How to Start a Seed Business

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As modern agriculture has trended toward mass production of a limited number of crops, it has become more important than ever for individuals to save and exchange less common varieties of seeds. The genetic diversity contained the countless varieties of available seed stocks provide us with a wealth of plants with culinary and medicinal value. This variety safeguards us against narrowly adapted plant pathogens that could easily wipe out an entire food supply, as in the case of the Irish potato blight during the 19th century. Starting a seed business is one way to help preserve the invaluable resource of seed stocks that has the potential to keep us safe and healthy and greatly improve the way we eat.

Decide on a focus for your seed business, such as culinary or medicinal herbs, or organic fruits or vegetables. Research existing seed companies looking for an open niche you can fill or a specialty that is underrepresented.

Start building a seed bank with seed stocks consistent with the focus you have chosen for your business. Buy and exchange seeds with fellow seed savers, and grow plants and harvest their seeds to begin building your inventory.

Design packaging for your seeds. Include information about the appearance, flavor and uses of the different plants, as well as instructions for planting and harvesting them, including the best temperature and season, seed spacing recommendations and ideal seed planting depth.

Design a website and a catalog for your seed business. Include information about your company's focus. Tell a story about why you decided to start a seed company and what you uniquely offer. Prepare descriptions and pictures of the plants that customers can grow from each of the seed varieties you offer. Include a paper order form in your print catalog and a secure online ordering form on your website.

Market your seed business at events targeted to gardeners, such as gardening shows and plant sales. Open wholesale accounts with gardening stores and natural foods stores. Place online advertisements on gardening blogs, and start a blog of your own to attract potential customers to your seed selling site.


About the Author

Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images