By RON WILSON
Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development
Let’s sign up for a subscription – not just for your local newspaper, or for Netflix, or for groceries, but for flowers. Today we’ll meet an entrepreneurial Kansan who is growing beautiful flowers and then distributing them by subscription.
Glennys Doane is the founder of this innovative business known as Prairie Field Flowers. Glennys and her husband Gary live west of Downs. Gary farms and Glennys is a longtime volunteer in local schools.
Glennys’ mother came from the rural community of Alden, population 148 people. Now, that’s rural. Glennys attended Sterling College and then got a master’s at Kansas State University, where she met Gary.
“My mom always had flowers,” Glennys said. “Gary’s mom always had flowers.” For years, the Doanes sold their own sweet corn direct to consumers from the farmstead west of Downs, so they were used to retail customers. “We enjoy working with the public,” Glennys said.
“We had a couple of acres unutilized,” Glennys said. “One winter, I was looking through seed catalogs and thought, ‘Maybe I could plant flowers in there,’” she said. Glennys did research and reached out online to flower producers across the nation. “One of my online mentors is in Virginia Beach, Virginia,” Glennys said. “She is so limited in the space she has in which to operate. Urban farmers told me that if they can get a quarter acre, they are ecstatic. I realized I have the land resource right here,” she said.
No one at the local farmers markets was vending flowers, so Glennys decided to try it. Then she came up with the innovative idea to sell subscriptions to those who would want flowers regularly.
She named her business Prairie Field Flowers. The growing process begins with seeds planted in tiny three-quarter inch soil blocks. “This is a very efficient use of space,” Glennys said. “We can do this on a countertop in the basement.” Once the seedlings sprout, they are transplanted into her flower field. “Gary’s a big help on all this,” she said.
Glennys practices succession planting – not succession planning, succession planting. She plans and plants different types and varieties of flowers to mature at different stages through the growing season.
In addition to farmers markets, the flowers are marketed in two ways: One is individual bouquets, arranged and delivered on demand; and the other is through the subscription service.
“The subscription can be for the workplace or the home,” Glennys said. Subscribers will receive farm fresh, local flowers arranged in small or large bouquets that can be delivered once or twice per month from April through September.
“A business might subscribe because they always want fresh local flowers on the receptionist’s counter,” Glennys said. One subscriber regularly gets flowers for her desk at a bank in Beloit, for example.
Many buyers are millennials. Their daughter Amy, a young professional who lives nearby, is case in point. “My generation is used to subscribing to things,” Amy said.
Glennys delivers the flowers and can exchange and recycle vases for the next delivery. “We provide whatever is in season or blooming,” Glennys said. That means she gets to plant lots of different flowers, such as sunflowers, zinnias, daffodils, cosmos, daisies, tulips, iris, peonies and more. She also grows supplementary foliage such as lemon and cinnamon basil, bells of Ireland, dianthus, sweet rocket, larkspur, ageratum and others.
Glennys has found that flowers bring joy to both the giver and the recipient. “That’s the beauty of it,” Glennys said. “I love delivering flowers and seeing people’s eyes light up,” she said. “You need beauty in your life. You need art in your life,” she said.
As one subscriber wrote: “The flowers are beautiful. I’ve had so much fun with this. Thanks for making my days brighter with beautiful flowers.”
For more information, see www.prairiefieldflowers.com.
Let’s sign up for a subscription – not just for newspapers, but for flowers. We commend Glennys and Gary Doane for making a difference with this innovative way to market flowers and beautify the world around them. I hope their business continues to blossom.
There is more about Downs. We’ll learn about that next week.