Skylark Land & Homes LTD
No-win no-fee planning for residential plots
For those with green fingers, there are endless opportunities to use this to your advantage when it comes to establishing your own kitchen garden business.
Whether you have a pristine garden or are keen to get your hands dirty growing vegetables for the masses, here are some ideas of how you could turn a hobby into a business.
Growing flowers is incredibly rewarding and potentially a great business. The colours and fragrance make them an easy sell, both planned and impulsive.
To make your business profitable you will need to really understand flowers and the planting calendar, knowing what to plant and when for maximum output and profit.
Stick to easy to maintain flowers and those that are appropriate for the weather and soil conditions in your area. There is a reason daffodils are predominantly grown in the South West. Local, natural, and simple is a brand which is appropriate to the product and with limited supply you can charge a premium.
See also: The story of Maddocks Farm Organics
There are a lot of purchase points for cut flowers, which as a small supplier you may not be able to access, so think about cornering a niche to set you apart from the competition and concentrate your marketing activity on those customers.
Plan for the really busy times, Valentine’s and Mother's Day for example, but find creative ways to encourage sales at other times, such as classes or pick your own.
Time tip - an evening to spare: Use potential wastage creatively and to encourage new customers - organise a last-minute flower arranging session at no charge, potential customers will leave with an arrangement and a very positive impression.
If you are lucky enough to have an abundant harvest and no room left in your freezer you can turn your produce into profit. Leaflet locally with a list of what is in season inviting people to order then offer customers a regular potluck delivery to include whatever is blooming that week.
Display your produce at the gate with an honestly box, you may not make a fortune but people will come back again and again for field-fresh produce. If you are thinking of making a go of this type of business, this is a good way to ‘test the water’ and see if the demand is there.
You could also pickle and preserve fresh ingredients in small quantities and include in your potluck box or sell at local shops. Work with other growers to pool your produce and approach local restaurants and outlets, they won't buy one kilo of courgettes but may buy ten. Concentrate on niche or traditional produce, if you can, restaurants are likely to buy smaller quantities of unusual produce. This is a really good place to start when thinking of expanding.
Time tip - an hour to spare: Do some networking and find out what local restaurants and cafés are looking for and see if you can grow it and supply them.
Luckily for you, there are many more people without green fingers than with, so competent, equipped and reliable gardening services are always in demand. Professional gardeners work quickly and safely and can transform a garden, and with many people living busy lives customers are more and more willing to pay for fabulous, stress-free gardens.
Target customers to match your skills, locality and time availability, ideally you don't want lots of driving between jobs nor to work 24/7. A good starting point is to approach private residences, shared gardens around flats, hotels, offices, care homes and local letting agencies. All of these would be likely be regular maintenance contracts to slot in around more creative design and planting jobs.
See also: Business start-up guide - Tree surgeon
You could also consider offering a 'garden sitting' or speciality service for holiday homes, or work with elderly or disabled people who have the interest but not the strength. Most of your marketing will be by word of mouth, ensure you ask existing customers to recommend you. It’s also worth considering investing in a basic website with lots of pictures of finished jobs.
Time tip - ten minutes to spare: Create a professional logo online and use it to advertise your business everywhere not just on a business card. This could be displayed on the side of your van, on your overalls, on the side of plant labels.
Top tip for those who have green fingers:
Being so seasonal and reliant upon the weather will mean you will need to make hay while the sun shines. Luckily, not everything blooms at the same time so network with other growers, swap seeds, secrets and skills but most importantly barter your time and help each other out at busy times.