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Water is Costly

Harvestable Landscapes

by David Ross


Water is costly. Too costly to just water you're landscaping and look at it.

What if, instead you could plant beautiful, attractive landscaping that could make you money?

That's the idea behind "harvestable landscaping." The brainchild of Jim White Orchard Maintenance and Ben Gill of California Protea Management

White is in citrus and Gill is in cut flowers, which he buys from local growers and markets all over the country.

"I know flowers," says Gill. "Jim knows the installation of irrigation, farming and care of landscaping. We linked up together."

"I was talking at church to some friends and someone said he was spending $300.00 a month to water the lawn," says White. "Being a farmer I have a real problem putting water on something that won't offset the cost of watering it."


With their combined expertise they can go look at someone's property and say, "This would be the best for the site."

The idea is not to exactly duplicate crops at other locations.

"You don't want to plant all the same thing so you flood the market. This is a custom endeavor from the get go," says Gill

There's a huge market for fruits, vegetables, flowers, foliages and wook products. Any type of consumer market. This called niche marketing.

An example is berries. "Not many people are doing extensive things with berries," says White. "Yet there's a market for them. People are looking for retirement income, where they can handle it for themselves or a few family members. A lot of people out here growing citrus are really tired of growing citrus because there's no money in it."

A light went off in White's brain. "A thought stuck! So many new people are moving into Valley Center from small lots. Suddenly they have two acres and they don't know what to do with it."

"If you're going to landscape anyway, why not plant something that has potential of offset the costs, instead of a typical lawn," says Gill.

Crops that look good yet can be sold are endless, says Gill; some examples are lilacs, grapples and some protea. For instance, there are 800 kinds of eucalyptus

Valley Center has a variety of "microclimates." Harvestable landscaping should be tailored to the particular microclimate.

"What's exciting to me is that there's so many commodities out there that Ben has the potential to market. He's been in the business for 30 years," says White.


White and Gill are flexible. " We offer management services or harvesting, or not. We customize to what out want," says White.

They install drip irrigation systems, which save water and they also work with polymers that release water slowly back into the soil. Gill points out that the cut flower industry uses a third of the water per acre that citrus does. "We're trying to mix true science with farmer's footprints."

"If they don't want to market it they still have the beauty of the landscape. But if you want to go into commercial fields, that's available," says White. "If you're going to spend money on that kind of water anyway, why not have the option of something that's marketable and aesthetically pleasing?"

They have already begun to install some harvestable landscapes.

They've planted a couple of acres of protea in Poway. They've installed lilacs and crabapples on a horse ranch on Lilac Meadows.

But each project will be different.

as seen in the Valley Center Roadrunner

If this idea appeals to you, call Jim White at 749-3093 or Ben Gill at 535-8499.

  • "Fresh Choice," written by Kate Penn, as published in Floral Management, September 1996
  • Protea Care - this link will bring you the "Cultural Care" area of our website
  • "Popularity" as published in the Flower News, April 22, 2000
  • "Persnickety Protea," by Nan Sterman,
    as published in San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.
  • "Blooming Profits," as published in the San Diego Union Tribune, September 01, 1999.
  • Leucadendrons: Sleeping Giants
  • Pink Ice



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California Protea Management is owned and operated by Ben Gill.
Contact Information
760-535-8499 | proteaguy@gmail.com