By Krista Tunby
My parents, siblings, and I live in northeast South Dakota on our family farm. If you visited our farm you would see my dad and brother working or driving machinery, several laying hens scratching around in the thick grass under the trees looking for bugs, three Shetland ponies nibbling on the grass, a cat or two welcoming you on the wooden stairs leading to our front door … and I will most likely be in the garden.
Home-based Garden Business
From the time I was little my parents have encouraged me to help at home, and if I wanted to make some extra money, to start a home business that would be easily carried over into my future job as a stay-at-home wife and mom. They wanted me to learn useful skills and not make me feel like I had to get a job outside of our home and farm. When I was fourteen, I started helping my family by having a large garden (1/8 of an acre) that I was in charge of. I fell in love with the beauty of nature, and read every gardening book I could get my hands on. I enjoyed going out to pick vegetables in the cool of the morning along with some fresh herbs for breakfast. When we would have company, our friends would often ask to see my garden, and comment on how surprised they were by its quality and beauty.
What is Community Supported Agriculture or CSA?
In the fall of 2012 a friend said she had heard that I did a good job with my garden, and asked if I would be interested in doing CSA for her. (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is basically where your customer pays you upfront to bring them your in-season produce each week throughout your growing period.) I had been praying about what I should do to make some extra money, and when this lady asked me about selling to her, it seemed like a door that God was opening up.
Over the past couple of years my CSA customer list has grown, and will probably continue to grow. I love how I can work right here on our farm, and have learned a lot about something that I can use the rest of my life.
During the summer/fall on Thursday afternoons you will see me and my sister at our downtown farmers’ market selling fresh herbs, herbal salves, and refreshing teas. I pick everything fresh that morning and make sure that it is top quality. What I have learned at the farmers’ market is that you really should be quite knowledgeable about your product. For example, I get a lot of questions about how to use my fresh herbs. So I need to have some culinary skills and experience with how to use or preserve them.
Selling Fresh Herbs
The fresh herbs I usually always have available are basil (green and purple), parsley, chocolate mint (and I also bring chocolate mint tea), sage, and chives, and hopefully more of a variety next year. Farmers’ market is so much fun, and I would encourage anyone to go!
I have learned so much the last couple of years; having a business really has made me a more responsible person and more knowledgeable on marketing.
If you are looking at starting your own business, do something you love to do. Think about developing a long-term business that can grow over the years. One of the keys to being successful with your own business is to have experience and knowledge on whatever you are doing/selling. And do not be afraid to advertise.
I have read stacks of books on gardening, herbology, cooking with herbs, and much more. Starting out small is a wise thing to do, and you will gain more knowledge on how to handle your business and not be so overwhelmed that you can’t enjoy it anymore. The question I ask myself each year when I am deciding how big to go is: will this get to be so much that I won’t enjoy and love gardening anymore? I never want to go that big!
Krista Tunby is a 19-year-old homeschool graduate. She has been running her own gardening businesses for the past three years. Those businesses include CSAs, selling fresh herbs, and making herbal salves for Krista Faith’s Healing Salves. She not only loves the outdoors, but loves the Lord, being involved and teaching children at church, helping with the family farm, giving piano lessons, and helping her two younger siblings who are still being homeschooled.