The Little (New Orleans) Flower
In her Gentilly neighborhood, Renee Rednour joyously toils in her three tiny garden patches. One is in her backyard, one on the side of her house and the showcase garden is in her front yard.
“I’d go crazy if I didn’t garden,” she says. “I’m an obsessive gardener, I won’t do anything else.”
She’s proud of her soil, which is fortified with rich manure and full microbes.
“A successful garden starts with your soil,” she says. “Microbes are the keys to giving life to your plants.”
Rednour doesn’t wear gloves when she gardens because she likes to feel the connection to the dirt.
“I think it’s healthy,” she says. “Those microbes are good for you too.”
And she just might be on to something.
“Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues,” says Bonnie L. Grant, a certified urban agriculturist in her article, Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy. “Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain and are without side effects and chemical dependency potential.”
These days Rednour’s flower business, Fiorentina, is also making her happy. The name pays homage to her Sicilian roots and means “little flower.” She’s been selling and arranging flowers, herbs, and ornamental plants from her garden for a little over a year.
She sells about 10 flower arrangements a week at $10 per arrangement as a pop-up at Coffee Science on Broad Street.
“Instagram really helps me to get the word out,” she says. “And doing a pop-up works best for me now as it keeps my overhead low.”
She’s learning about the flower business as she goes by joining several online flower groups.
“I’m getting to know about price points and marketing strategies. It’s been very helpful.”
She’s starting slowly and plans, when she retires from her full-time job as a teacher at Morris Jeff Community School, to start a plant nursery or flower cart.
“I’m hoping Fiorentina nourishes my retirement.”
She has many regular customers and even offers custom flowers and arrangements for small private events.
She jokes that her profits primarily just pay for more soil and seeds but sometimes the extra jobs help pay her mortgage, and on this past Mothers’ Day, she made $500.
“I grow what I grow because of my limited garden space,” she says. “I have so little so everything has to produce multiple blooms. I want flowers I can cut and they’ll come again.”
She spends almost all of free time happily planting, weeding, harvesting and deadheading and couldn’t think of a better way to spend this long hot summer.