Dahlia May Flower Farm has continued to bloom and evolve over the past seven years thanks to the vision and hard work of owner Melanie Harrington, who continues to make her dreams a reality.
Rain or shine, Harrington has persevered since she launched her business in 2014, combining 10 years of experience in floral design, a background and education in horticulture and her childhood experience of being raised on a farm.
“I hoped to carve out a niche in growing flowers right here in the Bay of Quinte and partnering with other growers to offer only Ontario grown flowers through my business,” says Harrington, who sustainably grows specialty cut flowers and offers beautiful and seasonal floral design services for all occasions.
Challenges & Successes
“What challenges haven’t we faced may be an easier question to answer,” says Harrington, who has faced countless weather-related challenges, a lack of infrastructure to grow and zoning issues.
A lack of access to capital as a small business and niche farm meant years of struggling with cash flow, Harrington recalls.
“Our lack of infrastructure limited our growth and work-life balance was impossible as we ran a busy farm out of our own home,” she says. “We spent seven years washing buckets at our kitchen sink, splitting dahlia tubers in our farmhouse basement and using the dining room table as an office.”
As a business steeped in agrotourism, when the pandemic hit in spring 2020 Harrington had to make a sharp pivot. She moved her offerings online and started a delivery service when customers were no longer able to connect with the farm in person.
Through her hard work and perseverance, Harrington’s dreams of expansion are finally becoming reality as Dahlia May Flower Farm is in the process of building a new facility, thanks to the federal government’s Community Futures Program initiative and Trenval.
“Trenval, in partnership with BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada), offered us the opportunity to break ground on a building that will house and grow our business for the foreseeable future,” says Harrington. “We anticipate that this new building will increase our profitability by streamlining systems, while allowing us to create new jobs as we expand several of our product lines.”
Over the last seven years, Dahlia May Flower Farm has become an economic driver for agrotourism. Visitors come to the Bay of Quinte region throughout the year to visit the flower farm and Harrington has amassed an incredible social media following of more than 90,000 followers on Instagram.
“We’ve created consumer demand for locally grown and Ontario Grown flowers, driving the expansion of our farm and our offerings,” says Harrington.
Once the new production facility is up and running, Harrington plans to build a new retail store at the farm and hopes to expand her online shipping services outside of Canada to include the United States in coming years.
Being located in the heart of Bay of Quinte allows the opportunity to develop community in a way that would be lost in a larger city centre, says Harrington.
“Our customers have become our friends and their support is what sees us through the difficult times,” she says. “Our community has gotten to know us in a way that’s possible only in small towns. They are always cheering for us and are always here to help us win.”
Dahlia May Flower farm now provides 20 jobs in the Quinte area as they lead the way in agrotourism.
“We love being able to grow and offer something special right here in our own small town,” says Harrington.
For more information on Dahlia May Flower Farm, visit dahliamayflowerfarm.com, call 613-403-5055, visit the farm stand at 1226 Stockdale Rd. Trenton and follow Dahlia May Flower Farm on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
“The entire Trenval team has been wonderful to work with. Because they are all members of this community, they know our business and our work, and it feels like they are all invested in helping us succeed. The Trenval team has been an incredible resource as we work to grow our business. Having access to the Trenval team’s knowledge and resources as we work through our business growth has been a strong asset for our farm,” says Harrington.
Trenval Business Development Corporation is Bay of Quinte’s Community Futures Business Specialist, financing business start-ups, expansions or successions in the Quinte region for 34 years. Trenval provides small business support by offering various small business loans to entrepreneurs to start, grow and thrive their business in our local communities.
Do you have a business plan that you would like to bring to fruition? Contact Trenval at 613-961-7999.