Valley entrepreneurs find their niches in the flower industry

The flower industry takes many forms, from custom arrangements to agritourism to manufacturing, which produces hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business each year in Virginia. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi spoke with four local entrepreneurs, each cultivating floral businesses within different niches.

"I started my flower power tour at Mary Jo's Flowers a farm outside Lacey Spring in Rockingham County. At the end of a country lane overhung by trees, the rolling hillside was dotted by flower beds, hoop houses, and a greenhouse. There's also a windmill that Mary Jo Swartzendruber says she doesn't even hear anymore."

Normally, Swartzendruber has to irrigate Mary Jo beds, but there's been plenty of natural rainfall this year. Besides the unpredictability of weather, pests are her biggest challenge, since she grows all her flowers organically. She showed me several dahlia blooms that she was counting on for an upcoming wedding, and had covered with see-through mesh bags.

While she still does some custom wedding orders, her bread and butter these days are bouquets that she pre-makes and sells at the farmer's market in Harrisonburg.

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