Houston Entrepreneur Moves into ‘Landscape Vitamins’ Business

Interesting story from Houston’s Business Journal about landscaper and entrepreneur Jennifer Appel and her move into the organic lawn and garden care business.

Entrepreneur Jennifer Appel’s business idea took root in an unusual and bittersweet way — it came to her after the death of her cat.

In January 1999, Appel saw her 18-pound tabby, Golden, pass away 72 hours after coming in contact with pesticide residue in her back yard. Already an established landscape architect, the experience turned Appel into a votary for organics.

Not only did it change the philosophy of her existing company, Landsculpture & Design Inc., but it propelled her into a new business. After exhaustive research, Appel created a separate entity, Jennifer’s Landscape Vitamins, in 2004 to produce and sell organic and environmentally friendly fertilizer and compost tea (the goopy brown liquid found at the bottom of a pile of rotting leaves) and the delivery systems that spread the products.

The fledgling company is taking aim at the multibillion-dollar agricultural industry, and is already selling products to farmers as far away as California and Massachusetts. What’s more, Appel has drawn the scrutiny of large multinational chemical companies wondering how this upstart is crashing the synthetic fertilizer and pesticide party.

That’s certainly a party that needs crashing… I’ve been experimenting this year with a corn-gluten based “weed-n-feed” — can’t speak too much to the result because my yard was a true mess at the start. My dog was my main concern, as well as wanting to try out more natural methods. Seems to me that it would do the big fertilizer companies well to take a look at products like Jennifer’s — nature’s had this down for a long time, and the market’s catching on…

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