David Buck, Apple Farmer - Horticulturist and Apple Farmer

David Buck is an experienced horticulturist and a successful entrepreneur based in Oregon. With a degree in Horticulture from Oregon State University, Buck is poised to help agricultural growers solve difficulties with their properties. He has worked with such diverse businesses as strawberry farms and vineyards. He has also shared his expertise with the state park system in Oregon.

David Buck Apple Farmer got his start in the industry shortly after graduating from Oregon State. He purchased a small, family-run orchard and turned it into a thriving business. He was able to practice his horticultural skills on the tree stock as well as on the other types of crops that were grown at the orchard. He also managed the retail aspect of the business and catered to the families that came to enjoy his fruit and his beautifully landscaped grounds.

Buck believes that established business people should do all they can to share their knowledge with up-and-coming generations. He works closely with his local chapter of the Future Farmers of America, helping interested high school students learn about the orchard industry. He also volunteers in his local community garden, where he teaches young and old alike the basics of sustainable agriculture. When he is not in the fields or in the orchard, Buck enjoys traveling abroad with his partner. He is an avid reader who enjoys history and literature. He also spends time reading industry publications to keep himself as current as possible in his field.

How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?

I started in the apple orchard business right out of college. I had come into a small inheritance, so I was able to put the money down for the mortgage. I also had a great mentor in the person who sold me the orchard. He was a huge help in getting to know every variety of apples in the field.

After several years as an orchard owner, I decided that my skills would be well used as a consultant. I had many sleepless nights over this decision, but I decided to sell the orchard and buy a much smaller plot for myself. I truly enjoy working with other growers in many different areas.

How do you make money?

In my little orchard, I make a small amount of money from apple sales. This money isn’t quite enough to run the orchard; I have to supplement it with proceeds from my consulting work. My consulting work has become profitable over the past five years.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

It always takes a while for agricultural businesses to see a profit. My business was no different. Putting a huge investment in the property starts you off in negative territory, and then you are greatly dependent on growing conditions. It was easier for me to make money as a consultant than as a large-scale apple farmer.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

When I bought my large orchard, I was lucky to inherit a huge customer base from the previous owners. They were all a bit skeptical of a kid right out of college, but they came to respect my expertise.

How did you get your first customer?

Sponsoring local events is a great way to increase your business. Being associated with worthy local causes is an inexpensive way to get press, and it helps you build goodwill in the community.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

The most difficult decision I’ve had to make in the past several months is that I had to let an employee go. Things had been difficult between us for some time, but I remained hopeful that I could salvage the relationship. In the end, I decided to cut my losses.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

My business is full of satisfying moments. Picking that first apple in August or September is so rewarding. In agriculture, every season has its special meaning. I also love seeing the growers that I consult with succeed using my knowledge.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

I’m hoping to start gardening classes for local growers. Even experienced farmers can benefit from new ideas. I am also hoping to be able to visit farmers outside Oregon and offer them my help. Expanding outside Oregon is very exciting.

What business books have inspired you?

I recommend The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way by Michael Phillips. This is a great book for people who want to start their own homegrown orchards and berry patches. I share this author’s holistic views.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

I recently bought a new laptop. This allows me to work outside as much as I can. It also helps me to take my information on the road when I visit other growers. I recently bought new accounting software to help me with the business aspects of my job.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to travel. My partner and I recently went to Hawaii, and I visited pineapple and coffee growers. I also read widely. I enjoy reading about history, especially European history of the Middle Ages.

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