Good planning will help make your Great NZ Seedling Sale a success.
1. Who will produce seedlings, how and when?
Different seeds will take different lengths of time to grow into sellable seedlings. You will need to plan carefully which seeds will be sown when – read seed packets and gardening books to find out how long they will take to germinate and when they’ll be ready to transplant, then work backwards from the sale date.
2. What kind of plants will you grow, and how many of each?
Think about what you think your community will be most likely to grow. Include summer garden staples like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, sweetcorn, peas, beans and lettuces. Offer your favourite varieties or a range to choose from. You might like to also provide a range of herbs and non-food plants – sunflowers are easy to produce in bulk, and swan plants might also be popular.
3. What resources will you need?
Seeds, pots, containers, packaging, seed raising mix, promotional material etc. Remember we have lots of promotional material and ideas for your on this site!
4. When and where will you host the sale?
At school? Or would a community site at a retailer be better? Maybe you have a school fair coming up?
5. What prices will you charge, will you take pre-orders, and who will handle cash?
6. What is your fundraising target, and what will you use the raised funds for?
You may have been able to save sufficient seed to grow seedlings from seeds of your own. Otherwise, you could reach out to local gardeners and your local parent community to fill any gaps you have.
Kings Seeds are a new Garden to Table School Support and will provide Mixed Lettuce Seeds to each school who signs up to participate in The Great New Zealand Seedling Sale. They’re a supplier who offers some seeds in bulk, and a 10% discount to schools who buy seeds to grow into seedlings to sell. See their great range of seeds online at www.kingsseeds.co.nz
Seed raising mix
Garden to Table partners Tui will supply 2 vouchers for seed raising mix to all participating schools. You’ may need some more, so here’s a simple “recipe” for making your own seed raising mix:
part sand (eg. river sand)
parts fine coir fibre (available in briquettes which you rehydrate in water)
parts sieved compost (or 2 parts compost + 1 part vermicast from your worm farm)
Mix well to combine.
Larger seeds like beans and sunflowers can be started in compost, which is cheaper to buy than seed raising mix.
Pots and Containers
You will need pots and containers to grow your seedlings in. You can get started using Fertilpots, generously supplied by BioGrow when you register your Seedling Sale. Think about the plants you plan to grow and how you will present them – in six cell punnets, larger single pots or trays. Paper pot makers can be bought from some garden centres or online, and allow for a large number of pots to be produced quickly at no cost, using recycled newspaper. Or follow the links here and here for details of how to make newspaper pots or pots from kitchen rolls. Note that they will degrade relatively quickly if repeatedly soaked in water, so use them for fast-growing seedlings planted close to the sale date.
Many home gardeners accumulate plastic plant punnets and pots at home and don’t know how to get rid of them. Consider putting notices in your school newsletter, on Facebook gardening groups and on Neighbourly offering to collect and reuse pots. Your local garden centre might have pots available – some offer a return scheme where you can help yourself. Some landfills have recycling centres or stores where seedling punnets and pots are sold very cheaply. Tell them it’s for a school sale and they may give you lots for free!
Have students collect suitable plastic containers from their recycling bins at home – yoghurt containers and other small pottles can be useful (again, you could ask your wider school community to contribute), and recycling these further illustrates your school’s commitment to sustainability.
Think about what else your kids can produce to sell alongside seedlings – surplus produce from the school garden, packets of seeds, wildflower seed bombs, bottled worm wee, refreshments and preserves are all things you could produce on session to sell at your seedling sale event. Kings Seeds also offer their school seed fundraiser which would be a great addition to your sale. Have a look on Kings Seeds School Fundraiser page.
Think about how you will price your plants for sale. Take a trip to a garden centre to see what current prices are, and compare the size and quality of plants you are selling. Other considerations will include ease of cash handling ($1/$2/$5 might be easy – make sure you have a float with plenty of gold coins for change) and your community’s ability to afford what you are selling.
The Resources page has many downloadable resources and ideas to help with you sale – check it out here. Think about the key messages you want people to consider – that the seedlings you are selling are locally grown, organic, and will support your school to teach kids how to grow and cook their own fresh food.
Reflection and forward planning
After this year’s seedling sale reflect on what went well and how you could improve next year. What were your top sellers, and where did you overestimate demand? What else could you produce next year? (With plenty of lead time, could you grow berries and fruit trees from cuttings, and pot up lots of strawberry runners for sale?)
Good luck for your Great NZ Seedling Sale! We hope you enjoy the process and make a good profit for your Garden to Table programme.