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Plants & Agriculture

Organic Farming

If you love farming, now is the time to get in on the booming organic market.

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Business At A Glance

Organic Farming

Startup Costs: $10,000 – $50,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Is it time to sell the house in the city and move to the country, but you’re just not too sure what you could do to earn a living? Well if that’s your dilemma then perhaps organic farming is for you. In the past decade organically grown and produced food products have really taken off in popularity and have been scientifically proven to be better for our health.
 
Of course, operating a farm that grows organic foods requires a great deal of consideration and research prior to committing, not to mention an extremely large financial investment. However, the current demand for organically grown foods shows no sign of slowing down and will only continue to expand as the human population continues to become more concerned about maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Plants & Agriculture

Herb Farm

Feed the popular organic market with fresh herbs.

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Business At A Glance

Herb Farm

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

Herbs are tremendously popular these days–from the smallest shop to the largest discount warehouse, you’ll find medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, and herbal teas, baths, candles and aromatherapy essences. If you love the romance and mystique of herbs and you like gardening, then an herb farm might be just the business for you.
You’ll plant and raise your herbs, then sell them to wholesale or retail customers. You can also sell container plants or herbal products like soaps or vinegars. Some herb farmers operate pick-your-own fields where customers can gather their own plants. The advantages to this business are that it’s just you and Mother Nature–this is real back-to-basics stuff, good for the body and the soul–and you can start from home, part time if you like.
You can start out small, growing your herbs in a large backyard or renting inexpensive land, but keep in mind that your profits will also be small unless you’ve got two-digit acreage. You’ll need a solid working knowledge of growing and nurturing herbs. If you’ll be working several acres or more, you’ll need to know farming techniques as well–commercial growing is different from coaxing along a few plants in a backyard border.
You’ll also need a firm grounding in the wholesale herb business–what’s popular, who’s buying it for what purposes, which herbs are best abandoned to agribusiness and which new herbs are likely to be the ‘in’ product in the next few years. (Since it can take two years to reap the rewards of your labors, you’ll need to forecast at least this far ahead.) In addition to all this, you’ll need top-notch sales and marketing skills to get your herbs in the marketplace and keep them there.

The Market

Your customers can be wholesale distributors buying for health product manufacturers, grocery chains and restaurants, or you can sell directly to these businesses yourself. You can target other SOHOs–artisans and crafters who work with herbs–as well as caterers; makers of beauty, health and skin care products; and natural-foods stores.
 
You can sell potted plants to garden centers, florists and nurseries. And you can put your herbs directly in the public’s hands by selling at farmers’ markets and flea markets. Your best bet for selling to other businesses large or small is to develop a niche–a specialty that’s fresh and new in your area–so that instead of competing, you’ve got an untapped market.
 
If you want to go the wholesale route, contact distributors (which you can locate through herb and specialty foods organizations). To sell directly to SOHOs, take samples of your herbs to them and ask for their business. For farmers’ and flea markets, contact the market organizer to find out about fees, then make space reservations–display space at some flea markets and swap meets can be very competitive, so don’t wait until the last minute to make arrangements. If you plan on a pick-it-yourself operation, advertise in local papers and put advertising/directional signs on roads leading to your farm. (Make sure to get permission from land owners and local zoning authorities.)

Needed Equipment

First and foremost, you’ll need a good chunk of soil. If you’ve got acreage, you’re ahead of the game. If not, you can often rent land inexpensively–try power companies with fallow land beneath their towers or property owners with unused acres in rural areas of your town or county.
 
One thing to watch for is that wholesale buyers of natural products may require your farm to be on certifiably organic land–one on which nothing was previously grown using pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. (This certification comes from a state agency or a private organization, depending on your state.) Next you’ll need seeds and growing supplies. If you live in a cold-weather locale, you may want to invest in a greenhouse. You’ll also need a pickup truck or van to deliver your produce to customers.

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Plants & Agriculture

Herb Gardening

With today’s focus on health and gourmet food, there’s no better time to start growing herbs.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Herb Gardening

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

A small plot of land in your backyard can easily be converted into a cash-producing herb garden. Dill, parsley and chives are just a few of the many herbs that can be grown at home for profit.
 
Get started by spending time at your local library and on the internet to learn as much as you can about herbs and herb gardening. The rest is very simple. Plant your garden, grow your herbs, design some herb packages, and set out to establish accounts with local merchants to sell your goods. Like any new business venture, there’ll be a learning curve. However, the rewards of a few extra thousand dollars each year can justify the effort.

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Plants & Agriculture

Gardening Classes

Share your greenthumb with others. It will add green to your pocket.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Gardening Classes

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Teaching ‘how-to’ gardening classes can be a fun and profitable instruction business to start. The classes can be conducted right from home utilizing your own garden as the basis of the instruction class. Successfully marketing this type of instruction business is best achieved by establishing alliances with local garden centers that can refer your ‘how-to garden’ classes to their customers.
 
Additionally, writing and publishing an annual gardener’s handbook that features local gardens, gardeners, and gardening tips is also a fantastic way to increase business revenues and profits. The gardening book can be sold through local retail merchants and can be partly supported by selling advertising space in the book to local gardening businesses. Securing a mere 20 clients per week, each paying $50 for a day-long ‘how-to garden instruction course’ will result in yearly business sales of $50,000.

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