Cassandra Zetta/Farm & Ranch LivingDuring this time of year, Morning Sun Flower Farm bursts with colors and fragrances. Sweet peas, tulips, daffodils and poppies in vibrant reds, pinks and yellows fill our fields.
I convinced my husband, Josh, to start this farm with me in 2015, after I attended a workshop led by farmer-florist Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm in Washington. That workshop changed everything.
Courtesy Josh Francis/Farm & Ranch LivingAlthough I didn’t grow up on a farm, I did work on a daylily farm for five years, and I went to school for landscape horticulture. I also love flowers—it’s a trait I got from my mom, Alice Stone Francis.
When I was a kid, Mom made floral wreaths from flowers my grandpa would grow just for her. She sold them at craft fairs, but she never took her talents any further.
Sarah Van Frank/Farm & Ranch LivingWhen I grew up, I decided to start a small floral arrangement business out of a little greenhouse Mom had. Then in 2005, I asked Mom to help me with the designs for a wedding. Our first collaboration was a major success, and the demand for our work grew rapidly. We joined forces as business partners, opening Two Little Buds floral design studio.
Courtesy Mindy Francis/Farm & Ranch LivingWe grew what flowers we could, during the winter months sourcing blooms from California and even around the world. But eventually, our greenhouse became crowded. Hearing Erin talk about Floret Farm inspired me, and less than a year later, we cut our very first perfect organic anemones from our own blossoming flower fields.
Morning Sun Flower Farm, our floral oasis, has afforded us the space to grow in so many ways. Our land, roughly 50 miles from Cincinnati, is adjacent to Hueston Woods State Park—3,000 acres of woods, trails, campgrounds and a reservoir. It’s a picturesque rural location that speaks to the passion and respect for natural beauty that I get from Mom.
Josh works off the farm during the day, jumping into his farmer role in the evenings. My whole family helps around the farm, planting flowers in the spring and weeding, mowing and irrigating during the summer. We have almost 2 acres in flower production. The rest of the property we lease to other farmers who raise soybeans and corn. Josh and I are learning as we go.
(You need to visit these dreamy lavender farms at least once.)
Sarah Van Frank/Farm & Ranch LivingHaving fields of fresh flowers at our fingertips allows us to be much more creative in our floral designs, and we enjoy showing the beauty that each season has to offer.
Stunning sunflowers, larkspur, delphiniums, bachelor’s buttons, snapdragons and dahlias dot the farm in the summer.
When autumn comes, the sweet aromatic smell of English lavender fills the air, evoking a sense of calm and tranquility.
Sarah Van Frank/Farm & Ranch LivingOther flowers like scabiosas and zinnias add vivid orange and purple hues to the landscape. Our hoop house is home to pretty anemones and ranunculuses, and we plan to build a second hoop house as well as expand our flower fields.
During the winter, we regroup and let the land rest. This is the perfect time to plot and plan for the next spring. Since folks don’t stop having events just because the snow flies, during this time we source flowers from elsewhere.
Sarah Van Frank/Farm & Ranch LivingThroughout the growing season, we host on-the-farm workshops where participants make memories while learning about flower farming and floral arranging. During classes, guests tour the flower fields, learn to arrange their own bouquets and enjoy dinner, drinks, and music.
We have also launched a floral CSA program. Locals can buy a share in our farm in either six- or 12-week increments. Starting in mid-April, we select and arrange a weekly bouquet straight from our fields. This program has been fruitful and helps our farm grow. We are excited to see what blooms next for us.
Next, read the story of another powerful woman that runs a flower farm.