Sunday, August 20, 2006


Agrarian Enterprises

Saturday, August 19, 2006Home-Based Agrarian Enterprises & Garlic Powder Profits
This blog is about Faith, Family, and Livin’ The Good Life, which is another way of saying the blog is about Christian agrarianism. Part of the Christian agrarian vision is to strengthen families by reestablishing the family economy. In fact, reestablishing the family economy is a necessary fundamental to restoring Christian agrarian culture.
I have a chapter explaining what the family economy is and how important it is in my newest book and I hope that, if you have not read the book, you will one day soon. In short, the family economy is when the entire family works together to provide for its own needs.
The ideal family economy involves a family working together to provide not only for the food, shelter, heating, etc., needs of the family, but the financial needs too. Total self sufficiency without a cash income was once possible in this nation (it was, actually, in many sections, the norm) but those days are history. Nowadays, we need a cash flow, and that means home-centered business enterprises. The whole idea is to reconnect the entire family by bringing fathers and mother’s home where they belong.
Farming, the tried and truest form of agrarianism, has always provided an excellent opportunity for exercising the ideals of a family economy. But few of us who did not grow up in the farming paradigm, have the financial resources or the experience to become farmers, at least in the commonly understood big sense of the word. And, for that matter, most of us don’t even have the finances and know-how to be farmers in the small sense of the word.
That leaves those of us who grasp the wisdom of Christian agrarianism facing an enormous conundrum... How do we get from here to there? How do we break free from the industrial-world jobs that provide us with the cash flow our families need to survive? How do we come home and establish family businesses and/or farms, small or large? The answer to that question will vary from family to family.
I have been struggling with this conundrum in my own life for the past few years and I still struggle with it. But I do have some answers. First, I believe that the Lord has given me this vision and He will provide as He sees fit. Nevertheless I may, like Moses, see the promised land but never enter. I’ve come to terms with the fact that, even if I do enter, it will probably not be anytime soon. Nevertheless, I will deliberately work towards that end by doing what I can, where I am, with what I have. And I will take it a step at a time, or as Marco Lanzoni, the old Italian farmer I once knew used to say, “Little by slow.”
More importantly, I will endeavor to teach my children how important it is for them to have an entrepreneurial mindset and to consider home-centered businesses for themselves, not only now but in the future when they are leading and providing for their own families. Furthermore, as I can, I feel strongly that I should do what I can to help them establish such businesses. This whole Christian agrarian vision is, after all, multigenerational. It’s far bigger than little ol’ me and little ol’ you in the here and now.
If you’ve read this blog for long, you know my family has numerous home-centered enterprises. Marlene has been involved in the farmer’s market for several years. She has established a nice little homemade bread business and each of our boys has played a part in that. I have told you about Marlene’s homemade soaps business too.
And you are probably aware that I have written and self-published several books. I also have a small home industry making and selling parts for the Whizbang Chicken Plucker. More books, and plans and such will, Lord willing, continue to be produced in the years ahead. I have so many ideas that it is amazing.
The money I make from these entrepreneurial activities is not needed to provide for my family because I have a full-time job that does that. The money I make from my part time business is either reinvested in the business or saved so that, one day, we can afford to purchase more land—more than the 1.5 acres we now own. The acquisition of more land is central to my multigenerational agrarian vision.
I have told you these things to give you an idea of where and how the Lord is leading me. He leads each of us and our families differently but there may be similarities in our stories and our dreams, and perhaps my example will provide you with some insights or inspiration that may prove helpful to you.
With that in mind, I’d like to tell you about another of my part-time, home-centered, agrarian enterprises. Specifically, I want to tell you about garlic powder....
I started growing garlic in my garden back in 1998. I tried growing several varieties. Some grew very poorly and some grew very nicely. The ones that grew well, grew very well. The upstate N.Y. climate and my sandy, well-drained soil, fertilized with ample amounts of well-aged compost, was ideal for growing stiffneck varieties of garlic. The stiffnecks are often referred to as gourmet garlic, because they have a more hearty, robust flavor than to the common softnecks that you’ll find in most grocery stores.
One thing led to another and I tried peeling, slicing, and drying some of my stiffneck garlic. The resulting chips were good in Marlene’s winter soups and stews. Then one day I dumped some dried chips in a blender and ground them to powder. My homemade garlic powder was incredibly good. So good, in fact, that I bottled some of it up and gave it to friends and family as gifts. They liked it so much that they said they would buy it from me. That was the beginning of what has become a nice little agrarian home business for me.
I have been growing garlic, processing it into powder, and selling it for the past five years. When I realized how uniquely delectable homemade stiffneck garlic powder was, I decided to write a book on the subject. That’s what I do when something interests me and I want to share it with others—I write a book. The Complete Guide To Making Great Garlic Powder was published in 2003. The book tells how I grow garlic, dry it, and process it into powder.
At that same time I also wrote a Garlic Powder Profits Report. The report explained how I marketed, priced, and packaged my garlic powder. It provided samples of actual labels, and a list of suppliers for different products. I also included an essay about the “10 Keys to Success for Building a Sustainable Garlic Powder Business.” The report was not marketed very well but it still generated a lot of interest and the copies I printed sold out in about a year. The report has been out of print now for almost two years. I didn't want to reprint it until I revised and updated it. Finally, this last week, I’ve gotten around to doing that and the new edition of A Garlic Powder Profits Report: The Herrick's Homegrown Story is now in print.
I’m telling you about this new resource here because the products I offer are an integral part of the family life that I write about on my blog. And I’m telling you about the new, revised “Garlic Powder Profits Report” because, if you have any interest in this subject, I’d like to sell you a copy.
I have never used this blog to directly market my books and probably will not do so again anytime soon, but I’m making an exception with this because, until I get a Whizbang Books web site (soon I hope), this blog is the best means I have to tell a lot of people about this new resource.
At 27 pages, my Garlic Powder Profits Report is not a long read, but it is crammed with nuts-and-bolts information about a very viable value-added home business that you can start without a lot of investment.
Selling your own homemade garlic powder, made from your own homegrown garlic, is a lot of work. And it will not make you rich. And it is not a business that you're likely to support a whole family on. But, if you like to garden, this is a nice little business that can provide a decent return for the effort you put into it. How much can you make? Well I discuss that in detail in the book, but I'll tell you that I "buy" the garlic bulbs I grow from myself for $5 a pound. Then I pay myself $20 an hour to process and package and market the product. And the final price of the powder even includes a small amount of profit over and above my actual costs of creating it. I currently grow around 1,200 bulbs a year and, after expenses, clear a couple thousand dollars from that. Sometimes I clear more. That's a couple thousand dollars net from a relatively small patch of land. Oh, and I sell every grain of garlic powder I can make. Selling the product has been far easier than making it.
What I've just told you has been my experience and it is, of course, no guarantee that your experience will be the same. Some people have made their own garlic powder and tried to sell it and they were disappointed that it did not sell better. Others have followed my example and have been very pleased with the results. The "secret" to this business is to start small, look at it as a long-term sustainable project, and build your market. Instant success is probably not going to happen. The point is, this little business can work and it does work and I'd like it to work for you the way it has worked for me. That's why I wrote the Garlic Powder Profits Report.
I could grow more garlic. Fact is, I have grown more. But, for now, I've found that as a part time business 1,200 bulbs is just right for me to handle. The really neat thing about growing garlic is that part of my harvested crop becomes seed to plant the next year's crop. In other words, there is no need to purchase seed every year and that saves a lot of money.
I intend to grow garlic and make Herrick's homegrown powder for the rest of my working days (and I hope my working days in the soil continue until I'm a wrinkled old geezer!). If things work out that I can break from the industrial factory job, I will expand my garlic crop and the garlic powder. But this enterprise will always be one agrarian enterprise among many. I'm convinced that iversity is absolutely necessary with these agrar-preneurial enterprises! Or, to paraphrase the old agrarian saying, "Don't put all your entrepeneurial eggs in one basket."
Another great thing about garlic powder is that it can be the foundation of different custom herbal mixes that you can make and sell. Herbal dip mixes, herbal salad dressing mixes, barbecue seasoning mixes, and so forth. These are niche market opportunities that I haven't even touched, but others who make their own garlic powder have. Personally, one of the things I’m looking to do is grow and harvest dried beans and develop packaged bean soup mixes that contain my garlic powder and other spices that I raise and dry. This year I am growing 5 kinds of dry beans for seed to grow even more next year.

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