Life at a Flower Farm
Meet the women behind the blooms at Petals Flower Co., Purple Hill Lavender Farm, Stonewell Farm, Broadside Flowers and Caledon Hills Peony Farm.
If, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Earth laughs in flowers,” then our corner of the planet is having quite the chuckle. Happy flower farms are sprouting throughout the hills, following the trail blazed by the slow food movement and inspiring us to buy local according to what’s in season and what grows in our backyard. The growers leading the way have in common a profound sense of place. The plants they grow bind them more deeply to land they already love – and express a floral version of terroir for those of us lucky enough to enjoy their blooms.
Some of the flower farmers have lived in these hills for years, others are more recent urban transplants. Many have one eye on the industry’s current patron saint, Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm in Washington State’s Skagit Valley. Benzakein has parlayed her love of gardening and the trend toward loose, informal arrangements that look (and are) freshly plucked from a perennial garden, into a mini-empire of educational workshops, books, half a million Instagram followers and, more recently, her own harvested seeds for sale online.
The floral entrepreneurs in Headwaters offer their wares at local farmers’ markets, work behind the scenes at weddings and in florist shops, and invite customers to buy blooms or rootstock at their farms. Three favour single species: lavender or peonies. Two are more catholic in their tastes, growing English-garden stars such as foxgloves, sweet peas and dahlias, as well as foraged farmland greens, such as raspberry, for a hint of the wild. As spring tentatively emerges, they are all stepping outside, spreadsheets and field plans in hand, to check their work and plant, weed, mulch and continue building their businesses literally from the ground up.