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!

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weeds

2020 Flower Failure Report!

I don’t think I’ve ever documented my growing failures before, which is funny, because there have been A LOT of them. I think I’ve been embarrassed and I haven’t wanted my clients to think I’m sloppy or I don’t know what I’m doing. But when I think about it, I doubt my clients ever see the end result of these growing failures, since if I’m flowering a wedding or creating a custom bouquet I will do everything I need to – including purchasing wholesale flowers or from other farmers – to get them what I’ve promised. With that in mind, I’m hoping documenting this stuff will help other growers – especially beginners and people who are self-taught, like me – in their quest to get something – anything!- to grow.

So, in the interest of education for my fellow beginners/dilettantes it’s probably worthwhile to talk about what I f*cked up this year. It’s also in the interest of me, because documenting this stuff may be useful in the future and is a good exercise in reflection.

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Farm, flowers, and work work work work work work…2019 in review

2019, for me, was a year of work! Which is not a bad thing! If you’re doing work you love, you’re hardly working, am I right?

Maybe.

We built a studio! It has been so lovely to have heat in the winter and a/c in the summer. After living in this for 9 months it sure doesn’t look like this any more! I’ve managed to fill it up and already wish I had double the space. It’s a huge improvement over my shed!

This was a year of exponential growth here at Passalongs Farm. I almost tripled my wedding work. I more than tripled my growing area. I built a studio that had electricity, air conditioning and heat!!  I stopped doing farmers’ markets (mostly) but doubled the flowers I sold by the road. I hired people to help me! (That was a big step.) I put more money into my farm, but bought more product elsewhere. I started a reflowering project, where I re-made flowers from weddings into small bouquets for folks in local nursing homes. I went to two growers’ conferences. I worked. I worked a lot. I learned as much as I worked.

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Who knew? 2018 in review!

photo by Time Bandit Photography

Last night I was at a New Year’s Eve party with friends I hadn’t seen in person for a couple of years. We moved to Massachusetts in 2015, and so while most my North Carolina friends and I stay in touch via social media, many of them I usually only see once a year, if that.

Here’s the cool thing, y’all: every single one of them told me how beautiful my flowers were, how much pleasure they got out of seeing the bouquets, and many of them also said: WHO KNEW? Who knew you could do that? Who knew you had that business in you?

I didn’t. I hadn’t. But guess what? I did and I do!

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