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Star Valley Flowers acquires Blooming of Beloit

On March 10, Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, WI, a grower of fruiting, flowering and decorative branches, acquired the growing operations and assets of Blooming of Beloit in Beloit, WI. With a history of friendly competition, the two business owners have also been close colleagues and fellow Wisconsin farmers -— sharing knowledge, hardships, products and customers.

Shlomo Danieli founded Blooming of Beloit 22 years ago by purchasing 100 acres of productive farmland in southern Wisconsin’s Rock County.

STAR-VALLEY Shlomo Danieli, founder at Blooming of Beloit in Beloit, WI, recently sold the business to John Zehrer, owner at Star Valley Flowers in Soldiers Grove, WI. Star Valley will now manage both growing operations and market all product under the Star Valley Flowers name.He had a vision of field growing perennials that specifically produced fruiting stems such as ilex, winterberry, bittersweet and crabapples. Later he expanded his product selection by growing flowering and decorative branches like curly willow, lilacs and peonies.

“We have five or six items that are unique and very good quality — far better than the rest of the industry -— like our aronia, spirea, lilacs and dogwood,” Danieli told The Produce News. “I’m very happy that I sold the business in a way that it will continue to merchandise the product because I have a lot of sweat and money invested in it.”

John Zehrer opened Star Valley Flowers in 1987, after giving up milking his Jersey herd and diving headfirst into growing annuals. He marketed his products at local farmers’ markets and retail shops from his van commonly known as “Weeds on Wheels.” In the early 90s, he realized there was an unmet demand from designers in the floral industry for unique and decorative woody stems. So annuals took a backseat and various willows, lilacs, viburnums, spirea, forsythia, mock orange, bittersweet vine, winterberry and crabapples soon took precedence.

“Star Valley Flowers currently has 200 acres in production and it’s a synergistic move for Blooming of Beloit and Star Valley to combine growing operations,” Zehrer told The Produce News. “Since Blooming of Beloit is a bit further south than us, we will be able to extend our season by at least a week on most items and customers will no doubt appreciate that. Star Valley is located in a very rural area of the state and a solid four and a half hour drive to O’Hare Airport. The location of Blooming of Beloit will greatly enhance transportation options and frequency by being three hours closer to Chicago freight options.”

Star Valley will now manage both growing operations and market all product under the Star Valley Flowers name, with Phil Mueller continuing as sales manager. Danieli will continue to operate the Israeli import side of his business, Alon Hagalil.

“I feel good about the sale because one of the guys that wanted to buy the farm asked me how much it would cost to bulldoze all of the trees. It almost felt like someone stuck a knife in my gut,” Danieli told The Produce News. “But John Zehrer is a very good man in the industry and now the farm is in good hands.”