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Dried Flower Sideline Saved Their Farm
When times got tough and farm foreclosure loomed on the horizon, an Alberta farm family found a way out with an unusual "crop" - dried flowers.
  Francis and Colleen Cyre got their start in 1989, and they haven't looked back since. In fact, they've continued to branch out into other endeavors, all tied to attracting paying customers to their otherwise traditional "working farm" a 640-acre operation.
  In fact, their current "Bloomin' Inn Guest Ranch" got its start in 1995 because customers who bought their dried flower arrangements and Christmas decorations at local craft shows and Farmers' Markets, expressed interest in visiting their farm to buy directly. Once they started doing that, they expressed a wish that there were accommodations and an eatery nearby.
  Cyr's bed and breakfast was born, and they now offer a total of seven guestrooms and two cabins, decorating them with antiques and handcrafted accessories.
  They continue to produce, arrange and sell dried flowers from their 7-acre plot, but one thing continued to lead to another, and they opened an on-farm antiques and collectibles shop and a meat store. The family also started offering quilting, willow basket weaving and dried flower arranging workshops, scrapbooking retreats, plus an annual farm festival and antique sale.
  "Scrapbooking takes up 37 weekends of the year," Colleen comments.
  The family now offers accommodations for up to 35 people.
  They say people come because they want to share in the family's western country lifestyle and beautiful surroundings at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
  "The combination of selling tangible products, and the fresh country air on our farm seems to be a hit," she says. "Urban people love the opportunity to help with chores like collecting eggs, checking the lambs, taking salt to the cows out on pasture, and feed the pigs. They come to experience the farm, but they're also eager to take a piece of it back home by purchasing the various things we offer."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Francis and Colleen Cyr, Bloomin' Inn Guest Ranch, P.O. Box 1346, Pincher Creek, Alta., Canada T0K 1W0 (ph 403 627-5829; website: www. bloomin-inn.com).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #4