As a fledgling orchid nursery startup in 1974, Japan Orchid, Inc. was among the first nurseries in Japan to go organic. Being entrepreneurial-spirited and not happy with existing synthetic orchid fertilizers, we experimented with all kinds of ingredients, creating our own fertilizer with locally-sourced and plentiful organic ingredients, including bat guano, rice bran, shrimp and crab shell, sesame and peanut meal. Not ever intending to sell outside our own nursery, we just gave it the generic name "Be-1 Pellets."
We had been following amino acids research being done by a couple labs for many years with great interest. By the time the joint venture ran its course in 1995, there was little interest for organic inputs, especially when cheap alternatives from giant fertilizer companies were readily available.
We jumped at the opportunity to incorporate the amino acids, purchasing the rights to the fermenting process and adding them to our pellets. Meantime, the generic name stuck and, since we still used the pellets only in-house, we put them into ugly, bright orange bags.
In the years since, we began selling outside to our customers wanting the same orchid food we used. Our customers found that the Be-1 Pellets were not just great for orchids, but also worked exceptionally well on seemingly all plants.
The generic "Be-1 Pellets" name and ugly orange packaging are a part of our humble legacy.
By 2010, our local customer base was continuing to grow and feedback was great (for more than just orchids), so we decided it was time to obtain organic credentials and see if it might have even wider appeal. We found that U.S.-based OMRI was the best recognized organic credential, so asked our friends at gEco Holdings, which had the same environmentally-responsible mindset, to help obtain OMRI-listing.
Following approval for OMRI-listing, interest in our pellets sky-rocketed, so we decided to see to if we could survive scrutiny in an ag state such as Oregon, where gEco is based. With a world class ag school at Oregon State University, a high concentration of USDA research offices, organic certification companies (e.g. OMRI, Oregon Tilth, etc.), and a concentration of private agricultural testing labs (e.g. Earth Fort), Oregon, we figured the fierce Oregon competition was the perfect start.
Then, independent lab "Earth Fort," started by microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingram as "Soil Food Web," discovered the reason our Be-1 Pellets worked so well...the amino acids are exponentially increase the soil microbes that benefit plants.
Today, what started as an in-house organic fertilizer continues to gain fans. gEco oversees all distribution and ongoing independent research trials, cementing our decision to start in Oregon. It only took us 40 years to get to this point of sharing our organic pellets with you.