Farm Blog

Thank you again for braving the blizzard to celebrate, connect with great food, and 'planting an orchard'! Just imagine all those future cherry trees (don't forget to squat:-).
I am so uplifted from all the good vibes, intentions, laughter and seeds shared and planted.

We were able to raise $850.00 in funds! This will go a long way, thank you! Additionally, with all the seeds donated today and from what I've gleaned from others, The women growers in the Sine-Saloum region will be able to plant out a couple hundred row feet/farm. In the past we've planted shared 'demonstration beds' ie since many of the farmers share space/land to grow on we've constructed seeds beds to trial different varieties, plant insectory herbs and flowers and share techniques. From there seeds are harvested and shared forward amongst the individual farmers. So in essence your generosity helped plant teaching/learning/eating/

sharing beds of veggie, herb, and flower goodness!

I will honor my commitment and extend the immense gratitude, generosity that was shared during the workshop with the women farmers in the following ways:

Work with NCBA CLUSA Farmer to Farmer Program to transfer funds and mail seeds.
I'll also email and share highlights, photos forward later this week in celebration of our workshop success.

I am tentatively set to travel there Nov/Dec. or January in 2016.

I also finally remembered the name of third grower group, JUBO (means widespread). If you're interested in learning more about how they got started, here's a link to an interview I did as part of my last Farmer to Farmer adventure in Senegal.

I Will keep you in the loop as the project evolves and thanks again for sharing your generous spirit!

For the chocolate lovers:
Becky Otte, who made the amazing truffles, has more of her chocolate goodness to share and is selling some of her creations just in time for Valentines. if you're interested send her an email:

Also Here is a link to Roots Chocolate website.

For the Fruit Lovers:

I've enclosed a handout of some of the different fruits we grow at our farm as well as a flyer highlighting this season's events at the farm! We'd love to have you venture out and tour the orchard, come visit us (though not nearly as cool as the orchard poses we did during the workshop).

Thank you again for helping me transition from being a butterfly weed seed (ie wind pollinated, not knowing where or how my intentions, projects might stick) to more of an oak or cashew seeds - wherein I can deepen my awareness, provide support in the same place(s) in Senegal for the growers and in my backyard in Wisconsin:-). Here's to planting the seeds of the as yet to be imagined on and off the yoga mat! Wishing you all much abundance.

Happy Mid-winter!

Yours in hardy kiwi,

PS If you are into exploring the planting side as well as enjoying more local fruit creations, we'll be hosting a Local Fruit Tasting May 16, details on our website.


What does it mean to be a Farmer Florist?

While I was vending at the Reedsburg Food Fair this past March, a Heather Stanek, a fair-goers asked me, “What does it mean to be a farmer florist?” I've been ruminating on the question since. Meanwhile, the daffodils carpet the earth in sunshine, the apricot blooms burst in our orchard (please no 'ice days of May), and the peonies poke through the soil, giving me a nudge to wake up to the question and give it the attention it deserves.

A flower farmer: one who both grows flowers and designs with flowers with love and care from field to vase. Since I love doing both adding flowers to the farm flow is a natural fit.

The grower in me loves to continually learn with the ecological web of the farm—to enter into a humble collaboration with the 'humusphere' so I can grow and design a bit of beauty and balance into the day. I take my cues from Mother Nature and my Mother – both have instilled and inspired in me a love of growing flowers and my mother helping me with making bouquets.

As a farmer florist, I get a workout bench pressing bouquets. Photo by Mary Jo Borchardt

As a farmer florist, I get a workout bench pressing bouquets. Photo by Mary Jo Borchardt

I also love 'stacking functions' on the farm and flowers play a significant role in this strategy. Flowers serve as food purveyors for our pollinator friends and honeybees (i.e. grains notwitstanding, no flowers=no food), their perfumes and influroesence can attract beneficial insects and some species' blooms repel pests. They also add to our quality of life—who doesn't enjoy a bit of color on the landscape and ephemeral mojo in the form of a bouquet.

My grower workday begins early morning, and I wander the fields, coffee and camera in tote (the morning light on the fields is just magic—whatever the season), taking notes for what to prioritize for the day. Of the 200,000 plus species of flower plants in the world, I get to winnow down and learn what blooms work for our soil and farm systems. This starts with walking the land and reading the landscape. Whether it is prepping beds for a succession of zinnias, gomphrena, or celosia, setting up irrigation for watering, ordering liaisanthus plugs, weeding the flush of purslane in the delphiniums, I run a mental inventory of what to do and what to pick, when. After breakfast and just as the morning dew lifts, it's back to the fields to harvest flowers for bouquets to design later in the day for tomorrow's CSA delivery (flowers need some 'chilling out' time in the shade or cooler before making bouquets).

Nature is never static, and being a grower means I can anticipate and manage the flowers' life cycle before it leaves the field. To me this is a huge advantage for the farmer florist. Timing, especially with flowers, is of the essence. Once you pick a stem the bloom is on its way to decay. The key is to observe, take notes, and experiment with when the best time is for harvesting flowers. Some blooms, such as peonies, can be prolonged when you pick them at the 'marshmallow' phase (ie the bloom isn't open, but is soft like a marshmallow), others such as lilies will open over time, while others such as dahlias are fussier and my work as a grower is to anticipate how long the flowers will last. From here, I shift into design mode. Since I know when flowers were picked and at what stage, I can create a bouquet that continuously opens, shifts, and transforms in your vase. Marketing directly to my end customers, means, I can interact and pass along tips for them to extend the vase life, without the use of flower food or foam. For tips, visit our flower page on our website.

Being a farmer florist offers creative outlets. As with seasonal eating, the menu of blossom beauty constantly changes and is prone to the peaks and valleys of Wisconsin's growing season. I am grateful for the creative challenges that flowers have offered me when it comes to bouquet design for weddings and our flower csa program. Bouquet making is my Zen space, I lose track of time, I am completely present with the flowers, the movements, the placement of stems in space, the colors, the task at hand.

In the bouquet making zen space with my mother in preparation for wedding bouquets. Photo by Rob McClure

In the bouquet making zen space with my mother in preparation for wedding bouquets. Photo by Rob McClure

Each time I fill an order from field to vase—whether it is a single table bouquet, a bucket of blooms, or a full service wedding, it is with great satisfaction, completion and joy. I have just worked with the seasons to grow, harvest, and design a piece of peak expression that never again will be cut, designed, and presented in the exact way. As wedding clients, CSA customers, or wandering admirers of floral beauty—you get to take home a one of a kind floral feast that luminates your senses, compliments your celebration and softens/brightens your day.

As a farmer florist, I have a chance to honor what is—to let go of expectations, and allow for a bit of free form to balance with what I know works as a grower and designer. For example, there are ~25 cut flowers I have grown over the years that I know will not only withstand whatever the weather brings, but will also hold up in a bouquet for at least 7- 10 days. At the same time the florist and designer in me, knows how to balance the right mix of focal, texture, and filler in a bouquet. As a farmer florist I welcome the chance to experiment and play with what shows up in the fields and be humbled by what I might have expected compared to what I actually have to work with. In short, being a Farmer Florist is an expression of my love for the Earth and the opportunity to share this love with others.

Laying down in a flower mandala at the end of a long design day. Photo by Rob McClure

Laying down in a flower mandala at the end of a long design day. Photo by Rob McClure

I look forward to growing for you this season and invite you to come play with flowers at the farm as part of our Field to Vase Worskhop. - Erin