By: Brooke Emmonds, Conservation Educator, Armstrong Conservation District
Last month, staff from Armstrong Conservation District and Experience Armstrong, Inc. sat down with owners of Goose Creek Gardens, Ltd., a multigenerational farm located in Cowansville. They discussed how their farming adventure started over 20 years ago and what they offer to residents of Armstrong County and customers across the country today!
In the beginning, Margie parted with her corporate career and the pressure of sales to start farming. “After 20 years of working in that industry, I specialized in culinary herbs and salad greens. I felt there was a lack of fresh herbs in my area.”
Starting The Flower Shack
Margie and Mark Dagnal and their daughter, Kate Dagnal, have been working together to bring the freshest florals to the Pittsburgh region for years, but recently they’ve decided to switch things up and create an exciting addition to the farm — The Flower Shack!
The Flower Shack is a roadside pick-up location on their property in Cowansville that sells fresh flowers and, new to the shack this season, herbs and vegetables. Margie shared that customers can look forward to 30 different types of tomatoes this summer.
The Flower Shack opened for the 2023 season on March 25th. Armstrong Conservation District and Experience Armstrong, Inc. staff were privileged to receive a private tour, sneaking a peek at the vibrant blooms of Spring on a dreary Pennsylvania day. A few highlights of the tour included lettuce and kale bowls, a plethora of herbs, and striking Anemones blooming in high tunnels.
The proximity of The Flower Shack and Kate’s regular posts on social media make it easy for customers to stay connected to the farm. The shack is open to the public Fridays from 9 AM to 6 PM and Saturdays from 9 AM to 1 PM. Hours can be checked on their website. Kate posts the new selection of blooms or plants available for purchase weekly on Facebook and Instagram.
A Blossoming Business Endeavor
Last year, the family debated opening The Flower Shack.
“Build it, and they’ll come, they said. So we bought four posts for the upright. We built it on Wednesday, announced it on Thursday and we opened Friday and Saturday,” said Margie.
They assumed it might not always be a hit, especially at the beginning.
“We anticipated a few ‘zero’ weekends, but we never had a ‘zero.’ There were so many people here on Mother’s Day that we had to use a turn signal to leave our driveway.”
With the Flower Shack and online sales, the Dagnals no longer have to rely exclusively on making deliveries to florists, wholesalers, and farmers’ markets near Pittsburgh.
A Family Affair
Margie’s daughter Kate is now a leading member and face representing the family business online. She inherited her interest in farming from her parents, but her ambition to expand Goose Creek Garden’s base of customers across the U.S. comes from her own futuristic vision.
For example, Kate networks with some of the most successful farms in America. Are you familiar with Magnolia Network, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery and Chip and Joanna Gaines? Kate has been on an episode of the network’s documentary series, Growing Floret, because the founder of Floret Farm and New York Times Best-Selling author, Erin Benzakein, is a mentor to her.
Kate’s goal for Goose Creek Gardens is to become a sustainable business that supports her family and employees year-round.
“And, of course, we want to share flowers with everyone.”
How You Can Support Goose Creek Gardens
There are a few ways to support Goose Creek Gardens. As mentioned above, The Flower Shacks is now open weekly on Fridays and Saturdays. The Dagnals will also host Mother’s Day Hours on May 11th and 12th from 9 AM to 6 PM and May 13th and 14th from 9 AM to 4 PM. Payment options include cash, check, and Venmo. There will be mixed bouquets available for $20 each and straight bunches ranging from $10-$20. Each spring, Goose Creek Gardens also holds a dahlia tuber sale offering over 35 varieties. In the cooler months, they also offer handmade dried flower wreaths and other seasonal items.
Explore Agritourism and Agricultural Programs in Armstrong County
Armstrong Conservation District (ACD) and Experience Armstrong, Inc. are collaborating on a new ongoing blog series highlighting Armstrong County farms, agricultural events, and locally-produced products. ACD provides financial and technical assistance to farms throughout Armstrong County. Learn more about programs offered by the Armstrong Conservation District — including nutrient management, manure management, erosion and sediment control, farmland preservation, and agricultural security — and other agritourism opportunities throughout the county with Experience Armstrong, Inc.