter?)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    East TN Smokey Mountains
    Posts
    4,892

    Default

    it could work.
    you might think about specializing in permaculture or forest gardens.
    everybody think they know how to grow annual veggies - rent a rototiller, get some seeds at Walmart - why do I need to pay to learn that.

    on the other hand ask someone about plant guilds and see what they say.

    I would have an easier time with workshops closer to downtown (more hippies/yuppies there)
    permaculture is all the rage with yuppies / ex hippies

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    North Florida
    Posts
    211

    Default

    I like your idea. I am hoping to start a Patio Garden [in pots] for the First time this year. But I live in NE Fla. so a good [cheap] webinar/class would be a suggestion.
    The Booklets you mentioned [for 2 bucks, are so affordable I know I would want one].

    Since me and my sister are currently starting Home Based Small Businesses, feel free to Private Message me and keep me posted on how it goes.
    Good Luck in your venture. Blessings, CeCe
    :)

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