My name is Antonia Colgrove, but I usually go by Toni. I attended the University of Vermont with the intent of earning a degree in business. During the early semesters, I took a side class in horticulture because it sounded fun.
I had a blast, and everything I was learning made sense and was so enjoyable, it was not like work at all (except identifying trees in the winter from just dormant buds and bark, THAT was my kryptonite). From there I started working in the UVM research greenhouse and found my happy place.
I quickly decided to change my major from business to Plant & Soil Science, earned a BS in Plant & Soil Science, and the rest is history. I was chosen by my professors for an award for the promise I showed in Horticulture, which gave me further validation I was in the right place.
“Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life” -Unknown
I worked in the Garden Center industry following graduation until I started my family. I then opened a branch of a children’s resale clothing franchise, Other Mothers, while my children were young. Sold that, and home educated my children using Latin, Logic, and Great Literature as my guideposts. All 3 attended high school, and have gone on to college under scholarships.
I returned to the Garden Center in 2014, and have been working in Garden Centers ever since.
Bucket List (growing faster than completing)
- Fly to Australia and scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef
- Grow my own espalier fruit trees
- Visit the Netherlands during bulb blooming season
- Cruise up to Alaska and see the Glaciers
- Learn to dance with the rhythm
- Learn to bake great bread,…. every time
- Learn to 10 finger type….finally
- See every comic from AGT in the top 10, live
I started BesideTheFrontDoor started in January 2019 as a side project, in addition to my full-time career in horticulture, to serve several different purposes in my life.
One, cancer had altered the trajectory of my family making me unable to continue with my fledgling side business of growing and selling heirloom, and hybrid veggies, flowers, and transplants.
That project was called Smallgrove and launched from my newly purchased home in January 2018. We moved in and I set immediately to starting a couple of hundred tomato, pepper, marigold, sunflower, and strawberry plants with plans to sell at farmer markets and direct to interested gardeners with my newly launched Smallgrove Facebook page. Less than 3 months later, in March, I had hundreds of tiny seedlings and plant starts relying on me when the unexpected struck.
On our anniversary, my long term partner Doug was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Leukemia is a blood cancer, which is stage 4, throughout the body. The prognosis without treatment was that he would live for 3, maybe 6 months.
Long story short, I liquidated all of the plants, losing most of the money that I had put into the project, and had to sell the house. I stayed focused on keeping our lives on some sort of track, keeping the lights on, and being a caregiver.
We are very blessed that a year and a half later, Doug is cancer-free and making a steady recovery.
BesideTheFrontDoor sprouted from a zig and a zag from this life change. Without owning a house, it was not practical to restart sprouting seeds and growing transplants.
I became acutely aware of how life can change on a dime, inspiring me to expand and update my skills to better duck and roll with whatever life throws my way. I began to update my computer skills to include working with websites and social media marketing. What could be better, I thought, to actually start a website from the ground up to have effective working skills! So much better than just taking a course, getting a chance to apply concepts and experiment. Was I right!
I found a great course that took me through everything I needed to know to get started and succeed with a website. Before then, I didn’t even realize what I didn’t know. Now I tell people left and right they must start their own website, yes they can! ( If you want to see the great course I took and recommend hands down, click on the “Plant a seed, start your own site” on the right.)
I decided to call my site BesideTheFrontDoor, because many times in my career, I help people with their containerized plantings, that more often than not, are placed beside their front door. I focus on horticulture topics because I would encounter the same questions from clients on a regular basis, and this website allows people to have a reference they can pull up at home. I also share on other topics, like pets. You will meet and enjoy Jackson, our Boxer mix, along with us too 🙂
Also, I can share some of my favorite things! Sometimes, you don’t know what to look for to solve a problem, or what to expect when you try something new. It helps to have a friend in the business to steer you in the right direction, and give a few suggestions 🙂