Spring Planting [and all things in between]

We graduated from the Farm Beginnings course mid-February. This course offered through The Land Connection is a 5 month-long farm training program that takes place at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery all day every other Saturday. The course taught us so many farming and business skills to grow in new ways.  We completed a thorough business plan (18 pages worth!) and presented it to our classmates for feedback. We ordered new business cards, and hit the ground running.  The last month and a half has been busy with much happening “behind the scenes.” We are adapting to new formats/systems, and many “firsts”.  So far, it’s been wonderful.

We are renting a shared greenhouse space out at Green Island Farm Collective in northeast Urbana.  Green Island Farm Collective is another budding farm. They’re present at Urbana’s Market on the Square and have a permaculture/vegetable CSA.  Already we have started as many seeds as we planted all season last year.  We are on a rotation of each going to the greenhouse every other day to check on the seedlings, start a few more flats of seeds (according to our seed planting schedule), and give everything a watering.  We’re planting a lot of new flowers, and all of our old favorites too–the process has felt so good to get into.

We also did another exciting thing in March: we met and visited our farm mentor!  As part of our Farm Beginnings we are paired with a farm that is near in proximity and with a similar vision. We can visit and learn from through this year.  We were introduced to Linda Chapman and her flower farm in Spencer, Indiana–Harvest Moon Flower Farm.  We worked alongside Linda, and camped on her land for two days during our Spring Break. She taught us about greenhouses, winter growing, wedding flower how-to, more efficient planting methods, awesome tools (like a vibra-seeder?!), arranging, drying, seeding, what supplies and products are must-haves, and much more. We really packed in a lot of learning and on-farm work in a short time. And if you know us, you know we had a lot of laughs together too! It was a great experience. We couldn’t imagine a better match. We plan to go back in a few months when things are really in full swing.

Things at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, the home of our flower farm this year, are coming alive.  This Saturday will be our first Saturday setting up a table at their Spring Breakfast Open House. They open the barn doors for visitors to play with the baby goats, eat delicious pastries, and drink coffee or goat’s milk hot chocolate.  We’ll be selling flowers, signing up folks for CSA shares, and letting people know about all that we’re doing this year!  We have daffodils bursting open, woody blooming apple branches, and forsythia. Tulips are just behind them (for next week we hope!)  These Spring Open Houses are happening every Saturday from 9am-noon until April 30th, come see us and our farm!

Holiday Wreaths :: Order NOW!

wreath2014May you be warm, well, and in the mood to celebrate togetherness this season! We are now taking orders for holiday wreaths. They are handmade with locally-grown greens, pine cones, dried flowers and a little extra special bling.  We will harvest greens, and make wreaths the week after Thanksgiving. We plan to have them ready for pick up by the following weekend (Dec 5 & 6th). They range from fancy to simple, from weird to wild. Each one is sure to delight (pun intended!)

IMG_4719There will be two sizes, just like in past years: large (18″/$35) and small (12″/$25). Please email DelightCSA@gmail by Dec 1st at midnight if you’d like to order one or several (they make nice gifts!) In the email let me know how many you’d like of each size. These photos are of some of the wreaths I made last year.  I’ll let you know pick up details once you order. Thanks!

Second Annual CSA Fair

As we ease into the cold months, we’re already thinking ahead to the 2016 CSA season. We’re pleased to share that we will be among the farmers and makers present at the Second Annual Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fair in Urbana this year! This event is hosted by Urbana’s Market at the Square, The Land Connection and the Urbana Business Association. The fair is an opportunity to meet and talk with farmers about CSA offerings for the 2016 growing season. Many farmers – like us! – will be signing folks up for shares at the fair. It’s like shopping for future you; pay a little now, and receive your share of the abundance down the road. Learn more about this event here.

Delight expanded so much this year – we took on a lot of custom orders, donated many arrangements to fundraisers, supplied flowers for a wedding, made a record number of wreaths, and did a pop-up collaboration with Flying Machine Coffee. But CSAs were and are still certainly the bulk of our work. The CSA is the heartbeat of this operation. By purchasing a CSA share with Delight Flower Farm, you will be supporting us as we leap (with faith!) into many new endeavors: new land, experiments in season extension, new flower varieties, and MORE flowers than ever before!

So, here are the nitty gritty details: The Second Annual Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fair will be held at the Urbana Civic Center on Monday, December 14 from 4-7 pm. The Urbana Civic Center is located at 108 East Water Street in Urbana. We will be signing folks up for the 2016 CSA season. Full shares cost $180.00 before December 31, option to add $50.00 for delivery all season long. Share prices will increase in 2016! If you know you’d like to sign up for a share, you can bring a check to the CSA Fair – please make checks out to Maggie Taylor c/o Delight Flower Farm. We will have special treats and swag for those who sign up!

Wreath Farmers

P.S. A big, warm thanks to all who ordered holiday wreaths this season. We were overwhelmed with support from customers and friends, old and new. Happy holidays from the ladies of Delight!

Delight Flower Farm Fall Updates: Farm School+Exciting New Land

IMG_7646We are doing it. We’re taking it to the next level. We are leaping!  Leaps are scary, they imply a big jump, which mean threat of free fall and unexpected landings, but in its common context, leaps are taken in faith for a brighter outcome.

We’re expanding the farm. We estimate by about 4 times in size and productivity. We are moving ground, out to a property on Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, a goat farm and cheeserie in north Urbana.  We are expanding to offer wedding services. We are planting bulbs for spring, which will extend our start of season in 2016. We’re growing in little ways too, like establishing a logo, making merch and compiling a email list. We think the future looks quite bright for Delight Flower Farm. More land=more flowers=more business=more flower justice. [That’s the phrase we’re unofficially coining around the farm. Flower justice is implying, we grow flowers that are good for the planet and good for you.]

FullSizeRenderGrowing in all these ways is not effortless, or so we are all noticing.  More land means more projects. Planning has to start now.  These days we’ve been sourcing and planting spring bulbs for some early season flowers next year, scoping out fencing for the new plot, preparing for pest management [we may have voles…], and we’ve gone back to school.  That’s right, school!  The three of us have enrolled in a 5 month farmer training course, through The Land Connection.

It is going to help us a ton with the growth and business management side of things. We go to class for a whole Saturday every couple of weeks and hear from regional farmers about their trials and tribulations. In addition, we have plenty of readings and assignments on farm management, business planning, and organization.  It’s very stimulating and enjoyable, and so fun to be back in a learning environment. But the adjustment is real and takes focus, new sacrifices, and organization. That’s ok–this is what it takes to transform and take steps towards where we want to go. It’s nice to be reminded that we can keep growing even when the flowers are dormant.

The Flower Farmer’s Ethic

“Think globally, act locally.”

The phrase of our time, a time where we have become aware of the fragility of life on this planet and the impact we humans have on it.  The locals of Urbana know that the Saturday farmer’s market has become so crowded that walking through the first two rows can be like floating through a sea of people, it’s so crowded it can sometimes be described as stressful!  But assuredly it’s better than the alternative, people of this area love to shop for local produce and goods, and believe it’s worth the premium price and effort.  It seems people are starting to change the decisions they are making regarding the type of food they are purchasing, and in turn, putting into their bodies.  The correlation between these choices and the health of the planet and one’s self has become commonly pronounced undeniable.  People are starting to see that chemicals on food means it gets absorbed by the food, in the ground, in the water, effects the bug biosphere, our health, etc. People are starting to say, I don’t want that.

But it seems the flower industry is still not quite up with the times.  Organic, and even local, flowers are few and far between, even nowadays when the organic and local movement is so trendy and publicly justified.  The flower industry is HUGE, and the use of pesticides and chemicals is just as dangerous as that in the produce industry, it still effects our planet, the local environment, and our own health.  You don’t want to stick your nose in a bouquet sprayed with chemicals, do you?

On a recent trip to New Orleans I did some research at a Whole Foods to see what the going rate for “sustainably grown” flowers was–and wanted to see what “sustainably grown” meant. What I found was surprising!  All the flowers they carried were shipped from South America, even in the dead of summer.  Why weren’t they buying locally?!  I also noticed they were all labeled “responsibly grown”, but not “chemical free”, which I wondered about.  And their prices? Very comparable to our flowers on a weekly basis, if not pricier.  I’m sure at the local farmer’s market I could have found some locally grown flowers, but much like Urbana and towns everywhere, your local grocery stores and one-stop-shops aren’t selling the local flowers, they are selling flowers shipped from all over the world, which like produce, isn’t the most ideal when it comes to fossil fuels, and are grown with chemicals.

Here is a quiz another local flower farmer gave at a class we just participated in, it gives the breakdown of the current flower situation:

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We grow flowers at Delight Flower Farm to provide a local and chemical free option for the people in and around our area.  We hope to enhance the planet with our farm, and provide joy to all living beings through flowers.

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Flying Machine Flowers + Co-op Workshop!

Our CSA season may be over, but the flowers are still popping! So, to take advantage of this abundance, we decided to create some custom arrangements for our favorite local cafe, Flying Machine Coffee. We harvested the first round of flowers on Sunday, and delivered them to the cafe in the early evening. Most of them are perched on the bar near the shop’s windows. They look so beautiful drenched in sunlight. Holly and I have been stopping in to care for and freshen the bouquets, and we’ve had some wonderful comments from folks about the flowers! It feels so good to receive those little moments of support.

There’s more: These arrangements are for sale! Each bundle is priced at $15, so you can take one home if you fall in love with these flowers! Our little operation is local, chemical-free, and woman operated, so purchasing these special arrangements means choosing those qualities in a product. Special thanks to our friend Josh Lucas for his support with this little collaboration. Flowers and coffee…it’s a good match.

A bit more news to share: We’re teaching a class at Common Ground Food Co-op this weekend! We will be leading Flower Power! on Saturday, August 29, from 2:00 pm until 3:00 pm in the Flatlander Classroom. This workshop will cover: a bit about Delight CSA and our beginnings and journey, the benefits of cut flowers for veggie gardens and pollinators, and the basics of cut flower growth and care. Participants will get to arrange their own flower bundle (just like we do!) from a selection of blooms that will come straight from our farm! This class costs $5 for owners, and $10 for non-owners. We hope to see some folks there! Click here to sign up online!

(belated) Week 10

garden love

weeding

bird's eye

bzzzzz

We officially wrapped up another CSA season last week. Although, it feels more like finishing one chapter and immediately turning the page to start the next- we’ve got BIG plans ahead- but I’ll get to that in another post real soon.

For now here’s a little recap of the last chapter: starting seeds, soil prep, planting, rain, FLOODING, more flooding, flowers, bees, bugs, sunshine, weeds, weeding, napping on the job (see the doggie below), happy shareholders with bright bundles, friends, community, and a party to celebrate it all! Thank you for making another season on this little ol’ flower farm possible. That makes five years! (And thanks to JP Goguen for these lovely farm photos. there are more on his flickr album.)

napping on the job

end of season party

Week 9

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We can’t believe it’s come to week 9/10 already! In fact, I’m late on publishing this post from last week and we are already now well into week 10! This season seemed to fly by once we dried out from the Urbana Monsoon that was June.
Shareholders, please come to the farm this Friday (5-7pm) for our end of season celebration and to pick up your final bouquets of the 2015 CSA season. We are excited to get together over flowers (& refreshments!) and share some exciting news about what we have planned for 2016!

Upcoming classes!

transplanting seedlings

Flower Power (class) at Common Ground Food Co-op, Saturday, August 29th, 2-3 pm. $5 owner/ $10 non-owner In this workshop learn many benefits of growing flowers (good for bees, good for veggies, good for the environment, and good for you!). Participants will learn cut flower basics, plant seeds to tend at home. Join us and enjoy the delight of flowers!

Cut Flower Workshop (with The Land Connection) at Illinois Willows, Sunday, September 13th, 1-4 pm. $35/person Fresh, local, flowers are in high demand, as they pop up at weddings, at farmers’ markets, and in CSAs. Learn the basics of production, processing, and marketing from three local experts: Joan Jach of Old Town Flowers, Maggie Taylor of Delight Flower CSA, and Kent Miles of Illinois Willows.