Things are hoppin’ on the farm!

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.

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Sunflower (Zinnia, Honeywort, Sage, Nasturtium, Daisy, Gooseneck, etc!) harvest has begun!!!

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Business deliveries:: This year we’ve added several new businesses to our regular delivery route. Thanks for your support, Watson’s Shack and Rail, Country Financial, Living Yoga Center, Green Yoga Spa, and Reisman Law Office. We’re glad to brighten up your work spaces with fresh flowers.

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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!)

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Thanks for keepin’ up with our growth (pun intended)!

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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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Week 6 & 7: the bee’s knees

IMG_6475.JPGThe days have been sunny, hot, and humid. The height of excellence in this flower season by far. Our sunflowers are so huge, sculptural and prolific. We’ve been daydreaming about making their wide, seed-filled heads into outdoor shower nozzles. Do you think it would work?! 😉

I think both Liz and Holly have officially declared sunflowers as their absolute/enduring favorite flowers. I keep changing my mind. I’m easily smitten by whatever is currently blooming. Lately, Queen Anne’s Lace has been pushing to the top of my favorites list again. I mean, what’s not to love about these shapes?

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Week 1

This week’s harvest was a pale palette. I think all of the recent rain we’ve had seems to have limited the more colorful blooms. Green and white are nice enough for now though! (and SUNFLOWERS, already?!?)

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Delight on WEFT 90.1

Click here to enjoy the April 21st “Alter Ego Show” on WEFT 90.1–Maggie, Holly and Liz guest appeared on the local morning show to talk about the Delight Flower CSA–you can catch our part specifically in the last 30 minutes, but we highly recommend you give the whole show a listen-great music and talk show on Champaign’s Community Supported Radio Station-WEFT.

And for your enjoyment, here is my Delight story:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Love,

Holly Monet