We feel like American grown flowers are the next big “thing” in the floral world. The more I have researched the cut flower industry the more I realize there is a place for small American growers like us in this giant floral industry. Locally grown flowers are catching on in many parts of the country, Utah is just a little behind the game. Even though great flowers are grown in Ecuador and Columbia they come at a cost. When flowers arrive in the U.S. they are already days old and bathed in fungicides and chemicals that are illegal to use here in the States. Scent and beauty are pushed to the side when breeding new cut flowers. Currently, one of the most important traits when breeding flowers is how well they ship in an airplane. Beauty and fragrance have been pushed to the side when breeding new flowers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we can produce excellent quality flowers here in the U.S. that are fresher and support our own local economies, then we should.
Last spring we waited and waited for flowers to start blooming, every day it seemed as though the garden was going to explode. For weeks the field was a sea of green when all we wanted was some color! Then everything bloomed at once. There were hundreds of snapdragons, bells of Ireland, and sweet peas bursting open. One day we had nothing and the next we were overloaded with flowers to sell. We picked, packed and drove samples around to florists in our area smiling ear to ear. However, it took awhile to create demand for our flowers. Before we had a chance to create an established market to sell our flowers the majority of them were already withering away. We gazed over our rows of gorgeous flowers dwindling away, wishing we had a better plan in place for them. We learned a valuable lesson, if you want to sell cut flowers you need to have a market ready and waiting for them. We really needed last year to learn how to sell cut flowers. There are very little resources available to the beginning small flower farmer. I have read many books, joined Facebook groups, and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers but this is still a relatively new industry that is being reborn in the United States. Not a lot of information is out there on how to start your own cut flower farm. My advise to beginning flower farmers would be to start small and don’t be afraid of failing a hundred times before you figure it out.
We started this business in the hopes that we would sell exclusively to florists in our area and then in later years we would transition to supplying a wholesaler who could distribute our product for us. I thought we would just grow flowers, load them in the car and sell them along a route each week. I imagined we would magically have 10 perfect stems bunched into neat little packages, and that we would load the car with hundreds, heck maybe thousands, of stems and sell out every week.
It turns out that selling flowers to florists is hard work. It is difficult to prove that you are reliable and will always deliver high quality material. Florists have a source of flowers 365 days a year from places with much more desirable climates than ours. The wholesalers provide a great service that is tough to compete with. They make deliveries multiple times every single day and they have a huge inventory of flowers all year round. We can only grow a handful of varieties each month, and during the winter we can’t really offer florists anything.
About half way into the summer we finally realized that if we were going to make this work we needed to find other outlets for our flowers besides florists. We started making bouquets and selling/ giving them away to family and friends. Neither of us had any experience arranging flowers, we just jumped in and learned because we had no other choice. We went to the rest homes/ assisted living centers and asked if they would be interested in buying flowers from us on a weekly basis for their dining room tables and to display in their lobby. Thankfully they all agreed to give it a try and we delivered flowers every Monday for the remainder of the season. We love hearing when our flowers have brightened the day of the residents and employees. This subscription service has been our saving grace because it provides a steady income and we can use whatever flowers are in season on our farm. We hope to expand this part of our business next year because we love it!
The old folks loved seeing our flowers and our little girl when we deliver them. In early October we had our second little girl and that marked the end of our season. When I returned a few weeks later to gather our vases at the rest homes I was surprised when residents from all three rest homes asked if we had our baby and how she was doing. I never thought they cared or payed that close of attention to us, but when we stopped bringing flowers they new that Brittany must have delivered the baby. They said they missed the flowers already and were looking forward to seeing the new baby and more flowers in the Spring. We appreciate the relationships we have made this year as a result of our little farm.
We hope to continue to explore new outlets for our flowers and determine what we want our business/ farm to look like in the future. New markets we hope to enter this year is selling to a floral wholesaler, selling grab and go bouquets to grocery stores, and providing full service wedding design. We still plan to sell flowers to florists, provide weekly bouquet deliveries to retirement homes and create floral arrangements for the general public. In the future we hope to chose 2-3 of these outlets to focus our efforts on.
If you look at our work from the beginning of the season and compare it to where we are now I am so proud of what we have accomplished. Our arrangements in the beginning were… less than desirable, but now I feel like we can create something that gets people excited about flowers. We love arranging bouquets that are not what you are used to seeing in floral shops. We want our style to be unique and for people to know where our bouquets come from when they see them. We want to re-introduce people to the many amazing varieties out there that can be utilized as cut flowers. Roses, carnations and mums are great flowers, but there are so many others that are not given the credit they deserve.
Here is a comparison of how our work has progressed over the past year. On the left is one of our first and on the right was one our last bouquets of the season.
We are excited to see what the new year has in store for our farm. We are already busy planting and planning for spring. Check back often for updates and to see where you can get your hands on some of our beautiful blooms.
Best wishes and thank you for your support,