Pictured: Ben & Abby Vittore with their furry friends!
Growing up on her family’s farm in Adrian, Michigan, Abby Vittore knew she wanted to do something special with her future in the agriculture industry. After she graduated from Michigan State University in 2016 with her degree in agriculture business, Abby knew her learning experiences did not stop there. She moved home to open a greenhouse business with her family.
By day, Abby is a crop insurance agent in Blissfield, and by the evening, she works on her parents’ farm, as well as her in-laws' floral farm. On this one-acre greenhouse farm Abby has with her parents, they do mainly retail sales, from hanging baskets and patio pots to vegetable seeds for a home garden. In September and October, her family also runs a fall agritourism business where they do hayrides, corn mazes, sell pumpkins, and much more!
As Abby Vittore was a GreenStone intern from 2015-2016, she remembers hearing about the Grow Forward Grant program, but never considered it as an option for herself. She came across a floral design class to take online, where she could learn much more about the floral business, while also creating stunning arrangements to leverage at the greenhouse her family runs. When hearing that a colleague of hers recommended the program, she thought she ought to apply. What was she going to lose? In February of 2021, Abby Vittore was awarded a Grow Forward Grant that paid for this floral design certification class.
“This class included 20 short videos that taught me a step-by-step on how to make certain floral arrangements from funeral home décor, bridal bouquets, and even floral design for the holidays,” stated Abby. “It was nice to be able to learn more about this field on my own, where I could pause the videos, start over if I wanted to, and kind of make this class my own. I view floral design as an art, and everyone’s art can be completely different, which makes my family’s business so unique.”
As Abby took away so many new skills from this class that the Grow Forward Grant paid for, she used them to create a new avenue at her family’s greenhouse operation, just in time for Mother’s Day. “I was able to create several new bouquet styles to offer for our 2021 Mother’s Day sales, and they were a huge hit,” said Abby. “Taking this class also helped my in-laws create a new perspective on their floral farm, where my husband Ben and I live right across the road from.”
“If you are hesitating to apply for this grant, don’t. There is nothing you have to lose by submitting an application,” stated Abby. “GreenStone is a very generous company, looking to help those who are the future of all those in the agriculture industry.”
GreenStone looks forward to supporting many more young, beginning, and small farmers like Abby who are looking to expand their knowledge and strengthen their business. Visit GreenStone's website to learn more about the specialized loan programs, grants, mentorships and resources designed specifically to support young, beginning and small farmers.