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Have plants, will travel: A Kansas woman takes her business on the road

Kylie Cameron

A K-State graduate hopes to make homes in south-central Kansas look a bit greener.

The wheels on the bus make south-central Kansas greener. What started as a way to save money for college is now a growing business for Renata Goosen — no pun intended.

Goosen operates Renata's Garden, a mobile plant bus she uses to sell plants and accessories from wherever she happens to be for the day. What was once an old yellow school bus is now a traveling business. It's painted white with native Kansas flowers, plants and bugs.

And on the front and back, in all capital letters, it reads — "PLANT BUS."

Kylie Cameron

"I think it's really fun to be kind of like the plant truck," Goosen said. "I go around it's like, 'All right, the plant bus is in town … Let's go get some plants.'

"And I love that accessibility to rural areas."

Goosen often travels to smaller communities like El Dorado and her hometown of Potwin, where her love for plants began.

"I was always exposed to nature," Goosen said, "which was … really a great thing for me. And I thrived on it. I really loved plants."

Goosen went to Kansas State to study horticulture. But after trying out a few things here and there during internships and while working in a commercial greenhouse, she eventually made her way back to the plant-selling business she had before college.

"It always really bugged me that people felt inadequately supported in their plant-growing journey," she said.

With that in mind, Goosen educates her customers about their plants and plant care with her weekly video series "Unearth Horticulture" on her YouTube channel.

Kylie Cameron

Each plant she sells also comes with its own QR code that leads to her website. The website has an extensive care guide for dozens of plants, ranging from tomatoes and perennials to more traditional house plants.

Goosen often also gives out her phone number so customers can call her with questions.

Customers of the plant bus find the personal interaction helpful compared to shopping at big box plant stores.

"I would like to go home and grow a healthy plant collection so they just don't go home to die," Yesi Perez said after visiting the bus.

To source those healthy plants, Goosen works with connections she made while in college. She also utilizes her own greenhouse.

"For a small business, and I started with less than 1,000 square feet of growing space, I can't keep up with the demand necessary to support my new business," Goosen said.

"So it's always great to have some friends in the horticulture world to help me out, and I can help them out. And that's what's great about the horticulture industry is that we're all very … willing to work together to be successful."

Kylie Cameron

For the future, Goosen is looking at incorporating foraged or repurposed pots and containers into her inventory.

"I love seeing things with life, new life, breathed into them," Goosen said.

And maybe even expanding into an actual storefront.

"Until that point, I have a mobile business that can serve many communities," Goosen said, "and it's going to stay there even if I do have a storefront.

"So I know that the bus is going to stick around for a while. And I'm hoping it kind of becomes a flagship of horticulture and plant-care support in the community."

Copyright 2022 KMUW | NPR for Wichita. To see more, visit KMUW | NPR for Wichita.

Kylie Cameron, a Kansas native, is a News Lab intern at KMUW. A political science and journalism major, she also serves as the editor in chief for The Sunflower, Wichita State’s student newspaper.