There are truly no words to describe a moment like the one I had when I first walked onto the grounds of Floret flower farm. Although I do not often watch TV or movies, this is one of those rare times where I can only liken it to a scene such as the one in the original film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That first look into the confection dream world where everyone wanders around in a land of pure imagination touching candy flowers quiet in disbelief, was happening to me; only these were real flowers and this was not fiction. Perhaps I had imagined I would prance and sing, “The hills are alive!…”, but that did not happen as I had wished it to. It was either shock or joy that led me through the rows of dahlias and hoop houses full of floral surprises (and one territorial rooster) like those wide eyed children pawing at the giant candy plants in that wonderful movie scene.
Erin and Chris opened their doors and themselves to our barrage of questions, photos, and note taking on their every word. They are simply a wonderful team whom any romantic like myself would root for sailing smoothly through every challenge life will ever offer them. I think the best part of listening to them talk and watching them interact is that they admitted to tiffs, being nerdy, making mistakes, and celebrating like fools in the flower patches. To me it was and always is the realness that counts most.
I did my best to listen to every word, but at times my poor brain was overloaded with the stress of trying to listen like a good workshop attendee and it would wander. Chris likely is saying something important here about the geranium and the greenhouse, but who can concentrate when they smell and see this?
So we need to have a just moment here dedicated to just the Café Au Lait and like dahlias in the hoop houses here. They are simply like nothing on earth. Period. They were bigger than a platter and so healthy and tolerant of sitting out for days without refrigeration of any kind! WHAT!!?? The dahlias we get shipped into my city are quite fragile and petite compared to this. If I only had seen those 3 rows, I likely still would be motivated to create more product for our region here in TN. I honestly think these dahlias wouldn’t have stunned me any more even if they were made of candy. No pesticide. No hormones. Wow.
Here we see the fall crop of Sweet Peas. Look at those beautiful babies who are going to grow up to become 7 foot vines of heavenly flowers.
So the main point I would like to share about this experience is that I learned enough during the beautiful time at Floret to keep our own farm going strong. I saw firsthand that farming is as easy or difficult physically depending on what you want to come out of it and how much money you have, but that money is not going to get in the way of everything you want to accomplish and grow. Money is just going to make it easier because you can buy better equipment as you have more to invest in upgrades and staff. Farming is a simple practice that is as old as time. Those who are most successful love what they do, and are not afraid to listen to others, try and fail, try again, and work hard. That’s the bottom line and the nuances learned by research or seeking those with experience are out there to find. I made so many wonderful farmer florist friends that I hope to have for life (more on each of these amazing women coming up in my future posts, as well as photos from Chris Benzakein and Georgianna Lane!). I’m so glad I was able to visit Floret to catch a preview of what is possible on my own land and hear a large portion of their advice, as well as the advice and practices from farmers all over the globe, in a three day intensive. It was worth the journey for my nature loving heart, my sense of community, and the future of my farm.
(I also think that the adorable truck sold me on the notion that I need a little vehicle to fill with flowers. It’s just so fun and practical! Hauling buckets all my life and now to see this? I’m a Jeep woman myself, so maybe the world’s oldest Willys Jeep will show up in my life, needing a good retirement home. I can dream can’t I?)
Erin, Chris, and the entire team at the farm, including some surprise guests like Sue Prutting and Angie Tomey, really left me with not only a great deal of wonderful information and experience, but also many questions I needed to ask myself before I found the answers that were right for me, my family, and the future of my farm. I will leave this post with more from that great Willy Wonka song that I hum often as I walk through my own world of creation. We can be anything we truly wish to be.
(All photos by me, unless a “camera angel” came to take the photo for me).
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There is no
Life I know
To compare with
You’ll be free
If you truly wish to be.
-Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newlwy
Sung by Gene Wilder