What do growing vegetables, keeping bees, and fusing glass have in common? They are all part of Ellen Miller's farm in Lower Nicola! I'm excited to feature her and her farm as the second member spotlight of the Merritt Small Business Centre, especially since she's getting ready to open her Country Store. But she'll tell you all about that herself.
Ellen, I'm so glad to have you on board in the Merritt Small Business Centre! Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
My husband and I moved to Merritt 2 years ago from the rainy Fraser Valley, to retire and take it easy. That lasted about 10 minutes. We bought a 15 acre little farm, where we grown vegetables using organic methods, to sell during the summer months, as well as our local honey and bee related products. We are opening our little "Country Store" to continue this passion along with adding some more products. I will also be providing glass fusing classes to bring out the artist in everyone.
If being an entrepreneur is in your blood, then retirement is just not an option, eh? Tell us more about the glass fusing and your entrepreneurial journey.
Although Millers Farm Country Store is just opening on April 23rd, I previously ran my own business in Abbotsford for 6 years. I am a glass artist and had a glass studio where I sold my creations, taught classes on glass fusing and showcased other artist's work in the studio. I gave small lectures on the glass work to various groups in town. I was also raised on a dairy farm and have had an agricultural background to my entire life. The studio also showcased my husbands love of beekeeping, as we sold honey and other bee related items.
That sounds like you're picking right up where you left off! What do you see as your customers' biggest challenge and how do you solve it?
Buying produce and other needs within their budget is always a challenge and I like to think we provide nutritional produce and fun things to do at an affordable price. Life needs some pleasures too, and I hope I can supply some of those.
It certainly sounds like you can! Are you working by yourself, or is your family involved in your business?
The Country Store is myself and my husband. His passion for bee-keeping, my passion of glass work and both of our passions for farming.
That's a lot of passion :) What do you love most about being a business owner?
I love to deal with the public and in this case, be able to provide produce in a affordable and healthy way.
Is there a downside to being a business owner for you?
Can't think of anything. I have always loved working for myself.
Spoken like a true entrepreneur. What's the best business advice you've ever gotten?
Don't try to please everyone. There are some people who will complain about everything so just do the best you can do for everyone.
So true. What do you like to do in your free time, when you're not running your business? And is there anything that you want to share that people don't know about you?
I love gardening, knitting, travelling, fishing, and helping seniors in our community. Oh, and I participated in the BC Games in my teenage years.
Wow, you're a woman of many talents! Last question: What do you love about the Nicola Valley, and how do you give back to this awesome community?
The Nicola Valley has this relaxed way of life where everyone is friendly and welcoming. If you need help with something, you just have to ask a neighbour. Small town life is the best! And we love giving back to the community by giving vegetables to the Food Bank throughout the summer.
Thank you for taking the time, Ellen. It's great to have you and Miller's Farm in the Valley!
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