Utah Flower Farm Adds Locally Grown Roses to the Community’s Assets

When Heather Dawn Miller talks about stopping to smell the roses, she means it literally – inhale the fragrance and appreciate all it represents.

Especially her roses — big, luxurious, fragrant blooms that she grows at her Utah Flower Farm in Holladay, part of the Salt Lake City metro area. Roses, Miller says, have the ability to transport a person to another realm.

“When you watch a rose open from bud to dropping petals, it’s really magical and extraordinary,” she said. “If you just stop and smell the fragrance and realize that this is something that was grown locally, it’s really special, really touching and really encourages people to be present and be more aware of their surroundings.”

Hand holding one rose

Miller got her start as a flower farmer after she and her husband bought 13 acres in Holladay in 2019. The property was designated for agriculture, and Miller set out to put the land to use.

rose field

field of roses

“I thought about what would I really want to grow and share with our local community that would be really special to have or add to Utah’s locally grown,” she said. “I thought about what kind of domestic flower would really suit our conditions. From my own experience growing roses, they seemed like a really natural fit.”

Miller had an affinity for roses from a young age. Later, she grew them as home gardener, which deepened her connection.

She consulted with other commercial rose growers and did some site testing. Two California rose growers — Felicia Alvarez at Menagerie Farm & Flower and Danielle Hahn at Rose Story Farm — provided advice and mentorship. Organizations such as Slow Flowers and Certified American Grown also provided help.

“There’s just such a wealth of knowledge and information online, it really allowed me to go from a residential grower to what would be considered a micro farm fairly quickly and with a lot of success to market,” she said. “Those two domestic rose growers and those organizations provided a lot of support and knowledge around marketing, education and access to resources.”

Of course, it wasn’t without challenges. Heat, drought, wind and rocky soil created a series of setbacks.  The farm overcame those obstacles and now has 10,000 plants with plans to double that number in two years.

Buckets of roses in the cooler

Miller credits her background as a business owner with providing the know-how to sell what she grows. In the early 2000s, she owned a children’s clothing boutique that featured Etsy-style artisan items before Etsy existed. She also started life coaching and virtual assistant businesses. In addition, she spent six years working for the Utah Tax Commission. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management.

She also credits her husband’s family business with giving her access to business expertise. Her husband is a member of the second generation of the family that runs the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, which owns more than 100 businesses, including car dealerships and theaters, and employs more than 10,000 people.

Miller sells her flowers through her company, Bloomed Life. It includes a boutique in downtown Salt Lake City, booths at farmer’s markets and a website where customers can order roses for pickup or delivery. Bloomed Life does not ship flowers and limits its sales to a 15-mile radius of the farm. The season will begin just around the corner on June 1st!

Sign

That’s part of Miller’s socially and environmentally responsible approaches to doing business. The farm adheres to organic practices and doesn’t ship to maintain a small carbon footprint. The company employs about 10 people at the farm and four part-time at the boutique. It’s an all-female team, part of Miller’s effort to provide a lift to women and working moms.

“The decision that we’re not going to ship, it’s not about profitability for our business,” she said. “It’s really about making customers aware that there’s perhaps a better choice than buying imported roses or things that don’t have so many miles, particularly with flowers that require overnight shipping. We chose to take a stand for locally grown to elevate the offerings of locally available flowers.”

Of course, those locally grown roses cost more than the imported ones at the big box stores. Part of the Miller’s challenge is educating consumers that they really are getting something superior when they buy her roses. She points out that her roses are raised organically by local workers, are safe for culinary use, and are more fragrant and open more fully than imports.

“There’s a lot of care and love that goes into raising roses,” she said.

Utah Flower Farm has obtained the Certified American Grown seal. Miller said she pursued the label because the organization aligns with her values.

“I think when people see the (Certified American Grown) sticker or the icon on a website, they understand that we’re supporting each other and we’re supporting our local communities and supporting domestic growers,” she said.

Miller’s long-term vision for the farm is to someday, maybe in 50 years or so, give the property to the city or county along with an endowment for its maintenance. As the area develops and open space disappears, the parcel will become more precious and valuable to the community, she said.

“I think there’s really a need for this gift to the community,” she said. “So I want to be able to kind of create it, maintain it and create the conservatorships during my lifetime and then leave it to the community after.”

woman holding roses bouquet

Heather Dawn Miller holding a bouquet of her roses on the farm

 

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