In the Region: Summer tends to be a slower time for regional activities, but we did see a flux of members coming for visits in April and May. It’s always good to have visitors and to visit other growers. Really looking forward to the ASCFG fall meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Steve and Gretel Adams, owners of Sunny Meadow Flower Farm, and their crew are an amazing flower force. This meeting is not one to miss!

On the Farm: After five years of working a demanding fulltime off-farm job I came home to the farm in April. The transition to farming fulltime has been anything but easy! The first two years Miranda and I worked the farm with every free moment we had. As our sales base grew we took on a volunteer who quickly because our first employee. We paid him out of our own off-farm income for a while until the farm could support him. The schedule was absolutely brutal! I would work the farm in the mornings from 5:30 to 7:00, going over the day’s assignments (that I would’ve love to be doing myself; for a time I was quite jealous that he was taking my money and getting to do the fun jobs!), and off to work I would go. In the evening we would work from 6:00 until it was so dark we could no longer see what we were doing. We occasionally broke out the floodlights to finish whatever task we felt was urgent, and of course everything was urgent! We did that for 5 years. Our goal was to build a customer base that would demand that I work the farm full time; our timetable for this was five years.

Five years is a really short time to build anything! We did have some advantages working in our favor. First, we did have a small, ready-made client base with our florists (5-7) from my previous flower farming days. The florists were thrilled to have local flowers back.

Second, we both came to our farm with substantial farming experiences. Both of us had run farms before and were well aware of “some” of the time and labor we would have to commit for our ambitious goal.

Then the farm itself came with a good amount infrastructure: a glass greenhouse, studio space, and a cooler space; even in horrific condition, it was not beyond repair. This allowed us to jump feet first into season extension with our earlier spring crops.

We worked seven days a week, missed some family events, and lost some friends. Our bodies ached, and our parents worried about us. No matter how hard we worked, we were never caught up or as on top of things as we wanted to be. Our postage stamp farm had weeds, a ton of them! Some dreams died in the flat and others were gourmet meals for the insects. Our florists purchased what flowers made it to them.

The first year at our farmers’ market we would say every week, “If we don’t make $300 we are not going back.” In that first year we would come home, count the cash box, and it was always $299! We knew our lives were not sustainable, but at the end of each year our accountant told us that our numbers were moving in the right direction. So we pushed forward toward our goal.

As I look back now on all we have done I’m clueless on how we got through it all but for the love of farming and the flowers. Someone once told me “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!” Somehow that stuck with me. We have built and created Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers to the point where I had to be here full time for us to continue to meet our demand.

What is different today from five years ago? Not much, and a whole lot! We still have weeds, but we have a larger client base and are serving 12-15 florists weekly. We have the opposite problem of not enough to meet the demand between florists and farmers’ markets. We have seen our florist sales significantly increase with the addition of the ASCFG Shopify program. Instead of driving a truck around hoping someone buys, we now cut flowers already sold. It also demonstrates to our customers that we are gearing up our business to help them buy more from us, and they are!

We still have some dreams die in the flat but not as many; it’s more like a flat was overlooked in the watering.

One of our goals was to take a day off of outdoor chores and have a scheduled office day. I used to really admire the “old timers” who use to tell me “Sunday is the Lord’s day!” or “Sunday is a day of rest!” So now we have “Sunday Family Fun Day!” Chores are done in the morning and finished by noon. The rest of the day is planned activities for our family. I found out just how amazingly invigorating the farm can be after even a few hours of away time!

Speaking of getting away, we have always had a winter vacation. We are beach people, so 2-3 weeks in our down time is almost perfect.
I realize in our farming practice that I’m always going to be “behind”; it’s the nature of the beast. It’s always too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot! For the most part I have stopped that anxious, non-productive, freak-out knot in my stomach about how behind we are and replaced it with “What is the next thing to check off the list?” I’m working from a proactive place rather than a feeling of drowning. The proactive approach works so much better for me, especially when I was stressing at three in the morning.

Flower farming is much like a marathon: you have a course, you have your own pace, and you have mental and physical obstacles to overcome. Some folks decide it’s not for them, but the success is in the showing up and trying. Others cross the finish line doing their personal best in their own time and terms.

If you’re a new grower thumbing through Instagram wondering why everyone has these amazing fields and you have a weed plot, remember social media platforms are where everyone puts their best foot forward! Crop failures and overgrown, dead plugs in a flat don’t make that cut, but believe me they exist even with the old-timers. Keep seeding! Get rid of your failures—they are psychologically debilitating to look at. Do the next thing on your list. Build your customer base, and grow what you love! The finish line is just around the corner.

Mimo Davis Duschack

Urban Buds City Grown Flowers

Mimo Davis Duschack Urban Buds City Grown Flowers Contact at [email protected]