Donna Mills, who fell in love with flowers as a child, never dreamed she’d be a flower farmer!!
Tim and Donna Mills met in Ohio in 1981 and married in 1986. Their honeymoon consisted of moving to South Carolina to set up a home on family land that would later become Floral and Hardy Farm.
It took a few years to overcome the challenges of the property’s poor soil, being accustomed to growing things in rich Ohio land. “Taking classes at Midlands Tech, the Lexington Extension Service, and attending various garden symposiums helped us get started with a vegetable garden, trees, shrubs and flowers.” Donna, following her love of flowers, took a job as a designer in a local flower shop. After several years, she decided she liked growing flowers better than being confined in a shop, missing the warm sunshine and the smell of soil.
In 1996, she quit the flower shop and started growing flowers commercially. “We had a lot to learn those first few years, but the fun of this business is there are always new things to learn.” Donna faced the challenge of overcoming her innate desire to create beautiful landscape, fueled by Tim’s practicality, to turn the property into the necessary straight rows of a farm. Only 10 to 15 varieties of flowers were sold that first year, which was enough to inspire Donna to move forward and turn her passion into a business.
The best thing we did the second year was to become members of the ASCFG. We would never have learned so much so quickly without this organization. Each yearly conference we attended inspires us to increase our production area and try new varieties.
Donna was lucky to have a husband, Tim Mills, who took a great interest in the business. He worked as a valve repairman, the skills of which would come in handy with all the irrigation that needed to be installed on the property. Production was doubled in 2002 when Tim came into the business full-time.
Currently, Floral and Hardy Farm has about 2.5 acres in production, with plenty of room for expansion. Inherited from Donna’s mother, the land originally belonged to Rueben Harmon and was deeded to his daughter, Sallie Harmon Slice in 1932 as a wedding gift. Sallie was Donna’s maternal grandmother. One of Donna’s favorite old pictures is of one of the fields full of sunflowers that her Granddaddy grew for birds to enjoy.
Tim and I feel very fortunate to be able to make a living from our land. We’d like to say ‘thank you’ to all of our loyal supporters over the years, we wouldn’t be here doing what we love without you!