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Growing Value-Added Plants For Profit

One of the top ways for small specialty crop growers to improve their profits is by adding value to their plants by taking an extra step beyond just selling their raw harvest. Using simple value-added strategies can increase your profits by 100 to 1,000 percent!

For instance, my neighbor has grown sedums for years, selling them at the local Saturday market in the typical 4-inch plastic pot. She has done well, but her sales - and her profits took off like a rocket after her husband recommended offering the plants in attractive hypertufa pots.
Every Winter, using the common hypertufa mix of perlite, peat, sand and portland cement, they prepare hundreds of small and large flowerpots in an assortment of forms, using old tupperware from the thrift shop and scrap plywood and styrofoam for molds. Carol makes fused glass art, and uses the rejects and scraps, which are embedded in the outside of the pots, to add a bit of color. Almost any colorful material - "penny" tiles, as an example - might be included in the pots as well.
When the hypertufa pots have dried for a month, they are filled with potting soil and sedums, which are grown out until the first Saturday market in the Spring. Now, rather than a $ 3 plant, she is able to sell her plants in hypertufa designer pots for $ 25, selling thousands of dollars worth every Springtime and Summer.
If you are growing for market and wish to get 5 to 10 times more money for your plants, get resourceful and find ways to add value. Here are a few additional examples:
Bamboo - This in demand plant brings a good price when potted and sold for landscaping. Several small-scale bamboo farmers have found good results and profits by producing traditional products from the harvested bamboo canes as well. One North Carolina grower weaves the small bamboo canes into a traditional Japanese "Otsugaki" style fence, selling them in panels to local homeowners for as much as $ 100 each.
Another enterprising bamboo growers turns short pieces of bamboo cane into garden art, such as a rocking fountain based on an ancient Asian design used to scare deer from the garden with a soft clacking sound. Materials cost under $ 10, mainly for a small aquarium water pump, and the completed fountains sell for about $ 100 by mail and in specialty catalogs and at local nurseries.
Food products - Turning your specialty crop into a food products can bring far greater profits for growers. From the more traditional jams and jellies to the more unusual specialty foods, your creativity is the only real limit to what might be created. One garlic grower has found success with a garlic-cherry chutney built on a traditional recipe from Cremona, Italy called mustarda.
Others have re-invented that kitchen staple, vinegar, with new flavors and varieties using plants collected from their market gardens, including rose hips and other tasty flowers. Here are a few of the most popular value-added food products being sold right now at farmer's markets and specialty food stores:Chutneys and salsasDried herbsGarlic braidsHerbal salad dressingsJams and jelliesPicklesSauces
Garlic is a crop that can provide multiple profitable ways to add value. Garlic farmers can sell the scapes - the young greens - early in the season for salads and stir-frys, and garlic braids and wreaths at harvest time, along with seed garlic of unique varieties for customers who would like to grow their own garlic. The next level is garlic-based food products, from garlic vinegars and jellies to chutney and sauces.
Herbs - A herb business delivers almost infinite opportunity to add value. Growers have found results selling "window sill gardens" with 4 to 6 different culinary herbs in a window sill-sized planter box. Another variation is a window sill tea garden, with several herbs used in popular teas, including lemon verbena, chamomile, lemongrass and mints.
Herb products - Many herb growers have increased their herbal business by producing essential oils for aromatherapy from their herb harvest. Basic steam distillation is used to extract plant oils from the flowers, leaves, roots and bark of herb plants. These essential oils can be used to concoct bath and body products, pet care products, even medicinal products used in holistic healing.
Creative herb growers have produced hundreds of useful herbal products that add value to raw herbs, often by a factor of 10 or 20 to 1. Most growers start small with well-tried sellers, like herbal hand creams, salves and bath products. Finding potential customers is easier at farmer's markets, where you can offer samples, then locating retail stores to sell your product after you've established a local following. That's how Burt's Bees went from $ 200 in sales at a craft fair to annual sales of over $ 250 million!
One herb grower had a surplus of unsold catnip one year, and used her sewing machine to produce cute catnip-filled cat toys sold at local pet stores and vet's offices. The toys turned out to be so profitable, she devoted an entire half-acre to catnip, selling enough toys to put her two children through college.
Another basic, but lucrative, herbal product that is a stead seller for many herb businesses is dream pillows. Dream pillows are herb-filled mini-pillows that are used for relaxation, stress reduction, even to inspire romance. Because the scent fades over time, customers tend to re-order every 4-6 months, so pillow producers have a built-in repeat market.
Lavender is a major ingredient in many dream pillows, along with dozens of other herbal products. In fact, lavender is the number one herbal fragrance worldwide. Although lavender is a popular and aromatic fresh-picked plant, value-added products such as soaps, sachets, dried bouquets, and seedlings for sale can boost profits greatly. In addition, the essential lavender oil, produced with steam distillation, is used with even more value-added products.
There are virtually no limits to what might be created from a variety of common and not-so-common plants. If you've ever thought about growing for market or growing plants for profit with value-added techniques, now is the moment to take a look at this unique and profitable gardening niche. To learn more, visit, where you'll find even more information about growing profitable plants, or sign up for a free mini-course about the best profitable plants to grow.

Article Tags: Food Products, Growers Have, Dream Pillows

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To learn more, visit, where you'll find even more information about growing profitable plants, or sign up for a free mini-course about the best profitable plants to grow.

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