Next door to RI Nurseries sits the Dahlia Shed, a lovely flower farm run by Amy Rodrigues with help from her husband Jesse. This Twilight Meeting found us gathering outside their lovely barn and flower shop, over light refreshments and a slew of tasty grilled morsels cooked by Aquidneck Landworks’ own Mike Ferreira. The Growing Futures team, along with an outpouring of Registered Apprentices, some of whom had attended this year’s Career Catalyst, attended alongside a plethora of business owners, from The Farmer’s Daughter to Wild & Scenic and The Green Lady, to name a few. As we networked with industry colleagues and became reacquainted with familiar faces, Amy generously shared with us her history as a self-started small business owner, and a self-proclaimed someone who never expected to run her own business one day. Originally a teacher, with a penchant for growing flowers, the pandemic forced her to choose between two paths, one which originally entailed a dream of growing sunflowers in her backyard. Through trial and error, and endless resourcefulness, Amy was able to grow the most sought after dahlia farm in the state, with orders coming in from all over New England. Seeing rapid expansion throughout the pandemic, along with effects of climate change like excessive heat and drought conditions, Amy has had to learn how to quickly adapt her business in order to survive. As we walked the lengths of the Dahlia Shed, we were witness to her successes at not only surviving, but thriving, in an industry she is very much in love with, to the benefit of us all.
Written by Mason Billings
Photographs by Jordan Miller and Mason Billings