A loan of $5,000 helped buy the necessary supplies and tools I need to continue growing my business.
I first became interested in growing plants when I was a young girl helping my great grandmother out in the garden in Goleta, California, where she grew cherry tomatoes and strawberries. Artichokes first caught my curiosity when a neighbor friend's brought home the alien looking vegetable from the store. Her entire family became very excited. Many years later (when I was married and living in Lompoc, California), we had a vegetable garden and grew artichokes all summer long. The entire family loved them.
We moved to Northern California and lived on a piece of property that had a large 1/4 acre pond. In the summer of 1999 I decided I wanted to create a swimming hole, and I rowed our little boat out on the pond to pull out the aquatic weeds. The weeds grew back faster than I could pull them out, so I went online to find out what I had. It turned out to be anacharis, an aquatic fresh water grass that was valuable to koi ponds and water gardens. That summer I decided to sell the anacharis online and trade it for other pond plants. That was when I became hooked on water gardening and selling pond plants.
Since the summer of 1999 I started a small lucrative pond plant business online through eBay and through my personal website too. In 2007 we moved to Central California. I then decided to start growing artichoke plants again. Before long, I discovered that there were about a dozen different types of artichoke plants, and I wanted to grow them all. By trial and error, I learned how to grow and ship the artichoke plants.
Today, my online water garden and artichoke stores, videos, articles, and websites are very popular. On Youtube alone I have over 600,000 views. Last summer I was featured on Fox News National as "The Pond Plant Girl." This year I decided to quit my substitute teaching job with the county and focus primarily on my education and developing our home business. This was a bold move considering the down economic times. Despite thousands of businesses closing and the rising unemployment rate, my pond plant and artichoke plant businesses continue to grow each year. Economic analysts state this is due to families entertaining at home and growing their own organic foods in backyard gardens.
My plans for the future not only include growing our businesses and earning my doctoral degree, but also include giving back to the community. I am involved with a community garden across town that will start up again Spring 2013. I often donate plants to local schools and enjoy giving free lectures about gardening. I also plan to create an outdoor classroom on my property where I will have free gardening and 4-H classes. On a grander scale, I recently began supporting a community garden located in Kenhardt, South Africa.
With additional funding of $5,000 I will be able to operate and upgrade a professional nursery with a much needed professional size green house, and large shade cloth too. By growing the plants myself (instead of buying them) I will be able to increase my inventory and revenues by three fold. Most of my plants are purchased from a wholesale company. I grow most of the artichokes from seed but the greenhouse will allow me to speed production especially during the cold winter months. The shade cloth will also help keep all the plants safe from the burning sun in the summertime.
In addition to the much needed supplies, I will also be able to add staffing of one full time and one part time employee; which will also increase production, inventory, and revenue.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to reach my dreams and goals. Our business and the community will truly be blessed by your guidance and support.
Gail the Pond Plant Girl
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About PPG Nurseries (The Pond Plant Girl and Sweetheart Artichoke Co)
Years in operation: More than 5 years