Owner, Hummingbird Gardens
By Rebecca Edwards
You may know Amanda Montgomery as the owner of Hummingbird Gardens, a popular front-yard flower and herb farm here in Richmond. But you may not know the story behind how she became one of the city’s biggest garden advocates.
It was at Virginia Commonwealth University where Amanda was introduced to food access as a social justice issue in 2010 through the launch of the Tricycle Gardens. She further pursued this concept at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, where she obtained a master’s degree in Food Studies. While there, she worked at the woman-owned Churchview Farm managing their Community Supported Agriculture program and interns.
Amanda returned to Richmond and began her garden advocacy at the Jewish Community Center through an after-school garden program. A year later, Amanda realized that her passion was to work in the garden full time. “So, I said, I’m going to start my own business, but you can hire me as an independent contractor to maintain the center’s garden. I was scared to put that ultimatum out there because that was a steady job.” But it worked; they kept Amanda on and in September 2015, she began working toward the Hummingbird Gardens that exist today. “That just goes to show you that companies are starting to be more flexible with people who want to work differently. It’s never going to happen if you don’t ask.”
Since 2015, Amanda has used her own front yard to grow the majority of what she sells. “This coming season, we will be growing out of two more yards. 90% of the focus is on cut flowers. The other 10% is herbs, including those used in herb salts.” This year, she hired her first part-time employee, who will be taking the lead on the salts side of the business. Her husband, Michael, is her IT pro, among other things. “It takes a great village of family and friends to do this, but ultimately, it’s all on you as the business owner to get it done.”
Amanda has the following suggestions for fellow entrepreneurs: invest in a good planner, and budget your time by the half hour. “Be observant of yourself. If you are distracted at home, work at a coffee shop. Adjust your habits where you can, and adjust your energy around things you can’t really change.” She also suggests “being open to trying new things.” This is what led to her salts business. “I had a bunch of lemon basil that didn’t have a destination and thought ‘I’ll give herb salts a try.’ People ended up loving them, and the business grew from there.”
So, what’s Amanda most proud of? “The times when I hear that something I’m doing or something I’ve said has inspired someone to take action. And, of course, growing a generation of good stewards.” Amanda’s mission is at the core of her business. She loves “seeing how, over time, the children at the JCC understand the importance of the garden and how my front-yard garden plays into the community.” Additionally, Amanda implements school and learning gardens and helps teachers create lesson plans about gardening. The mission motivates her on a daily basis: “I think about those things when it’s QuickBooks day. I have to remember that my business is a way to live my values, and it’s hard to get tired of that.”
Feeling inspired? Check out Hummingbird Gardens’ Flower Club, a bouquet CSA launching this Spring.