About this project
Thank you to Jared at http://www.redchapcreative.com for donating his time to create our video. You can also view the video on youtube at http://youtu.be/5bwinBEj-3c
Here is a little about why I want to open an organic nursery in Bakersfield, how I will make it work, and what I'll do with the funds. Please send me a message if you have questions.
Market Situation: Non-organic nursery stock has been shown to kill or damage individual bees, beehives, and native pollinators. Beehives are collapsing at an unprecedented rate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that beekeepers have been losing approximately one-third of their hives each year. But word of hive losses in the 70-90 percent range were reported last winter. Of the 55 nurseries in Bakersfield and Kern County (8,161 square miles), none are certified organic. This leaves a dearth of certified organic nursery plants and seeds for the local organic gardener to choose from. This lack of access to certified organic nursery stock leaves the whole county's bees vulnerable, and local homeowners and gardeners without options. Here in the breadbasket of the nation, this is just unconscionable.
Our Solution: Stop killing native bees and other pollinators due to the use of conventional nursery stock. By using certified organic nursery stock, seeds, and supplies you can eliminate the risk of your garden poisoning native bees and pollinators. Organic, open-pollinated varieties of native and pollinator attracting plants will bring new wonders to your garden, increase the nutrition and decrease chemicals in your food, and let the bees and other pollinators thrive.
Market Definition: Bakersfield and Kern County area (population 865,000). Organic gardeners, homeowners, environmentalists. We will obtain a USDA Certified Organic License. USDA certified nurseries are non-existent in Kern county at this time. We will be first to market with such a concept in this large metropolitan area.
Market Size: A recent survey by the National Gardening Association showed that approximately 17 percent of America's gardeners use organic methods only. Many others use a spectrum of conventional and organic mixes. According to the 2009 survey, almost a third of American households intended to grow food that year, a 19% increase over 2008. So if one-third of people in Bakersfield and Kern County garden, and 17% of those do so organically, that would be approximately 45,000 organic gardeners with little to no access to certified organic nursery stock in their local area. Ordering organic nursery stock by internet is expensive, especially when shipping costs are added. I can provide a better local product at a comparable price. I hope to gain 25% of the organic market in Kern, since there are no current operators; the internet is the primary competitor. If each of approximately 11,250 customers purchased $10 worth of products that would equal a market value of $112,500 per annum.
Market Plan: I will establish vendors in Bakersfield, including Farmer's Markets and retail establishments. I will use these vendors until I make enough profit to rent my own retail space. I will begin the start-up by buying supplies September 1, 2014 and begin selling plants October 15, 2014. There is a long fall gardening season here, and in fact it is year-round if one so desired. I will raise the plants on my own 1/4 acre property. I will use the cash flow from plant sales to purchase seed and supplies for the spring 2015 planting season. I will also buy certified organic seed in bulk, repackage it, and resale it. I will begin selling Spring plants and seeds in early March or April 2015, depending upon the weather. This fall/spring cycle will continue, with increasing sales and stock each year, as I plan to reinvest a minimum of 50% of profits into the business. If necessary, I will reinvest more. I will keep the remaining profits for my salary for the first two years. After that, I will reassess my budget, as business and cash flow increase.
Nursery License - $150
Organic Certification - $1,500
Supplies - $1,800
Postage - $100
Fees, taxes - $400
Rewards. - $50
Total Budget - $4,000 first year startup costs.
Risks and challenges
Obstacles that I will face are those that all farmers face: weather, pests, and disease could strike. I will mitigate some of the weather issues by growing starts in a small greenhouse. I will combat pests and disease through organic means only, which means possibly discarding infected plants if they pose a danger to the rest of the crop. My 40 years experience with agriculture and horticulture will serve me well if these problems strike.
I do not expect to reach my full client base until at least the fall of 2015, so there will be little profit for the first year. Once my superior, premium products are being marketed throughout the county, I will be able to start a larger crop, and reach many more customers.
Bad economic times could also be a factor, though Bakersfield and Kern County are both experiencing job growth at this time. I have 20 years professional experience working with budgets, including government contracts. I understand the concept of budget development, projection and revision, when necessary. I was also in personnel management, so if I am successful enough to hire someone eventually, I am well versed in employee law, taxes, and employee management.
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After asking that question of several conventional nurseries, this was the most common answer, "It's too expensive to be certified" The second most common answer was, "because we wouldn't be able to spray for pests, so the plants may suffer cosmetic damage from them. Then people wouldn't want to buy them."
While it's true organic produce is not always picture perfect and may sometimes have a few pests occasionally, but they are free of deadly chemicals. I'd take that trade-off and hope others out there would too.