Running his own "at home" assembly line, Joshua can put together a case of sprouting jar kits in half an hour
PHOTO: PENNY KING
I have my own home business: making and selling products that I call Sprout Jar Kits. Each package of sprouting jar equipment consists of one wide-mouthed quart canning jar, a lid ring and screen, two tablespoons of alfalfa seeds, four tablespoons of mung seeds and a three-page instruction pamphlet. The kits cost me 90 cents to make, and I sell them for $2.00 (wholesale) or $3.00 (retail) apiece.
My business started as a home-schooling project. (My family are Seventh Day Adventist Christians, so I've never gone to public school. Our religion honors the seventh day — Saturday — as holy; looks forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ; and teaches that home is the best place to live, work, play and study.) And I've certainly learned a lot from my selling experiences.
For one thing, I've begun to understand how to use money (as well as how to make it!). I record all the cash I get or spend, so I can keep track of expenses, income and profit. Furthermore, since putting kits together takes time, I'm learning about discipline and setting priorities. I'm finding out about how to deal with customers and storekeepers, too. (Mom helps me a lot with this part of the job, though, because I'm a little shy.) And my parents tell me I'm probably even learning some lessons without knowing it!
When I started the business, my stepfather bought 13 cases of wide-mouthed canning jars, 8 feet of fiberglass screening, 25 pounds of mung beans and 10 pounds of alfalfa seeds. All that cost $89.99. I've since sold cases of completed kits to natural food stores, restaurants, food wholesalers, a fruit and vegetable stand and a large independent grocery store. My mother's cousin even sells the kits in her beauty parlor!
My mom and I made signs to promote my product. Some of them say, "GROW FRESH AND NUTRITIOUS GREENS ALL WINTER LONG! ASSEMBLED BY JOSHUA, 10 YEARS OLD." Others say: "SPROUTING IS EASY, ENERGIZING, ECONOMICAL AND ECOLOGICAL. A GREAT GIFT FOR YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE." We put a few of the posters in a grocery, and that store has sold the most jars of any place I've tried!
Of course, my friends and relatives have bought some, too. For example, my great-aunt and her granddaughter once came to spend a few days with us. They had never even tasted sprouts, but by the time they left, they both liked the little greens so much that my great aunt bought them each a sprouting jar.
I could also probably sell the kits at flea markets and craft fairs, but most of those events are held on Saturdays, and my family keeps our Sabbath for going to church, reading the Bible, having special meals, taking walks, visiting friends and just being with each other.
In the year since I started my business, I've earned enough income to pay back all the money my stepfather invested in the supplies, and I've made $54 profit besides! I also still have three cases (of 12 jars each) out on consignment, and another three I haven't yet sold.
At first, I wanted to buy myself a bike with my profits, but my mom convinced me to reinvest the money in more supplies and a second business (selling felt toys door to door). That taught me about thinking of the future, which was one lesson I really didn't expect to learn from selling sprouting jars.
By the way, since I started my business, I've seen other kits that sell for $9.00, are made of plastic (including three plastic tops) and come in fancy cardboard containers. My jars are plain and simple, but they don't include any wasteful throwaway covers, and besides, glass is better for the environment than plastic.
You might want to go into business with sprout kits yourself, so I've included a section that tells how to make a dozen of them.
I hope other young people do try assembling and selling the kits. It's been a profitable and enjoyable experience for me. And besides, seed sprouts are the most alive food we can eat. The seeds themselves have high concentrations of nutrients, and sprouting them increases the amount of vitamins A, B, C and E from four to 10 times. So when you sell sprout kits, you're sharing a really good food with your customers as well as making money for yourself!
How to Assemble a Sprouting Jar Kit
To make 12 kits, you'll need a case of wide-mouthed canning jars with rings (I give the lids that come with the jars to my mom, as payment for helping me), fiberglass screening (enough to cut out a dozen 5-by-5-inch squares, 1 ½ cups of alfalfa seeds, 3 cups of mung seeds and a dozen sets of instructions. It'll take about half an hour to finish the case.
- Assemble your instruction sheets, fold them, and put a set in each jar (leave the jars in the box). The three sheets of information I pack with all my kits include how-to-sprout instructions along with recipes and health facts.
- Bag the seeds. Use small food storage sacks with twist ties (lock-top bags don't work as well). Put each sack in a bowl when you're filling it. That way, if you spill any seeds, you can save them. I put two bags in each jar, one with 2 tablespoons of alfalfa seeds and the other with 4 tablespoons of mung seeds.
- Roll out the fiberglass screening on newspaper, and draw 5-by-5-inch squares with a marking pen. (You can draw right through onto the newspaper and use that as a cutting guide.) I cut squares instead of circles — which would fit more neatly inside the round jar lid — because a circle screen will eventually shrink and fall into the jar.
- Put the screen on top of each jar and screw it in place with a canning ring.
That's it: Your 12 kits are complete!