Saturday, August 20, 2016

Destination Farming: Changing the U.S. Flower Industry One Bouquet at a Time

Flower fields at Cabin Hill Farm, Mount Jackson, VA.
Before I met Jeanette Smith of Cabin Hill Farm in Mount Jackson, Virginia, I hadn’t thought much about the flower industry in the United States. As a local food supporter and fan of small farms however, I was pretty shocked when I found that almost 80% of fresh flowers sold in the U.S.are not even grown in North America. 

A little research quickly made me aware of how important it is to support the “Slow Flowers” movement, and created a huge amount of respect for the flower farming businesses that are springing up around the country. It’s easy to see that like me, most people aren’t aware of the economic and environmental impact that purchasing flowers grown thousands of miles away has, not to mention that we are denying ourselves superior aroma, increased health benefits and the satisfaction of knowing we are supporting local farming when we buy commercially instead of locally.

But it was my trip to Cabin Hill Farm that exponentially expanded my understanding of this industry. The knowledge, resiliency and determination it takes to step into a marketplace dominated by overseas competitors is not only admirable—and while Jeanette may not agree on this point—I personally think like other small farming endeavors, it’s brave.
Jeanette Smith, owner of Cabin Hill Farm

Jeanette gave me the full tour, from seed operation to hoop house to rows and rows of gorgeous varieties. From there I visited the cold storage trailer and work shed where all the bouquets are assembled. From seed to bouquet to market, it’s a precise operation of planning, timing and careful execution. Miss a step and the supply may be short one week and over-abundant the next. And unlike food operations where there are added-value options for using up extra crops are an option, flowers have limited uses after their prime.

Add to that mix the stories of the tribulations of actually getting bouquets to market and supplying a self-serve roadside stand, and you’ve got a set of unique challenges that small business owners around the country can attest are part-and-parcel of being an entrepreneur.
Seedling production in the greenhouse.
Lilies in the hoop house.
Rows of many varieties ready to be harvested at just the right time.

Cut flowers in the refrigerated walk-in waiting to be added to bouquets for market. 

Cabin Hill Farm stand at Mosaic District Farmers' Market in Fairfax, VA

Cabin Hill Farm roadside stand at 13827 Senedo Rd. Mount Jackson, VA
Got my WOW $5 bouquet from Jeanette's roadside stand.
Through it all Jeanette’s love for flowers and skill at the precise process required to keep the operation going are abundantly evident. The beauty of meeting these entrepreneurs up-close-and-personal and knowing they are doing something very meaningful for our economy and the global environment makes buying their bouquets all the more satisfying! Find a local grower near you using this searchable database.

And be sure to check out this Association of Speciality Cut Flowers video that talks to farmers and experts about the movement back to locally-grown cut flowers now gaining strength across the United States.

This article was sponsored by Cabin Hill Farm & KLCreative Media. 

No comments:

Post a Comment