Feature Vendor Interview – Fresh Harvest Farms

Feature vendor of the week: Fresh Harvest Farms
At last week’s market we caught up with Nicole Nakamura from Fresh Harvest Farms.

What do you sell? 
We specialize in fresh cut flowers. We make bouquets and sell flowers by the stem or bundle.

How did you start your business? 
We started our business three growing seasons ago. Basically we tore up some land and started planting perennials and bulbs, then we progressed from there. We put up a greenhouse and started with 1 little market and now we are up to 3 or 4 a week.

Which markets do you attend?
The Wednesday night market which is one of our favorites, Saturday in Red Deer, Sylvan Lake on and off as well as Innisfail on and off.

Which one is your favorite and why?
You know what? I think this one is my favorite, the Wednesday market. I love the people who come down here and the great atmosphere. People come and they buy and enjoy. I have several repeat customers that come back and tell me how lovely my stuff is. It is very encouraging that I have repeat customers that come back and enjoy my product every week or every other week. They can buy for gifts as well. I love the genre of people down here. I like being Downtown. I’m pretty happy with this market. It’s a good market and I like the location.

What is your favorite thing about being downtown?
I think the atmosphere! I like downtown in the evening. I am a country girl but when I go travel to a city I always like to go check out the downtown and the people and the culture that’s created there.

Where are you located?
Highway 2A exactly 1 mile south of Bowden. It only takes us about 40 minutes to get here. We are nice and local.

What is a “must know” or “must buy” from Fresh Harvest Farms?
“Must buy” is probably our lily bunches. They are fantastic, they are fresh and every last bud will open. 
“Must know” about fresh cut flowers is, when you get them home put them in a fresh clean vase away from fruits and vegetables and out of direct sunlight!

What makes you awesome? Why should people choose Fresh Harvest Farms?
People should choose us because our flowers are locally grown and cut fresh the day of the market or the day before. We make bouquets the day of the market. If we do a morning market the bouquets are made the night before. We are nice and local so there is not a lot of stuff gone into transporting flowers forever. They are fresh, not boxed and packed and held for weeks. We cut them, we process them, and then they get to come to market and you get to take them home and enjoy them.

What is your favorite thing that you sell?
Favorite thing that I sell is mixed bouquets.

What do people need to be educated about when it comes to growing or buying flowers?
I think there is a misconception that people think flowers are expensive and don’t last. I think we can change that by having fresh cut locally grown flowers. We can grow them for a reasonable price and people can enjoy them.

Does anyone else sell your product?
Once in a while we do sell to a floral wholesaler in Edmonton and the odd flower shop here and there. We only do that when we have mounds of excess product that we cannot sell ourselves. For this reason the first place you will ever find our product is at a market.

You guys are here a lot. Do you have a favorite business on the street or favorite other vendor?
I bought coffee from Dose and it was pretty good! He was super sweet to me! 
My favorite vendor here would have to be probably Markerville, I’m friends with Beth.
I’m right next to cutie pies and I love them too! They are so sweet, they have good pies and I always get one!

What advice would you give to people just starting out?
My advice to people just starting out is don’t get discouraged. Not every market is going to be a great market. Sometimes you are going to have a really bad market. It doesn’t matter what happens just keep plugging away, don’t get discourage and don’t throw in the towel. Keep plugging at it and ask questions! If you think you’re doing something wrong or something is not right ask another vendor or ask someone’s opinion. Take peoples advice.

How do you define success?
(Sign blows over and clatters on ground) Not like that! (Chuckles) 
How do I define success? At this point in my growing career I would define it by the response I get from people. It may not be numbers and people buying but I really want to create an atmosphere that people can go to markets and expect fresh cut flowers. In Europe it’s just a staple and I think something that people can come and enjoy and puts a smile on their face. When I sell to customers or they come and comment on how beautiful my stand is or how beautiful my flowers are, I measure that as success. If I put a smile on someone’s face then I have had success that day.

Be sure to stop by Fresh Harvest Farms at this week’s ATB Downtown Market.
Find them online: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fresh-Harvest-Farms/1397610680455850

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