Raintree Ambassador Opportunity

Hey GF regulars, we received a request from Raintree Nursery to post an advert for some volunteer-ish positions they have. Since these positions are about helping people grow fruit better we decided to post it here whereas generally we try to keep commercial things off the forum. Here is the position advert we got from Laura Sweeny, the Raintree horticulturist.

If you might be interested in one of these positions please follow up as per the above. Note that this forum is not endorsing this program nor is it involved with it in any way, we are only making people aware of it.


All well and good, but I can’t heartily endorse Raintree if they continue to price their stuff much higher than so many other quality nurseries.
For instance, Trees of Antiquity beats Ms Sweeny on both price and quality.


I applaud them for at least trying to help people be successful and spread real, useful information

I gave advice like that for free, in between setting up chairs and wrangling speakers and stuff for the Home Orchard Society

Generally, I like the sound of what they are doing. But I wouldn’t want to sign up if I weren’t free to direct people to One Green World, Burnt Ridge, or Portland Nursery if the situation called for it.

Probably a moot point for me since I’m in their region.


Don’t know them, so I’m not defending them in particular, but it is impossible to get identical production costs from two businesses of the same size and on the same state, let alone across state lines and of who knows what economy of scales. Them having been in business for 50 years makes it sound like they are doing something right.

Heck i buy plants from even more expensive nurseries, the local small nurseries.


That comes out to about 260 email responses to their customers over a year for less than $1 per response. I would expect a good response to require about 20 minutes (reading question & formulating response + plus occasional follow up questions).


They have recently changed ownership as well as business practices.


Family businesses get bought by corporate interests that focus on $$$ and have few real ties to those customers served for 50 years by previous owners. It has happened to most mom/pop nurseries and many other businesses.

Same comment can be applied to Stark Bros and many others that are no longer operated by the family that built them.

Raise the profit on a plant 300% and lose half of your customer base…and smile all the way to the bank so long as you don’t lose a lot more than half your customers.


That what I was thinking! Writing a good response takes time.
Good concept …their local PNW videos present a breathlessly positive view…probably would be expected to continue in this vein.

A good response should take under 5 minutes. They are looking for people that know the subject matter and don’t need to research an answer.

Heck five minutes is taking your time. As a systems engineer (IT) I spend my days professionally communicating via email. If it took me 20 minutes per email I would never have time to actually get any work done.

This response took about two…


I’m not sure where Raintree’s growing acreage is, but their greenhouses and retail are tucked way up in the Cascade Mountains, well away from any main shipping route. This could add to their expenses.

I would presume most of the questions would be similar to “does this grow well here?” “Does this escape late frost here?” “What should I expect for disease/bug pressure here!” “What’s the best fit for my climate?”

Those types of questions are answered for free on this forum every day. If I had the experience of some other members, I’d gladly volunteer for this without the need to steer anyone to any particular vendor.

I’ll bet 90% of the consumers buying their new fruit trees don’t even know they’re supposed to prune them at all, let alone know how to do it correctly.


If you can respond to a diverse array of plant/ climate specific questions that efficiently I imagine you wouldn’t be putting much thought into it. I guess I’m just used to putting more time into making sure people understand the plants they are considering…


I should add to my previous point, striving for peak efficiency isn’t always the best way to take care of customers. I’m not saying the nursery should compensate for 20 minutes per email, but realistically if those quick couple minute responses were sufficient they wouldn’t be reaching out for help now.


I’m in Alaska. If you have an specific question I can cover quite a lot of ground in five minutes. If you have a broad question I can provide you a broad answer with a ton of links that will help you narrow things down to specific, hard to Google questions. That would also take five minutes.

For example I’m not taking half an hour regurgitating how acidity affects nutrient uptake, instead you would be getting a few of my curated web links on the subject. If on the other hand you are having an specific problem like fruit set, I’ll be happy to point out how boron deficient our soils are, how that is a usual suspect, and how to treat it just to rule it out.

Heck another under five minutes answer.


they get special UPS visits during their peak shipping season that probably makes it more or less efficient. they also appear to charge above-retail rates for shipping (even though they must get business discounts). not complaining, I think the best route is to simply take your business elsewhere, just agreeing that they’ve refocused on the very high end of the market in the last couple years


I’ll add that the very best single tree I ever bought was from raintree, their 4-in-one japanese plum, it was 2" caliper, actually had all five grafts, and fruited on all five the 2nd year. it was $50 two years ago, $65 last year, $75 this year. at this rate (+50% every two years) it’ll be about $4k in 20 years (compounding is amazing)


I did the math too. A max about 260, so at least $1 per response. But that just highlights that the compensation is notional, not really payment for services rendered.

My impression is that this is an opportunity for people who are looking forward to doing the function, and would essentially do it for free.


Definitely for someone who just wants the volunteer work. Since it’s plant credit the actual dollar amount doesn’t matter. How much you can get based on their prices is what counts. Translates to about one tree given for every two months of correspondence (not sure if they cover shipping costs or if that comes out of the $250 credit).

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I have the exact same tree I bought from raintree. 17 years ago.
Since then two of the grafts died. But the other two are amazing performers. My single best tree.

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I agree…honest answers from those that know shouldn’t take long.

(It’s the answers you have to stew over as to if they’ll hurt somebody’s feelings…that sort of answer can take long time and be a pain in the butt.)