Episode-813- Growing for Market with Steve “The Greenhouse Guy” — 20 Comments

  1. Great!! Love having someone from my area on the show. So many ideas. Have already propagated some plants while listening.

  2. Very informative. Great tips for selling at markets and getting started. Sounds like a very smart man. Looking forward to spring with all these great tips I have now.

  3. This show turned on a big light for me. I am working on a plan to be able to retire early from my current job and move into a second career. This show helped me understand I can add market gardening to my plan. I love to garden, and will now focus the next two summers on improving my gardening skills and developing heirloom tomatoes and other veggies for local farmer’s markets. Building a greenhouse is already one of this year’s goals, and I was glad to see Steve’s covered with snow, as that can easily be the case up here in Minnesotat.

    • Rick, for me this is the perfect retirement sideline business. You can spend your days doing what you enjoy at home in your garden or greenhouse and the get the satisfaction of selling the fruits of your labor. Sounds like you have the right plan though, start slow and evolve.When you come up with a negative or a reason why you can’t do something call me I love helping others solve problems..Good luck and keep the green side up. Steve

  4. I give you both credit right now. I have asked here and at 5 W/ Jack how I might earn being unemployable through the VA. I am allowed to earn a bit each month but could not figure out how to limit income. This is my golden ring, you and Steve gave me the idea. No it won’t pay off my house in a year, but it can give me something I can do, work which is my passion. I volunteer almost every day for several hours, so I have a purpose (by the way at the christmas party I found out that my hours translate to $20/ hour in equivalent donations through certain government programs).

    Thanks for the push.

  5. Great show I was glad to see it pop up today! Building a green house is at the top of my to-do list at the moment and this is extra motivation to get in gear. With all the ideas I can see how you can quickly run out of room and why you have folks needing longer or multiple hoop houses. BTW I love the idea of selling starts then planting what didn’t sell and selling the harvest! I am going to jump on peppers and herbs they grow great here and it’s insane how much herbs are at the store when they are super simple to grow and dry I know your results may vary in other locations but I think like you said start small and with something that works! Thanks Steve & Jack!

  6. I would encourage everyone who listens to this show to consider what specific agricultural venture they might set out on. Steve touched on a number of issues that pertain to any agribusiness venture when selling at a local farmers market. You can apply that wisdom and this show to any enterprise. And while some might want to do plant starts as Steve does, consider the possibilities of taking a passion you have and making it a side business. Perhaps you long to have an orchard, larger garden, berry plants, raise livestock or produce honey. Begin to think about producing enough overflow that it becomes possible to sell it and offset some of your fixed expenses for that enterprise. Eventually, it will produce a profit. It’s also an economy of scale thing. It doesn’t take that much more effort to care for 100 tomato plants vs. 24 you might have for your own use. Nor does it take that much more effort to raise 4 hogs instead of just 1 (in fact the equipment cost is the exact same!).

    This is where farming, business and preparedness converge – and I love it! If you were going to plant a berry patch anyway because you love berries, then plant enough that you can sell some and write off a portion of the expenses at the same time. Or if you want to raise your own meat chickens, raise enough additional birds to sell off and pay for your own meat and equipment while you are at it. If times get tough, you will have an abundance of one thing that everyone else needs: food. And most likely, you are simply going to be expanding upon something you were going to be doing anyway. You also may just find that your passion becomes your livelihood and is more than a retirement income.

    A couple of important notes to point out: Nearly all of the best farmer’s markets occur on Saturday, which mean most regular 9-5’ers can participate. Also, they all work very differently. In Central Indiana, you pay a fee per week or season not a cut of the weekly sales. Some are “vendor only” markets (meaning no reselling) and are what we attend. I would suggest staying away from flea markets or markets that allow all kinds of goods not produced by the person selling them. They don’t attract they type of customer a local food producer is looking for. Lastly, keep good records, run the numbers and charge what you need to charge to compensate yourself for your time and efforts. If it is a good product, people will pay you a good price. Do not under price your products.

  7. If you ever make it to Oklahoma City, take a tour of the Myriad Botanical Gardens. You can see a vanilla orchid growing there. It is a vine/parasite. Very interesting plants of all sorts there including cacao (where cocoa beans come from) and allspice.

  8. Hi, was wondering if you ever thought about having a 24-hr loop streaming url that we could just plug into our software radio apps. it would be more convenient for me to just be able to check you on my radio player than to have to download a podcast.


  9. I looked into doing this on a small scale and just a note- most farmer’s markets require every vendor to have insurance on their booth. The cheapest policy I could have purchased was $300 a year, which would not have been cost effective for me. I attended a series of classes on “Growing for Market” through our local Purdue Extension Office, and found the people there to be a great resource on nearly everything. Just a thought.

    • Jennifer,

      Yes most of the larger markets will require you to have a liability policy in order to sell at their market. While I’m not a huge fan of Farm Bureau they offer a 2M policy for $300/yr. However, I think it is possible to purchase it on a monthly of quarterly basis which might make it possible.

      I have not had great luck with Purdue extension agents, but the Horticultural Congress held in Indy either this or next month has some merit and Purdue runs it.

      If you want a serious education on hoop house growing read Elliot Coleman’s books. The man farms in Maine, from September thru April! Also consider the Acres USA Conference. It’s not cheap, but the workshops are simply amazing. It’s held every December in a Midwest city.

  10. Great interview. I remember looking for plants to come on sale at either Home Depot or Lowes. Some looked very sad, but not discounted. If I’m paying full price, I expect a healthy plant. When I asked why no end of season clearance, etc. I was told that they now give the plants back to the person they got them from for a full refund, thus no reason to put on sale. I was surprised to see many full sized citrus trees of various kinds at our local Home Depot, many with fruit. I expected dwarf trees which could be moved indoors or kept in a greenhouse. Nor could the Home Depot people tell me how citrus was grown locally which seemed weird since they were selling them. Surely they’d put them on sale when it started to freeze some nights. Nope. I need to find the guy who sells them the trees. Thanks. I’ve been following Steve’s blog, lots of great info.

    • @txmom, see that is what Steve is saying you need to find the merchandizing rep that is the guy they “give them back to”, he is the one that takes the loss, he is the one you can get them from for next to nothing.

  11. Wow! Listening to this show gave me so many ideas. The frustrating thing is that I don’t know much of anything about plants and growing. I’ve never grown a garden in the ground, but this sort of thing could have SO much potential for our family if I can get someone to teach me hands-on. (I’m visually impaired, so it doesn’t do much good to look at pictures on the Internet. LOL)

    I can’t wait to hear a show with his suggestions about starting plants. It’ll save us SO much money. Then, the trick’ll be keeping them alive and getting them to bear food! One thing at a time, I suppose. 🙂

  12. Fantastic show Jack and what a great guest.

    Given me loads of things to think about