If you’re a Dieppe Market goer, you may have noticed the bouquets I (Shannon) have been making and selling at the market at this time of year.
Right now, local and organically-grown flowers are a very hot trend in the flower and wedding and event industries. For more about that, read this.
Why have we added cut flowers to our farm?
It was never really part of the plan for our (primarily) vegetable farm.
In our very first year starting Broadfork Farm on leased land, after a long vegetable harvest day, I would wander the property looking for pretty things to make up a bouquet. I did this as an adornment for our market stand. I wanted to bring a little more of the beauty of the farm to the stand. Earlier on, I thought it would just be a spring thing, when our market table looked very green. But it just kind of became my end-of-harvest-day ritual. And I loved it.
And market-goers seemed to like it too. People would often ask if they were for sale. I started bringing a few bouquets each week. There were some other vendors at our markets who made bouquets to sell and they really encouraged me to start growing and selling cut flowers. So each year since then, we’ve devoted a little more space and seed money for cut flowers.
One of the huge benefits for me personally has been the learning opportunity. I knew (basically) nothing about flowers (besides edible ones and the flowers on food crops) in year one. It is so much fun to learn about something completely new! I mean, vegetable-growing already offers me (more than) a lifetime of learning….and then there’s fruit, herbs, animal husbandry, bee-keeping, record-keeping, farm planning, business management, habitat maintenance, soil biology, soil chemistry, soils management, and all the other things that I love learning about. But cut-flowers are a newer addition to that list that I’ve become mildly (?) obsessed with.
So, I’ve bought books (see list at bottom of this post), joined the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, bought Kraft paper sleeves and little plastic bags to hold water at the base of the bouquets, and practiced!
As a plant grower, the growing part (while having its own set of quirks) hasn’t been as hard to learn as the design part. Also, I’ve found that learning more techniques from flower growers has enhanced my vegetable growing.
The flowers have enriched our crop rotation, habitat and pollinator health, and our morale with the beauty we see every day while we’re working.
Making bouquets has helped me see the beauty in all kinds of plants on our farm, not just the ones I grow for bouquets.
Customers who bring one of our bouquets home with them have a visual idea of what’s blooming on the farm that week as they eat the vegetables grown in our soil. That’s a pretty special connection.
Flowers also really connect people, and memories around flowers are so strong. Recently my grandmother (Beryl Jones) passed away and my father told me that her favourite flowers were carnations. She was always amazed at how long they lasted! This year I’m growing carnations (Floristan Salmon) for the first time, and every time I harvest them and use them in bouquets at the market, I’ll be thinking of her.
All in all, it’s been a really fun floral journey so far and I’m excited for the years to come!
I also wanted to share a link to a youtube video with you. Bryan’s aunt Pam very sadly passed away recently and she was a great florist who passionately promoted and advocated for sustainability in the floral industry. Watch her rock it in this video! All of the black buckets we bring our cut flowers to market in were from her shop and I’m looking forward to the time when we plant a whole bunch of peonies like she suggested.
List of web resources for local flower lovers:
- Floret Flowers
- Love ‘n Fresh Flowers
- Broadturn Farm
- Bare Mtn Farm
- Island Meadow Farms (PEI)
- Bathtub Gardens (BC)
I don’t want to overload you but if you are so inspired, I’m sure you can go on an amazing interweb journey from here.
- The Flower Farmer
- Fresh From the Field Wedding Flowers
- Specialty Cut Flowers
- The Flower Recipe Book
- Woody Cut Stems for Growers and Florists
- 50 Mile Bouquet
- Slow Flowers
- Local Color: Growing Specialty Cut Flowers
- Grow Your Own Cut Flowers by Sarah Raven
- Paula Pryke’s Flower School