From seeds sown before the pandemic sprouted a business that surprised even its caretaker.
Linsay Chavez didn't start Four Arrows Garden with the intention of building an online nursery built on contactless delivery.
In the months before the pandemic, she and her four kids, ages 3-12, started propagating succulents as a way to spend some time outside together.
"They were having a blast with it, and with my 10 and 12 year old, we talked about doing a fun business with succulent planting parties," Chavez says.
They registered the business and stocked up on succulent cuttings and plugs just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parties of any kind were suddenly problematic, no matter that they now had a stock of plants with no home.
Instead, they set up at farmers markets and hosted sales on their driveway, attracting neighbors-turned customers in their neighborhood in the Vail and Corona de Tucson area. The timing was right: Many turned to gardening in their backyards amid pandemic restrictions.
"We were selling kids planting sets and 3-5 gallon succulents, and then people started asking us for trees," Chavez says with a laugh. "It got bigger and bigger."
As the demand for other desert plants for landscaping grew, the family talked over their next steps. In July, Chavez realized they could offer an easy way to shop for plants online by photographing the actual plant someone will buy and then delivering it within a few days. She began reaching out to growers in the Tucson and Phoenix areas to source native and desert-adapted plants.
"In the last six to eight months, we've taken this from a tiny, succulent propagation business to providing landscape plants to the whole community," she says. "It changed because of the pandemic and because people were so supportive."
Four Arrows Garden keeps a small inventory of plants in the family's backyard, but mostly they order plants as customers request them. The nursery also sells pottery and soil. Delivery is $8 within a 25-mile radius, although accommodations may also be made for deliveries outside that zone with a possible fee increase.
Almost a year later, Four Arrows Garden is still purely a family business, with Chavez fulfilling all orders and deliveries herself. The Four Arrows in the name, by the way, refer to Chavez's four kids.
"The kids are on and off," she says of their involvement. "They love it some days and then they could be mad at me other days. ... They come on deliveries with me and they'll carry the plants with me to the door and help water every day. I try to teach them what I'm learning about the plants and hope they grow to love it."
In November, Chavez left her job at a startup to focus on Four Arrows Garden. Her background in operations, business development and ecommerce has her well prepared for the business end of Four Gardens. But plants? Plants are newer for her.
Originally from New England, Chavez has lived in Tucson for more than a decade, over the years cultivating a love for desert plants and their ability to thrive in the harshest of environments.
"I have always loved desert plants," she says. "You don't see them anywhere else. I didn't believe a lot of them were real when I first saw them."
She has learned much in the years of creating an oasis in her own backyard, and is currently taking a certification class for nursery professionals through Mesa Community College. Now, she wants to help other families create a lush backyard they enjoy.
During the fall planting season, Chavez says Four Arrows Garden averaged about 15 to 20 orders a week with as many as 200 plants filling up their backyard. In the slower months before they restock for spring, she's offering free yard consultations to help people think through their landscaping.
Although Chavez says she never could have imagined propagating succulents with her kids would lead to starting a nursery, the business continues to serve its original purpose: Getting the family outside, especially during the screen-heavy months of the pandemic.
"Being stuck at home, with the kids stuck at the computer all day, it's just a lot of always being at the computer," Chavez says. "So this has given us an outlet and forced us to go out every day and morning to water. And we're learning about something that's not at the computer."
To order plants from Four Arrows Garden, visit fourarrowsgarden.com.