Gulley Hopes to Grow Contest Winnings
Lee Gulley has always wanted to help people plant a vegetable garden of manageable size.
“I didn’t want them to be overwhelmed or grow more food than they need,” says Gulley, who owns Good Land Nursery in Vass with his wife, Karen.
So Lee Gulley developed the Urban Sod-Buster, a raised vegetable garden bed that comes in two sizes and includes natural soil.
“The advantage to the raised bed is it’s easy to work, the soil doesn’t get compacted and you can rotate crops,” Gulley says. “I’ve made one for myself and have been growing in it for three years.”
But Gulley needed money to take his idea beyond the prototype phase, so he entered the “Good to Great” essay contest sponsored annually by the Sandhills SCORE chapter and the Moore County Chamber of Commerce.
Last week, he pocketed $1,500 for winning.
“We’re going to put the money to good use,” Gulley says. “There have been a lot of things circling around in my mind, but this is something I really want to focus on.”
Marilyn Neely, director of the Small Business Center at Sandhills Community College and chair of the judging committee, says Gulley clearly had the best essay.
“Everyone on the judging panel had him No. 1,” Neely says.
The award is near and dear to my heart because Sandhills Business Times was the initial winner in 2007.
Of course, I take none of the credit. My production manager, Carrie Frye, wrote the winning essay. My only contribution was giving her the thumbs-up to enter, then proofreading the essay before it was submitted.
We used the money — the award was $1,000 then — to buy more distribution racks for placement in the 10 counties in which the monthly business newspaper circulated.
Gulley plans to spend his check on marketing. He will build 4-foot-by-12-foot and 4-by-4 cutaway models that will be transported by trailer to street fairs, garden shows, church outings and other events within a 30-mile radius of Moore County.
Gulley will also purchase a small generator that will power a computer or television screen that provides information about the Urban Sod-Buster, which will retail for $675.
Accessories such as trellises, an irrigation system and seasonal extenders will cost extra.
“People want to grow their own vegetables,” Gulley says. “They’re interested in where their food is coming from. Hopefully, people will grow their favorite vegetables and supplement their grocery shopping or purchases from local farmers.”
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Chamber, says one of the reasons that Gulley’s proposal “has such merit” is the interest in local foods, “whether it’s growing your own or buying directly from farmers. Depending upon how he wants to grow it, the Urban Sod-Buster could become a pretty substantial business.”
Gulley, 56, says he is just glad to be bringing a lifelong dream to fruition.
“It’s a business that I’ve thought about for many, many years,” he says. “There’s nothing else like it around here. It’s easy to maintain. It’s easy to use. I see a lot of potential in it.”
Here’s hoping that Sandhills residents see the value in Gulley’s product.
And hats off to SCORE and the Chamber for continuing the contest.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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