Entrepreneur Annie Haven is trying to build a fast-growing business built on dried cow manure.
How much would you pay for a box of tea-bag-like pouches filled with dried cow manure? Lots of people are forking over $21.95 for a packet of nine such bags, made by Authentic Haven Brand in San Juan Capistrano, California. The product is the idea of Annie Haven, who grew up on her family's ranch. For years, the Havens provided local farmers with fertilizer. As the farms gave way to suburban houses, Haven hit on the concept of packaging her cows' manure in small brewing pouches -- about 3 inches by 5 inches -- and selling it as fertilizer online.
Authentic Haven is just one of many companies riding a wave of enthusiasm for gardening. In 2009, the number of vegetable gardeners in the U.S. rose 14 percent, according to the National Gardening Association. As a result, other natural fertilizers, including worm castings and bat guano, are also gaining popularity.
But dried cow manure has its advantages. It weighs just a fraction of bagged fertilizer. And each pouch makes 5 gallons of liquid fertilizer when "brewed" in water. Sales of Haven's manure bags have grown 30 percent a year since 2005, with orders from as far away as Singapore and Spain. Another selling point: Haven's cows roam openly and eat only organic feed. "My family name is on my product, so I'm very picky about it," she says.