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By CARRIE A. MIZELL
Special to the Citizen
He may not have a driver’s license, but Matthew George does have a blossoming daylily business.
The 15-year-old Trenton High School student is actively involved in FFA, sports and running his own business.
“Matthew is learning about the real world at a young age,” said Steve Broker, Trenton FFA advisor. “He’s a very serious young man, who works hard and will do anything you ask him to.”
Matthew took an interest in daylilies shortly after his family moved to Gilchrist County in 2007, when he started helping his grandparents Jerome and Reba Ridaught at their daylily farm in Alachua.
“My Paw Paw helped me start my own bed in my backyard,” Matthew said. “He has given me valuable knowledge and also has taught me that most good things take hard work..”
A year after starting his own bed, Matthew expanded his small, but growing business and started selling his specialized daylilies to friends and neighbors, as word of mouth spread.
“Matthew is an excellent student of all aspects of growing and selling daylilies,” said Jerome Ridaught, Matthew’s grandfather.
Three years later, Daylilies Buy George expanded again to its current size, which is nine 5’x20’ raised beds and 125 recently registered cultivars in his garden.
Matthew’s grandmother helped him develop a printed catalog and a website, www.dayliliesbuygeorge.com, so he could sell daylilies to a larger customer base. She also helped him set up a perpetual inventory and invoice system similar to the one used at Ridaught Daylily Farm.
“I helped him by teaching him good business practices, horticulture and transplanting methods and shipping procedures,” Jerome Ridaught said.
Matthew’s grandfather also provided him with daylily stock. While his parents, Denny and Hallie George helped him get the business licensed, set up and the farm inspected, Matthew’s dad also helped him install a sprinkler system and the two developed a spray schedule.
“He has really taken his daylily operation and run with it,” Steve Broker said.
As a Trenton FFA member, Matthew has stepped out of his comfort zone and taken part in parliamentary procedure and public speaking competitions, Broker said. While he has done well at everything he has ever tried, Matthew’s heart is clearly in horticulture.
“Plants have always been a way of life for my family,” Matthew’s grandfather said.
Carrying on that tradition, Matthew participated in the sub-district ornamental horticulture demonstration during his 8th grade year. He demonstrated how to transplant daylilies and received second place in the production category. He moved on to the state level and received fourth place.
Matthew is trying to use all aspects of his daylily business in FFA and is currently in the process of filling out proficiency applications for Ag Sales, Nursery Operations and Floriculture.
Last spring Matthew said his “Chinese Mountain” daylily was the most popular among customers. As his daylilies begin to bloom over the next several weeks, Matthew is looking forward to another exciting season. To shop, visit Matthew’s website to see pictures and prices of all the daylilies he offers. Visit www.dayliliesbuygeorge.com where orders are now being taken. Shipping has started and continues through June 4.
Matthew’s promise to his customer is, “I will try my very best to deliver healthy plants. If you have any problems with your order I will do everything possible to make your order satisfactory. I look forward to your business and your help in making this business prosperous.”