Hamilton business owner working to launch new market for buying local flowers

This is the Farmer's Collective vision of what the substation at 514 Maple Ave. in Hamilton could look like when visitors enter it. PROVIDED
This is the Farmer's Collective vision of what the substation at 514 Maple Ave. in Hamilton could look like when visitors enter it. PROVIDED

An owner of Hamilton’s Two Little Buds flower shop is working to launch The Farmer’s Collective, where flower growers and other farmers can sell one day a week to restaurants and floral shops throughout the region.

“There’s a big movement with local flowers, and local Cincinnati florists have been driving to Hamilton to purchase flowers from our store here in Hamilton wholesale because they can’t find the product that’s so very in style right now at the other wholesalers in Cincinnati,” said Mindy Staton, who owns Two Little Buds in Hamilton with her mother, Alice Francis.

“I just don’t have enough to sell to them, so I can’t keep up, basically,” she said.

Mindy Staton prepares arrangements at Two Little Buds in Hamilton. The business recently moved from Bridgewater Falls to Hamilton and offers wedding and event arrangements. It specializes in locally grown flowers. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Mindy Staton prepares arrangements at Two Little Buds in Hamilton. The business recently moved from Bridgewater Falls to Hamilton and offers wedding and event arrangements. It specializes in locally grown flowers. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

She hopes to start operating in May, but first must find at least a temporary location of about 4,000 square feet. Her preference would be an ugly industrial building where visitors would be wowed by the products when they enter.

In January, Staton met with 15 other flower farmers “who need a place to sell their product,” she said. “That’s what triggered the whole idea of the collective, because people can grow these gorgeous flowers, they just have nowhere to sell them.”

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“Farmers’ markets are great, but you’re dealing with weather,” she said. “You’re also dealing with other businesses that are very similar to yours.”

Rather than competing with each other for prices, sellers in the collective would agree to a minimum price list.

The wholesale customers will be area florists and “restaurants who believe in fresh product grown right here in Ohio,” she said. “Restaurants could pick up wholesale goods and place an order through the collective and pick up there, as well as shopping the market to see what else would be seasonally available that week. The same with fresh flowers.

”Local farmers can grow flowers that are far too delicate to be transported from somewhere far across the country, she said. That’s a similar theory behind the business operation of Hamilton-based indoor-farming company 80 Acres Farms.

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Staton has a flower farm near Hueston Woods State Park. She and husband Josh hope to launch the collective in May. She’s hosting a pitch party at 6 p.m. April 22, at Two Little Buds to tell others about the project. People who are interested can email her at twolittlebuds@gmailcom.

“We’ve got a lot of people backing us, and interested,” she said. “We have 30 farmers from around the area who are excited to have a place to sell their flowers and produce.”

The plan is to open the market to wholesale buyers one day a week. The market also would be open at least one other day of the week to the public.

She said she worked “very hard with the city” to use the third floor of the former Sohngen Malting Co. property at South C and Franklin streets, but the costs of bringing the building to code were too high. The building is about 160 years old, she said.

She hopes a permanent home can be brick building at 514 Maple Ave. downtown that used to house a city electric substation that Hamilton is offering to sell cheaply to someone who can develop it. The building is about a block southeast of the McDonald’s restaurant at High Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

This building at 514 Maple Ave., which used to be a Hamilton electric substation, could become home to a farmer's collective or some other business. The city of Hamilton owns it now and is looking to sell it cheaply to someone who can develop it. MIKE RUTLDEDGE/STAFF
This building at 514 Maple Ave., which used to be a Hamilton electric substation, could become home to a farmer's collective or some other business. The city of Hamilton owns it now and is looking to sell it cheaply to someone who can develop it. MIKE RUTLDEDGE/STAFF

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