How it all started
If you are thinking of starting a business from a hobby I would highly recommend it.
My name is Barbara Erwin and I have always loved plants and gardening.When I took early retirement I planned to make a business from my hobby by starting a local flower growing business.
My training was in biology and eventually I became head of a University College Science Department where I was involved in developing a range of in-service courses for Science teachers and a new degree course in health and leisure studies. However despite enjoying this I had the opportunity to get out at 62. Unfortunately I had to put my plans on hold for a time because of family responsibilities.
Business from a hobby? Was that a good idea? I set up Foliage Works in 2011 to utilise my gardening skills. My husband and I had a six acre field in Hillsborough, County Down.
An estate agency friend reminded us at the time that this plot of land would have been large enough to feed a large family in the old days.
Ecological grass cutting.
For some years before I retired I had been developing my ‘field’. I had cultivated strips of the field to grow eucalyptus and had invested in a poly-tunnel.
We use a couple of Alpacas to 'cut the grass'.
Fortunately we were able to afford to buy the heavy equipment I needed to work the field.Although last spring was so wet we couldn’t get equipment into the field.
Over the past two years the bad weather has hindered development of the site. The eucalyptus had to be cut right back to two inches but it has grown again even better than before. I have been selling the eucalyptus to a wholesaler
Do your research.
During the last few years of working I did a lot of research into the floristry industry and attended several agricultural and rural development courses.
I went to Greenmount College near Antrim. The college is trying to encourage farmers and nursery people to go into cut flowers and foliage.
I have been selling my class 1 cut flowers to a local florist including Alstromeria and Chrysanthamums, and I put a sign up at the side of the road advertising cut flowers and have been able to sell all that I grow. I have been able to grow and selling foliage over the winter months and I have started growing Christmas trees both full size and some in pots.
For more information www.foliageworks.co.uk
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