Planting a seed in the soil and believing that it will germinate, grow and develop into a fully-formed and resplendent flower is a revolutionary and fiercely courageous action in my humble flower-farming opinion. There truly are SO many things that could (and often do) go wrong. Too much rain. Too little rain. Freezing or soaring temperatures. Not enough compost. Too much compost. An incorrect balance of nutrients IN the compost even when you apply exactly the right amount. Wind. Insects that attack roots. Insects that attack stems. Insects that attack foliage. The wrong kind of bacteria or fungus on your plants. Lack of air circulation. Birds that peck your flowers out of the ground….you name it and I can guarantee hundreds of enterprising farmers across the world have valiantly attempted to nurture a plant through it.
The miracle of farming really is that we are as successful as we are as often as we are. It really is a testament to the knowledge, experience, persistence, patience and pure grit of farmers who have some of the most innovative and creative minds I have ever come across.
I have to step back here, just in case it sounds like I am boasting that I have one of the most innovative and creative minds. I did not grow up in a farming family. My mother is an artist, educator and art therapist. My father was a composer and musician. Creativity we have, but I will never be as enterprising and self-sufficient as some of my friends who have been farming for a lifetime. I consider myself a humble flower farmer. Now in my fifth year of growing, I feel like I have made it to the third grade in the flower farming world. Long enough that I am painfully aware how much I do not know, and still enough in love with the flowers that I continue to press seeds into soil and plant new life with great hope year after year in spite of the odds.
This flower season has been cold and exceptionally wet. Now that the sun has finally started appearing on a regular basis my flowers are being chewed to death by insects loving the warm, moist weather. Most days I head to the field with a list of things I want to accomplish and leave having spent most of my time battling insects to just try to keep my babies alive. After months of nurturing and tending, it can be a little discouraging to have so much turning into insect fodder.
The one thing that makes it all worth it is the joy and connection that the flowers that do make it bring to my community. The edible flowers that a local confectioner turned into sweet lollipops and biscuits. The stray strawflowers that I had on my farmers’ market table that I gave to two curious little girls who delighted in their texture and bright colours. The joy on my dear friend Hope’s face as she married her love a couple of weeks ago holding a bouquet I had made.
When you purchase a bouquet of local flowers to take home with you this summer, in addition to taking pleasure in its colours, textures and perfume, maybe take a moment to celebrate all the hope that each of the blooms that was carefully nurtured, harvested and arranged in it represents. Hope for the future of agriculture. Hope for our continued and deepening relationship with the natural world. Hope that future generations will also have the bounty of interacting with nature. Hope that we hold onto the awe and pure-hearted playfulness and joy that we have as children into and through adulthood. Hope for the promise of another bountiful season to unfold in the coming weeks and months.
Have a great weekend, friends!