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22-Jul-2015

 Find harmony, share your passion

On an unsuspecting dirt road outside of Benedict, sits a farm and nursery unlike many. Bright yellows, oranges, greens and reds fill the space, letting travelers know they’ve reached their destination. Stepping out of the car, the senses are overrun with beauty. Smells of fresh dirt, blooming flowers, the buzz of an excited girl scout troop making a fairy garden.


Harmony Nursery and Daylily Farm is owned and operated by Jenni Harrington, a former hog farmer turned horticulture expert. Harrington tended to her passion for plants at CCC in Hastings. She honed her skills for plant care and landscape design with their horticulture program.


In 2003, she started farming daylilies full-time. With the advice from The Petal Patch Owner Cheryl Christensen, she shifted her plan, adding perennials and a greenhouse to the mix.


Harrington is not afraid to try new things. Last year, she changed her business from being seasonal to year-round. Harmony Nursery and Daylily Farm offers not only plants during the busy season, but also flower arrangement classes and outings. Whether it’s filling a hollow pumpkin with fall foliage or making succulent fairy gardens, the plant business is able to thrive during the usually dormant season.


“I’m driven by my passions,” Harrington said. “I go with my gut.”


Those instincts have created a business that has grown annually over 10 years. She has taken a hobby and turned it into a company with full- and part-time employees. Harrington has had employees since she started in 2003, but with the growth of the her business she has learned that to be successful, taking care of her employees is necessary.


“It’s important to me to have consistent employees and not have to hire new people all of the time,” Harrington said.


“You need to pay them well, take care of them and quit trying to make people do things they are not good at. Each one of my employees has a certain skill set, so I try to figure out what everyone’s gift is and that’s worked out really well.”


Taking on full-time employees has presented another obstacle.


“Unemployment and insurance has increased our overhead costs, so that changes prices on things we sell. That is an interesting game when you start out small and you begin to grow,” Harrington said.


Like the perennials they sell, Harrington resurfaces each year with a plan to help her business succeed.


“Every year I have a goal, something I want to focus on. So each one of my thoughts throughout the day is based around that goal,” Harrington said.


This year that plan is efficiency. No matter what Harmony Nursery does, whether it’s potting plants, unloading a truck or helping customers, they ask themselves, “Is that the most efficient way we can do it?”


Harrington and her staff are continually educating their customers. They truly care about providing the best plants for their customers' different Nebraska landscapes.


“Sharing what I know is a passion of mine,” Harrington said. “I really support growing native plants in Nebraska. The right tree for the right place, the right plant for the right place. We work hard here getting people the right plant.”


Harrington is ardent about raising awareness about issues in her business.


“We have such busy lives, some things go under the radar, but we are all interconnected so what one person knows they need to share with others. I felt the need to share what I had learned about the drop in the Monarch butterfly population,” she said.


This spring Harrington took to her newsletter and website where she blogged about an article her sister had given her. Using her power and reach as a business owner, she educated her customers about the importance of the Monarch butterflies.


In the 1990s, she wrote, there were almost one billion Monarch butterflies. Today, the Monarch Butterfly population has dropped so low it’s been asked to have the species placed on the federal Endangered Species list.


“Things like this just awe me,” Harrington said. “It makes the world become a really small place.” Shocked that farmers, her family included, had all but wiped out milkweed with the increase of GMO crops and the use of Roundup.


Milkweed is one of the only food sources for Monarch caterpillars, since learning about the drop in population Harrington and Harmony Nursery offered to give away the plant for free. She created a “Plants Butterflies Love to Love” list and offers 10 percent off all plants purchased from the list. This May the White House added milkweed to their national pollinator plan, adding to the impact Harmony Nursery can help make.


Ensuring the customers are taken care of as well as the daylilies they purchase is a top priority for Harmony Nursery. This destination is one any plant-lover should add to their list. For more information, visit harmonynursery.net



About the Author

Staff
Open for Business, Central Nebraska
The Open for Business Staff strives to create the most useful content possible for businesses. Whether it's tips and tools available for owners to work smarter, not harder, a feature story highlighting amazing things happening with a Central Nebraska business or a fun tip here and there, you will find something that helps your business thrive at openforbusinessmagazine.com 

    

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