New Sherwood

An organic tree nursery: an agrarian life

Most of you know that I work as a business broker. This is in many ways an enjoyable profession because I come across so many interesting business opportunities. Well, I’m going to tell you about one of them now.

I think every homesteader dreams of one day being able to work his land full-time. I know that I do. But making a living on small acreage is very difficult these days. Corporate agriculture, huge economies of scale, cheap imports and government policies have helped make small-scale farming a thing of the past. Nevertheless, there are a few niches here and there that are making it on small acreage. Diversified organic farming, for example, can be quite profitable on just a few acres when the product is sold directly to the consumer via farmers’ markets or other venues.

There’s another kind of agrarian business that thrives on small acreage. Surprisingly, I hadn’t given it any consideration until I came across this organic tree nursery in the Klamath River valley. A nursery! In fact there’s one right across the road from me, selling fruit and nut trees along with peaches, cherries, and farm fresh eggs year-round: it’s been there for generations. The organic tree nursery I am working with sells bare-root fruit and nut trees all over the country. The present location is so remote that there are very few local customers. 90% of sales are internet based, generated by a prominent top-notch website. The nursery’s customers are primarily rural homesteads, small farms, community gardens, and urban backyard gardeners. The product is shipped when dormant. College interns supply much of the labor, thereby minimizing labor costs while educating young people at the same time. Only two or three fertile acres are needed along with some additional infrastructure (an irrigation system, office space, etc.) . Until now this has been a part-time, hobby-like business for the owner, but it has grown to the point where it requires more attention than he can give it. The business is seasonal, leaving much of the off-season available for leisure or the development of complimentary products. Unlike most small farms today, this nursery is operating at a profit – albeit a small one at this point. With some additional marketing, a full-time owner can expect to grow this business to its full potential.

The nice thing about this business is that it is internet-based. That is to say, it is relocatable to anywhere in the country with a suitable climate and growing season.

A word about the seller. The owner of this business is a remarkable man. He’s an expert in his field, a born teacher, and extremely generous with his time and knowledge. He will provide expert training to the new owner of this business. He’s also willing to consult with the new owner on a contractual, as-needed basis. He is not willing to sell this business to just anybody. He’s looking for someone who shares his philosophy of sustainable agriculture (preferably someone who’s heard of Wendell Berry). The more qualified the candidate, the more willing he will be to work with him on price and terms. The seller’s primary interest is for his business to continue doing good in the world.

The nursery is priced at $95,000. All offers will be seriously considered. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. You’ll need to sign a confidentiality agreement before I can disclose any proprietary information, including the name of the business and the website. Here are some photos of the operation:

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December 28, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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