We are excited to announce our second annual Mother’s Day Open House. It will take place on Saturday, May 13 from 1-5 PM. Come tour our farm. Bring a picnic and enjoy the peace and beauty. We will have beautiful Mother’s Day Bouquets for sale and Merritt Chesson will be offering “Mother’s Day Mini” family photo sessions.
We love seeing what brides, grooms, and their friends and family create with our DIY flowers and foliage. We pick beautiful bunches of fresh, seasonal flowers and foliage imagining what unique creation the wedding party will make with our flowers.
Aspen and Jack’s late fall wedding featured the beautiful reds and purples of fall. Congratulations Aspen and Jack!
As we wrap up the we farming season for the winter, it is fun to look back on some of the highlights of the past year. One we never shared with you was our photo session with Bethany Cubino of Chasing Skies Photography.
Bethany is a talented wedding photography, and you can see her great work on her website. She took lots of great photos of us as a couple around the farm and house.
Bethany also got a few of us in with the flowers.
She also did a great job of capturing Frolic life:
And of course, no family photo shoot would be complete without some photos of Mr. Bingley!
Although you wouldn’t know it from our blog, it has been a very busy summer on the farm. We’ve grown more flowers than ever before and we have been planning and preparing for an even bigger season next year. Our heads are dancing with visions of sugar plums and deep loamy soil. Of course here in Hurdle Mills we only have red cement that passes for clay. But we’ve already started taking the steps that will transform our clay soil into sugar plums — or at least friable loamy clay — with time and love. The farm is still too wet to work in, but the sun is shining at last. While the soil dries out, here are some pictures of what we’ve been working on:
The most exciting projects we’ve been working on this year have been investments in soil health. We have started a heavy rotation of cover crops that will add organic matter to the soil and help break up the clay, making it more friable. We have also experimenting with no-till agricultural practices. Tilling “burns up” organic matter in the soil and destroys the soil organisms which build healthy soils and grow healthy plants. In order to make our no-till work, we are using “occultation,” a process of using tarps to create an environment that encourages decomposition. We learned about this method from Bare Mtn Farm in Oregon and from Jean-Martin Fortier in Quebec.
While we have been planning for next year, our flower business has been growing by leaves and blooms. Our DIY Buckets have been very popular this year. We have started offering buckets of foliage as well, which really makes the flowers stand out and is an economical way to make the flowers go further.
In addition to doing weddings and events, we do weekly arrangements for businesses. Here are a couple examples of our business arrangements. In addition, we are considering starting a flower CSA subscription program next year with pick up near downtown Hillsborough. Are you interested in getting weekly flowers for your business? Would you like to join the flower CSA? If so, please contact us.
Now you are up to date on the farm. While the soil dries out, we are trying to get as much done on the house as we can. Our goal is to get our rough-in inspection by the end of the month. What does that mean? Stay tuned for our next post, “What the heck have they been doing on the house?“
After transitioning onto our land in Hurdle Mills last year, this year we are focused on really improving how we grow flowers. How? Better handling, better cultivation, and happier farmers. Building our hoop house last winter really helped us meet our goal of improved germination. This spring we are focusing on three new projects: irrigation, landscape fabric mulch, and refrigeration.
Irrigation: This isn’t something we can easily capture in a photo, but having drip irrigation has made a huge difference. Last year, we grew flowers relying only on the rain. This year, with some assistance from George at L’il Farm, we are using drip irrigation. Although it is still only spring, we have already noticed a difference. Our plants are growing taller and faster, which makes sense. If plants, like us, are mostly water and they don’t have enough water, they will be small and not as healthy.
Landscape Fabric: We have a huge problem with yellow nutsedge on our farm. This perennial weed grows back faster than we could possibly pull it out, and we were feeling discouraged and desperate. We needed a solution that would allow us to spend less time weeding and more time growing and selling flowers and building our house.
We decided to use woven landscape fabric as a mulch. Using a form that we made, we used a propane torch to burn holes in this durable material. We transplant into the holes, which we still have to weed once or twice, but the transplants quickly shade out the small opening in the mulch. And unlike traditional agricultural plastic, landscape fabric can be reused for many years. The landscape fabric also warms the soil in the bed, and combined with our irrigation, we have found this benefit to greatly increase the speed our plants are growing. We will definitely be using landscape fabric as much as possible in the future.
And landscape fabric has increase our efficiency in another way, too: We found we weren’t planting at the density we thought we were. By standardizing our bed width and planting at the proper density, we have really increased the number of plants we can fit in each bed, meaning we need fewer beds for the same number of plants and greatly improving our efficiency.
Refrigeration: We have been told time and again that nothing will improve the quality of our flowers or our farm profitability as much as having a cooler. Having a cooler allows farmers to pick flowers at the perfect stage and store them for a couple of days until they can be sold, as opposed to picking them just before sale even if it isn’t the ideal stage of harvest. This reduces waste and improves quality.
With inspiration from our friends Lee and Dustin Pollard, who are opening a food truck and catering business called Lost Boys, we decided to buy a used commercial reach-in refrigerator. We found this fridge on Craigslist. It was in our budget and was a lot easier for us to deal with right now than such a big project as a walk-in. It will hold everything we need it to for the foreseeable future. After that, we expect we’ll be able to build the walk-in cooler that we will need, but while we’re building our house, it is simply too big of a project for us to take on.
We are so excited about everything we have going on here at Spring Forth Farm. Adding irrigation, landscape fabric, and a fridge will allow us to spend more time on other farm projects such as planting, harvesting, and soil improvement. With more flowers and more time, we can also increase our sales. We are excited to share that our flowers are now at Haven Salon in Hillsborough.
And we are slowly starting to work on one other project: Woody Perennials.
Buddleia. It is amazing how fast this plant is growing.
This Viburnum macrocephalum (Chinese snowball) will grow to be ten feet tall.
We know that offering a wide variety of perennials is one way we can set ourselves apart from other local farms. Adding these plants is a long-term project, but this year we were able to start with two, Chinese Snowball Viburnum (Viburnum macrocephalum) and four colors of Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii). Since we have such wide open spaces on the farm, we also hope that these woody shrubs will act as windbreaks, helping reduce the force of the wind on our flowers.
It has been a busy and eventful spring on the farm and we are excited about where all of these new projects can lead.
Winter approaches and we are excited: it is our first chance to plant trees since moving onto our land. One day we will have a fruit orchard and ornamental trees will grow around the farm but with the house project we’re starting small the year.
We planted three of one of our favorite trees, the native red maple. These trees flank entrances to the farm and we look forward to when we enter under the gateway of their branches.
With winter approaching our thoughts are also on next year’s flowers and next year’s weddings. We started preparing for our first wedding of next spring right after our last wedding of the fall.
Megan prepared our beds by mowing down this year’s flowers with our Gravely walk-behind tractor. The mower is very powerful and it easily took down the husks of the summer annuals. We planted some beds into cover crops and planted hardy annuals such as poppies, snapdragons, feverfew, and larkspur into others. They will grow strong roots over the winter for a profusion of spring blooms.
The farm may sleep through the winter but as we approach winter we are preparing for spring and for a lifetime on this land. Planting trees is an optimistic activity. We already dream of next spring’s blooms and future summer’s shade.
A new wedding venue is opening up in Cedar Grove, not far from Spring Forth Farm. Iron Horse Events is a beautiful site for a farm wedding, with barns, a pond, and a lovely old farm house. Iron Horse Events had an opening Open House this week, and we were delighted to do the flowers.
We started by making examples of bridal bouquets.
Bridal Bouquet (by Jonathan).
Our seasonal flowers included a variety of table arrangements in mason jars and several bud vases for small tables.
Spring Forth Farm table arrangement.
Bud vase-photo Spring Forth Farm
And of course, the farmers had a good time. (We made the corsage and boutonniere, one of our favorite things to do when we go out on a date as well as for brides and grooms.)
Thank you to Heba Salama Photography for the photo. (Heba and her husband also own Fig & Honey and they did an amazing job with the food. We can’t wait to go to their new restaurant.)
We are really looking forward to future opportunities to provide flowers for this amazing venue. If you are interested in Spring Forth Farm flowers for your wedding or other event, please contact us to reserve your date.