ARE YOU INTERESTED in starting a wholesale nursery or in marketing specialty horticultural crops? The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is sponsoring two workshops, Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, at its state headquarters to help people interested in horticulture as an alternative agricultural business.

Jim Robbins, Extension horticulturist, said anyone with a love of working outdoors and raising plants can start a horticultural business. “Rice or cotton farmers have proven they love raising plants and they can work outdoors, but a banker or housewife could do as well,” said Robbins.

He said horticulture offers many options, including the production of cut flowers, fresh herbs, sod, bushes, vegetables, fruit and nut crops and shade trees.

“Starting a Wholesale Nursery” is the first workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 25, Robbins said. The class, from noon to 5 p.m., will give the “nuts and bolts” of starting a commercial wholesale nursery for trees and shrubs, including product mix, site selection and management.

Detailed handouts will be provided to workshop attendees.

Robbins suggested that people attending this workshop also attend the “Horticulture Marketing Conference” the next day, which will help them understand the general business and marketing of horticulture crops.

The “Horticulture Marketing Conference,” from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 26, will focus on topics such as business plan development and resources, niche marketing strategies, agricultural labor issues, insurance, value-added processing and risk management, according to Ron Rainey, Extension horticulture economist.

The first workshop, Starting a Wholesales Nursery, will be held in Classroom 1 and 2 at the Extension service state headquarters at 2301 S. University Ave., adjacent to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The cost of the program is $15. Everyone must register by Feb. 20. Call 501-671-2226 to register.

The second workshop, Horticulture Marketing Conference, will be held in Extension's auditorium. The program cost is $15. You must register by Feb. 19. Call 501-671-2175 or e-mail rrainey@uaex.edu.

Assisting producers with production alternatives to traditional agriculture is a major focus program of the Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the UA Division of Agriculture.