dried flower wreath

Ch..ch…ch…changes! For 2023: moving to growing season (fresh) floral work only!

I’m writing this post spring, 2022 about a decision I’ve made for 2023 and probably beyond! It may seem early to make this announcement but a) I want to give folks fair warning, b) it applies to weddings I book for 2023, and they are booking already, and c) it’s been a couple years’ coming, so no time like the present!

The announcement is this: starting in January, 2023, I will only do fresh flower work during my growing season – so around the middle of April through Oct. 15 (or first frost.) I will do dried and pressed work throughout the year; I will have lots of winter holiday options involving evergreens and dried ephemera and seasonal goodness; but the floral work that involves using entirely imports will cease once we get through 2022. I also won’t be using bleached florals, foliage, or dried items in my designs. Not a change, but worth mentioning.

pressed flower collagesWhy? Because I need a break after the growing season is over? A little. Or maybe more than a little. But mostly because I hate the incredible waste that accompanies import flowers. In a couple of weeks I’m doing early season weddings and I’ll document what it looks like to use blooms grown on other continents (or even other parts of the US) to flower a wedding. It’s also really stressful to have to rely on supply chains, wholesaler issues, and vagaries of delivery when my heart really isn’t in it. I needed to make a decision: either fully commit to regular deliveries of imports (whether or not I had orders) or decide that no, I wasn’t going to do it anymore. So after the end of the year – not going to do it anymore!

I’ve been thinking about my values and how they relate to my business and a lot of what has to happen when providing flowers in the off-season don’t fit into that framework. Personally I hate waste. I hate packaging and trash and while I will still probably order imported roses for my wedding work it’ll be a relief to not *only* rely on imported flowers. It’s been interesting to learn about the global flower industry and retail floristry the past few years and while the convenience factor is high, I don’t know if the pros outweigh the cons.

In the winter and early spring I am not able to create the kinds of designs I like to create. Unless I charge a lot more money I can’t offer the variety of blooms and foliage that make my seasonal designs special, and I’m not super interested in charging a lot more money. And if I’m not offering a variety of blooms and foliage in my style, what’s the difference between me and another florist? These are the things I ask myself.

I’m also incredibly lucky in my business that I do not need to keep at the same sales volume all year long in order to make ends meet. I am remarkably priveleged in that way; no storefront rent, no fulltime employees, and 2 other part time businesses (!!) that limp along during my growing season but easily pick up the slack the rest of the year.

I will miss getting calls from people who are relieved to find a florist who delivers to the Hilltowns or to Huntington or to anywhere on a Sunday. Perhaps I will be able to convince them to send something else, instead? A pressed flower candle? Some forced bulbs in a pretty container? Dried flowers in a artisinal porcelain vase? A wreath? I guess we’ll see!

 

sunflowers

2020 in Review

2020 was weird. I’m going to assume that all of you have been going through it, too, so I won’t summarize the massive impact covid has had on all aspects our lives last year, but for my little farm it basically boils down to two main phases:

PHASE ONE of 2020: ALL IS LOST AND THIS IS GOING TO SUCK! The weddings got cancelled, changed, and moved, so I was certain that I would make no money in 2020. I started my farm in earnest 4 years ago and within 2 years it was clear that wedding florals would be the best way forward for me in terms of a sustainable business model. The year – 2020 – that I thought was going to be a break-out (meaning I’d make a decent salary and be able to invest in the final bit of infrastructure I needed) was sure to be a dud. The buzz in the flower farmer groups was that we were in for it and as nonessential workers everything would have to be shut down, no one would buy flowers, and for many farms this was the end of the road. There was a lot of scared talk, particularly from farms who had several employees and who were agro-tourism destinations.

AND

PHASE TWO: IT DIDN’T SUCK AFTER ALL. The community came out for me, I continued to grow, and while some of my income was gone from weddings, more of my income came by other means. In fact, financially things are ahead of last year (though probably not where I would have been) AND it was a great year for learning, thinking, growing, and connecting. And I got my infrastructure. I increased planting, I had a lot of failure (per usual)…and I had some really great help. I am very, very thankful that I am tiny, this year more than ever. I’m especially thankful that I don’t have big loans for land or equipment or space. The stress that I’ve had has been largely based on my own physical limitations and the need to respond to the changing market. If anything, my business has grown this year. So 2021 should be very interesting!

Continue reading “2020 in Review”

No floral foam for me! An environmental and sustainable guarantee.

Floral garland made with no foam. Photo by me.

I started in this business as a home gardener. For years before I owned Passalongs Farm or made a single wedding bouquet, I tended large perennial gardens, tried to grow veggies, and worked at a farmers’ market, where I fell in love with farmers and farm culture. Personally, I’ve always recycled, cooked from scratch as much as possible, and tried to reduce waste. I’m thrifty, environmentally conscious – oh, and happen to be partnered up with a husband whose business is energy efficiency in all forms. We are not as green as some, but greener than most.

When I started creating floral designs beyond simple bouquets I was astonished at the amount of waste there is in this business. An example: if I buy 24 roses at our local wholesaler, not only have those roses traveled from who knows where (Central America or Colombia, likely) and have been refrigerated for who knows how long (3 weeks?) but they come wrapped in lots and lots of packaging. 24 roses from the wholesaler are wrapped in layers of paper, cardboard, and finally plastic, then my wholesaler wraps all the flowers up in more paper or puts them back in their waxed shipping boxes.

Contrast that with flowers I buy from local farms: unwrapped, maybe with a rubber band holding them in bunches, transferred from their buckets to my buckets.

Contrast that with flowers I grow myself in my permaculture beds: I simply walk out my door and cut them. Yes, there were costs and fossil fuels and shipping involved, depending what it is I’m cutting, but there’s no packaging to throw away or recycle.

Continue reading “No floral foam for me! An environmental and sustainable guarantee.”