Business Highlight – The Garden Exchange by Rader’s Farm
GRO spoke with Hannah & Kelby Rader, owners of The Garden Exchange by Rader’s Farm in Aurora, about running their business, their big plans for the future and finding a deeper connection and sense of community through it all.
The Garden Exchange is located at 22 E Olive, Aurora, MO 65605. You can follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/RadersFarm/) and Instagram (instagram.com/the.garden.exchange/)
GRO: How did you get started?
Kelby: We have been involved in gardening since we were young. Hannah has always grown flowers and mums and I have always been intrigued with plants. Following our interests in gardening and farming, we opened The Garden Exchange by Rader’s Farm, which is an urban farm and coffee shop. We got started 4 years ago and we worked out of our house. The intent was to grow more than we needed and give surplus away; we had not originally intended to start a business. However, the business began to grow organically, our operations kept expanding and we began advertising on Facebook.
Hannah: Three years ago, I didn’t understand how plants were part of God’s purpose for our lives. But everything happens for a reason, and God told me that Hawgwild BBQ building is where we would have our business. The restaurant had shut down and the building had just stood vacant – an eyesore for the community. At the beginning of this year, we felt it was the right time to make a move on this building. We made an offer on the property and to our surprise, the offer was accepted. All for the glory of God.
Kelby: People are excited about seeing things happen in Aurora. All this is happening during the COVID pandemic and yet our business plans are still moving forward and people are coming out to support us.
GRO: What is the biggest challenge of running your own business?
Kelby: There are always challenges that come with opening a business. Hannan and I have three kids under 5 – 5, 2.5 and 1 years old. Hannah juggles it all – taking care of the kids, cutting flowers, schedule deliveries. The building we bought is a former restaurant so we are doing some interior and exterior renovations to update the look of the place. I am doing all the renovation work myself, in addition to working at my full time job, finding time to be with my family, participating in my church, and running the Garden Exchange with Hannah.
GRO: What is the most rewarding aspect of running the business?
Hannah: The most rewarding aspect of running the business is definitely the community that it brings. It is very rewarding to have people become regular customers and continuously support us. These people are not just our customers but these relationships have turned into friendships.
GRO: What is the next big project or goal you are working on?
Hannah: This fall is a busy time for us. We had the grand opening of the coffee shop in mid-November. Shortly after that, we launched our Community Christmas event where we sold live Christmas trees, featured local vendors and craft makers, welcomed Santa for a visit, offered carriage rides and much more!
Kelby: Our business sits on a good size parking lot. Our goal is to turn this parking lot into a real urban garden with raised beds for Hannah’s cut flowers, a place to grow vegetables and paths throughout the beds to create places for people to explore and linger while at the Garden Exchange. The farm will be for production for our own business but we also want it to be an educational experience for our customers. Our overall goal with this business is to provide for our family but also to build it with ministry in mind – focus on building relationships and positively affecting people’s lives. We would love for this to be someplace that kids want to visit in Aurora, because we currently consider there to be a lack of options for the young ones.
GRO: What advice would you give your younger self?
Hannah: Generosity is something I have definitely learned through this process of starting and growing the business. It is better to be generous with people rather than see what you can take from them. This has been an opportunity of growth for me.
Kelby: I have always wanted to be in position to be generous with time, money, anything else I can give. I used to think that I had to make it big before I would do that, but the truth is you can start today.
GRO: What’s your favorite thing about Aurora?
Hannah: I have lived here my whole life but I can’t say I had a favorite thing about Aurora until recently. Ever since we started the business, we have been invited to participate in so many events; it has just blown me away. For example, the Aurora Auto Fest invited us to decorate for the event and we really enjoyed that. It feels really good to see people supporting people and I feel like a new era has emerged. People care about the community and they want to make a difference.