Marni Martin-McTavish has been working as a professional artist in the Huntsville community for more than twenty years and is excited to announce her newest project: Indigo Rain Flower Farm.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts from NSCAD University, Martin-McTavish was introduced to the world of fibre art. She is now known for her tapestry weaving, as well as her distinct collection of hand-dyed and woven scarves and woven wall panels.
Martin-McTavish also developed a passion for gardening more than 30 years ago after being introduced to growing herbs by her father when she was in high school.
When she and her husband Ian bought their home 20 years ago, the first thing they did was put in gardens; her passion only got stronger.
“In 2019 I had a solo exhibition at the Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge, ‘Repository of Memory’, featuring several bodies of work,” she said. “This collection represented the completion of a cycle of enquiry and I went into the autumn of 2019 knowing that a new beginning was at hand, but I thought at the time that it would be new subject matter to explore or a new concept to weave. I never thought that it would take me beyond my studio into another world. I had a restless feeling all fall and couldn’t read enough gardening books and magazines to quench this thirst for more.”
She began growing flowers to make bouquets to decorate her studio for the Muskoka Autumn Tour and then, after reading Vegetables Love Flowers by Lisa Mason Ziegler and taking Ziegler’s courses on flower farming, had the confirmation she needed to launch her own farm.
“To be honest, vegetables were never that exciting when I would grow them. Flowers on the other hand had me out in the garden, cup of coffee in hand, at dawn,” she said. “When I realized that I could grow flowers and that there was a movement of sustainable flower farming called Slow Flowers, I was hooked. I had a deep knowing that this was my path forward.”
This past fall, Martin-McTavish took the YWCA Muskoka Women In Business course and said that the course was instrumental in helping her develop her business plan and really focus in on what she wanted to achieve.
“The flowers will grow in beds that are on our property and the farm of my parents as our land and theirs are side by side,” she said. “My parents gifted us our property to build our home on and it was part of one of their farm fields, so the flower farm straddles both properties. We have worked all last summer to make the beds.”
Currently, she has 10 beds that are 75-feet in length by four-feet wide with paths between for annual specialty cut flowers and in the spring another section of beds the same size will be constructed for perennials and shrubs. This is in addition to beds around their house that were constructed last fall. Other than starting the seeds inside in her dye studio, all the growing will be done outside.
“My hope for the business is to offer our community a choice when they are purchasing flowers,” she said. “Our growing season overlaps with an influx of cottagers and visitors who seek connections and experiences in addition to our vibrant year-round community who seek out and support local businesses that offer value and are consistent with their ethics and interests. We think that growing specialty cut flowers, focusing on flowers that thrive here and don’t transport well, will offer our community an alternative to imported products.”
The farm will be selling flowers through a bouquet subscription based on the CSA (community supported agriculture) model, and at their on-farm flower stand open throughout the growing season. Updates on both of these will be provided through social media and a newsletter.
In addition to selling flowers through Indigo Rain, Martin-McTavish will also be collaborating with local florist, Kailey Stewart of Kettering, who opened her studio in downtown Huntsville in the summer of 2020.
“I love our collaboration with Marni and Indigo Rain Flower Farm. As a florist, it is a dream come true to be able to work with a local, sustainable grower and support the slow flower movement,” said Stewart.
“Kailey has been an inspiration and is so supportive of Indigo Rain,” said Martin-McTavish. “We will be supplying her with flowers for her design work and we are working together to bring an awareness of local, grown not flown, flowers to our community. Kailey was one of the first people I talked to about the business as she had reached out to me about showing my artwork at her shop, Kettering. When I tentatively brought up the idea of growing flowers for her, she reacted with such positivity I was overcome with joy.”
Indigo Rain will grow flowers and foliage that are specifically selected to work as cut flowers, including: dahlias, sunflowers, snapdragons, lilies, gladiolus, zinnias, rudbeckia, sweet peas, scabiosa, larkspur, nigella, cosmos, digitalis, ammi majus, daucus carota, gomphrena, celosia, amaranthus, lemon and cinnamon basil, bupleurum, bells of Ireland, dill, millets, ornamental grasses, and, for later season bouquets, flowering kale and Mahogany Splendour hibiscus.
“Lisianthus seeds were sown last week and we are awaiting their germination,” she said. “I have a seeding schedule that I’ve made that tells me when to start the seeds indoors, time to transplant out, and when they should bloom. Of course, this is all weather dependent. I’ll be starting most of our seeds indoors to have plants ready to go into the ground in spring. My dye studio is now home to racks with lights to grow the seedlings for spring.”
While her vision for the future of her business is to offer workshops and tours of the farm, this summer Martin-McTavish’s flower stand and studio will be open to provide freshly picked, locally grown flowers.
Learn more at indigorainflowerfarm.com.
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