Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quotable Sunday 02/24/2013

Please don't give up on flowers!

I have been reading about how there have been many very unhappy people following the Valentine's Day holiday.  They are very unhappy with the quality and delivery of their flowers to someone special.  Most of the articles have dealt with the flowers purchased using the big online delivery companies.  Flowers that failed to show up on time or the biggest complaint was that they did not look like the photo, the size was skimpy or there were no flowers blooming.  The worst part was how many people said that they would stop giving flowers all together, that flowers don't last more than a day or two or they just were not worth the money.  NOOOOOOOOO....... please don't say that.  Please don't give up on flowers......Please!!!!

You see it depends on where you get your flowers.  Locally is ultimately best, grown in the United States is great but not when flowers are shipped in from the far corners of the world.  Unfortunately, for the average American,  flowers have become a commodity like wheat, corn, sugar, veggies, table wine or canned beer.   Very practical business oriented Farmer Tony is always saying "commodities are typically not unique, are sold in massive volumes, at the lowest possible quality for the cheapest price. Americans want what they want when they want it at any time of the year and it better be cheap."  The emotional overly sensitive me is always saying "why can't they see that local flowers are so much more beautiful, smell wonderful, last so much longer and have a wonderful seasonality to them that makes them unique." 

Communities are saying more and more support your local farmer and farms and for the most part they mean the veggies and fruit farms, or the meat, poultry and egg producers but I wish they would specifically include the flower farmer also. 

We are not the only voices out here encouraging folks to buy local flowers.  We belong to the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.  This is a group of growers across the nation who are growing beautiful and in many cases unique flowers. This is an organization that supports, educates, speaks for and champions flower farmers. Many of farmers are also lending their voices to buying local flowers.  Here are just a few.

Jello Mold Farm 
The Painted Tulip
Love 'n Fresh Flowers
An article on Flirty Fleur's blog written by Andrea Gagnon of LynnVale farms

Books written by Debra Prinzing   "The 50 Mile Bouquet" and "Slow Flowers" featuring and highlighting the beauty of local flowers.  She encourages the seasonality flowers and to look beyond the typical flowers to the unique and different flowers for each season.

There are many fellow flower farmers who are becoming highly acclaimed floral designers who have a large following of happy customers. They do fantastic work and are too many to include here but can be found through the Association. There is a designer in Baltimore, Local Color Flowers ,who designs with local grown flowers from farms in her surrounding area.  Check out her beautiful designs that change with the seasons. There are high end designers who are becoming farmers to grow their own flowers so as to have a superior product to work with.  Itty bitty farms to very large farms here in the United States are growing beautiful flowers for the U.S. consumer.  If only they will seek out our flowers. 

 Just as CSA(community supported agriculture) veggie farms, meat, poultry and egg producers have developed a following; as have craft beer breweries and small wineries developed new and different products that are being well supported and received by the community as new and exciting, distinct and different; the same should be said about local flowers.  Shop at your local little florist shops and encourage them to provide and offer locally grown flowers. Encourage the small grocery stores to stock local flowers along with the local produce they are offering.  Shop the farmers' markets and get to know the people who grow the flowers. Ask how they are produced and cut and designed for your pleasure.  Seek out designers and growers for your wedding or event flowers. Help us to develop that special niche of finely grown flowers just like the well crafted beers, the special small wines, the artisan cheeses, grass feed meats/poultry and the organically grown vegetables and fruits that are found around your community.  Encourage and support the U.S. flowers growers.

The last thing I want to say about the Valentine's Day holiday is that we all recognize it as a "mandatory social obligation" just as Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory" puts it when offering a hot beverage,  It is just something that we are required to do socially.  But ladies, please don't wait for someone to give you flowers for some holiday.  Empower yourself,  go buy them for yourself.  So many young women come in to our flower booth and wish someone would buy them some beautiful flowers and I spring to their side and encourage them to buy some for themselves.  Many young women buy just a few stems for a small vase for their workplace, their kitchen table or their nightstand and I will sell them just a few flowers all day long.  They recognize the happiness, joy and beauty even a couple of stems will provide them.  I have many little girls (preteens) who will save just enough of their allowance to purchase a few blooms, I love them; they will be flower lovers for life.  Surround yourself with flowers on a daily basis, not just for a holiday, a special occasion, and event or party but in everyday life.  Buy a few or many but buy often and local.

 Gentlemen, for the few who are reading this, the grand gestures are fine but most of the time it is the small gestures that are the most special, a few daffodils on a rainy gloomy day, one perfect lily because you remember it was her favorite or a bouquet of special flowers just because.  Not that you are in the dog house or trying to get out of trouble or into trouble(wink wink), but because she is your love, heart and soul and flowers will feed her soul.

 "Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quotable Sunday 02/17/2013

Quotable Sunday

"Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle ... a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dream."
-  Barbara Winkler

 Our first little anemones added with red double tulips from the Farmers' market makes a nice little Valentine's Day vase.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Quotable Sunday 2/10/13: Taking a repost from posting

Normally we like to take this opportunity to talk about things that are on our minds or to discuss things that are happening on the Farm.  However, this week we were visited by a most unwelcome guest--the flu.

Its strange, both of us had our flu shots in October, but the badly behaved visitor still came.  We figured we picked up this bad hitchhiker when we visited, of all places, the doctors office whose complex is ironically named "The Wellness Center".  So once we recuperate and regain our strength we will be back with something new to discuss.  

Happy Valentines Day to All and see you next week!

 What I find most disturbing about Valentine's Day is, look, I get that you have to have a holiday of love, but in the height of flu season, it makes no sense.
--Lewis Black--

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Quotable Sunday 02/03/2013: Finding A Natural Balance

Our 10th  Year on the Farm and Discovering Nature's Purpose.

I know this is a strange title for a post but its meaning will become clearer as things progress. When Denise and I started farming flowers it evolved into a complete transition from the life we had led up to that point in the Fall of 2003. Let me give you a little history.  We used to live in what I call the other world, "The Cubicle World"

 The Cubical World is composed of basically 2 parts the first is economic.  When young and in our 20's we both followed the traditional path of first college, professional degrees, mine in accounting and finance hers in secondary education.  Then once out of college we both pursued jobs in the"Professional" way. I started work at a manufacturing company and Denise teaching history at a high school. Economically we began to grow and develop security and transition into the Adult life we were supposed to have.  Every week day we would get up and go to our jobs.  For me it meant pushing papers, making spreadsheets, analyzing costs etc..I actually worked in a cubicle.  But honestly, it quickly became a job, a mechanism to obtain money to get things.  Material things, the house, the cars, the toys of life.  Granted these things and my job contributed greatly to our comfort but it lacked passion and in time became mind numbing.  Worse yet for me it became a 20 plus year disconnection from Nature, from the cycles and the seasons of life.  

How did I deal with the blah routines and stresses of professional life in the late 20th century?  That leads us to the second part of living in the Cubicle World.."The Infotainment sphere"  A strange phrase, what is infotainment?  It starts with the passive world of the media you consume. Sitting in front of the TV I began to notice that the dang machine was always on and that it wasn't so much important what was watched but the escape or decompression time  it provided.  As computers and the internet evolved it too became part of the escape, part of the media.  I mean, okay, I was part of the first generation raised on TV right? Its logical that it became an ubiquitous part of life,  always there, always on.  Maybe, but for me I began to notice that what was evolving was the continuous selling of everything and a faster and faster evolution of devices to deliver whatever was being pushed.

Books became mechanisms to sell movies. Movies became mechanisms to sell products or political agendas.  Political agendas fill the radio airwaves.  PC's evolved into smartphones and then tablets.  The internet delivers infotainment on demand.    On and on it seemed like everything was becoming packaged, integrated, manipulative, and costly.  Each slice of infotainment came at a small cost..only $29.99 for Dish network, only $150 per month for the family plan smartphone with a data plan, only $39.99 per month for amazing internet service, these costs are cumulative.  I began to realize that I'm paying a lot to escape and be entertained.

Paying in the technical sense was just money, but money in the purest sense was also my time. So I began to think about how much of my time was the infotainment sphere actually consuming between using the products and working to pay for them and their delivery devices it.  It was staggering. To purchase and pay for the content and device delivery plans it equated to 160 hrs per year of work, in addition the consumption of this stuff probably averaged 5 hours a day 7 days a week or about 2200 hours a year.  Total hours spent 2360 or lets just say 2400 hours a year.  When you consider that if you sleep 8 hours a night and are awake 16 hours a day there are only 5840 hours available in a year, so 40% of my time was being spent on "infotainment"

So with 40% my time spent at my cubicle job and 40% of my time spent in the infotainment sphere, that left 20% of my time to do what?  As you can guess the remaining time was spent living, you know, getting the groceries, fixing things around the house, taking care of life.  This wasn't the fulfilling life we wanted and we both knew we had to change.

The life event that pushed this change was the end of my cubicle career. Due to business decisions made by a Corporate entity 3000 miles away my job was eliminated (as well as those of  the other 105 people working in the factory that I formerly managed). At first this created angst and confusion because the professional world I lived in and became comfortable with was abruptly ended.  After a short while though we both realized that this was the opening to begin something in the pursuit of a passion instead of just a paycheck.
Denise had always wanted to be involved with floral design and I always loved working outside with nature so flower farming seemed to be a natural fit.

So in 2003 we opened with our first season as Bare Mountain Flowers(Farm). With little first hand experience we made a lot of mistakes along the way.  But as time has progressed, this will be our 10th season, we have learned much from the kindness of others, through our professional association with the Assoc. Specialty Cut-Flower Growers, and from other local growers of food and vegetables.

What we have really learned (relearned) is that once you mostly unplug from the infotainment sphere and cubicle world and seriously begin to watch the cycles of the days, seasons, and even the years you begin to fully understand that the 21st century world that modern America has become for the most part is fake. Its not built on the real things of life.

What I mean by this is simple.  Think of the nature of each day, each week and each season. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The days get long then they get short, the seasons get warm, then they get cold.  Each plant, each animal, each of God's creations follows these cycles throughout each day, throughout each year and throughout their lives.  When you disconnect with that, when you live in the infotainment sphere I have to imagine that you will always subtly know something important is missing. We as humans, as part of the existence of this planet, have to reconnect to its nature, slow down and be part of it.

 If we have accomplished anything in the last 10 seasons here on the farm it is this reconnection to the natural world.  It drives us. We farm our land in as natural a manner as possible.  We strive to limit inputs from outside the farm.  We vow to use no man made chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizer.  We vow to treat the soil with respect and feed it and the communities that live in it. We strive to create a sustainable system that produces healthy flowers and food and to leave our land better than when we started farming. 

We also have learned (the hard way) that we have to understand our own cycle of life. That we must eat well, wholesome foods, that we must adequately rest, that we must not plan, schedule and work ourselves into oblivion, and that we must stay connected to the people who are important to us.  So as nature is balanced so must we be with our health and our daily lives.

So in a nutshell,  what took me  50+ years of life and 10 years of farming  to learn is that I must accept the natural balance to life. If we can all find this balance perhaps we'll all  live longer,  healthier and hopefully happier lives.

   --Farmer Tony----

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
Dale Carnegie

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