weddings, part 2

Dear Readers,

This Saturday, we're trying an experiment: we invite you to Pick-Your-Own larkspur in our flower fields! Register here. Bring your families. Kids get to come for free!

Now: weddings. Last year, we got a lot of good feedback about our process from brides and grooms. The only big complaint was that couples wanted to visit the farm, not just select their flowers from our emailed availability list. 

So, we created our Queen Bee option, where folks visit the farm for a tour before selecting their wedding flowers. Meg and Max were the first couple to test it out, just a few weeks ago.

I loved showing Meg and her group the flowers that they could use for the wedding. It's really cool to point things out and get big reactions like, "That eucalyptus will be PERFECT in my bridal bouquet!" I feel really proud of the farm when I see it through visitors' eyes. 

I've found that making sure expectations are clear and fully communicated is the secret sauce to a successful farm tour. In fact, that's a good business practice in general. I tell brides and grooms that they won't see everything on the farm, but they will get a good idea of what the flowers look like so they can start envisioning their designs.

I know I'm on the right track when I see photos like this. What gorgeous, bountiful bouquets! I absolutely love them, don't you???

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I wish you a summer garden salad.

Laura Beth

wish in a well

Dear Readers,

Thousands of small objects take on greater significance for a wedding. I wore my mom's garnet earrings, which I had admired since I was little. Jascha's tailor embroidered our names on the inside of his jacket. My bouquet featured the reddest dahlias we grow; for me, they represented joy and abundance.

This is one of our brides from last June:

I used to think objects like rings and cakes and, yes, flowers, were a silly, unnecessary wedding frivolity. But being witness to more weddings, and having one myself, opened my eyes to the real importance of objects...

They ground us in the real world. Without objects, a wedding would be too dreamlike, too abstract. It would float by too quickly, and we would have nothing to hold on to.

 

Objects at a wedding are like pennies in a wishing well. You can just barely see them through sparkling water, but seeing them makes the wishing more real. 

It's like a hot mug of coffee on a Sunday morning. You don't really need the coffee to know it's Sunday, but it sure feels right and good, and as you sip, you sigh: ahhhh, it's Sunday!

Flowers are like coffee on a Sunday or pennies in a well. They clarify the day, they tether it to reality. THIS is why I love doing weddings.

 

My favorite photo shows what I mean. See how she holds the flowers in her lap? Pennies!

I wish you all a wish in a well.

Laura Beth

an early spring

Dear Readers,

High Tunnel Dorothy and High Tunnel Mr. Bill were worth every penny. Because of them, we had plenty of flowers for Mother's Day- for the first time ever!

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Stock is the only cut flower in the broccoli family. It has a delicious spicy scent that wafts through the air as far as 25 feet from High Tunnel Mr. Bill, where we planted it back in February. Each plant only yields one glorious flower.

The ranunculus crop bloomed at just the right time. We sold out completely!

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The next few weeks will be tricky- we were expecting to have these lovely flowers just blooming now, but they came early due to a warm spring. That was big bonus for our Mother's Day sales, but it means our availability list will be a little slim the next few weeks. Thankfully larkspur and nigella are just about to pop!

The farm is beautiful- bunny rabbits hopping, birds a-singing, and everything smells of spring. Come and visit us! Bouquet Saturday is a fun, easy way to tour the farm and take some flowers home. 

I wish you all a mojito with fresh garden mint.

Laura Beth

favorite flower

Dear Readers,

Sometimes people ask what my favorite flower is.

Right now, it's glorious, luscious, silky ranunculus. I've dreamt of growing it since it was featured in my sister's bridal bouquet 4 years ago (see the flowers with a zillion folds below)...

And with the help of High Tunnel Dorothy, I am now gleefully harvesting hundreds of ranunculus every day. "La Belle Chocolate" featured here:

Ranunculus takes patience. We planted ours December 13th, and got our first blooms in early April. All winter, we opened and closed the high tunnel sides so the temperature would be just right. We put frost blankets on them when it was very cold and watered them when hot.

Here's "Amandine Blue Jean:"

So far, we've only got pictures of them in bud stage; we harvest them then so they'll last a long time for our florists. Here's "Amandine Cream:"

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I told myself I'd be real farmer when I could grow ranunculus. Guess I've made it! 

"La Belle Champagne:"

I wish you all an evening walk.

Laura Beth

april blooms

Dear Readers,

The farm is glowing from sun and spring rain.

Everything is so green! It's stunning, and it makes me glad to be a farmer.

High Tunnel Dorothy was worth every penny. The anemones are blooming faster than I can cut them. We were away all day yesterday for Passover and Easter celebrations, and when I got back, the entire bed of anemones was in full bloom. 

In High Tunnel Bill, Dusty Miller is growing nicely (right) and I threw in some veggies just for us (left). Stock, delphinium, and more ranunculus are coming along too.

Having flowers this early in the high tunnels is already making a difference in our business. It's important to have product right as the weather warms up because that's when people are really excited to buy! We're enjoying the appreciation from all of our florists and friends. Hopefully the whole season will be this bountiful!

I wish you all a barefoot walk through grass.

Laura Beth

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parrot king

Dear Readers,

Tulips are everywhere: the field, my fridge, our house, my ears. So, we're having a Passover seder flower sale TOMORROW (Saturday) from 10-2! Email or text me to reserve a $25 tulip-and-narcissus bouquet.

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Jascha and Curtis are working hard to build the walk-in cooler for flower storage, but until they're done, food is demoted to the lowest shelf in the fridge. (You can see where our food priorities are- maple syrup and kimchi front and center!)

I love having flowers this early in the year. We've never grown tulips before because they're a big investment. Each bulb (the fancy ones we grow) cost between .25-.50 cents each. By the time we plant them, keep them alive all winter, and harvest, we're just about breaking even.

But, it's important to have blooms right as our customers get itchy for spring. So tulips are definitely worth it. Plus, SO GORGEOUS and they last forever in a vase! The one above is called Parrot King.

Farm Olympics is this Monday, so expect lots of silliness from the next blog post. AND we only have a few spots left in our delivery flower CSA, so sign up soon!

I wish you all tulips coming out of YOUR ears!

Laura Beth

closing the door.

Dear Readers,

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The thing we feared is happening. The one thing that scared us about living at the farm. You know how after a long day at work, most people go home? Well, it's really hard to go inside and relax when all the farm tasks are right outside my window.

Jascha does a great job of closing the door behind him and welcoming an evening of Reddit, gaming with friends, and vegan mac n' cheese. 

I, on the other hand, look through the window, wondering if there's still enough daylight to cut the daffodils. They need to be cut! It could wait til tomorrow, but if I do it now, I could do more things tomorrow...

You see my problem.

It's a challenge. But, despite my constant awareness of what is not going well (dang you, weeds), it's been a productive spring. I planted snapdragons, borage, calendula, dianthus, feverfew, and delphinium.

Some things get planted in landscape fabric, and some things not, depending on how much of a canopy the crop will create when it's grown. The fuller the canopy, the fewer weeds. Just like a forest!

 

If you're curious about how the extremely warm, and sometimes cold, spring has affected our crops, here's an example. One variety of tulips are in bloom, but they're only about 6 inches tall. That's too short for design work!

Perennials need mulching and pruning, beds need to be prepared for planting, grass needs to be mowed, tools need to be organized, compost needs to be spread...

Thank goodness it's Farm Olympics soon! We need some superstrength on this farm. I'm looking at you, Local Color Flowers, Steelcut Flower Co, and Hillen Homestead.

On that note, I'm giving into my baser instincts to cut those daffodils in the last bit of daylight.

I wish you all scented candle and a good book,

Laura Beth

pick-your-own

Dear Readers,

I am very touchy about who picks our flowers.

It's just that certain crops need special care. For example, you have to cut a zinnia stem really low, just inches above the ground. You might think that would kill the plant, but actually it promotes more blooms.

People ask me all the time if we allow pick-your-own on the farm. The answer has been a resounding no (more like NOOOOOoooooooooo).........

 

Until now! This season, we will open the farm to flower lovers on one evening in June. We're calling it Evening Among Flowers.

 

We're trying to do a few things here: listen to what people want (pick-your-own!), make a profit (we are a business after all), and share the truly magical experience of harvesting flowers.

If you want to spend a few hours wandering through rows of larkspur and snapdragons, having the lavender patch all to yourself, swimming in African blue basil, and then making an arrangement with your harvests, then Evening Among Flowers is for you!

We're limiting registration to 10 nature adoring people. Sign up here!

I wish you all a romp in the snow.

Laura Beth

csa day

Dear Readers,

National CSA Day was Friday. This will be the fifth year of our CSA!

Our CSA is unique in that we deliver buckets filled with blooms to each home. I like to imagine our members getting home from work on CSA day, to find the flowers greeting them at the door! 

Our CSA members are kind of like family. We might never actually meet them in person, but they see the season through with us, from bachelors buttons, larkspur, mint, snapdragons, and chamomile in the early season, to sunflowers, zinnias, celosia, dahlias, lisianthus, and gomphrena in the late season. The final share in October is dried flowers and fragrant lavender to last through the winter.

Because driving around is a lot of work, we only accept 15 members each year. We've learned over time what our members like in their shares. I'm so excited to bring them our harvests this summer- we're growing so many new things, like Roseanne brown lisianthus and Soraya sunflowers.

Plus we're tripling our dahlia production! (@Ladyday, I'm looking at you.)

If you're new to CSAs- take the leap! Join our farm family. It's a sense of community that gets me up in the morning. We welcome you!

I wish you all a good sit by a sun-soaked window. 

Laura Beth

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the rabbit hole

Dear Readers,

This time of year, I have a little too much time to stew over coming challenges.

Yesterday, for example, I spent HOURS working on new events at the farm. When I finally got up from the computer, my head felt like a muffin. I kept reflexively checking my email and social media the rest of the day. Couldn't.... stop..............

An event I was working on yesterday

An event I was working on yesterday

This is all good and valuable work, but it can turn ugly really fast. I went from thinking critically and humming a happy tune to sinking into desperation for more Insta followers, more likes, more page hits. AGHHH!

There's a point at which hard work turns into obsessive work. Farmers, and entrepreneurs in general, are a highly susceptible group of people when it comes to falling down rabbit holes. 

 

I had fallen very deep down the rabbit hole of obsessive work.

Fellow business owners can likely relate to the particular slippery slope I was on: marketing. I was coming up with promo photos, thinking about how to advertise better using Instagram and Facebook, and trying to make the website prettier.

To cleanse my spirit today, I am spending time with the plants. PLANTS! 

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There's a simple, in-the-moment solution for me that I would do well to remember: take breaks!! REAL breaks, where you go outside, talk to someone who is not you, do some yoga, or whatever gets you back to reality. 

I'd love to hear- how do YOU stay sane when it comes to social media?

I wish you all an excellent Friday evening after work.

Laura Beth

 

 

 

 

sincerity

Dear Readers,

There's this thing in the wedding industry called a styled shoot. It's basically a collaboration between wedding vendors (hair dressers, florists, photographers, etc.) to showcase their offerings. Before this summer, I was not a big fan of styled shoots.

Too fake! Too phony! I thought. When Naomi from Urban Row Photography asked if she could put together a styled shoot at the farm, I said yes because I couldn't come up with a good enough reason to say no. 

Naomi, you totally changed my mind! I couldn't believe how much love each vendor put into the tiniest details. Check out the legitimate goofiness of the models, who are in real life married with kids. The bow tie! The jewelry! The makeup! The hair! Each detail contributed to the overall theme of late summer joy.

The models were freeeezing but they were troopers about it. Mallory from Everyday Rose Events did a glorious job using 100% Butterbee Farm flowers on the head crown and bouquet.

There was cake! 

There was special spiced tea!

I have enormous respect for the vendors (the artists!) who contributed to this lovely vision. 

Photographer: Urban Row Photography
Venue: Butterbee Farm
Floral Design: Everyday Rose Events
Dress: Rent the Runway
Hair and Makeup: Beyond Brides
Jewelry: Rachel Mulherin
Bowties: Xoelle
Cakes: WinniE’s Bakery
Tea: Wight Tea

There's so much advertising flashing by my eyes every day. I'm glad I got the chance to see what goes into a shoot like this. Each person who contributed sincerely loves helping weddings happen. And these businesses do work beyond weddings, in case you're wanting to eat some of that cake!

I wish you all a peaceful weekend!

Laura Beth

in the meantime, have a cookie

Dear Readers,

I'm excited for spring. REALLY excited.

The reality of living at the farm surprises me in little moments. Like, on windy days, I can check to make sure things didn't blow away periodically by LOOKING OUT MY WINDOW, instead of driving over to see. 

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I can work in the high tunnels any time I want.  I can come inside when it's cold!

We're making big changes for this season. Like, we're building a cooler (basically a big refrigerator) to store harvested flowers before delivery. And, we're growing many more dahlias. And foliage. And we'll have peonies finally! 

And ranunculus (above). 

I'm not always excited. It's hard to keep my chin up under the circumstances of our country. But I'm excited right now! Think spring! Spring! SPRING!

I wish you all SPRING! In two months. And in the meantime, have a cookie.

Laura Beth

quiet

Dear Readers,

I confess, I love office work. A cup of mint tea (or a glass of wine if I'm doing taxes), some music (or Gilmore Girls/Buffy if I'm doing taxes), and a candle put me in a cozy mood. I could spend hours responding to emails, tinkering with the website, and brainstorming.

The crop plan is complete! I printed it out yesterday, which is my way of putting an end to the potentially infinite tweaking I could do. I could grow more borage... but if I grow more borage there will be less room for cerinthe... maybe I should just grow more snapdragons instead..............but what about borage.....................................

But after a certain amount of fussing, it's best to cut myself off.

Another office task is to update the farm Quickbooks account with new pricing information. We're pricing our flowers by the bunch this year for the first time, so I need to input bunch pricing into Quickbooks for each and every crop. 

Exciting stuff, right? It's not all glory when you're farming. Sometimes it's a quiet day in your favorite chair.

I wish you all some inner peace this week.

Laura Beth

garlic and rosemary

Dear Readers,

There's only one picture of me at the first farm I worked on, Kearsarge Gore Farm in New Hampshire. Here it is, taken when I was 21:

I'm cleaning garlic. With the New Year and big changes around the corner, I think back to this beginning often. And I wonder, what instinct led me to that barn and that garlic, and ultimately to Butterbee Farm?

I like where my instincts have led me. And so, here's my New Year's Resolution: to trust my instincts. Less worry, less anxiety, less doubt. More mindfulness, thoughtfulness, and faith in my ability and experience.

What are your New Year's Resolutions? What new beginnings are you experiencing? 

I wish you all a sprig of rosemary and a little faith.

Laura Beth


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fresh from the field

Dear Readers,

Before I begin, don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter so that you get an email (about 1-2x/month) each time I write a new blog post! 

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Our last wedding couple of the season wanted the flowers to look like they had just been gathered fresh from the field. The effect was a little wild, a little whimsical, and entirely beautiful.

Sarah Vars Photography

Sarah Vars Photography

I feel absolutely full of joy when I see photos like this one of the bride and flower girl sharing a special moment over dahlias:

Sarah Vars Photography

Sarah Vars Photography

The couple got the majority of their blooms from us, and a few varieties that were out of season from the wholesaler. This is a practice I recommend to couples who have their hearts set on a flower but also want to buy local. It works out well for everyone!

Sarah Vars Photography

Sarah Vars Photography

Of course, that cafe au lait dahlia is ours :)

The couple got married in the Inner Harbor, right near where my grandmother used to live years ago. She babysat for my sister and me almost every week, and we spent a lot of time at the Aquarium and Science Center, marveling at the ducks and dragon boats and jugglers in between. I always love delivering flowers to the harbor and remembering my grandma.

Sarah Vars Photography

Sarah Vars Photography

The bride had a team of helpers, including her mom and mother in law, put the flowers together the day before the wedding. I love how unique and personal each bouquet is!

Sarah Vars Photography

Sarah Vars Photography

Wishing all the happiness that flowers can bring to this lovely couple. As the holidays approach, let's remember some moments from 2016 that made us feel this free!

Don't forget to get your holiday arrangements from a local florist. I wish you all a Christmas cookie!

Laura Beth

how to diy your wedding flowers

Dear Readers,

Let's say you're getting married in Baltimore and you're interested in DIY (do-it-yourself) wedding flowers. But you don't know where to start...

Here are some questions you should ask yourself: Do I like being crafty? Am I okay with using whatever blooms are in season? Do I have a few friends who can help me put everything together before the wedding? And, most importantly, does this sound like fun?

If the answers are a resounding YES, then we hope you reach out! We love growing flowers for brides and grooms all over Maryland. DIY can be a really special experience, if you go about it the right way... and our job is to help you make that happen.

You can choose which flowers you'd like from our weekly availability list; we call this option "Queen Bee Service," and it includes a tour of the farm so you can see the flower fields. Or, you can get "Butterbee Service," which means we'll give you a mix of our favorite flowers and foliage of the week.

You can read more about our DIY flower services here. But don't forget to contact us at butterbeefarm@gmail.com with any questions about how it works! 

We'll happily help you answer questions like "How do I get the flower arrangements to the venue?" And "How many stems go in a mason jar?"

Happy flower dreaming... and don't forget to pick up a Thanksgiving arrangement from Local Color Flowers! Also, all photos in this post are by Edwin Remsberg.

I wish you all a snuggly sweater.

Laura Beth

we'll take your suggestions please!

Dear Readers,

What's a thing you'd love if we did? Flower weed dating? A photography contest? More volunteer days? We'd love any thoughts you have! Who knows, we might just do it!

We're winding down here at the farm, and taking stock of what's left to do this season.

lots of dried statice from Bouquet Saturday

lots of dried statice from Bouquet Saturday

Here's our to-do list for November:

  • Dig and divide the dahlias
  • Plant 700 daffodils
  • Plant 2000 tulips
  • Plant 100 peonies
  • Build raised beds for spring
dahlias waiting to be dug

dahlias waiting to be dug

  • Move the greenhouse to the farm
  • Attend the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers in Grand Rapids
  • Finish the crop and planting plans
  • Pack up our house so we can move to the farm at the end of December
our new BCS tractor, which helps build raised beds

our new BCS tractor, which helps build raised beds

  • Eat turkey and stuffing
  • Go on our honeymoon
  • Sleep
  • Hang out with our other farmer friends
our farmer friend Brittney

our farmer friend Brittney

It's been a fabulous season. Don't forget to give our CSA subscriptions as holiday gifts, or just give one to yourself :-) Flowers make everything better!

snapdragons from Dorothy the high tunnel earlier this year

snapdragons from Dorothy the high tunnel earlier this year

I wish you final snapdragon.

Laura Beth

fall changes

Dear Readers,

Life is returning to normal here. It's fall! The mornings are cold, and even the dahlias are slowing down.

This week, we took a morning off from farm work to discuss our goals for next season. We asked ourselves questions like, "What was good about this season?" "How much do we want to increase our gross profit next season?" "What mistakes will we try not to make again?"

One thing we're really excited about is our flower CSA. As our membership grows each year, we evaluate how it could be more efficient, and better for us and our members. One change we're making for next year is to only accept new members who are on our current delivery route. That's going to be hard (emotionally) since we want EVERYONE to have flowers! But then we'd spend days driving all over Baltimore.

Here's the biggest business-related thing I learned from my own wedding: as a wedding vendor, it's an honor and a privilege to contribute to a couple's marriage. We've decided to make our DIY wedding services more personal and hands-on, so that we can play a bigger part in making each wedding special. You can check out the new changes here!

And the biggest change of all is that we're moving to the farm. That means a whole lot of amazing, life-changing things for us, including better efficiency, a real bathroom (bye bye porta potty), and heck, a beautiful place to live. You can see how happy I am about this in the picture above.

All photos in this post are by the wonderful Edwin Remsberg

All photos in this post are by the wonderful Edwin Remsberg

I wish you all a glorious, crunchy-leaved Friday.

Laura Beth

when flower farmers get married

Dear Readers,

We got married!!!

I don't want to seem self involved by posting wedding pictures on the farm blog, but I really want to share how glorious entirely local flowers are. I'm proud of what we've done at the farm; four years ago, I couldn't have imagined we'd have this bounty.

So, this post's purpose is to show you our wedding flowers, which were grown 100% by us and designed by the team at Local Color Flowers. I hope these photos (by L.A. Birdie) remind you that the world is beautiful!

Centerpiece at the ceremony welcome table, surrounded by marigold petals in little pouches

Centerpiece at the ceremony welcome table, surrounded by marigold petals in little pouches

Brittney from Local Color Flowers setting up before the ceremony

Brittney from Local Color Flowers setting up before the ceremony

The ceremony arch being constructed

The ceremony arch being constructed

A closeup of the arch- one of my favorite pieces of the day

A closeup of the arch- one of my favorite pieces of the day

Walking up to Jascha for the "first look." For those of you who aren't familiar- the "first look" is a moment before the ceremony where the bride and groom see each other for the first time all dressed up. The point is to get pictures of the bride/groom, family, and bridal party before the ceremony so that afterwards, they can go straight on to partying.

Walking up to Jascha for the "first look." For those of you who aren't familiar- the "first look" is a moment before the ceremony where the bride and groom see each other for the first time all dressed up. The point is to get pictures of the bride/groom, family, and bridal party before the ceremony so that afterwards, they can go straight on to partying.

A behind-the-scenes shot of Lindsay Anne of L.A. Birdie Photography capturing the first look 

A behind-the-scenes shot of Lindsay Anne of L.A. Birdie Photography capturing the first look 

Bridal bouquet! Dahlias, zinnias, feathertop, eucalyptus, basil, gomphrena, cosmos, goldenrod, apple mint, celosia

Bridal bouquet! Dahlias, zinnias, feathertop, eucalyptus, basil, gomphrena, cosmos, goldenrod, apple mint, celosia

Boutonniere: dahlia, craspedia, rosemary, black pearl pepper

Boutonniere: dahlia, craspedia, rosemary, black pearl pepper

Bridesmaid bouquets

Bridesmaid bouquets

Shepherd's hooks held hanging arrangements that lined the pathway down to the ceremony

Shepherd's hooks held hanging arrangements that lined the pathway down to the ceremony

A closeup of a hanging arrangement

A closeup of a hanging arrangement

Married!!!

Married!!!

Locoflo surprised us with these little bunches on each plate at the reception- so sweet!

Locoflo surprised us with these little bunches on each plate at the reception- so sweet!

Tables were named after flowers, and marked by lovely drawings by my housemate Sarah

Tables were named after flowers, and marked by lovely drawings by my housemate Sarah

Reception tables

Reception tables

Pie!

Pie!

I wish you all a happy day.

Laura Beth

wedding harvest

Dear Readers,

Well, we did it. We harvested our own wedding flowers.

It was our biggest harvest EVER. Thanks, Beginning Farmer Trainees- it would have taken us days if you hadn't come to our rescue!

It took six of us about 3.5 hours. But it was SO MUCH FUN. My favorite harvest ever.

We harvested: hibiscus, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, marigolds, zinnias, celosia, dahlias, gomphrena, feathertop, cosmos, goldenrod, willow, ninebark, chestnut oak, eucalyptus, amaranth, and craspedia.

Ta-dah!

I wish you all the happiest of weekends! I know mine will be!

Laura Beth