: A Dragons Den dismissal turns into a bonus

When Anna Small Adams and her husband Carl first developed their wheat grass idea, it was novel, organic and fraught with learning and decisions.

They needed to understand the organic market and how to reach it.  They needed to absorb so much about the health properties of wheat grass.  With some success behind them, the put together their product and their numbers and pitched their business to the Dragon’s Den front people who interview hundreds before selecting the finalists who actually appear on the show.

Actually appearing on the show four years ago was a different experience for the participants than for those of us watching television.  While we see seven minutes of presentation, questions, and denial or acceptance, the Adams’ actually experienced 40 minutes.

While actually growing the wheat grass, Anna and Carl discovered they wanted to produce the juice.  They set about developing machinery to help them do that, and sold the grass growing business to a Holland Marsh colleague.  They then bought a building on Tiffin St to house their manufacturing efforts.

They wanted the Dragons to invest $250,000 for 30% of their business.  They needed it to purchase a cold pasteurizing machine which would allow them to produce a product which could be classified as raw food.  While one dragon expressed interest, Carl and Anna were turned down flat.  Gently.

Not dispirited at all, they carried on, their belief in their product intact.  As a result of the show, they got a call from St Catharines from a company offering to rent their cold pasteurizing machine.  So they got what they wanted without diluting their ownership.

They quickly added broccoli sprout juice to their product line.  They went back to the Dragons last year, taking their respect and their sense of humour with them.  They were appearing on a Second Chance show and they hoped they had the fortitude to go through the process again.  Their ask was different this time.  They developed a wheat grass martini, with their frozen product and produced a pitch that was informative and fun.  They worked with bartender Deb Hewlett to develop a savoury frozen martini that would demonstrate their product.  They were looking for $75,000 for 40% of their company to initiate their product in the frozen food aisle of appropriate supermarkets.

They got what they asked for, sort of.  While they have yet to see any money, Anna says the Dragons’ diligence is very thorough before a penny leaves their wallets.  “They want to know everything,” says Anna.  “Less than 1% of deals done on TV go somewhere,” she said.  “It’s great TV if you play the rules.”

This is a company with its roots (pardon the pun) in Barrie.  Garden Gate Farms has product in Nutrition Plus, Nature’s Best, Picture of Health, Wheat & Honey in Collingwood, Alcona Health Food, Harmony Foods, Nature’s Emporium and Healthy Habit in Cookstown.  Their reach extends to other health food stores and their ambition is high.

What’s it taken to get to four employees, a viable product, and solid marketing?  “Passion, determination, resoluteness, and a belief in ourselves and others,” Anna is quick to answer.

She says she and Carl make a great team because they come at their business in different directions, with different personalities and interests.

Look out!  This community is going to be very proud of Garden Gate Farms!  Thanks, Anna.  Thanks, Carl.