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selling seeds for profit

Going to Seed with Dan Brisebois

Solid Farm Planning, Business Management, Spreadsheets & Seeds!

How I started Selling Seeds – Part 1

In the summer of 2003, while I was a farm manager on an organic vegetable operation on the Montreal West Island, a friend of mine set up a garden down the road. As I was letting a ragtag assortment of plants go to seed, she had an 1/8 th of an acre planted to a few dozen seed crops. She was growing these on contract for a number of different seed companies. Her agricultural entrepreneurship and the potential profitability of growing seed marked me. This kick-started the thought process that led to my part founding Tourne-Sol farm, and my desire to see seed crops as part of our marketing mix.

Six years down the road, seed production is a growing component of Tourne-Sol’s marketing plan. We do have a seed catalogue, but a significant volume of the seed we grow is distributed to other seed companies. This relationship with other seed vendors has evolved along two different paths:

  • growing seed that is mainly destined to other seed companies
  • growing seed for our own use that might also go to other seed companies

Today, we’ll discuss the first path.

January 2005. As the Tourne-Sol start-up business plan was evolving, I went to the Guelph Organic Conference. I wanted to catch the annual array of speakers but I also had ulterior motives – working the trade show to talk to seed companies about growing seed for them.

There were butterflies in my stomach as I thought about approaching the first seed vendor. My co-farmer Renée offered to accompany me as emotional support. So we stepped up to the first seed display and I addressed the owner … hi, I’m Dan, we’re starting a farm this summer and I was thinking about growing some seed to sell, do you contract growers to grow seed?

I received a great first answer: the company owner was always looking for people to grow out tomatoes, and would love for me to grow out 3 varieties, and gave me the starting seed, and told me she’d buy back a couple cups of each variety. She specified a volume rather than a weight because not all small farmers have accurate scales. She also committed to a price per ounce of tomato seed. I agreed on the spot and we went through her seed racks to select a mix of tomato types for me to grow. I approached the next seed company feeling more confident.

In the end, out of 5 seed companies I spoke to, only one other offered a similar arrangement (also for tomato seed). However, rather than provide starting seed, she would accept seed saved from heirloom varieties we were already planning on growing.

That summer, I planted 6 tomato varieties for seed. Initially, I had asked how many plants I would need for the quantities they required. The companies had suggested 2 dozen plants or so, but they admitted to not knowing exact yields. I grew out a hundred foot row of each variety – significantly more than 24 plants – but I figured we could distribute excess fruit through our CSA.

Through the season, I squished and fermented seed, stored it in well labelled paper bags. In the fall, I measured the seed in cups, packed it in plastic bags and recycled envelopeds, and mailed it off. A couple of weeks later, we received two checks in the mail!

For tomato and pepper seed, where most of the seed I grow is destined to other seed companies, this process hasn’t changed much from year one: in the spring we discuss varieties and agree to quantities and prices, then in the fall I send them the seed.

However, though our seed selling began with tomatoes, my seed growing started a number of years earlier and wound up with a second type of relationship with seed companies. Let’s save that story for the next post.

In the summer of 2003, while I was a farm manager on an organic vegetable operation on the Montreal West Island, a friend of mine set up a garden down the road. As I was letting a ragtag assortment of plants go to seed, she had an 1/8th of an acre planted to a few dozen…

Can you make money selling seeds?

Correspondingly, can I resell seeds?

Become a reseller Now you can resell our garden Seeds. This way your customers will know who they bought their Seeds from. We will even go so far as to omit our own information, so that your customers will not learn about who packaged your seeds for you.

Secondly, can you sell seeds online? Sell Seeds Online Today Whether you are looking to sell seeds to gardeners, farmers, health conscious eaters or any other seed lovers, Ecwid makes selling seeds online incredibly easy and effective. With just a few simple steps, you can set up your online store and begin to sell seeds online today.

Subsequently, one may also ask, how do I start a seed selling business?

How to Start a Seed Business

  1. Decide on a focus for your seed business, such as culinary or medicinal herbs, or organic fruits or vegetables.
  2. Start building a seed bank with seed stocks consistent with the focus you have chosen for your business.
  3. Design packaging for your seeds.

What can I plant to make money?

8 Most Profitable Plants To Grow

  1. Bamboo. Landscapers and homeowners are paying as much as $150 each for potted bamboo plants, and many growers are finding it hard to keep up with the demand.
  2. Flowers.
  3. Ginseng.
  4. Ground Covers.
  5. Herbs.
  6. Landscaping Trees and Shrubs.
  7. Mushrooms.
  8. Ornamental Grasses.

Growing seeds can be a profitable addition to your market garden. There is a market to sell local organic seeds to small seed companies. Or you can start your own retail seed company. Both of these sales strategies can be profitable but they do have very different costs. ]]>