What Our Flower Farm Means To Me

.

IMG_9437-001

.

All summer I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about the flower farming business that my daughter and I have. Every time I think about it, this thought comes to my mind: “How would I describe why our flower business is so special to us”? And the words just evade me.

.

IMG_6450-002

.

Because our flower stand is operated on the honor system, we don’t always have much interaction with our customers, beyond Facebook and Email. But a few weeks ago as we were tying the labels on our bouquets and putting them on the stand there were two things that happened. A very beautiful and classy Southern lady drove up and got out of her car. I smiled at her as she walked towards the flower stand and she said, “Good mornin’ Darlin, 9:00 couldn’t get here fast enough for me. I’ve been drivn’ around the country roads waitin’ to see you come with the flowers. Do you know how happy I am to see y’all?” Honestly, my heart was just smiling. I couldn’t even think of what to say. I actually wanted to just hug her. Over her arm was a large basket and she carefully placed four jars of flowers in the basket and she was talking in that totally beautiful Southern drawl that I love so much. She thanked us, put her money in the box and said “I’m so happy I finally got to meet y’all. You make so many, many people in our community happy.” And she got in her car, tooted the horn and drove off. I stood there blinking back the tears. It just meant so much.

.

IMG_5779-003

.

A few minutes later as I was finishing up filling the flower stand, another car drove up. The lady in this car also got out with a basket – this one was more like a basket tray. I smiled and told her good morning and she said these words, “Do y’all have any idea what a special service it is that you provide to this community”? I said something about how much we love it and what it means to us to have customers that buy our flowers. She proceeded to tell me that her daughter is in the hospital having a baby and when she told her she was going to go buy her some flowers her daughter said, “Momma, buy some of our flowers. Don’t buy flowers from the store or the florist”. And the lady explained to me that they consider the flowers my daughter and I grow as their flowers. I felt like that was one of the greatest compliments we could receive. I know I was smiling from ear to ear.

.

IMG_6446-003

.

After those two incidents that morning, I finally felt like I could sit down and write what our flower farming means to me.

.

IMG_5809-003

.

You cannot see our 1/3 acre of flowers from the small road where our flower stand sits. If you know exactly where to look through the fields you can see the roof of our open work shed in the garden that our husbands built for us last summer. But you cannot make out the plants or the blooming flowers. So people have this assumption that our garden must be this amazingly beautiful place. An English garden sort of beautiful. But it is not. It is a working garden. Rows and rows of plants that get thoroughly picked every single day and magically bloom overnight to be picked again.

.

IMG_5740-002

.

A garden with grass that grows between the rows faster than our husbands can keep it mowed for us. Weeds that take over when we have a super busy week and can’t keep up with them. Flowers that need dead headed so that they will continue to bloom.

.

IMG_5824-002

.

But the garden is the most beautiful place to us.

.

IMG_5657-002

.

It is the place where my grand-daughters play amongst the frogs, butterflies, caterpillars, bees and other bugs.

.

IMG_5703-003

.

The place where they are learning not only the names of all the flowers but how to cut and arrange them in jars all by themselves.

.

IMG_5751-002

.

It is the place that my daughter and I talk about everything under the sun as we pick together, weed together, and arrange flowers together.

.

IMG_5917-004

.

It is the place that I go when I need to cry. The place that has a healing that makes the troubles of life seem so insignificant. The place that makes me happy, even when I’m on my knees in the dirt pulling weeds by hand, or stressing over the fact that all the sunflowers came up but the birds pulled them out one by one, or the caterpillars that are eating every zinnia bloom they can get their mouths on. It is still the happiest place on our farm!

.

11069368_1029722273726997_5884015193829769352_o-002

.

The funny thing is that I don’t get these feelings in my vegetable garden. There is something about growing flowers that is so magical, it is actually beyond describable.

.

IMG_4277.

.

I love that even though my son-in-law has a full time, very busy job off the farm and my “retired” husband has a full time job keeping up with the farm, they love the flower garden as much as we do. My husband does all the tilling and hilling for us. He diligently gets a dump truck load of manure every week all summer and composts it for a year to spread and till into the soil in the spring. They both mow, string trim and help us however we need it. It truly is a special thing for the whole family!

.

IMG_9480-002

.

By this time of the summer we are tired. The plants are tired. They are actually looking very rough around the edges but still they keep producing and we keep picking. And even though meeting at the flower garden at daylight every day is starting to take a toll, the thought of the season coming to an end is very sad.

.

IMG_9715-002

.

When we started this flower farming endeavor, we never dreamed what joy it would bring to us. We had no idea that growing flowers could be so complicated, yet so simple. We were not prepared at all for the demand that our flowers would be and the stress that comes from trying to keep up with the demand; but the opposite side of that is the absolute reward that comes in providing something that brings utter joy to the person… so much so that they will drive out of their way to pick up a simple little jar of flowers.

.

.11017866_1018441074855117_1410856583178851730_n-3

.

We were not prepared for the kindness and honesty in people; the cards left with words of thankfulness and appreciation for our flowers. The notes that say, “I didn’t have money for flowers today but I’ll be back tomorrow with my money” and they are. The boxes of brand new jars left by an anonymous customer, with a note of gratitude. The pictures shared with us on Facebook of parents teaching their little children to buy flowers for an elderly grandparent, or a Daddy bringing them to buy flowers for their Momma. The letters that tell us they buy our flowers because they are the same flowers their grandmother grew and it brings back happy memories.

.

13557663_1235253219840567_9195424627099850667_n-2

.

I hope that I never forget what a special privilege it is to grow and provide flowers for such a wonderful little Tennessee community that has not only purchased flowers from us, but embraced our flower stand like it is a “place to go”!

14241479_1280780525287836_2290138461998722114_o

.

I hope I never lose the pitter patter in my heart when the flower stand is full and ready for the mornings customers.

.

14241581_1287636164602272_7845150587876478194_o-2

.

Fall is here and we are at the end of our flowers and ready to begin the next phase. Going over our notes from the summer so that we can learn from mistakes we made this year. Talking about changes that may improve our production and maybe make it a little less labor intensive. And even though we will have a winter to rest, sleep in a bit, and not stress over the flowers… they will never be far from our minds. And we’ll be dreaming of another year of flowers.

.

IMG_6608-001

.

And now!!!  The winner randomly drawn to receive a copy of MaryJanesFarm Farmgirl DIY issue is…

Jennifer!  

She’s been notified and her issue is in the mail today!  It is a fantastic issue that I have been poring over since it arrived in my mail box this week.  If you haven’t already purchased one, please do!  It is amazing!

.

Until our gravel roads cross again… so long.

.

Dori

Leave a comment 41 Comments

  1. Cyndie Gray says:

    this is so special & so sweet….really wish i could be a regular customer at your little stand with the amazingly beautiful flowers!!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Cyndie. I wish you lived close enough to be my customer too. I would actually deliver them right to your door!

      Hugs to you dear friend!

      – Dori –

  2. Krista says:

    Congratulations Jennifer! Enjoy your MaryJanesFarm Farmgirl DIY issue!

    Dori, I am so happy to hear that your flower business means so much to you and your family! I also love that you go off the honor system and you have so many wonderful people in your community who abide by it. How nice for you to have met those wonderful ladies while you were setting up. It melts my heart for you! Maybe you should take a day to sit there and meet some of your clients and hear their stories. I wish you were in driving distance of me so I could come get some flowers for my home as well!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Krista!

      My daughter and I have considered doing that very thing…. sitting there and chatting! The honor system is amazing. So many people told us it would never work and we had our doubts too; but it is incredible how it DOES work. It is one of my favorite things about it.

      I wish you were within driving distance too!

      – Dori –

  3. Carol Johnson says:

    Your flowers are truly beautiful! How blessed you are to be able to do what you love with people you love and share with others! Thank you.

    Carol

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Carol.

      I do very much consider it a blessing in my life. One of my favorite things is watching the grand-girls grow up in the garden. My daughter and I hope that they can take it over someday.

      – Dori –

  4. Karen says:

    Dori,
    You amaze me! This story made my heart happy. I LOVE flowers. I love that you do this for your community. Tennessee is not that far away…from FL. Hopefully someday I will be able to see your flower stand, buy a jar of happiness and have a wee visit!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you. I love flowers too – they just make my heart sing! :-) And no; we’re not that far from Florida! If you take a trip this way, please let me know!!!!

      – Dori –

  5. Well, you finally found ALL the right words. Thank you for filling my heart this morning. Joe Barron, former owner of the historic 4-story flour mill that I now steward, had an honor system “store” for his flour. His sign (that I still have) said, “If no one here, help yourself.”

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi MaryJane,

      Well, typical me… no words and then ALL the words!!! :-)

      Love that sign… I think I need that in my kitchen! Ha!

      Thanks MJ!

      Hugs,

      – Dori –

  6. Kerrie H says:

    Hi Dori- Thank you so much for blessing so many. We have a farm stand nearby that does honor system, too, and it does work. I love going out there. I have raised beds for veggies but flowers have always been on my list. You have inspired me to go for it.
    Love your posts. I’ve made lots of your crocheted dish clothes and they are just too cute! Keep making smiles! ~~Kerrie

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hello Kerrie,

      Thank you for writing. Isn’t there something about an honor system that just makes you feel good all over??? I love it.

      I’m so happy you make my crocheted dish cloths. They are the best gift ever aren’t they??

      – Dori –

      P.S. And yes… go for the flowers!!!

  7. Donna Collins says:

    I wish I lived closer too!(I live in NJ) Flowers just make me happy (yours are beautiful!). Thank you for sharing your life with us, you and your family are an inspiration!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Donna,

      Too bad New Jersey is so far from Tennessee!

      Thank you so much for your sweet words and for writing.

      – Dori –

  8. Pam says:

    Dori, I so enjoy reading your farm life experiences. I have to say, however, that this one is my favorite because it involves your whole family in sharing and providing a sweet and loved service to your community. Don’t ever stop writing. Oh, and I just LOVE Zinnias!!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Pam,

      Yes… there is something about the whole family being involved that really makes it special. And for me, being with my daughter every morning is the icing on the cake.

      Thank you for your encouragement to keep writing. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get the words out the way I want! :-)

      – Dori –

      P.S. And yes… oh my word, Zinnias are my favorite flower ever. They are so miraculous the way they just bloom and bloom and bloom!

  9. Rebecca says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. It has always been a dream of mine to sell flowers just like this. Your post has motivated me so much. Such a sweet article!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Dear Rebecca,

      Jump into it. The amazing thing is that you don’t much land. If you read Deb’s posts (the Beach Farmgirl) she grows and sells flowers from her backyard beds. It is amazing.

      Thank you for writing!

      – Dori –

  10. Irene says:

    Dori, your flowers are beautiful. I love the idea of selling them in the mason jars. I wish we lived closer to TN. Its a beautiful state. My husband grew up in Greenville TN. Love your article in the Farmgirl DIY issue.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hello today Irene! :-)

      Thank you for writing to me; you know how much I appreciate it!

      It was my daughter’s idea to sell the flowers out of mason jars. We wanted something sustainable and it sure is. We are amazed at how many people return their jars too.

      Tennessee is a very beautiful state. I’m not sure where Greenville is – I must look that up!

      – Dori –

      P.S. That DIY article was a fun one to write! But I stressed those measurements until I though I would lose my mind! Ha Ha!!!

  11. Nanette Boots says:

    Dori – your flower arrangements are beautiful. I don’t recognize the spiky hot pink/magenta flowers. What are they? Wonder if they’d grow in our climate. Thanks, N

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Nanette!

      Those pretty spiky hot pink flowers are Pampus Plume Celosia. They are beautiful as filler in a bouquet. We love it. We also grow it in a yellow color, but this purple is our favorite.

      I think they are really versatile for climate. I’m on a Facebook flower farming group and people grow it from the New England states to the hot Texas states. We are very hot here in Tennessee and surprisingly very dry (we dry farm our flowers) and it does great. Not sure where you are located, but I would sure give it a try.

      Thanks for writing!

      – Dori –

      • Nanette Boots says:

        Thanks for the info, Dori. I live in North Dakota and am moving to South Dakota for the next growing season. Can’t wait to give it a try. Too bad there’s 6 months of snow and cold before then! N

  12. Marilyn says:

    Those flowers are gorgeous. What makes it even more special is the fact that it involves your daughter and her family. Continued success with the flower stand.
    Marilyn

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Marilyn,

      Yes… the fun is in Andrea and I doing it together. And of course the little girls too. I wouldn’t enjoy it near as much if I was trying to do it by myself!

      – Dori –

  13. Deanne says:

    I really enjoyed your story. I am a flower grower and lover as well and want to do what you are doing. The flower garden is a place of solace and meditation and is truly healing. Thanks for sharing. You give encouragement to the dreamers.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hello Deanne,

      It is one of those things that I think a person can’t even describe – you almost have to experience it don’t you think? The healing in the flower garden. It is real.

      Thank you for writing!

      – Dori –

  14. linda says:

    You are such a joyful inspiration on this rainy day in Northern California. I had not seriously thought about planting a flower garden so next year..yes.
    I recently looked at our crop of Cinderella pumpkins and had a second look; like I had never really seen them before. Their deep beauty touched my deepest heart.
    Thank you so very much for sharing your flowers your heart

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Linda,

      Oh yes, please plant a flower garden! We order from rareseeds.com and they have the most amazing heirloom zinnias you’ll ever grow! My favorite.

      I think you are so right – sometimes we have to just sit and look at something through new eyes. And pumpkins are so gorgeous. I told my husband that my daughter and I need a little more area plowed up and composted and we’re going to plant some pumpkins to sell on our stand next year! We had some there for decoration and someone bought them! No…. they didn’t steal them, they bought them! Isn’t that hilarious?!! :-) So do you grow a crop for selling or just enjoying?

      Thanks for writing,

      – Dori –

  15. Marlene Capelle says:

    You and your family are one of the luckiest families in forever. I think you are growing peace in a small way that is bigger than you can imagine.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Dear Marlene,

      Your comment brought tears to my eyes. It was just such a beautiful thing to say and I think you for that.

      I do recognize how lucky we are and I try to never take it for granted. But thank you so much for that reminder.

      – Dori –

  16. Vivian Monroe says:

    Dori, what beautiful flowers and what a wonderful sweet group of customers you have. I love the box of jars as a blessing. how sweet. You and beach farmgirl Deb have the most beautiful flowers. Lots of work but worth all of the kind words and smiles. Be BLessed. Neta

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Neta,

      Yes, Deb and I are both so lucky to be fellow flower farmers (and believe me, we trade notes via email quite frequently!). I will say here that I’ve never seen such beautiful Dahlias as the one that Deb grows in New England. Unfortunately we have no luck with Dahlias down South with the heat. We keep trying though and I’m determined to find the right shady spot to make them grow! :-)

      – Dori –

  17. denise says:

    Your flowers look so beautiful! wish I lived close enough to drive by and buy some!!

  18. MarciD says:

    Love it! This inspired my 8 year-old daughter to make flower arrangements from the remaining zinnias in our garden and take them in to her teachers at school. Her grandma taught her how to arrange flowers over the summer (I missed out on the flower green thumb gene). She has plans to plant more flowers in our garden next year and have a little flower stand.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hello Marci,

      Oh I’m so happy that I inspired your daughter!!!! That is the most exciting thing ever! I hope she enjoys it as much as my eight-year old grand-daughter does. It is such an awesome things for kids to learn!

      You’ll have to let me know next summer!

      – Dori –

      P.S. http://www.rareseeds.com is our favorite place for ordering heirloom zinnia seeds. They are big and beautiful!

  19. Joyce Winget says:

    Loved your story. I’m retired now and my dream is to have a flower farm like yours. I just need to talk my husband into buying land with full sun. Our little acre has too much shade for my dahlias and peonies. Joyce

  20. Karin says:

    Lovely article and farmstand. I got to read it again when it showed up in my new issue of MaryJane’s Farm. A great followup would be the business side of things. I’m going to retrofit an old milk can as a chained-down pay drop. Do you have any suggestions or do’s and don’ts for starting a stand? Thanks!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Karin,

      Thank you! Yes it was fun having my article in the magazine this month as well! :-)

      I love the idea of a milk can for a pay drop. Great idea!!!

      The thing I think I would recommend most on getting a farm stand started and getting the word out is social media. A Facebook page is a MUST!!! It’s a great way to keep everyone informed of what you have on your flower stand each day and just keep them reminded about it! We share a picture almost every day during growing season and when there is a good picture, it really generates more “likes” and therefore more traffic. AND more shares of course! We also encourage people who buy our flowers to take pictures and tag us or post to our page and that generates interest and almost a competitive edge in a sense… people see the pictures and think “Oh I need to do the same thing”! Ha! :-) You can view our FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/Farm-Fresh-823504691015424/

      – Dori –

      • Karin says:

        Hi Dori,

        Thanks for the social media reminder. Plus, we’ll be doing a good deed for the community by cheering everybody up with beautiful flower shots …

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>