New Farmer’s Collective takes first steps in Hamilton: What it offers

Hamilton florist and flower farmer Mindy Staton has taken her vision of a wholesale market for flowers and farm products two steps closer to reality.

Her aim is to create a marketplace where flower growers and other farmers can sell one day a week to restaurants and floral shops throughout the region, including Cincinnati and Dayton. She says the collective will help farmers connect with buyers of local, fresh products.

On Wednesday, Staton hosted the first collective event at Two Little Buds, at 17 North D St., which will be the collective’s location until a larger, permanent home is found. Staton owns the flower shop in Hamilton with her mother, Alice Francis.

“We probably had a hundred people come through” during the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. event, she said. The event, with 10 vendors, was open to wholesale buyers from across the region between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and from 2-5 p.m. to the general public.

“The public was super-excited about the collective,” she said. “It was unbelievable. I think people are dying for something like this in Hamilton.”

One customer sent Staton a message telling her she overheard one person say, “This is like a dream.”

From now on, she plans to have the event on Wednesdays, but with expanded hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with prior to 2 p.m. for wholesalers, and after that for sales to the general public.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, she hosted an event for those who might be interested in joining the collective and to tell them about the possibility of investing.

“It was more than I expected,” Staton said. “We had an actual investor come out, which was quite surprising. We also had farmers come out, designers from Cincinnati, so it was wonderful.”

She plans to submit a proposal by early May to purchase Hamilton’s former electric substation, a brick building at 514 Maple Ave. near downtown that Hamilton is offering to sell cheaply to someone who can develop it. That building is about a block southeast of the McDonald’s at High Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

“If we don’t get the space on Maple Avenue, obviously, our dream is still alive,” she said. “I had a great conversation with the city of Middletown’s economic development team, and they’re super-interested in what we’re doing.”

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