What the heck have they been doing on the farm?

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 farm and house.
The farm and house. This summer’s flowers are in the front with new fields for next year in the back.
Some of next spring's flowers growing in landscape fabric for weed control.
Some of next spring’s flowers growing in landscape fabric for weed control.

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.

We have been using cover crops to build our soil.
We have been using cover crops to build our soil.
Occultation is a techniques that uses tarps to speed decomposition and build soil.
Occultation is a techniques that uses tarps to speed decomposition and build soil.

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.

DIY foliage bucket.
DIY foliage bucket.
Fall DIY bucket
Fall DIY bucket
Fall DIY bucket
Fall DIY bucket
Four-bucket fall DIY wedding
Four-bucket fall DIY wedding

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.

Fall arrangement.
Fall arrangement.
Fall arrangement.
Fall arrangement.

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?

At the Iron Horse

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.

Our seasonal flowers included a variety of table arrangements in mason jars and several bud vases for small tables.

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.)

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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.

SFF flowers for sale Fri. April 25th

We are very excited that Spring Forth Farm will be setting up a flower stand at the Last Friday Art Walks in Hillsborough. The first one is this Friday, April 25th, starting at 6PM.

Buckets of Spring Forth Farm flowers ready for arranging for the Last Friday Art Walk in Hillsborough on April 25th.
Buckets of Spring Forth Farm flowers ready for arranging for the Last Friday Art Walk in Hillsborough on April 25th.

We grew up in Hillsborough and have many fond memories of attending Last Fridays, which started around the time we were in high school.

For our stand, we wanted something different and more interesting than just a table. We found this wheelbarrow, which we are turning into our flower stand.

We will load this with flowers for an old-fashioned flower stand look that we think will fit right into historic Hillsborough. Please come out, say hello, and take home a beautiful bouquet!

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.

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!