Today there is a very large demand for locally grown organic produce, herbs and spices that is expanding exponentially. The home based entrepreneur has a unique advantage due to the demand for local content which can only be satisfied by local growers (for most Farmers Markets that is a geographical radius from 0 – 100 miles of the market). Added to this opportunity is the demand for organically grown herbs and produce preferably from organic seed sources that have not been genetically altered.
Most consumers are more than willing to pay extra for the products based upon the consumer demand for “local” and “organic”. Here are some of the marketing bullets for this type home based business:
Our immune systems need local stimulation from exposure to local germs in order to develop and protect. When the food is harvested from all over the world a new source of non-native, non-natural bacterial organisms is being introduced that is foreign to our everyday existence.
Organically produced plants, especially herbs where you eat not the fruit but the plant itself, need to be pesticide free so that no harm to humans. By organically growing the herbs, fruits and vegetables the customer is assured of safe, environmentally friendly plants and growing conditions.
Locally grown means local financial support which is important as many people are limiting their non-working hours to enjoyment of the local activities.
Marketing a sweet basil plant becomes more personal when there is one on one contact and education by the actual person who grows the plant. There is a bonding, branding, loyalty developed that follows not only the product, but the person and business.
Customers will pay more for a locally organically grown plant than for a mass produced eggplant from South America grown on 500 acres.
Product diversity is easier for the small backyard grower and can be done based upon what the customer wants to buy. Great example is Swiss Chard, a hot weather salad herb, that appeals to those living in hot humid conditions but want salad type herbs.
With herbs the unused parts of the plant can be cycled into craft/aromatic items like potpourri, nose gays, insect repellents, skin lotions and creams. This actual use of the entire plant prevents waste of nutrients from the soil for a sole part of the plant such as the fruit only.
Customers are becoming wary of certain gene altered products and prefer older heirloom varieties. This is not only because fear of the unknown of how the alteration could affect their health, but also if the alteration affects the pollen production then the entire honey bee cycle and pollination for all the plants is harmed. This is environmentally unsustainable.
Organically grown, not gene altered plants, have a shorter freshness cycle generally and can not be easily competed with by large corporate farms because of the shorter shelf life. This means once a niche is established then it becomes increasingly more difficult for market entry by potential well financed competitors.
By growing organically then backyard composting, including leaf collection, become a source of nutrients for your garden and helps recycle existing waste into usable sustaining, free materials to maintain your garden’s high nutrient values, which also improves your final product.
Often all that is needed to start is a prepared garden plot, organic plants from organic seeds, and finding a local market to sell the final products.
For some entrepreneurs they can include home delivery if a local market is not available. Most customers will willingly pay for at your doorstep service. Home delivery also offers the opportunity to “sample” new products such as a new line of fragrance based potpourri for the customer to try. If like, then the after production harvest can be made with local ingredients and some nice Christmas potpourri gift items extend the product line.
Opportunity abounds for the home based entrepreneur to supplement their incomes, or survive on that new business from the income generated.
Bob Johnson and his family are the founders of HerbFest which is one of the largest herb festivals in the U.S. It lasts for 10 days and has a vast array of organically grown herbs, vegetables, tomatoes, pepper plants and more with most grown from organic seeds.
Photo. Megan Markham