Published on November 7th, 2012 | by Shelley Awad0
Tips for Starting a Commercial Greenhouse Operation
Before you Start your Greenhouse Biz – Consider these Tips
Gardening is your passion and you love anything to do with organics or agriculture. You are considering turning a once-upon-a-time hobby into a serious business and now you are in the market for a commercial greenhouse.
Before making any major decisions you will need to decide which crops you plan to grow, how you will grow them, whether you will sell wholesale or retail and the type of budget available. Although most greenhouses can be built anywhere, here are some points to consider when choosing your site:
Size of land – Regardless of whether you choose wholesale or retail, you could need up to an acre of land or more for the greenhouse, customer parking, delivery trucks and an area for expanding the greenhouse if needed. Before committing to any land site, check the zoning laws in the area to confirm eligibility. Also check to see if a permit to run a greenhouse is required.
Location -For a retail business you will want to choose a location that is in a high traffic area and for a wholesale business, you will need easy access to highways for convenient transporting. Also consider your staffing requirements. If the location is too rural it may affect your ability to attract quality employees.
Direction – The perfect placement of your greenhouse should be facing south for maximum light during the winter and protection from the north winds.
Water and drainage – With all the water used for the operation of a commercial greenhouse, proper drainage is a serious concern. Find a topographic map of the area and analyze the path of the water when it drains. A permit may be needed depending on where the water will drain. Have a sample of the tap water in the area tested for chemicals. If the water is too impure your crops may be badly affected.
Electricity – You will need an acceptable electric supply and distribution system to serve your needs. Contact the utility company to confirm maximum electrical availability. Consider a future expansion when considering your electrical needs.
Budget – The cost of the land could affect the bottom line of your business. Adding any type of extra debt can be significant to your success. Carefully plan the expenses keeping costs as low as possible in all areas.
Plan your Crops – What will you be growing? Vegetables, annual flowers, perennial flowers, exotic or tropical plants, or a combination of all? Plants will dictate the temperature they need to be kept at. You may need to section off compartments within the greenhouse to keep different temperatures. This is a cost saving measure. For example, if you are growing a colder crop like lettuce, you can keep the air temperature much lower than if you are growing orchids, exotic plants or tropicals. It may be wise to consider more than one greenhouse if you are growing different crops.
Your Competitors – Are there other greenhouse operations in your area? What are they growing and who are they selling to? Is their business profitable? Are they able to help you? You’ll have to do your due diligence and make a business plan just as you would for any other business.