Flush, abundant, bloomin’, full-speed-ahead, busy -are all descriptors for this time of year on a Midwestern flower farm. We’ve been buzzing with lots of activity on Delight Flower Farm as you might have noticed on our various social media feeds. Here’s a recap of what we’ve been up to.
Our first annual Hops Plant Sale for Father’s Day weekend was mid-June at Sipyard in downtown Urbana with music by the lovely Matt and Claire of Meadowhawk. It was a grand success. We met a bunch of friendly local brewers, herbalists, and gardeners and sold some plants too.
CSA on-farm pick up. This year, we’ve changed the shareholders’ pick up format from years’ past. This new location and structure -just a short 2 hour pick up window on the farm-puts the big “C” back into our flower CSA. Being able to greet shareholders in person each week and have shareholders meet each other really does feel like it cultivates community (& the fuzzy baby goats sweeten the deal!)
Thanks for keepin’ up with our growth (pun intended)!
We graduated from the Farm Beginningscourse 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!
We 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.]
Growing 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.