Growing 10000 Trees On Acre – Expanding A Small Scale Nursery Business, an Update with Akiva Silver (PVP127)

Today, nearly two years after my first conversation with Akiva (PVP63), I am picking up the conversation with Akiva.

We cover a lot of subjects which we didn’t cover in the previous episode including:

Selling to wholesalers, selling trees online, shipping trees, and dealing with state regulations.

In addition to the practical tips and techniques, you’ll also get an update on how Akiva evolved as an entrepreneur…

Because a lot has changed in the last few years for Akiva.

In 2014 nursery sales were 50% Akiva’s income, this year in 2016 Akiva expects all of his income to from his on site nursery.

He no longer works away from home as a landscape. He’s a full time nursery man, and business owner.

It’s an awesome story of a small business, that just started on the side…

Business continues to grow for Akiva and it’s still a business that’s literally rooted in loose, nutrient rich soil. Akiva’s small nursery business grows over 1000 trees on a half an acre. Thousands of trees plant tightly together in loose, friable soil. Very tight spacings that force trees to grow tall and straight in competition with their neighbors resulting in a lot of nursery stock that can be sold in the first year.

How many people out there have some extra space where they could grow a few hundred trees? Trees to use in the development of your own property or to sell. If you sold each tree for $5 or $10, then we are talking about some significant money given the amount of space it takes.

It is simple, but it does take time, it is hard work. We aren’t talking about any sort of gimmicks here. It is about putting time, work, and care in to nurse these trees along to the point where you can sell them.

One other point to take note of. When we first talked back in 2014, Akiva was growing around 1000 tree’s on half an acre. Things have changed and he’s now scaled up to 10,000 trees on an acre.

That’s a lot of trees, on not a lot of land. But Akiva’s making a go of it enjoying every step of the way.

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Notes from Akiva Silver on the small scale tree nursery business

  • Akiva’s nursery – Twisted Tree Nursery
  • How much work is it to sell online?
    • A lot.
      • It took a lot of trial and error to get a system down.
      • He has one day a week set aside as a shipping and packing day.
  • It helps to have a big inventory for selection when you are selling online.
  • Does he have minimum orders?  Nope.
  • There are a lot of benefits of selling seeds and cuttings.
    • You can sell them year round.
    • They don’t take up a lot of space.
    • They have high margins.
    • They are easy to ship.
  • Realize the importance of balancing work with lifestyle.   Ask yourself – When is enough, enough; when is big enough, big enough?
  • Advice for starting out.  
    • Start a nursery on the side.
    • “You just have to grow something and try to sell it somewhere to start.”
  • Grow what people want to buy, not just what you want to sell.  More exotic species that may excite you may be hard to sell.
    • Sell the seeds for harder to sell varieties.  They are more shelf stable.

The first interview with Akiva Silver from 2014

Read the show notes from that episode here.

A bed of apple seedlings at Akiva's nursery.

A bed of apple seedlings at Akiva’s nursery.

Bare root beds.

Bare root beds.

Air prune beds.

Air prune beds.

A view from above showing part of Akiva's nursery setup.

A view from above showing part of Akiva’s nursery setup.



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Comments 10

  1. Oh man now this is my new favorite-of-all-time! So encouraging, so much information, I’m gonna digest this one for many days. Thank you Diego, these are the most uplifting, inspiring podcasts on the internet.

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  2. Loved this episode!
    Can you do a monthly or weekly call with Akiva? I would love to walk through the seasons in a nursery.

  3. Another great episode Diego. Great to get an update from Akiva and see how he transitioned into a full time nurseryman.
    Would love to here another follow up with him in the coming months in regards to some of his nursery systems. The air pruning beds are particularly interesting.
    Keep up the great work both Diego and Akiva!

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  4. Diego,
    I’ve only listened to a dozen or so podcasts, but your interview with Akiva was a ‘in the park home run’. Keep swing’n Diego, you’ve got a great game going here!!

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