What if someone could come to your door to sell you organic gardening products and offer demonstrations the same way a make-up sales rep could bring a catalogue and a guide to applying mascara? The Happy Gardener is a three-year-old company that does just that. By giving demonstrations and lectures at community events and garden shows as well as private parties, Happy Gardener distributors do more than just push a product: they inform their customers about the benefits of organic gardening.
This month, the Happy Gardener is a part of the Forbes.com Boost Your Business Contest, which will award $100,000 to one deserving business to help it expand.
Mother Earth Living spoke with Annette Pelliccio, founder of the Happy Gardener, about her (pardon the pun) grass-roots approach to sustainable living and organic gardening education.
Q: The direct sales model of your business (like those used by Avon and the Pampered Chef) facilitates conversation and education between distributor and customer. Why is education so important in organic gardening?
A: Most Americans do not realize that the average product used to fertilize their lawn is detrimental to the groundwater, wild life and community around them. The average person still doesn't know about organic alternatives; why would you change and use something that's more Earth-friendly if you didn't know it was out there? Our distributors can offer that information to their customers.
Q: How can people already practicing organic gardening benefit from your company?
A: We supply people with easy and affordable organics. I've been an organic gardener for 15 years and I used to have to do a lot of mixing and measuring myself; our products eliminate that problem. We also offer instruction in birding and composting, it's not just pest control and gardening. In addition, we offer them a way to have a part-time or full-time career opportunity in a career they're already passionate about.
Q: Why is organic gardening important to you personally?
A: I've always had a big vegetable garden, fruit orchard and have grown herbs. When you have children and pets and you love gardening you really start to wonder about the effects of using conventional products on the food that you growing and, in turn, feeding your family.
The Happy Gardener would use their prize money to expand their customer service department, increase sales representative training, and register their products with OMRI (Organic Measures Research Institute) so that the whole product, not just the ingredients, can be certified organic. Click here to vote for Happy Gardener and help it reach the final round of the Forbes competition. Voting ends Aug. 31.