Where do I start? It has been more of a journey and a process then something that happened in one singular moment. The journey begin when I was living in an apartment in the city recently divorced taking care of two kids. My mom gave me a book on organic gardening and I started day dreaming of living on a farm and growing my own food. I started vegetable seeds inside and planted them in the flower beds up front. I didn’t get to see them grow up because another opportunity had arose. A house for rent in the country, not just a house but a yard and garden space. An old farm house on a beef cattle farm that was right beside my parents house, where I had grown up. I felt it was a wonderful place to raise my children. I moved in at the beginning of summer and started working in the garden. The first summer I felt like I did nothing but pick rocks out of the garden. At the end of summer I visited the Harvest Heritage Festival in Charlottesville and attended a presentation by Lisa Ziegler from The Gardener’s Workshop. She was talking about soil blocks and fall planting. I was fascinated by the idea of planting in the fall with the plants not just surviving the winter but actually coming out stronger. The day after the festival I double dug a bed in the garden and planted seeds. Love in the Mist, Calendula, Corn Cockle, all tucked under a row cover, ready for the winter. I had seen vegetables as necessary and flowers as a luxury but I was starting to rethink that view. Especially when I learned that all most all flowers used in the US are actually from another country. Or how so many chemicals are used in the process of growing cut flowers when massed produced. The small flower grower that was doing it organically was just as necessary. I spent the winter pouring over Lynn Byczynski’s book The Flower Farmer. A lot of that winter was spent learning every bit of information I could about cut flowers. I also got soil blockers and started seeds indoors under florescent lights. When the flowers came up strong the next spring I was hooked. I still have Love in the Mist in my garden from planting them that one time, they have continued on with all their volunteer seedlings. It is one of my favorite flowers with its airy quality, heirloom appeal and because it was around from the beginning.
Last year was the start of the Botetourt Farmer’s Market, what better time for me to start selling my flowers. It was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. No more time for day dreaming about what I wanted, it was time to make it happen. I would fluctuate between feeling good with what was getting accomplished in the garden to freaking out that I wouldn’t get everything done in time. I worried that there wouldn’t be enough flowers or that no one would want them. But all the worry and the work paid off, the flower’s beauty spoke for themselves. I would get repeat customers- they were coming back for more flowers. I had one lady tell me that the flowers were the bright spot of her week. It was awesome! I felt good about things at the end of the season and was already thinking about the next year. Last fall I planted around 500 plants down at my parents - my garden space was overflowing and I was wanting more, more, more flowers. So here we are at the beginning of another growing season and I have a feeling its going to be even better then the last.
Flower farming mamma trying to reconnect to the land and make a living.