We’ve made it no secret: this past year was one of immense growth for Delight Flower Farm. We quadrupled our growing space, got serious about business operations, expanded our markets, hosted our own classes and workshops, and gathered more people than ever into our circle of sustained community support.
But, much like the slowly creeping rootstalk of a persistent perennial plant, we surely continue to grow.
We’re incredibly excited to share that Delight will begin growing, processing, and selling medicinal herbs and herbal products this year! We have already seeded some long-beloved medicinal plants in the greenhouse: chamomile, eucalyptus, calendula, holy basil, lavender, arnica, sage, hyssop, St. John’s wort, and many more! These herbs and flowers will be used to prepare teas, bath supplies, body care products, and other herbal remedies for our customers.
We hope that these plants and these products will further our mission to foster awareness of and connection to the natural world, all while inspiring our customers to take good care of themselves – body and soul. It’s becoming more clear to the masses: growing food and flowers locally is essential to the sustained health of the planet’s and our bodies’ respective ecosystems. Using locally-grown medicinal plants adds another dimension to this picture of whole health.
Meet our herbalist!
Liz is a budding herbalist with a deep appreciation for the inimitable power and grace of plants, and an insatiable appetite for learning. She has worked with medicinal plants in her own life for years. She works to strengthen her relationship with plants, and her understanding of a holistic approach to herbal medicine through self-study and structured herbalist trainings. In the spring of 2016, she began voraciously experimenting with the practice of medicine making. (Check out a little snap of her pop-up apothecary from last summer!) Since then she has studied medicine making techniques and herb cultivation through the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in Weaverville, NC, as well as the science behind herbal constituents (or what one might call the “active ingredients” in a plant) at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism in Boulder, CO. Liz is undeniably called to work with plants; to help them grow, to understand their uses, and to share them with her community. Their medicine is simple, but mighty.
Keep on the lookout for updates about our new herbal endeavors, like:
our DIY skin care class at Harvest Mark in April, sign up here!
herb-of-the-month updates in our e-newsletters
launch of new products and wholesale opportunities
more workshops and classes on DIY herbal remedies
Thanks for reading, friends. May the lightness of spring sink in deeply!
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.
When all the world is quiet, when I can get away and all of the chaos of chaos lifts, I find myself happiest in a patch of grass admiring the flowers and the bees and the fresh air. When I’m left to the land I feel quite simply at home, enveloped in care, and most connected to myself, others, and the clarity of what love feels like. In nature, we can plant seeds, give them the purest love and attention, and in return, we are given the most glorious gifts I’ve ever seen.
It was last Winter when I bumped into Maggie in the street, it was the evening time and the snow was coming down and she was walking home from work, I was walking in the opposite direction. She said she’d come to where I was going because she wanted to talk to me about something, and once we sat down she told me about the flower garden for the first time. We had only been becoming friends since that Fall before, but we had a lot in common and we knew that about each other, so it only seemed fitting that this was happening and I never hesitated in knowing that I could be there for her.
What I mean by this was that Maggie had started a community supported and shared flower garden three years before that time, this was her business, her hobby project, and now she was facing not being able to continue because her body was about to undergo surgery due to a spinal condition. She had heard I’d been working on gardens and farms in my recent past and we must have spoken at some point about how much I loved such work and the natural lifestyle. In the dim lighting, over a drink and the murmur of the crowd around us she told me more about this surgery to help her back; she was still uncertain, it was risky, the recovery was long, and she wasn’t sure it would work. But it was either that or her back would only get worse and she knew she needed to be brave. There was another thing, the matter of the flower garden, she’d be in recovery during much of the beginning of the season, she needed an assistant to keep it going. She asked me if I thought I could help her, she assured me she would do what she could until it was time for her surgery, and from there I had know idea how I could help us succeed. I had never taken on such a serious gardening project before, I had less experience than I think Maggie or I knew that I had at the time, everything else in my life was transforming at an overwhelming rate, and there would be shareholder’s money at stake if I failed. But without knowing what I was saying, and recognizing this gift as absolutely extraordinary, I told her that I would be able to help her.
We started out the first few weeks together, she taught me the basic techniques and plan, we dug the first few beds together and planted some seeds before it was time, and from there she came to be my mentor. I visited her weekly to learn what I should do in her stead while she healed, and I would walk over to the garden in the early Spring and dig beds with my hands, and pick out all the weeds that I could, sometimes I would have help from my friends, sometimes Maggie would come out and sit by the garden and guide me, other times I would pass hours of the afternoon nearly unknowingly, planting seeds, always weeding, thinking that it felt like meditation.
Weeks passed and seeds turned into flower sprouts and more and more of the little garden plot became groomed beds, and with each turn of soil it seemed that Maggie became stronger and stronger in her body. I too felt that I was becoming stronger in my body and in my mind and myself, surely more so than ever before. I remember the first time Maggie walked over to the garden from her house, it was just down the street but the sun hadn’t shined like that in a long time and Maggie had not been able to do something like that in weeks. By that time it was getting close to our first harvest. We still weren’t there yet, there were some late seeds that had yet to be planted, some gladiola bulbs, Maggie still couldn’t push her body too hard yet, healing is slow, her strength grew like the seeds, slowly but steadily, and with care and patience. More weeks passed and sprouts turned into flowers and lots of bees started visiting the garden and Maggie started to be able to move with more ease, and nearly two months later we had a quarter of our plot filled with blooms and it was time to deliver the first share of bundles to our 8 starting members of 2014.
We had goosenecks and asters and cosmos, coneflowers and daisies, others I’ve already forgotten the name of, just enough to fill all the water buckets we’d place the cut flower stems into as we picked the harvest in the early morning before the heat of the day struck. The season had officially begun and it seemed that although still taking it easy, Maggie was back in action and we still had the rest of the garden to finish up. We took our time and gently finished weeding the plots, planting the finals seeds, and tending to the garden as the summer days passed, making sure not to push ourselves to hard-life, flowers, seeds, the body-all too fragile.
Ten weeks passed and zinnias, sunflowers, gladiolas, dahlias, more and more zinnias all came up, the asters and the cosmos lasted all summer long, the first seeds we planted together. Maggie’s recovery went smoothly, and I learned so much about myself, about care, giving, friendship, commitment, community, and my connectedness to what I do during this whole experience. From start to finish we worked on this for about six months.
It’s one year later and we are only a few days after the time when Maggie had her surgery. We’re already about a third of the way done with prepping the garden-weeding, bedding, planting-we’re much further along than we were at this time before but we’ve had so much extra energy this year. Maggie has made a full recovery, I am by her side again with last year’s experience under me, and our friend Liz has joined our efforts, she lives at the house where this garden grows and is enthusiastic to be a part of the Delight CSA project. So many people working in the Delight garden has meant we’ve been able to redesign the space to be in the pattern of a sun, creating more room for more flowers and more members, each ray varies between a garden bed and a walking path. We’re also reconstructing the fence, moving the compost pile out of the garden to plant in the rich soil beneath, adding more perennial plants to grow back every year, and making room for a sitting area for the gardeners and the CSA members to enjoy.
Only six days remain until the deadline and only a few spots are left for this year’s CSA season, so sign up while you can! I’m so excited to be able to be a part of giving this gift back to the community.