This Celebrating Geauga Small Businesses post is from Mary Slingluff of Avalon Gardens Nursery and Inn.

My college training was in laboratory medicine and microbiology with a clinical specialist in chromosome analysis. Then I gave birth to triplets! I had a three year old son also, so it was time to find a way to follow my passions and be able to start a business and make money while keeping my children with me. Avalon Gardens Inn and Nursery had been the answer to that goal. I have taken classes at the Holden Arboretum and attended many workshops on floral design and also sustainability and farming. I am a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower growers as well as member of the Farmer Florist Collective at Floret Flowers. I have taken advantage of on the farm grower conferences and online workshops.

Founded in 1998, we have renovated the beautiful Sears and Robuck kit house in the historic Fowlers Mill district to accommodate bed and breakfast guests that have learned of us through our website and Airbnb. We have hosted people from all over the world as they visit relatives, go to weddings, visit historic Kirtland and much more.

The Nursery is an ever-evolving business that focuses on native plant species that are sought out by parks and people interested in restoring natural areas, providing food and nectar to birds and pollinators. We also grow cut flowers that we use in our flower arrangements that are part of our wedding florals. We also do on-site landscape design and we grow a huge selection of specialty annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. Spring is a very busy time for us as we custom select flowers for peoples yards and containers.

I started the business with a lot of enthusiasm and not much business training.  There are great groups like Red Key Network and Chesterland Innovation Center that I would have learned a lot from! People should utilize them. For me, the ASCFG has been a great group because there are Facebook groups, seminars, conferences and meetups all over the country as well as a publication.  I have learned so much from this group of specialty farmers. The specialized workshops for floral design I have attended have also been immensely helpful as I had training from some of the best floral designers in the business.

 

The library has been very helpful because of all the books! They are gorgeous and the books on farming and flower farming never go out of style. The library is an endless source of info! The library is also helpful to me since farming is a very labor intense job done mostly alone.  I listen to books on the Overdrive app, Libby, constantly! They make my day go so quickly by. Recently, I listened to The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. It was fabulous!

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