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Sowing Our Future, Reaping Our Past

I've wanted to start my own small business for years. All my life, it seems, I've been tossing ideas around in my head, various business ventures that would offer me my first big break. My first attempt manifested as a shop I launched in my bedroom at home: Octopus Ally (only realizing years later that I intended the name to be “Alley” rather than “Ally”).

My younger sister and I specialized in selling coloring book pages we had completed, albeit very poorly. My mom and dad were kind enough to purchase our arts and crafts for years, as I quite literally nickel and dimed them for everything I had. Since then, I have tried to find that one niche that best suits me.

Greene Thumb Gardening (I give my surname thanks every day for its endless versatility) came about in early 2016, as I had long since given up on my dreams of being a master arts and crafts salesman. I won’t lie and say that I had some grand epiphany that spurred me to launch my business. It was actually a rather uneventful revelation.

Along with my passion for business, I have always had an affinity for gardening, in particular the cultivation and use of herbs. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been making my own garden plots and maintaining them - and whether those patches included pumpkins, roses, peach trees, or peanuts, they all grew and grew well. The name “Greene Thumb Gardening” also stems from the fact that I have been told by family and friends ever since I was old enough to open a packet of seeds that I have been gifted with a green thumb.

This business, then, is simply the coming together of my passion for business and my passion for growing and caring for plants – the two things I enjoy doing most. It is for that reason that I have devoted so much effort into turning Greene Thumb Gardening from a mere pipe dream into a viable and professional business.

Up to this point, I’ve spent countless hours developing the image, the idea, and the message of this company, and this website might be seen as the culmination of all my hard work. Of course, I’m not done yet. I’ll never really be done with this idea, just as I can never be done with my garden. Both are constantly developing, ever-changing works in progress, and I would have it no other way.

Looking back, I can honestly say I’m impressed at how far Greene Thumb Gardening has come, and I’d like to share a few things I learned about getting here. It might sound cliché to say that it all started with a dream, but it’s true; all things do. The trick is not having the dream, but turning that dream into a realistic, achievable idea, and that idea into a plan. My dream was a gardening business. My idea was Greene Thumb Gardening. My plan was and is to connect to others in the community who share ideas and values similar to our own and work to spread this knowledge to others who are eager and willing to learn. How did I go about this? Well, that’s the business.

I began by figuring out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to reach out to. I came to the idea of making natural and herbal solutions from the herbs I was so skilled at cultivating. This area of the country, and this region of North Carolina in specific being so steeped in agricultural tradition, I didn’t have any issues in determining my audience. They were all around me, my friends, my neighbors.

With this plan of action in mind, I set to work, planting fields of beans, peas, okra, and watermelons, as these were some of the most lucrative options for produce I could attempt. And as for my herb garden, I began transforming it from a modest little herb patch into a practical herb garden I could use year-round to make my solutions.

A view down the garden early this season.
The bottom half of the garden early this season

I began selling my produce to whomever would lend an ear, literally my neighbors and those I worked with, spreading stacks of business cards wherever I went. Last year, a local health food store began purchasing Greene Thumb Gardening produce.

Simultaneously, I was spending hours of time researching what to make, how to make it, and why to make it in the first place. This, too, is a work in progress, and every day I’m learning new information about herbs and their uses that I will continue to incorporate into these solutions.

This brings us to now, where I must say, I am very excited for what the future has to offer. I can’t say precisely what it will be, but I have a feeling that there are very good things in store for Greene Thumb Gardening, as we expand our work in the community and the number of solutions we offer, as well as their range of availability.

It is for this reason that I sincerely encourage you to keep up with Greene Thumb Gardening. Connect with us whether online or in-person at farmer’s markets and other venues. Give us your feedback on what we are doing and offer suggestions on what you would like to see us do as we expand. We are eagerly looking forward to getting to know you, sharing our knowledge with you, and learning what knowledge you have to offer us.

Next time, I’ll share some of the adventures I’ve had this season with St. John’s Wort. ‘Til then, keep cool and stay Greene!

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