1st Market: Success!

Here are some photos from our first market selling Spring Forth Farm flowers at a market on the UNC campus. The market was a huge success, and we sold every bouquet and every tulip we brought!

Next week, on April 25th, we will be setting up our flower stand from 6PM-9PM at the Last Friday Art Walk in downtown Hillsborough.

Spring Forth Farm flower stand at FLO/CDS spring 2014 market at UNC.
Spring Forth Farm flower stand at FLO/CDS spring 2014 market at UNC. 

We started with a full stand.

Spring Forth Farm bouquets for sale at the 2014 FLO/CDS spring market at UNC.
Spring Forth Farm bouquets for sale.
Tulips.
Tulips.
Selling a bouquet at the 2014 FLO/CDS market at UNC. Photo by Thomas Fisher.
Selling a bouquet at the 2014 FLO/CDS market at UNC. Photo by Thomas Fisher.
Our bouquets and tulips were a big hit with students and faculty.
Jonathan talking to a customer. Photo by Thomas Fisher.
Jonathan talking to a customer. Photo by Thomas Fisher.
A Spring Forth Farm bouquet.
A Spring Forth Farm bouquet.
Our poppies were a big hit. These are Icelandic poppies “Red Sails.”
Spring Forth Farm poppies.
Spring Forth Farm poppies.
We sold out! At the end, we had only three unopened tulips left, but they too were snapped up before the market ended, a perfect end-of-semester and Easter gift for mom.
Almost sold out: Only three tulip buds left in the bucket.
Almost sold out: Only three tulip buds left in the bucket.

Don’t miss the next chance to buy Spring Forth Farm’s seasonal flowers, April 25th at the Last Friday Art Walk in downtown Hillsborough starting at 6PM.

First chance to buy SFF flowers!

Spring Forth Farm will join several other local farms at a market hosted by UNC students at The Pit on Thursday, April 17 from 10AM-2PM.

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French tulips and Icelandic poppies “Red Sails.”

We will have beautiful spring bouquets featuring our French tulips and poppies. Here they are in buckets, safe from the rain, wind, and frost this cold April week. Come pick up a piece of spring sunshine. For more information, visit the event on Facebook.

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A bucket of French tulips for the FLO/CDS farmers market at UNC on 4/17 from 10AM-2PM.

Building Our 1st Home

Finally we’re ready to move onto our land! We spent the last three months completely renovating a 1969 Frolic pull-behind camper. It is just under 80 square feet of home, and we’ll be living in it for the next couple years while we build our house. We spent last weekend “camping out” on the land taking care of some prep work before we move out there forever next week. It was a wonderful and exciting experience to see the sun set, worry about the wind blowing too strongly, and laugh at Mr. Bingley lounging in the sun. The Frolic was our first building project together, and we transformed it completely. Here is a brief chronicle of what we did and of our new home. Enjoy the slideshow.

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A New Plan

Things don’t always go the way you’d planned.

This year, we applied to four area farmers markets, confident that we’d at least get into one. We didn’t. Perhaps it was an unusually competitive year? Hard to say.  Our day jobs stopped us from applying to a mid-week market. Maybe that did us in? Whatever the reason, this new information has left us scrambling to find outlets for our beautiful flowers this 2014 season.

Hoop-house starts
Hoop-house starts
Flower starts are tiny
Flower starts are tiny

We need to have at least two days a week we’re selling flowers, so we’re considering all our possibilities. Farmers markets we may have overlooked? Increasing our marketing for wedding flowers? Reaching out big-time to area businesses for weekly bouquet deliveries and calling every florist in the phone book? A roadside stand? Some sort of CSA? We are still figuring out what the future holds, but as soon as we know where we’ll be this season, we’ll post it here.

Broad-forking bed
Broad-forking bed
Bed of over-wintered flowers
Bed of over-wintered flowers

In the meantime, we’re looking on the bright side. We were each embarrassed to be the first to admit it, but we both felt just the tiniest bit of relief: This will be a busy year for us as we build our house, and maybe God is looking out for us by reducing some weekly pressure on the farm so we can focus more attention on construction and learning to grow our flowers well.  Our investment in alternative marketing strategies this year may pay off down the road in ways we can’t yet see.  After all, what’s the rush?  I would rather grow well and grow into our business slowly.

A few things we know for sure:

  • We are busily preparing for a successful 2014 season. (Megan will be starting hundreds of flower plants this week.)
  • We will have beautiful flowers for sale this spring. Our tulips are coming up and the poppies, bachelors buttons, and larkspur are getting bigger.
  • We will be persistent in applying to markets again next year.
  • And growing flowers and creating bouquets brings us JOY!!
Over-wintered bachelors buttons
Over-wintered bachelors buttons

Farmers never know what their season will hold. We are open to each new possibility and the different challenges it brings.  Farmers must be flexible.  A life lesson there, perhaps?  I think so.

Stay Tuned!

Updated Website and a New Collaboration

One of the projects we’ve been working on this winter is updating our website with information about our wedding flower services and incorporating our logo into the website. We love how the logo looks juxtaposed with the colorful flower images.

Please take a look at the wedding services Spring Forth Farm offers and look at the General and DIY wedding FAQ pages to answer any questions you have. We really appreciate your sharing our farm website with any friends or family planning a wedding or event in this area.

Spring Forth Farmers. (Photo by Thomas Fisher.)
Spring Forth Farmers. (Photo by Thomas Fisher.)

Our friend Thomas Fisher approached us a couple weeks ago about taking pictures of us starting Spring Forth Farm for a portfolio project he’s working on. Tom is a talented photographer and we are honored that he asked us and excited to see the moments he captures. A couple days ago, we had to take care of some things on the new land, so we invited him out to see the property. Here are a few photos from his first visit.

We had a very helpful meeting with our USDA agent. (Photo by Thomas Fisher.)
We had a very helpful meeting with our USDA agent. (Photo by Thomas Fisher.)
Right now, the land is like a blank canvas. The views are all earth and possibility. (Photo by Thomas Fisher.)
Right now, the land is like a blank canvas. The views are all earth and possibility. (Photo by Thomas Fisher.)
Still cleaning out hay from the barn. It is a great resource, but harvesting it is a lot of work. (Photo by Thomas Fisher.)
Still cleaning out hay from the barn. It is a great resource, but harvesting it is a lot of work. (Photo by Thomas Fisher.)

Winter’s Work

We’ve been pretty quiet on our Spring Forth Farm blog for the last couple months. But even though it’s been winter, we’ve been pretty busy preparing for the spring season and getting ready to move onto our land next month. What have we been working on?

Our Logo: Spring Forth Farm LogoWe’ve been working with our friend Amy Anselmo over the winter to design a logo for Spring Forth Farm. Amy makes beautiful hand-carved stamps (you can see some of her work at the Threshold Collaborative), and we knew her style would capture the elegance and energy of Spring Forth Farm’s bouquets. We are happy the logo features a tuberose, one of our favorite flowers (and one of the first flowers we grew together for our wedding).

Seeding: Many of our flowers bloom best with a period of cold called “vernalization.” We’ve had two beds of seedlings under row cover all winter. We’ve been a little worried with this year’s record cold, but like all first-time parents, we seem to be a little over-anxious: The seedlings look happier than ever. Last week, Megan started a dozen more varieties of flowers in trays, including snapdragons, dill, and, because we’re always experimenting with something, flowering kale.

House Plans: One thing we’ve really focused on this winter has been reading books on house design (A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander was our favorite). We made a list of the things we want in a house (not too big, open floor plan, a big porch, passive-solar heating design). We love our house in Hillsborough, but for some reason we found we couldn’t work on our plans at home — too many distractions. Instead, we needed to go somewhere where we could focus. Fortunately for us, we could walk to the perfect place. Most of our design work was done at the Mystery Brewing’s Public House – our favorite local brewery, where delicious drinks and a relaxed atmosphere proved the perfect place to work. Now we’re working with Jeff Gannon and Molly Luby of Green Door Design/Build, who are helping us perfect the design and drawing the plans.

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The Frolic, under construction.

The Frolic: But most of our time, nearly every free hour, has been spent rebuilding our 1969 Frolic camper. We’ve stripped and gutted the inside, installed a double bed, laid toungue-in-groove pine floors, and are working on the kitchenette and dining area. These 80 square feet will be our home for the next few years while we build our house. Look for photos and the complete story in a future post (once we’ve finished it).

These are main things we’ve been working on recently. It’s been keeping us busy here at Spring Forth Farm, but in farming a busy winter helps lead to a good spring, and we’re really looking forward to this, the first spring flowers at Spring Forth Farm.

Frolic!

We’ve started putting sweat into our new land, working to transform it into home. We had our first work day, beginning to clean out and empty our barn, which was full of loose hay. We’ve started making a big pile out of the hay we can salvage for mulch, and taking rotten pallets and plastic to take to the dump. Mr. Bingley calmly surveyed the scene from a sunny spot in front of the barn.

As we’ve been getting ready to build our house, we’ve both been reading the book Mortgage Free by Rob Roy, which talks about strategies for building your home debt free. (Our goal is to build our house as we save without taking on any more debt.) In the book, Roy talks about “temporary shelter,” an inexpensive place to live while you’re building. We’re going to use this strategy to save money and help us build our house more quickly.

For our temporary shelter, we found a 1969 “Frolic” camper, approximately 80 square feet with a sink, stove top, and tiny water closet. It needs some TLC , but it otherwise is in excellent condition. For now, we backed the Frolic into the newly hay-free wing of the barn, which will soon become our front stoop.

The Frolic arrives at Spring Forth Farm.
The Frolic arrives at Spring Forth Farm.
The Frolic tucked into its new home.
The Frolic tucked into its new home.

Once the Frolic was in place, Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, the vicar of The Episcopal Church of the Advocate, helped to make the property home by leading a small land and home blessing ceremony with our family and a few friends. We prayed for guidance in how we use the gift of our land and the ability to extend the gift of hospitality in the future.

We plan on moving onto our land this Spring, and we have a lot to do before then. We have to get the land surveyed, drill a well, and do a little remodeling on our Frolic and repair some water damage. We’re going to build a farm office which will be a place to arrange flowers, do farm work, and act as a living room while we are building our home over the next few years. We’re excited about the process of growing our farm, building our house, and making our home in this beautiful place.