Every farmer in her/his career hits the pause button and considers a re-invention. For me it's been steadfast, subtle, and soaks in a mix of the personal to planetary when it comes to optimal growth for our farm and finances. With seeding needs just around the corner, taxes due, body restored from a restful winter and farm plans in tow for the year ahead, I never knew that my farming re-invention would embrace so many F-words! I am moving away from the vegetable realm (my husband Rob's terrain) and honing in more on fruit, food forests, financial footing, and flowers. The latter, flowers, I've been marketing direct through CSA and providing wedding flowers for the past three years -slowly, mindfully This season, I am looking forward to stepping into my new role as Farmer Florist, experimenting with how to take flowers to the next good dance.
I am excited to focus our Flower CSA program in Sauk County, partnering with Orange Cat Community Farm to share drop sites. Whether barns or ballrooms, fields or festivals, I am also looking forward to our flowers participating in weddings this season.
The move to more flowers, comes with a perennial love of sharing how flowers inspire me and ways flowers have inspired, delighted, confounded, forgiven, and wowed us through the ages. Bouquet making and floral design is my flow form and I can lose track of time when in the 'flower zone'.
There is nothing quite like the spellbound beauty of flowers picked at their prime.
Additionally, flowers and herbs remind us to be bold. They are a peak evolutionary expression, painting our farm landscape, bringing beauty and balance while serving a variety of ecological functions – working in tandem with the microbes as soil builders adding structure and fertility to the rhizosphere, as food for our honeybees and native pollinator friends, as pest managers and companion plants to our fruits and vegetables, to illuminate the landscape with color and beauty, and to provide for a diversity of culinary and medicinal uses on our farm.
Of the roughly 200,000 flowering plants laying down their roots around the world, ~12,300 call Wisconsin their home. Some flowers thrive in vases, others hold up with a little encouragement from flower friends, and others are just destined to remain in the prairie and orchard wilds. Through our years growing flowers and trialing vase life with different blooms, we've discovered which flowers thrive at our farm and hold well in a bouquet (ie last for more than 5 – 7 days in a vase). As with seasonal eating, the menu of blossom beauty changes weekly and is prone to the peaks and valleys of Wisconsin's growing season.
Flowers open up a whole new language, Floriography, to explore and learn from. I've been researching into the history around the language of flowers, unearthing references from ancient Greek and Chinese cultures to the Victorian era, as well as some present-day farm inspirations and authors.
Lastly, shifting toward more fruit and flowers compliments my other farm love and passion, Rob! We've been farming together for 8 years, married for 4 and have learned how to work, live, and love in autonomous and interdependent ways, similar to that of our fruit guilds in our orchard.
At the end of the day, love has its way.