Dave Johnson and Hilary Maynard first forged a friendship over their shared interest in growing flowers. Today the partners grow flowers, veggies, fruits, nuts and pastured pork at Morey Hill Farm in Craftsbury, Vermont. Dave is in his sixth season growing flowers on the homestead, and Hilary in her fifth.
A flower CSA, weddings, events, online dahlia tuber shop, and wholesale fresh and dried flowers make up the bulk of Morey Hill Farm's annual sales. Though they aren't Dave and Hilary's primary source of income, dried flower sales serve to bridge a lull in the year.
"Drying flowers seems to be worth the time for the cycle of our farm, because it helps provide income in the months after our frost," says Dave. "When the fresh cut flower season is ostensibly over because of frost, this fills the gap between the end of fresh flowers sales and Christmas. Christmas is the end of the gang rush, and every year we have sold out of most of what we've dried."
Could dried flowers make sense for your business? Read on to learn from Hilary and Dave's experience growing and marketing dried flowers to wholesale customers.
Morey Hill Farm sells dried flowers by the bunch to florists, wreath-makers, artists and crafters via a wholesale price list that customers can request through their website.
Dave: "It started for me with trying to grow as a fresh cut, then if it didn't sell, I could dry it and have this way longer window of opportunity to peddle it. The majority of the buyers are creatives who are making wreaths, or favors and installations for weddings. I didn't know much about the wreath industry, or people who make ornaments and things like that, but every year more people were inquiring and I just kept expanding."
Nearly all of the dried flowers Morey Hill grows are also sold as fresh cuts, with a few exceptions. Capitalizing on dual-use crops is key, as well as observing where efficiencies can be created.
Consider your Creative Customers
Though Hilary does admit to going through a "wreath-making phase" as a teacher who worked at a school with an awesome farm and annual festival, as farmers, their approach has been primarily based on experimentation.
Morey Hill Farm flowers are cut, bunched and hung from the rafters in the woodshop (pictured above). No silica or other drying media are used. Dave calls this "the Upside Down Garden–you look up and all the color is hanging over your head, instead of growing at your feet."
Dave: "It wants to be as dark as possible, with good airflow. Keep it dry and out of direct sunlight, because the colors will bleach. Hanging outside isn't a great option. They keep the brightness of their color with less sunlight exposure."
Consider spaces like attics, dry basements, and closets for drying flowers, with a fan added to maximize airflow.
Price It Right
Just like with fresh flowers, setting a price point for dried products requires considering a number of variables unique to your market, as well as your own time and labor.
Dave: "People expect to pay less for dried than fresh, but ironically there is more work in dried flowers because of drying and hanging. Trying to figure out a price point that includes the reality of labor and time put into it, is probably the most challenging part. How do you value your product? What do you think it's worth?"
Morey Hill Farm has streamlined the marketing process by selling dried flowers exclusively through a wholesale price list that potential customers can request through their website. Most customers come to them from visiting their website or Instagram, or were referred by word of mouth. Whether someone is buying five bunches or 500, the price is the same.
"I do think that dried flowers are becoming more trendy," says Hilary. "More people want 'everlasting'–even though they don't quite last forever!"