Greetings from Maine!
Whew! We are off to a fast start here on the farm after successfully wintering anemones and ranunculus in a greenhouse without heat during the coldest months. We’ve never had such a lovely lead-in to our selling season, and I love how it feels having high-quality local flowers starting in April.
For those of you who didn’t hear me talk about that experiment on Facebook Live back in May, we covered the anemone and ranunculus plants with ground cloth, just to shut out the weeds, starting at the end of June. We forced dormancy by discontinuing water and left them alone in that double poly greenhouse without heat until after the second blizzard of March. Then we heated to 40F and basically started our anemone season a month earlier on the prior year’s corms. We did suffer some rodent damage, especially on the ranunculus, but overall it was a success! We also wintered some mums in the same greenhouse and are excited to reap those benefits come October. Stay tuned!
Another exciting development this year is that we are concentrating more of our attention on sales to designers, and I am doing a bit more delivering to design studios in the area. I have committed to a delivery route on Thursdays and keeping my availability lists up to date. The drive has given me a bit more reflective time during my week, and I like musing about the work we do as flower farmers, and how it evolves.
I have been thinking about how when I started taking flowers seriously here on the farm I was kind of a singer/songwriter of flowers (not an actual singer/songwriter, of course, I have no musical talent whatsoever). I loved the excitement of creating and expressing exactly what I wanted with the materials at my fingertips for a small and supportive audience. I had full creative control and some flexibility in timing. The stakes were fairly low and the rewards felt high. I named my business after myself because I was indeed the business, and the spotlight was always on me and my flowers.
As my business has grown and we produce a much larger volume of flowers, and work larger events, the stakes feel much higher. As I add employees, I see and feel the weight of responsibility to produce enough stems and arrangements, to pay wages, and work to keep spirits and morale high. I see this phase of my work in the flower fields as a composer and/or a conductor. I must keep our flowers appealing to a wider and wider audience to support the farm. I am doing more unseen work, and my fingers are farther removed from the instruments, er, the plants and the stems. I surround myself with skilled folks who can do some jobs I don’t excel at, and they can perform some of the jobs I do excel at, but they bring their own style and voice to the ensemble.
What appeals to me as a composer is the intellectual puzzle of planning our concert of crops and the satisfaction of seeing our lists and spreadsheets and scrawled notes actually translate to plants and buds and petals and deliveries and cash flow. The thing I didn’t anticipate appreciating about this evolving business and my evolving role was how much I enjoy working with my crew. I love being surrounded with floral musicians, and I love the music we make. Sometimes it’s noisy, and sometimes it’s mellow, but we always create something more interesting than I could have imagined.
I hope plants are growing well for you all on your farms. Part of the purpose of this metaphor is also to recognize that flower farms work well on different scales, and bigger and more complex isn’t always better or the goal. I hope to see you in Raleigh! I’ll be there talking about textures to grow for dynamic design work.