A community of growers supporting and being supported by one another for the benefit of the community as a whole.
In a Nutshell
The Citizen Growers Program is a partnership in which you, the Citizen Grower, produce rooted succulent and/or tropical plant plugs in your own home, from your own stock, and Flyleaf buys them when they're ready. That is the gist of the program.
You produce 1-3 species of rooted cuttings in a 50-count tray (we have the trays to give you,11"x21", as you're thinking about space requirements), and then Flyleaf buys the plugs from you when they're ready.
So, we agree on a species or three, specs, quantities, costs, and we start something very cool.
Senecio rowleyanus - "String of Pearls" - plug in a 50-count tray.
What's the Value for Flyleaf?
For me, the thought of working with a group of individual plant specialists carries a bunch of value.
As I've mentioned, I believe that people who end up mastering the wholesale growing of a few species will always have something to teach me, personally, and the plant community as a whole. This is a good deal. So is a possible reduction in shipping, travel, and excess storage for Flyleaf. So is supporting and talking with other growers.
I also believe it's likely that a program like this will deepen the selection of plants that Flyleaf has to offer. I know perfectly well that there are literally thousands of varieties of plants that we do not have access to but that the Citizen Growers can produce.
And again, the thought of what the underlying effects on the community could actually be (building and enriching) adds a stockpile of value to the program that is humbling but also motivating.
So, these things make up the value for Flyleaf.
Echeveria leaf with new roots and rosette, ready to be planted.
The Bigger Vision.
The Citizen Growers Program, at its core, is a community builder and enricher in that it offers home-growers a means to expand on their own growing passions and to bring their own specialties to market. This builds.
I also believe that as each Citizen Grower masters their craft, this passion and knowledge will continually rub off on their own circles of influence within the community and likely beyond. This enriches.
So, beyond the business of simply buying and selling plant plugs, I believe the Citizen Growers program has the potential to add a layer of depth to our community which I believe is a beautiful thing.
And for You?
Beyond the financial component and what may be an enjoyable addition to your day-to-day, I think the value of this partnership, for you, would all depend on your long view. If you have a grand vision in mind for the direction you would like this partnership to go, I'd encourage you to think in terms of years rather than months.
I believe that within a few months, a bunch of valuable knowledge can be gained, but it's often at the expense of a failed crop, or whatever else it might be that sets you back a step or two in the beginning. This is why I mention the long view. The learning curve can be discouraging at times, particularly the first year. Possibly two. This happens for everyone who takes this path with their plant passion.
I believe those with a long-view in mind will find value in the partnership from the beginning. I think that without the long view, however, the early pitfalls have the potential to steal much of the enjoyment.
How Does This Begin?
First, please remember that communication is key for a partnership like this to work well. If you have some number of plants that you'd like to begin growing, let's talk about them before you jump in. There will be some species that Flyleaf is interested in finishing and others that we are not. If we already have experience with a certain species, for example, and know that it is unlikely to sell, the likelihood of this being a fit for us is slim.
Once we've both come to an agreement on which species will work best, we'll talk about the rest of the terms*.
So, the path might look something like this:
1) You would choose from 1 to 10 species that you're very interested in propagating for sale and talk to Flyleaf about them.
2) Referring to the specs* that we'll agree on in that conversation, you could take a few cuttings/nodes/divisions of each of those 10 species and see how you feel about the prospects with each after a few months of working with them. This is where I believe that a long view comes into play.
3) Then, you'd determine which 2-3 of the 10 species that you've grown now for a few months seem to be the best fit for your space, your skills, your interest level, and your financial goals*. So, I'd focus on the few, and start setting up my grow space.
First, to keep this partnership simple and informal enough to enjoy, there are no contracts. So, that's not what "terms" means here. I don't want for there to be any sort of pressure for either side of this arrangement. There are no timelines for the Citizen Grower to meet. The Grower is not bound by anything other than that to receive payment, the specs are met.
What Are The Specs?
Though we'll ultimately determine these together, one good way to think about the specifics of the plant you would be producing is to look at the plants that we have in our greenhouses in Bonne Terre or those that we bring for our STL events. Look for the uniformity of the species - the size, color, and stage of development. There will, of course, be slight variation between a few of them in a tray but, in general, the plants of a certain species and pot size will be nearly identical. Consider the health of the plant. Consider the number of leaves and the height. Almost without exception, what you see began with a plug that looked just the same but a little smaller.
Another note you might take is the number of cuttings that go into each individual plant. While an Echeveria will consist of just one cutting (a single rosette), a Pilea may consist of 3 stems. Again, we'll discuss the specs on a case-by-case basis, but observing the plants that we currently have in relation to what you'd like to grow is a great way to start plotting your course.
Between these observations and the specs that we agree on, our goal is for you to know exactly what you're working toward each step of the way, before you begin. If you're going to produce Hoya 'Lisa' plugs, for example, you'll know the number of cuttings and approximate number of leaves, the size of leaves, and the height of the finished plug that fits into our program.
Lastly, as you will technically be a wholesale grower, a certain quantity of plugs will be discussed. This is just to say that our interest isn't in buying a few of this and a couple of that, but larger quantities - enough to fulfill demand. Oftentimes, this will amount to 20 or more of a given species per month. Many of our species are sold 50 or so per month.
And What's The Exchange Rate?
As with the specs, the dollar value for various plant plugs will vary. But to help set your expectations, most rooted cuttings will sell (to us) for $1-$3. More common species such as most echeveria will sell for $1, while a philodendron species may sell for $3. As with everything, there will be exceptions. Plant plugs that we do not have access to, for example, will obviously command a higher price. Some will be in the double-digits per plug (this will, indeed, be rare though).