Best of America

What It’s Like to Run a Flower Farm (It’s as Amazing as It Sounds)

At Rooted Flower Farm, Rebecca Sadlowski is tied to the sense of community and a connection with nature.

The-Lifestyle-of-Running-a-Flower-FarmCountry WomanWith the seed of caring for nature sown within me, I took root at my family farm at a young age. It was a process to be expected—my roots here go deep, to my great-grandfather Anthony Sadlowski, who bought this 42-acre farm in 1942 with his wife, Julia.

Under my great-grandparents’ care, the Sadlowski Farm raised livestock and vegetables, as well as tobacco for a cash crop. Two generations later, my father, Jeff, still grows tobacco and asparagus through the multigenerational efforts of the whole Sadlowski family. But along with the barns, corncrib and greenhouses that stick out among the tall, broad tobacco leaves and vertical asparagus spears, rows and rows of colorful ranunculus and lilac blooms clamor for attention at this time of year, while zinnias and sunflowers get their spring start nearby.

Sadlowski Farm—or part of it, anyway—has become Rooted Flower Farm, where we grow floral bouquets and sell them though a Community Supported Agriculture model. But even the roots of this venture stretch deep.

As a little girl, I couldn’t be stopped from running barefoot over to Grammy’s or my babci’s (great-grandmother’s) houses to see what was cooking. I’m rooted to this lifestyle and the sense of community that comes with it.

I’m rooted to the smell of the dirt and the possibility of nature. Some of my earliest memories are of sowing seeds in the greenhouse while my father prepared the garden. It wasn’t long after I lost the training wheels on my bike that he started planting corn for my sister and me to pick and sell by the roadside. I tried to convince her that we could use the money to buy more seeds, but she settled with taking the cash instead.

In middle and high school, I carved my own path on the family farm by growing a variety of fresh vegetables. After completing college, the love of growing and selling through my farm stand expanded along with its offerings.

The-Lifestyle-of-Running-a-Flower-FarmCountry WomanRooted Flower began as one row of flowers to supplement the vegetables at my stand. One row was followed by two, then three rows and so on over the years as I developed a love for flowers that continues to flourish. Try these tips to make your flowers last longer.

The people visiting our farm stand got my gears turning about flowers. They wanted locally grown blooms, but few knew a farmer who would grow specialty flowers and sell them directly to her customers. (According to industry advocates, nearly 80 percent of the U.S. flower market is imported, with little attention given to growing practices.)

The-Lifestyle-of-Running-a-Flower-FarmCountry WomanDriven by my love for the land, I knew I had found my niche and wanted to support the budding local-flower renaissance by becoming a source in my area for sustainably grown cut flowers. This led to the CSA model, and Rooted Flower Farm was born. I went from growing acres of vegetables to specializing in just under a half-acre of cut flowers.

In our CSA, members pay at the onset of the season for a share of the flowers we will grow. I harvest flowers at their peak time and then carefully select and craft them into beautiful, colorful bouquets that members pick up every week at the farm. Their investment helps to purchase seed and supplies, repair farm equipment and improve the farm’s infrastructure. In return, shareholders receive the freshest blooms possible, many of which are heirloom varieties that, due to their inability to ship well, are not found in stores. My CSA customers also gain an education about what is truly in season for our climate and region.

Rooted Flower Farm is a tribute to those who came before me and those who are with me as I continue to grow. It is my first love. As I harvest this season’s beauties, I think about the seed that sprouted in me all those years ago, and I love to share the cuttings from those roots.

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