I've been meaning to get this all out of my brain and into something readable for MONTHS. What are we about here at Hummingbird Gardens? What do we care about and how does it guide us? It's a bit of a read but I hope you will take a few minutes to learn more about our various why's. If you have any questions, as always, we're a quick email away. Thanks for reading! -Amanda
Take Cues from the Environment
I see my yard as an ecosystem and I’ve said that many times. It’s gone from grassy to flower farm and has now been designated as a Wildlife Habitat. I’m really proud of that. As business owners and just humans in general we have to make a ton of decisions daily. Because my business depends on healthy plants, I look to nature to make sure I’m doing the right thing. We do not use any synthetic chemicals on our plants or our soil. We never have. It’s just not worth it to me. Instead, I observe what’s happening and then research how to adjust what I am doing to better the situation. I speak to extension agents, fellow gardeners, or the super duper helpful Flower Farmers Facebook group. This approach means that the ground I grow in is healthy and my plans are thriving. I try to insert myself into that process as little as possible, only intervening when needed. It helps me be a little lazy but also serves to allow natural processes to take place. There’s a saying that goes “the best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow”. I have to agree, mostly. The other best fertilizer is fish emulsion :).
Collaboration Over Competition
This has been a work in progress for me. I think we are conditioned to look at someone doing something similar and instinctually side eye them (or at least that’s me!). Because this is my nature, and I’m not particularly fond of that part of myself, I’ve chosen to lean into it...and then do the opposite. There is room for all of us, plenty of it, especially if we are willing to support one another and engage. For HBG, this has led to partnerships like the Richmond Flower Collective. Richmond Flower Collective is a small group of local flower farmers who share this value of Collaboration. 2018 looks like it’s going to be a great year for us as a group. We have a lot of shared challenges and opportunities so that means four heads problem solving and brainstorming instead of one. We are going to do more events, especially in July and August, when there are plenty of flowers but not always plenty of folks to buy them. People who are in Richmond in July and August- we’re going to find you! This shift in thinking has only served to enrich HBG as a business and me as a human. I could have never imagined the partnerships and friendships that could come as a result of working through this.
The Ripple Effect
I believe 1000% that what you do, what you say, and how you treat everything and everyone around you has a ripple effect. Individual choices DO matter and when you translate that to your business, there’s a unique opportunity there to speak to people’s hearts, minds, eyes, stomachs, noses, whatever! So I as an individual and HBG as a business choose to make decisions and take actions out of hope (and love), not fear. But, please don’t take this as a declaration of perfection. I forget to answer emails, I can feel impatient and frustrated, and I can be short tempered. I can be inflexible. When these moments happen, it helps to look back to the values here and then act accordingly. This can be over the course of the day or it can influence the long term choices I make for the business.
One of those choices is consciously moving HBG towards creating as little waste as possible. For example, our Garden Share program last year, while it was so many great things, used A LOT of plastic bags. This never sat well with me but I decided that it was a by-product of the business and that was that. But it nagged me. In my own life, I have been slowly trying to get to zero waste. That can mean doing things like shopping in the bulk section and bringing my own containers to do so. It can mean calling all of the places that send me junk mail and getting off their lists. I see HBG as an extension of myself so why would I treat it any differently? So, we’re changing things a bit around here. The focus of the garden will vastly shift to cut flowers. Through Flower Club, the only waste that will be created is our kraft paper bouquet sleeves, and those can be composted! I’ll happily take back the rubber bands we use to tie the bouquets, too. For our business clients, nothing really changes. The flowers come in buckets and then I pick up the bucket next time I deliver. Growing flowers brings me more joy than I ever thought possible. Combine that with being able to decrease the amount of waste HBG’s produces and the business feels more aligned with who I am than ever before. Along the same line, we’ll be reevaluating how the salt is packaged, especially the pouches. We will be looking for alternatives that can be reused, composted, transformed somehow. I don’t know what will looks like yet but it’s a journey we’ll be going on this month and I look forward to sharing what we find.
Being Active in Our Community
You can’t literally put all your business out in the front yard and then not engage with other people. Because it’s out there for everyone to see, I get to talk to my neighbors, invite groups to tour the garden, and provide an education element to what I do. As a Garden Education Coordinator, this makes my heart happy. But, I’m an extrovert and sometimes you just have to get out of the yard. HBG works with and for Girls for a Change, a local non-profit that supports black girls and other girls of color in a variety of ways. I first became engaged with them last year when I found out they wanted an education garden at their new headquarters. Since then we’ve built a strong relationship, working together to see this garden space come to life. We have a coalition of folks involved in making it successful. Making space for this kind of engagement is core to me and to HBG. It’s a privilege to be a business owner and have a flexible schedule and I’m so glad the girls at GfaC have embraced me.
Practically speaking, if Hummingbird Gardens is to grow as a business, it will have to leave the front yard. Not wanting to rent land somewhere a distance away, we’ve adopted a different model. Thanks to two fellow Bon Air folks, we will be farming two more yards this coming season. This allows us to keep things hyper-hyper-local, save on fuel use, and get to know our fellow community members. Again, this choice aligns!
So! I hope this mini manifesto gives you an idea of why HBG exists and what it represents. I hope that you’ll continue to support Hummingbird Gardens (or start to!) if these values resonate with you. I’ll be offering garden tours throughout the season and would love to meet you! Whether you can head to the garden or not I’d love to chat at one of our markets, at Mindful Mornings, or just out and about. Being a mission driven business has been so enriching and in no small part because of the customers and supporters that have been there to give high fives, purchase flowers or salts, or just chat.