the harvest

Dear Readers,

Every morning, we fill buckets and head out to the field to harvest. When we've picked everything on the list, we move on to deliveries, weeding, planting, or whatever else needs to be done- and there's always something!

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Often, the work here is monotonous, uncomfortable, and a general pain in the butt. Harvesting, though...it's exactly as glorious as it looks.

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We're always trying to be faster and more precise when harvesting, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the fact that we're in a flower field, picking flowers!

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The abundance of our fields is the direct result of you- the community behind it. The list of people who contribute here at the farm is really, really long, and there isn't a single harvest that goes by without me feeling overwhelmingly grateful. Volunteers, CSA members, florists, our stellar crops manager, part time helpers, and interns, neighbors who put up with us daily, parents, friends...

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Harvesting is a daily dose of the miraculous reality: we are alive!

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Sometimes I can't believe this is my life. And then I get swarmed by mosquitos. :) 

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These photos are by our dear friend and photographer Lindsay Anne of L.A. Birdie Photography. To all the Dads out there in our village- we love you! Happy Father's Day this weekend! I wish you all a good summer book.

Laura Beth

spring and a bounce

Dear Readers,

We rarely open up the farm, but when we do, it's just so fun to share everything we're doing here! Come and see us on our three Farm Tour dates. he farm looks better than ever this season- thanks, awesome farm crew!!

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I know I've been complaining a lot about ranunculus being hard to grow and finicky and a general pain in the you-know-what, but...I mean...

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I changed my mind. It's so pretty! It's glorious! It's wonderful! I'm growing more next year! 

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I'm so excited about farming again! Perfectly sunny days, new blooms like this foxglove, and getting big projects done around the farm have put the bounce back in my step. That's the magic of spring.

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Next up: peonies.

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I wish you all a visit your local farmer's market this weekend!

Laura Beth

Punny

Dear Readers,

Two weeks late, we've got tulips! Tulips are always third to bloom in the field, right after daffodils and hellebores. I'm so grateful to see the buds flush with color after this long, tough winter.

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We PULL tulips rather than cut them, since much of their stem length is under the ground. They pull right up with a satisfying POP. Then they need to be washed, bunched with rubber bands, and packed away in our cooler.

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Someone asked me today how I stay sane with such crazy weather on the farm. My immediate response was that I have an amazing farm team. When it's windy and snowing and freezing, as it was for much of the last month, we turn to each other for support and a laugh.

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Jascha and I were super excited to get some help on the farm from our new crops manager Peter, but we couldn't have predicted what a joy it would be to have him around. Not only is Peter is kicking butt and taking names around here, but he is also thinking of ways to be punny about 87% of the time. 

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Oh hey, we got T shirts! We normally don't sell them on our website, but right now we're holding a T shirt sale that ends Wednesday night. Get one while you can, details here!

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I wish you all a good pun.

Laura Beth

badass women

Dear Readers,

We co-hosted the Creative Entrepreneur, a small business workshop for women, on Monday. The barn was cozy with 36 participants and 8 speakers.

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I was a ball of nervous energy before the workshop started... there were about to be so many badass women in the room, and I wanted to give them an amazing day!

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Thanks to our wonderful speakers, the workshop was just what I'd hoped it could be. Here are some notes I wrote throughout the day:

Strategy is about saying "no."

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Set measurable targets.

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Have a diverse team so that there are people who belong

to minority groups in the room, thinking with you. 

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Ask yourself "why?" 7 times to understand the problem.

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Hire people the second you need them; it's an investment that pays off.

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Setting boundaries is more about loving yourself than it is about putting up walls.

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Pursue service to the community along with having a financially sustainable business.

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Imagine your audience; create characters that your business serves,

and then cater your marketing to their needs.

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You could almost see the barn glowing with energy and the happy light of women sharing with women. 

I wish you all a spring weekend!

Laura Beth

winter (spring??) update

Dear Readers,

Winter storms, bone-freezing temperatures, wind, hail- the farm has seen it all in the past few weeks. 

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We're lucky that no major damage was done to our infrastructure. But, we did discover a fungal disease called botrytis on our ranunculus, likely caused by too much humidity under frost blankets.

I'll be a little fidgety for the next few days, until I know whether our precautions against botrytis is working (extra ventilation, new frost cloth, organic-certified fungicides, plant probiotics).

 last season's ranunculus blooms

last season's ranunculus blooms

In other news, our new logo is finished! Artist Paige Vickers did a beautiful job. 

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Oh, and another happy piece of news: our Funding your Small Farm class in April filled up so fast that we added another class in May! Sign up and details here.

I wish you all a crisp hard cider and a good comfort movie, preferably starring Meg Ryan.

Laura Beth

Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter email list, so you can read our monthly blog posts! 
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hear ye!

Dear Readers,

Hear ye, hear ye (I've been watching Game of Thrones. Better late than never, right?)...

Did you know about our open houses at the farm? Bring your husband, your kiddos, your parents, or your awkward first date for a lovely morning strolling through our flower fields. Make a bouquet to take home, of course!

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If you need flowers in your life, you can pick up flowers here at the farm on Friday afternoons, or we can deliver them right to your door. We are offering a very limited number of subscriptions this year, so pretend the White Walkers are coming for you and sign up soon!

 
 

If you're an amateur photographer, you'll be delighted to know that we have FREE photography contests. Winners get lots and lots of flowers. If you're a professional photographer, guess what- we're holding our first ever contest just for you! Again, space is limited, so sign up soon.

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Headcrown class is back! This day is always pure joy. And if you're into farming, or have been dying to meet Julio Freitas of The Flower Hat, you'll want to sign up for our farmer-florist intensive.

There are many more events at the farm in the works. The best way to stay up to date is to follow us on Instagram at @butterbee_farm, or to subscribe to our monthly blog posts like this one:

Farming is fun, but it would be lonely and sad without community. We hope our farm is a place where you can come to have fun with loved ones, or to smell sweet grass and fresh air, or learn something new. 

Can't wait to see ye! I wish ye a Long Summer and a pint of ale.

Laura Beth

the paradox

Dear Readers,

January is a standoff between me and my imperfections. I prefer being too busy to think about them.

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But in winter, there's nothing for it but to face the enormous chasms in my knowledge.

For example: I want to build a heated high tunnel for winter growing. But I know nothing about plumbing, electricity, or winter growing.

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I'm not being humble, I actually know zero things that I need to know. 

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So, for the last few weeks, I've been doing the hard, painful work of trying to learn things that are beyond my skill level so I can buy the darned thing. 

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Thankfully, Steve at Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Ohio agreed to consult with me on the project, so I had a trusty Jedi master on my team. After several priceless hours on the phone with him, many high tunnel quotes, and an infinite maze (which I am still in the midst of) with BGE, I bought the tunnel yesterday!

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I don't feel much better about my capabilities, but if there's one thing I've learned about owning a business, it's that you just have to DO it. So I'm settling into the paradox that I can't do it because I don't know how, and I can do it because I am, well, doing it.

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To commemorate the uncertainty, this post is filled with photos of flaws on the farm, from weedy beds to bent flower heads. Many thanks to photographer Julie from Julie's Journey for finding them beautiful.

I wish you all the timely appearance of a Jedi master.

Laura Beth

a pop of champagne

Dear Readers,

'Tis the season for bubbly, so I'll share our favorite champagne story of the year.

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My best friend Jean and her fiance Mark wanted white, green, and a pop of champagne for their wedding colors. Naturally, they got the special hookup for flowers.

The Wednesday before the wedding day, we packed the van with dahlias, eucalyptus, succulents, and more, and drove over to Local Color Flowers. Everything they touch is magical, so I knew our flowers were in good hands!

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Because I was in the wedding, I couldn't help Local Color Flowers set up, but it was so fun watching them adorn the tent with our blooms.

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(I have to admit I pitched in a little. I couldn't help it!)

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L.A. Birdie Photography caught this one of Jean making me laugh before the ceremony. After 18 years of friendship, Jean's a pro at that.

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Here's to dear friends, abundance, love, and a promising new year! (Clink!)

Laura Beth

making change

Dear Readers,

I recently heard someone describe entrepreneurship as an exploration of self. But in addition to growing up inside, entrepreneurs manifest personal change outside of ourselves, in the form of our creative projects, for all the world to see.

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The farm is expanding in many directions. As I become ready for bigger risks and challenges, the farm reflects my growth. 

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We're building a heated greenhouse for winter growing, which will one day provide work for a full-time employee and allow us to grow flowers for Valentine's Day (a long held dream of mine). We're planting evergreen and magnolia trees, so that when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, we'll be busy cutting branches for wreaths. 

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Peter Sparklin (native Baltimorean, experienced farmer, and all-around wonderful person) will join our team full time as Crops Manager. Nancy Bjornard (native South Dakotan, long-time flower farmer, and bad-ass mom) will join the crew part time. We've also got some farmer trainees through the Beginning Farmer Training Program at Future Harvest CASA, which will make Thursdays the most fun day of the week.

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The biggest team we've ever had means we can do a lot more. We're doubling our annual production, putting in raspberries and blueberries for cutting, making new delivery routes to Annapolis and Frederick, adding classes at the farm... what are we not doing?!

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Being a business doesn't mean we're only about profit. One of my favorite business owners (Ellen Frost, I'm talking about you) taught me that for-profit businesses can be focused on making the world a better place. I've been thinking about that a lot lately. How am I making the world better? What can we do to make even more change?

I wish you a thoughtful Wednesday.

Laura Beth

british biscuit

Dear Readers,

After a weekend in bed with the flu, I'm now emerging from The Great British Baking Show and Gilmore Girls to confront fall cleanup on the farm.

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Unlike the anxious bakers in The Great British Baking Show, I get to dig dahlias at my own pace. The goal is to get them out of the ground by Thanksgiving, which is generally a good "end" date for all fall cleanup tasks. 

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Other than dahlia digging, there's peony planting, spreading cover crop, getting the tunnels ready for ranunculus and anemones, and a little harvesting here and there. 

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We are having a peony planting party this Sunday from 9:30 to 11:30 am. Contact me at butterbeefarm@gmail.com if you'd like to join! We will have coffee, and volunteers will take succulents home!

 Photos by the wonderful  Julie's Journey Photography

Photos by the wonderful Julie's Journey Photography

I wish you all a British biscuit and a florentine. 

Laura Beth

behind the scenes

Dear Readers,

Last month, we asked our photographer friend, the amazing Paula B, to take some photos at the farm. We wanted shots of the flowery paradise that it is, but also some shots of the mundanity that is running this business.

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For example, every morning, it takes me about three tries to open the barn door. I'm pretty strong, but not very tall! It's a struggle.

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 Did it!

Did it!

As with any business that provides a product, we double and triple check invoices before packing up the truck to deliver flowers.

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There is, in general, a lot more note-taking than you might expect. How are the crops doing? How much is available? What needs to be done?

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We sometimes sit at a picnic table behind our house during meetings. It's a lot more fun to talk numbers when you're eating cookies, surrounded by farmland.

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Boots! There's a lot of shoe changing during the day. Waterproof muck boots in the morning, hiking boots in the afternoon once the dew dries, and flip flops if I have to walk back out to turn on the electric fences in the evening.

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These little, normal things make up a day at the farm. Other than the fact that normally I'm wearing dirty farm clothes, these photos are true to form!

I wish you all a little pleasure in something mundane this week.

Laura Beth

october at the farm

Dear Readers,

Every day starts when it's so dark out that I have to feel blindly around in my drawer for socks. I shine my phone's flashlight to get downstairs for peanut butter/honey/toast and some tea.

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Then, I head outside to fill buckets with water. Once I've packed the truck with buckets, snips, rubber bands, and they day's invoices, I drive over to the annual field and start cutting.

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Sometimes I listen to It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, the Startup Podcast, or Hello From the Magic Tavern. Or, I start the day with the new War on Drugs or Perfume Genius albums. Sometimes I just cut listening to the quiet early morning sounds of birds and crickets.

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I cut until I have to leave for deliveries. When I get back, Jascha and I have a sandwich or a salad together. Then I do emails, water the greenhouse, and head back outside for planting or more harvesting.

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The weather's so nice right now that work is a pleasure. Plus, it's October, which means the season will soon end, and I can take some time off. Excited!!

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Visitors to the farm also make working overtime worth it. Heck yeah, I'll work on a Saturday if it means meeting lovely and interesting people and sharing our flowers!

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My third grade teacher came to Bouquet Saturday this weekend! And one of our awesome new CSA members, and a photography contestant from earlier this summer. Our little community is growing all the time.

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At the end of each day, after dinner and some Parks and Rec, I crawl into bed at 9 pm (okaaay, sometimes it's more like 8:30) and turn out the light. Over the winter, I can stay up as late as I want- but for now, I have flowers to harvest, and places to take them.

I wish you all an October visit to your favorite local farm!

Laura Beth

a short one

Dear Readers,

We're selling a whole lot of flowers these days! Between weddings, florists, events on the farm, and our CSA, I barely have time to get the mail. But that's the way it should be this time of year.

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The big new announcement is that we've hired our first full time employee! He'll come on board in the early spring. I'll introduce him, and talk a bit about our growth, in a future post. 

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Gotta keep on harvesting, until frost comes in mid October. Then I can take a nap!

I wish you a hike in the woods,

Laura Beth

a butterbee

Dear Readers,

A "Butterbee" isn't a real creature. You didn't miss a lesson on that in middle school biology class, in case you were wondering! 

Here's the story. When I was little, my dad told me a bedtime tale about a cabin in the woods, where I lived with a butterfly named Butterbee. We would wake up to a sun-soaked morning, eat delicious muffins, and wander outside, exploring pathways and discovering mushrooms. Sometimes we got lost and fireflies led us home, or we met other woodland creatures along the way.

I loved Butterbee. My Grandma got me a necklace with a butterfly charm on it at one point, and somehow I still have it and wear it often. I also still picture the cabin and my butterfly friend when I have trouble sleeping, and it always helps.

Years later, I started this farm business, and made a list of farm names: Green Sage Farm, Wildflower Farm... and then Butterbee popped into my head. I asked my dad what he thought of naming the farm after his creation. His face lit up. And so, Butterbee Farm was born.

There is, of course, more to the story... butterflies have always been my symbol of truth and purpose. I didn't come to farming easily, and like everyone, I have demons that still emerge to surprise me. But I've arrived at a place of synergy. So naming the farm after Butterbee was just right.

There's a story to every farmer, every florist, every business owner, and every one of us. Isn't that such a precious thing about life?

I wish you all a thoughtful Monday. And, special thanks to Jin Zhang, who photographed the farm yesterday with such delight that I had to write this post featuring her photos. She asked if she could take a picture of my butterfly necklace, perhaps sensing it was something special to me.  Thank you, Jin! Her Instagram handle is is jinjin2000, if you want to see more of her gorgeous work!

Laura Beth

high fives

Dear Readers,

Yesterday was Blooms and Bouquets, our annual farmer-florist workshop, and our biggest event of the year!

It was a heart-lifting day! 28 participants came from as far as Michigan and Florida to hear Dave Dowling, Mimo Davis, Ellen Frost, and I talk about everything farming and flowers. 

Workshop topics included "Selling to Florists," "Crop Planning," "Growing in High Tunnels," "Butterbee Farm Systems," "Making a Bridal Bouquet," and more. 

Being around other jazzed flower growers is a much-needed shot in the arm during these hot, muggy summer days. Here are just a few of our wonderful participants:

 This was Cassie Plummer of  Jig-Bee Farm  in Philly's THIRD Blooms and Bouquets! It's always so great to see her. 

This was Cassie Plummer of Jig-Bee Farm in Philly's THIRD Blooms and Bouquets! It's always so great to see her. 

 Kelly Morrison of  Color Fields Farm  is trailblazing the way in Durham, NC- she just started a flower hub where florists can buy from multiple farmers at once! And, she used to be my manager when we both worked at a farm in PA.

Kelly Morrison of Color Fields Farm is trailblazing the way in Durham, NC- she just started a flower hub where florists can buy from multiple farmers at once! And, she used to be my manager when we both worked at a farm in PA.

 Thank goodness for Carin Celebuski of  Ladybrook Farm - she helped out at the event. She just started an amazing diversified farm in Monkton, MD.

Thank goodness for Carin Celebuski of Ladybrook Farm- she helped out at the event. She just started an amazing diversified farm in Monkton, MD.

 Maya Velasco came from flower and veggie farming at  Greyfield Inn  in Florida to learn more about growing cut flowers. 

Maya Velasco came from flower and veggie farming at Greyfield Inn in Florida to learn more about growing cut flowers. 

 Helen Campbell of  Helen's Garden  is just 20 minutes away from my farm. I'm thankful to have such a supportive and friendly flower neighbor. This was her second Blooms and Bouquets.

Helen Campbell of Helen's Garden is just 20 minutes away from my farm. I'm thankful to have such a supportive and friendly flower neighbor. This was her second Blooms and Bouquets.

 Beverly Suckling owns  Half Acre Flower Farm  in Howard County. She was kind enough to host another farmer Angela Van Order, who came all the way from Michigan to attend the workshop!

Beverly Suckling owns Half Acre Flower Farm in Howard County. She was kind enough to host another farmer Angela Van Order, who came all the way from Michigan to attend the workshop!

Honestly, half the reason I put this workshop together each year is to get people's advice on what to do better on my own farm. It's just priceless to look at the farm through so many other eyes, and see with new perspectives.

And, lucky for me, our speakers (above- Ellen, me, Dave, and Mimo) hung out a bunch before and after the class so I got to soak up even more good vibes. If you ever go to St. Louis, check out Mimo's Urban Buds- it's an amazing 1 acre urban flower farm! 

I can't express all the gratitude I feel to this year's Blooms and Bouquets participants and speakers through words... it feels like a gazillion high fives bubbling up inside!

I wish you all a boost of confidence!

Laura Beth

PS All of these photos are by flower-lover, designer, and photographer Stacy Bauer!

farm photography

Dear Readers,

It has been a crazy couple of weeks here at the farm, characterized by these two things: business has been GREAT, and farming sucks when it's really hot out. I bounce between elated that my hard work is paying off and completely miserable at the prospect of going back outside. 

 Photo by Jin Zhang

Photo by Jin Zhang

I'm enjoying a little air conditioning and office work this evening. Guess what- our photography contest results are IN!

In first place, Julie Anderson's dreamy photo of a bee in our lavender:

In second place, Jin Zhang's photo of a single cosmos, defiant against summer heat:

And in third place, Elizabeth Young's classic, summery photo of our marigolds:

All of the participants submitted gorgeous photos that we'll use on our website and social media all summer long. What a joy, to see the farm through their camera lenses!

I wish you all an ice-cold grapefruit kombucha (I know it's weirdly specific but I swear it's the most thirst-quenching drink there is),

Laura Beth

goofiness and pie

Dear Readers,

Farming is a lot like making art, in that there are long periods where it feels like the effort goes unnoticed. So when the farm gets some loving attention by friendly, excited guests, my heart swells.

July sales are always very slow for us, so instead of selling flowers, we have events on the farm almost every weekend. This past Saturday, we had over 60 visitors to the farm for Bouquet Saturday and our photography contest! The weekend before, we had a lovely pick-your-own evening session.

The hard work in July is mostly mental: maintaining a positive attitude in extreme heat is a big challenge. That's another good reason to have events- each person who visits the farm gives me a little boost of energy!

My goal this month is to approach my work with as much humor as possible. Goofiness is the only way through Baltimore swamp season!

 pie by Kerry Lattimore, photos by  Kate Grewal Photography

pie by Kerry Lattimore, photos by Kate Grewal Photography

Goofiness, and summer pie of course.

I wish you a blueberry chess pie.

Laura Beth

 

 

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???

Don't forget to sign up to our email list so you get our bimonthly blog posts in your inbox!

 

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