What are you planning to make?
One sentence? Help a friend retire and fulfill my dream of collecting and growing heirloom flowers to sell so I can also continue to do ceramic art.
My friend of many years, from back when we were both first starting out in horticulture at once famous begonia and fuchsia nursery, would like to retire.
And he has offered to let me take his place at his current location in Freedom, California. He rents a greenhouse and sales area from another nursery which is very established and well known retail nursery. We both love fuchsias and begonias and Michael has a collection of both which rivals almost any other collection in the western United States. Over the years, I have acquired the majority of one type of fuchsia from him. But if I am going to take his place, I need to be able to purchase at least one of each of the hundreds of varieties I do not yet have before they are all sold as he goes into retirement.
Of course he will be maintaining the bulk of his collection at his private residence, where I could purchase any remaining varieties from him, but if I am going to be making cuttings to produce my own inventory to start selling in the spring of 2018, it would be best if I purchased those varieties sooner as possible. Many of the cultivars Michael has cannot be found anywhere else. And many of them are known by name only in listings by the American Fuchsia Society. Their flowers have never been documented in photographs. These are heirloom varieties which have been registered by their hybridizers with the society. My personal goal has been to prevent these heirloom varieties from disappearing and to continue my search for many which may have already been lost.
I have always wanted to collect and grow fibrous begonias which used to be so popular when everyone had a kitchen crowded with houseplants. Here again, Michael has a collection which rivals many and the American Begonia Society members in the San Francisco Bay Are region are hoping that this collection is preserved and continued to be available for future collectors.
And there are a number of other flowers I would like to continue growing, many of them natives to this country or at least unpalatable to the deer!
Why do I need help for you?
I need assistance in renting the nursery during the period of time when I will be making cuttings, sowing seed, and getting an inventory ready for next spring. I also need assistance in building tables for my rooting trays. The greenhouse currently has no tables and this is not good for the plants or one’s back! The greenhouse is 20 x 60 feet with shade area in front which measures 40 x 60 feet.
I would like to build 30 four and a half foot square tables for the trays I use to grow my plants. The combination of tables, trays, and cones in this greenhouse means I would have room for 24,000 to 48,000 small plants depending on which cones are used. And there is no power to the greenhouse! So I would really like to get a portable solar generator for it to keep it cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and other power needs. I have priced a good one at about $3,000 from earthtechproducts.com. This is about the same as a gas or propane generator, but here on the sunny coast of California, I’d rather go with solar.
I grow my plants in cones such as the ones used in tree nurseries and I currently have 20 trays that fit 200 plants and 20 trays that fit 100 plants for a total of 6000 young plants. I would like to increase this number to be 240 trays.
I also need equipment such as hoses, spray nozzles, planting mix, more rooting trays, and fertilizer.
What am I bringing to the table?
I already have a collection of almost 300 upright fuchsias. There are basically two forms of fuchsias, uprights and hanging baskets.
My current nursery which was on-line sales only, focused only on the uprights because they can live for more than 100 years and many of the species have edible berries which make delicious jam.
But when I moved my nursery six years ago, I accidentally moved it to an area where it froze, then the deer I didn’t know lived here mowed down what came back up. By the time I got my stock plants back out of the ground and into a deer proof enclosure, I had no inventory left to sell and decided to go back to college to get a degree in Sociology while I learned the art of ceramics. Now it is time to restart the engines and get my nursery going again!
I have a website I built myself after teaching myself how to use Dreamweaver. It is an older version of Dreamweaver and I need to take time this winter to learn the new version so my website will be mobile device compatible. I also grow long stemmed English lavender which I weave into lavender wands in four sizes and thirty colors which I sell on Etsy in my store called Pedricks.
And I use the dried lavender in my one of a kind sock dolls stuffed with lavender and topped with one of my hand crocheted lace caps.
These are what I am offering as rewards for your participation! Lavender wands can only be made during a short period of time evey summer, so they are limited in numbers. I usually sell out by the end of the holidays and I currently have enough inventory to get me through the winter. But that is assuming I sell all of my inventory and it will not sell soon enough for me to help Michael sell his inventory for his retirement.
Plus, I have another Etsy store called CatDancingArtStudio where I have begun to sell my ceramics. I currently do not have the equipment necessary to continue working on my ceramic skills and this nursery would enable me to make this dream come true. Ceramics allows me to bring several of my favorite art forms together. Such as carving, drawing, and painting. I am offering my wheel thrown plate and bowl sets as part of the top rewards for participating.
My Etsy store called Pedricks, has a very high customer satisfaction rating. They post all of the reviews there for the public to read. I work hard to make a quality product and take good care of my customers, and I look forward to doing this again for customers in person. Last, but not least, in order to bring attention to my Etsy store via assisting others, last November I began a blog called ArtisansOfAmerica.info where every single day I post about an artist and links to their websites. To date, it has had almost 25,000 views. I tweet each post and I pin each post to Pinterest. My Pinterest boards are getting an average of 10.6K views/month, which I hope to improve by continuing to add new named varieties of fuchsias on a regular basis as I add them to the website.
I also use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and a blog for PedricksCorner to bring attention to the business. And I will continue to do this for the new nursery.
What is the schedule?
Michael retires in just about a week! His official retirement date is September 15th, but I have assured him that he can continue to use the greenhouse as his inventory is sold and my new inventory takes over. I want to help him sell as much of his inventory as I can! So I have added him to my website and I have been promoting him via Facebook. I need to start planting seed so I have crops to sell while I am growing some of the thousands of small starts grown from cuttings into larger one gallon and five gallon plants.
I will have at least 5,000 rooted starts ready to go by spring. If this campaign is a success and I am able to focus on the nursery, I could have 15-20,000 cuttings planted and rooting by spring.
What is the budget?
$1,600.00 New stock plants from Michael
$1,500.00 30 tables @ $50 each: 4.5 ft sq with 8 trays per table = 800-1600 plants per table
$300.00 Planting soil mix
$300.00 Hoses and equipment
$2,000.00 240 additional new trays to fill up the greenhouse run about $8 per tray.
$3,000.00 Portable Solar Generator
$4,800.00 Rent for first year @ $400/month
$1,500.00 New cells for trays (about $125-$150 per case of 1500-2000 cells)
For a grand total of $15,000.00
What do you get?
If you help fund me, you will have the option to choose either an immediate return in the form of postcards, lavender, and ceramics I have already made and can send as soon as the campaign is successful, or the choice of waiting for live plants from my new inventory to be shipped to you next spring. And a promise to keep you informed along the way!
Why should you care?
Because you love flowers! Because you want to help preserve heirloom cultivars of a kind of flower that hummingbirds love because they are from their native origins in South America.
Because you would really love to know what fuchsia berry jam or ice-cream tastes like. And the ripe berries, by the way, are very black. They make a brilliant purple syrup and are probably higher in anti-oxidants than blue berries! I would love to grow enough Fuchsia bolivianas to provide fresh berries to upscale restaurants for their desserts. But that is down the road…
Because I have been waiting all of my life for the opportunity to do this and be able to do my art in the winters.
Most of all though, because maybe you care about foster children who have "aged out" of the system but still need help. I was a foster child at one time, I know how they feel. And I would really love to be in a position to assist a succession of those who would like to go to college and need a place to live rent free.
Risks and challenges
When you are dealing with live subject matter, there is always a great deal of risk and challenge involved. From the weather to the local economy. The plants can perish for a number of reasons. But there is always the chance of renewal! The challenge will be to re-educate the public about fuchsias. They were once a big deal here in the United States and still are in Europe where there a many fuchsia nurseries and thousands of people collect them and show them in competitions.
But art is also a risk and a challenge isn’t it? You can put your heart into a masterpiece and thousands of people will tell you how beautiful or moving or powerful it is, but they won’t buy it. It takes that one person who really wants it, and it can take years before that person finds it.
There is also the possibility that for some unforseen reason, Gustavo or his family decides to sell his business and a new owner would not allow me to rent space there. But Gustavo loves his work and I can't imagine this happening. And even if it did, the bottom line is, my nursery would be better off than it was and could relocate. There is no way I would not find a way to move forward.
- (30 days)