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Seeds As Income

 
Posts: 95
Location: NW Montana
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In getting ready for my spring planting, I have been looking for heirloom, organic and heritage seeds. Some of them are downright expensive. Some heritage grain seeds go for ~$5 for 25 seeds because they are so rare and many of them I can't find at any price.

I just bought some Rocky Mountain Painted Corn for $33/lb.

I was already planning on saving seed for future planting, and I was thinking about ways to make income on the farm, and the idea came to me to sell seeds. Is this a good idea or not?

If I can grow and sell 500 lbs of that corn at the going rate, I would gross over $15k. In addition, I would be distributing rare and heritage seeds grown organically and holistically to other growers, helping to keep the breeds alive and giving other gardeners opportunity to grow these plants. Seed can easily be sold on the internet (ebay if nothing else), and I wouldn't have to worry about keeping it fresh like beef or vegetables, so I can sell to more customers.

Aside from the usual marketing/advertising challenges, I can't see anything wrong with this plan. I believe that if the going rate for heritage seeds as high as it is, there must be a market for them. I'm not looking to get rich, just provide some kind of income. I have other ideas, too, but I prefer to look at the marketability of a product; in other words, will people buy it?

I'm looking for opinions or criticism. Are there any licensing issues to consider? Any other limitations? Is it just a naive idea?

Glenn
 
Posts: 28
Location: Converse, Texas
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Maybe if you offered it in two different sizes because I probably wouldn't by a full pound of so and so seed, but someone else might want that much, etc.

How are you planning selling them mainly? Online? You could probably sell some in the farmers markets or even starters if you've the space, as well. Or even in one of those honor system station thingies people set up outside their house. Actually thinking of doing that, but I don't know if my fella would be up for strangers on the front yard...

Also, if you sell them more locally you could market them as adjusted to the local climate. Just a thought. I would probably pay a bit more for a seed I know is acclimated to my county.

O O O! and you could put your contact info on each packet and a list of other seeds you sell.
 
Glenn Underhill
Posts: 95
Location: NW Montana
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Good ideas Claire. I would sell them in different sizes, but hadn't thought about the locally adjusted aspect. The farmer's market is a good idea too.

I would probably do most selling online. No honor system for me, because my property is so far off the main road people would never find it, lol, the county road is a mile from my property and my road is not on maps, except maybe topo maps. I'm in the National Forest surrounded by elk hunting properties and public forest land. Its exactly how I want it, but makes it hard to sell from the house.
 
Claire Skerry
Posts: 28
Location: Converse, Texas
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Wow. So jealous! Yea, the online and maybe mail order method would probably be best with maybe monthly farmer's market runs or something.

You could put up pictures of where exactly they were grown in your stall too, so people could see exactly the conditions in which they thrive. I'm more visual so that usually helps me.

Good luck!
 
Posts: 1143
Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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i thin that seedds are a great way to make money because you can sometimes charge a lot for them and shipping them off doesnt remove too much biomass from your land like selling pumpkins, carrots, radishes and other crops that you harvest a large amount of biomass from
but watch out for big brother, they dont like people selling seeds and you have a lot of potential regulations and/or raids coming your way for selling them to people
 
Posts: 35
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Lots of people sell seeds on eBay and Etsy. That might be the easiest.
 
Posts: 164
Location: North Carolina
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In Georgia, they have a Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin, which used to be free online, but now requires a subscription. If you live in the state you can advertise free, and sell crafts, nuts, seeds, plants, livestock, farm equipment, hay, etc. Check your state to see if anything is available. I think you are on to something, just need a good venue to market it. Best of luck to you.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1403
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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You might simply start and sell your seeds to a seed company. This way it is easier to get into the business. Most seed companies do sell a variety of seeds. As for corn it is difficult to grow more than say two varieties true to type if selling yourself you would have only two varieties of corn in your programme.
The reason why seeds are expensive is that it is not that easy to grow good seeds, this is my guess.
 
steward
Posts: 2482
Location: FL
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I've looked at this idea, it's possible to make money producing and selling seed. As with any business, results will be greatly dependent on the time and effort you put in, a sound plan from production through delivery, the quality of your product, the value received for the price charged, and customer service.

Most states require a license to sell seed. The cost will range from a pittance to a few hundred bucks. Some states, Florida being one, have a floating license fee depending on your sales volume. If you are selling seed based on weight, you may be required to have your scale inspected. In Florida, seed packets must include a tested germination rate. You'd need to start at least 100 seeds, count up how many showed up, print the date and results on the package. Since seeds have a shelf life, the date the seeds were harvested would need to be on the package. Debris in the package is an issue. The seeds must be clean, with tolerances stated in the state regulations for allowable amounts of debris. It would also be wise to limit your mail order sales to your own country lest you unknowingly violate some import ban and create an international incident.

Different sizes of package can work for you. Small pack would be enough to try out. Next size up would be enough to plant a 100' row. The next size up would be enough for a market crop. It is typical that with each increase in size, the price per unit is reduced.

The highest quality of seed will demand the highest price. Anyone can sell a tomato seed. If you can produce open pollinated seed of heirloom cultivars with all natural or certified organic methods, you'll get a premium price.

Being a one man operation, I'm assuming you'll be doing the work yourself. Some seeds are easier to work with. Corn is pretty easy. Count em out, stuff a package, they'll be clean, tidy and accurate. Some are not so easy. Ever try to clean broccoli seeds? I've done it with 2 methods: winnow to get rid of the big stuff, then sift to get rid of the small stuff. Since seeds come in different sizes, you'll need different sizes of sifter screens if you are using this sort of method. Next is scales to portion the seed for packaging, unless you intend to count out 250 mustard seeds, 500 oregano seeds. I can't even see oregano seeds.

You'll need to consider crop production in regards to cross pollination from the surrounding area, not just your own field. Corn is pollinated by wind and can travel great distances. There are corporations out there with patented genes that are spread by the wind, resulting in much consternation in the seed industry. Corn is tough.

Can you pull in a few grand extra? Sure, why not.
Is it worth the time and effort? Maybe, that's your call. It will take more time and effort at the beginning, and that's where the least money is. Perseverance has it's place.
Is this a naive idea? I don't think so, people have been growing crops for 10k years, and have started with seed every year. Seed is the fundamental building block of agriculture.

 
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I get most of my seeds now from ebay. You could list there.
 
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