Starting a Herb Greenhouse Business
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Matt Hassler
Posted on: February 13, 1999

I live in South Jersey and am interested in starting a herb greenhouse. The intent is to provide herbs to people in the south Jersey, Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Do you have any suggestions on what the preferred herb(s) we should grow and what type of herb(s) should be grown in this area?

You do not say whether you are planning to grow potted herbs for sale to herb garderners, or whether you will grow fresh herbs for the fresh produce and restaurant trades. Because you ask what "herb(s)" -- which could mean one herb or many -- we are led to think that you are thinking about the fresh produce market for which it is possible to specialize in a few as one herb.

There is no question that basil is in demand and feasible as a greenhouse crop. There are growers that are producing high quality fresh basil for the high end restaurant trade. It is tough to compete against the imported material, or the field grown material during the summer months, but the high end market demands a super fresh quality product that cannot be produced under large scale field conditions, or be shipped over long distances. This fragility of basil is being exploited successfully by many growers throughout North America.

Beyond basil, there are excellent opportunities with fresh herbal flowers such as nasturtium, and greens, such as roquette (also known as arugula), and about a dozen or so other herbs such as chives, rosemary, oregano, and others. Sandie Shores has written a book on fresh herb production and marketing which is available from Richters (see our online catalogue and search for "Shores").

If, you meant potted herbs, then the range of herbs that you could grow and sell successfully is greater. There are two books that can help you decide which to grow: "Herbs For Sale" and "Growing Your Herb Business", both available from Richters. Potted herb production is only a part of the subject material in these books, but they have sections on what to grow for the potted herb market.

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