Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Renata Goossen, Renata’s Garden
June 1, 2022
By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University
How about we go to a garden store? Or, what if the garden store could come to you?
Today we’ll meet an innovative young rural-preneur who has created a mobile system to bring vegetables, herbs, ornamentals and plant care information to the public.
Renata Goossen is the founder of Renata’s Garden in her hometown of Potwin. Her parents gardened, her dad raised tomatoes, and her mother’s family operates Henry Creek Farms, a fourth-generation family farm.
At left: Renata Goossen | Download this photo
“I grew up in 4-H,” Goossen said. She tried the horticulture project and found that she loved it. “Our Butler County extension horticulture agent, Larry Crouse, was excellent at encouraging young people with judging and plant identification. Our extension agents influenced me greatly.”
“In junior high, I started a project I called Renata’s Garden,” she said. She raised special varieties of plants, created a catalog and marketed those plants to the community. “Thankfully I have great parents who were willing to drive me to deliver those plants when we went to school or 4-H functions.”
Goossen attended Kansas State University where she earned her degree in horticulture. “The College of Agriculture is really great at helping you find where you fit,” Goossen said. “I had great professors who helped me.”
She earned several scholarships and business internships, including serving as a horticulture marketing specialist for a growers business in Ohio. “I was taken aback that more hort businesses weren’t using extension resources,” Goossen said. As a student, she conducted and published undergraduate research and traveled to Europe with a study abroad program.
In the Netherlands, she observed mobile street vendors. It reminded her of seeing a renovated school bus which had been used for summer feeding programs back in Butler County.
After graduation from K-State, Goossen considered her options. “I liked dealing with the consumer and I also liked the reward of successfully growing a crop,” she said.
She decided to combine the two and create a mobile horticultural retail business of her own, using the name Renata’s Garden again. She built a greenhouse and produces specialty plants such as Celebrity Tomato, Large-Leaf Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, Patio Baby Eggplant, Snackabelle Pepper, Marigold Strawberry Blonde flowers, Everleaf Emerald Tower Basil, and many more.
She purchased and renovated an old school bus, painted a floral design on the exterior, and refitted it with benches custom-designed to hold flats of her plants with space for pots, soil and other supplies underneath. The bus has “Renata’s Garden” and “Plant Bus” printed in big letters on the front and side.
Goossen drives the bus to various locations where customers can purchase the plants she has raised. “I wanted to put a Kansas twist on the European mobile cart idea,” she said.
“I set it up like a pop-up shop and notify people where I’ll be on my social media and website,” Goossen said. She makes a circuit of Wichita, Newton, El Dorado and surrounding communities where she stops for a day or a few hours for the public to step on board and purchase her plants.
Plant care and education are important to Goossen. She includes a QR code on each plant label which links to the plant care information for that specific plant. She also produces a weekly YouTube program, called Unearth Horticulture, that discusses plant care.
“I love seeing people’s eyes light up when they see the inside of the bus,” Goossen said. “People are excited to embrace this kind of business. When there’s a little kid trying edible flowers for the first time or an older person who gets on the bus and says, `I’ve never seen anything like this,’ those moments are amazing.”
It's a remarkable business to originate in a rural community such as Potwin, population 421 people. Now, that’s rural.
For more information, see www.renatasgarden.com.
Would you like to go to the plant store? What if the plant store came to you? We commend Renata Goossen for making a difference with her creative approach to marketing and educating horticultural consumers. I’d say her business is on the move.
Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.