Wichita Rain Barrels was never supposed to be a full-on business. Peter Daniels created his environmentally-friendly rain barrel after watching a television show where the character installed a rain barrel to help supplement the need for city water. Daniels thought he should utilize a rain barrel at his home and rather than pay the high price of pre-constructed barrel, he researched the design and created his own.
When two of his neighbors asked for a barrel Daniels made them one too. After buying a new sofa he decided to make a few more to sell and pay off the furniture. Then he began selling rain barrels at a farmers market. Daniels modest beginning quickly turned into orders for the Environmental Service Department for the City of Wichita and the Sedgwick County Extension Office.
"It is really just a side business and I had no intentions of growing it," Daniels says. "After I attended the Garden Show I found myself committed to making 65 rain barrels."
Today Daniels makes rain barrels and sells them at Johnson's Garden Centers, Harvest Greenhouse in Newton and a Clinton Parkway Nursery in Lawrence. His business, Wichita Rain Barrels, has become a fun hobby on the side. Daniel's career job is as an educational coordinator for Sedgwick County, working with children with intellectual & developmental disabilities.
Each of Daniel's rain barrels are made from 55-gallon food grade containers. Repurposing the plastic barrel is an added bonus in addition to collecting the natural rain water for use in the garden. The barrels are UV-coated so they can be outside year round and already have holes on top. Daniels design puts the spigot at the bottom of the barrel for complete drainage.
"Many conventional and imported rain barrels have a reservoir at the bottom that holds rain water so you can't utilize the full 55-gallons of water," he says. "We put the spigot at the bottom so it allows us to fully drain the natural rain water."
Rain barrels offer a significant savings on water usage. One inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof yields 623 gallons of water. Daniels says the barrel fills up quickly and depending on a person's watering habits and the size of their garden, most can water for six hours from a rain barrel.
"The water is great for drip irrigation as well," he says. "It's natural, soft, chemical free and plants respond better to it. Most people observe that even in the last three years of drought grass greens up in a week. That's because of the natural cycle of what happens. Plants respond better, the leaves are greener and flowers are more colorful. It's a better way of doing things."
Daniels joined Green Biz Wichita after being asked to, because the executive team believed his business is vital to all Wichita residents. He likes the business network and says there is great potential to do great, green things for the environment.
"I'm very interested in conservation," he says. "I believe that providing a product that is environmentally responsible and one that has multiple benefits. Wichita Rain Barrels benefit the environment, the consumer and they make pretty good presents too." --