Big agricultural corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, and Bayer still dominate the world’s agricultural production. These three companies alone combine for a massive $132 billion in revenue. That is about five times the GDP of Estonia or half the GDP of Colombia. They employ hundreds of thousands of workers with operations around the world making sure that you get to eat your favorite cereal, or that your favorite canned meat makes it to the grocery store and onto your dinner table.
But rising prices of commodities have prompted many urban dwellers to reduce their dependencies on these corporations. Urban farming, as a growing practice, not only addresses the issue of food security and sustainability. It also helps cultivate a greater sense of belonging and collective community action.
If you’re looking into joining the cause of supporting sustainable food security, another option is to start your own horticulture business, which is not dissimilar to urban farming.
Here are a few ideas for you to consider about how to start a horticulture business.
Horticulture is still part of the agriculture industry. The actual meaning of the term is “culture of the garden.” No need to set aside your sod supply from Salt Lake City. That might still come in handy in this business. The scope of horticulture production has broadened, to include growing plants for food as well as decoration or beautification.
Starting the Business
Understanding what horticulture is about is a good start before taking the plunge into making it your business. There are more things that you need to know:
- Understanding the market. Business is always about product fit, knowing your competition or offering something unique. You determine these by doing proper market research and getting tough answers to tough questions. If you’re going to offer a different kind of fresh produce and your store will stand out in the market, then there’s a good chance for you to succeed.
- Farm in a glass. Those big food and agriculture conglomerates own vast tracts of farmland around the world. The horticulture business is done on a small piece of land, and usually, it’s enclosed, sometimes by a glass to allow for photosynthesis. This setup is called the greenhouse farm and your options are to either build it from scratch or just purchase an existing one for your business. The choice would depend on your funding resources or how much profit you’d like to make. It’s easier to lease our existing one, but the lease rate might impact your net profit.
- Legal considerations. Agricultural products are heavily regulated. Make sure that you visit your state or county office to determine what laws you need to comply with. Does your plant selection fall within the horticulture regulation in your area or your state? How big is the allowed size for a greenhouse? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask.
- Professional requirement. If you’re an environmentalist extremely committed to your cause but don’t have the expertise necessary, you might need the help of a professional horticulturist. These experts fall under the category of agricultural and food scientists. Be prepared to factor their salary in your budget, which is roughly 13% higher than America’s median salary. Horticulturists, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics have a median salary of more than $64,000 annually.
It will probably take decades before small horticulture businesses or sustainable urban farming could make a serious dent in reducing dependency on global food conglomerate. But it’s all about starting small and starting somewhere to make a difference.