Professional or amateur, any serious cook will always look for the freshest ingredients they can find to give their signature dishes that extra quality. However, because of mass production and extended periods of transport, finding the freshest food and spices can be challenging. That’s why many cooks will spend the extra time to seek out smaller, local suppliers.
They know that having the freshest herbs will do more for their finished product than anything else.
Obviously, there is a demand for fresh herbs, so what are you waiting for? You can easily supply this demand by growing herbs in a small garden in your back yard, on your balcony, or even in a window box. The great thing is that you don’t really need a lot of room to grow a good selection of some of the most popular herbs. In fact, some apartment dwellers have started very successful businesses with nothing more than a few containers set out on their balcony.
Anyone can start this business. However, it is very helpful if you have a green thumb or at least know something about growing food. Growing herbs is not going to be much different from growing any other garden item, but you do need to know a little about horticulture.
You should also have some business and sales savvy. If you ever want to see your product go beyond your farmer’s market stall, that is. If you can talk to people/stores and convince them to carry your product, it could transform your business.
Also, having some land is a big plus because you won’t be able to grow your business without it. Your few pots on the balcony won’t cut it for long. One positive is that herbs don’t take much space. Any size back yard should be suitable unless you hit the big leagues at some point.
How to Start
Start out by growing a small quantity of some of the more popular herbs. Once your inventory is ready for sale, go down to the local farmers’ market (or flea market) and rent a table for a weekend. You might be surprised at how quickly your supply sells out.
You’ll want to offer a variety of fresh and dried herbs. Learn how to dry herbs first, then package the dried product in plastic bags with an attractive slip of paper indicating the contents You can also offer “just picked” fresh herbs in water or even potted herbs that the customer can continue to grow.
This business works well in an urban environment because of the limited space required to produce the product and the fact that there is a hungry market.
Growing in small quantities like that is ideal to test markets and put a few dollars in your pocket, but if you are serious about getting into the herb business, you’ll have to think about growing on a lager scale.
Expanding Your Business
If you happen to live near a large city and you have a good sized back yard, you could scale this business to the point where you are selling your herbs at several farmers’ markets and to area restaurants on a full-time basis.
If your property is large enough, and you have the extra money to invest, you could even build a greenhouse and extend your growing season. Imagine the quantity (and quality) of herbs that you could grow in an average greenhouse (even a mini greenhouse).
Nowadays, there are greenhouses available in any configuration and some of them are custom made for growing herbs. The good news? They are relatively cheap and something that you can use over and over again. Here are some examples.
Though you should start small by selling your herbs at farmer’s markets, you might also want to consider offering to supply some of the smaller grocery stores. Your ability to sell face-to-face will be invaluable. However, you will eventually build a reputation through word-of-mouth and your potential client might already know who you are.
After that, there is no limit to how large you can build your operation. You could start building supply chains and hiring staff to take care of the day-to-day operations. Once you’ve got a substantial amount of money made, you could reinvest it in a piece of land that is dedicated to your business. This might include several greenhouses and buildings to process your product.
But, you need to begin somewhere – and this is one business that can easily be started with little money and a bit of determination. From there, it’s up to you to decide whether you just want a little part-time income, or create a business that will provide an above average living.