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Flower Business Blooms On Illinois Farm
An entrepreneurial spirit that started in 4-H and FFA has bloomed in a special way for Mariah and Greg Anderson. “We knew we wanted to operate some kind of ag-related business, and then the mum enterprise came along and gave us our start,” says Greg.
  The Andersons have been operating Mariah’s Mums & More on their farm near Clinton, Ill., since 2009. They grew 300 mums from cuttings the first year and are aiming at 6,000 plants for 2014. About 60 percent of the mums are marketed to area retailers, 20 percent are sold at community events, and 20 percent are sold to customers who visit the farm.
  The Andersons are diversifying the business in 2014 by adding annual flower and vegetable bedding plants that they’ll start from seed, creating hanging baskets of flowers. They’re also launching a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation that will produce and deliver baskets of fresh weekly produce for investors. Two high-tunnel greenhouses that are 20 ft. by 100 ft. and 20 ft. by 200 ft. were recently purchased to propagate bedding plants and grow early and late-season vegetables. “We figure the greenhouses will help us to extend the growing season by giving us 9 to 10 months of frost-free production,” Greg says.
  When they started their business, Mariah and Greg both had full-time jobs. Greg worked in research for a seed company and Mariah worked for Farm Bureau as a special-service coordinator. As the plant business has grown, Greg has transitioned to full-time with Mariah’s Mums & More and the umbrella business, which the couple calls Triple M Farms.
  Greg is a strong believer in using technology as a substitute for labor. All mums are grown outside in containers placed on black fabric. “We water all our mums three times a day with an automatic drip-irrigation system,” says Greg. “That saves countless hours compared to watering them manually.”
  The company’s website and Facebook site both play important roles in building the business. Greg says, “Mariah is a tremendous marketer, and Facebook has enabled us to talk about special events and plant promotions, and to interact with customers and prospective customers. It’s really handy, for example, to be able to let people know through Facebook which area retailers have inventories of Mariah’s mums.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mariah Dale Anderson, Mariah’s Mums & More, Clinton, Ill. (ph 217 898-0706; www.mariahsmums.com).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #1