An interview with Melanie Harrington of Dahlia May Flower Farm.
Describe your business.
Dahlia May Flower Farm is a community hub for locally-grown products. Our farm produces an acre of specialty cut flowers and hosts workshops and events, our farm stand serves as a flower shop offering 100% Ontario grown blooms and our design studio creates magic for events in our community.
What brought you to the region?
I was born and raised in the Bay of Quinte and now farm the land that I grew up on.
What makes the Bay of Quinte a good fit for your business?
An abundance of excellent farmland and our location near the lake makes Quinte an excellent climate to farm in. Our proximity to Toronto and Ottawa makes our farm the perfect destination for weekend getaways in an area rich with natural beauty.
What was the hardest thing about starting a business?
Everything that wasn’t related to growing flowers! Knowing our crops is the easy part (and that’s a constant work in process too!). Navigating government, insurance, accounting, marketing and technology has me learning daily.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the area?
Reach out to peers. Network. Join community organizations. Attend local events. You’ll be amazed at what you will learn from other entrepreneurs in the community. We are all here to help each other succeed.
What surprised you about starting a business in a smaller community?
The overwhelming support. Our community has a vested interest in our success. They cheer us on, they support us when the going is tough and they show up when we need them. They want to be a part of our story, and they are genuinely proud of our accomplishments.
Describe your perfect day off.
A long motorcycle ride with my husband Alex on all of the unassumed roads in the area, dinner at Tomasso’s restaurant, Slickers ice cream for dessert and an evening on the couch with our two large dogs watching old episodes of the X-Files. No phone calls or emails, bonus points for fitting eight hours of sleep in.
What’s your secret to surviving winter?
Embrace it. Be grateful for the slower pace. The Bay of Quinte area is gorgeous. Get outside at for at least 30 minutes a day.
Our business is seasonally based so we plan and budget for the quieter times. They allow us to regroup, pull together new ideas and meet Spring rested and re-inspired.
If you had to have one word tattooed on you, what would it be (serious or silly)?
I don’t love any thought enough to keep it on my body permanently, but I often fall back on the word grit. You need plenty of it to own a business, farm and make a living in a creative field.