Business Opportunities Growing Cut Flowers with The Flower Grower Benny Pino (FSFS165)


What about growing something on your farm that you can't eat today? It's an episode all about something that will never make its way onto a dinner plate. It's all about raising in growing cut flowers. Coming up welcomed the farm, small farm smart. I'm your host Diego. DIY ejido. Today's episode of farm small farm smart is brought to you by paper. Paiko paper pod. Co is a company that I own and our goal is to make your job on the farm easier. Now a lotta people so she ate using the paper pot transplant her with transplanting vegetables. Did you also know that you can transplant flowers using the paper pot transplant her just like with vegetables, the paper pod transplant is a great tool to save you time and a lot of bending over in the field when you're planting flowers, so as you listen to this upcoming episode, and you're. Considering raising flowers if you're thinking, oh, that's a lot of transplanting. I don't wanna do all that transplanting. I don't want my staff to do all that transplanting. And I want to bend over that much. Then look at the solution to your flower transplanting problem, the Papon transplant her available at paper pot dot co as you've probably gathered from the information so far this episode is all about cut flowers in this is actually the first in a series of episodes about cut flowers because I partnered with lob lolly farm to do a whole series going through the a to z of growing cut flowers for market growing cut flowers on a small scale, most of the episodes that have done in the past have been all about growing vegetables on a small scale. But in a lot of areas, there's a very profitable crop and an untapped niche in. In growing cut flowers. So I wanna bring that niche the light get more information out there about it. And hopefully give you some more information. So you can consider and look into is there room in your market and on your farm to add cut flowers to the mix for the first episode in the series today. I'm joined by farmer Benny Pino of law. Molly farm benny's. The main grower at lob lolly farm his wife. Courtney does a lot of the flower arranging side of things. So Benny spends a lot of time in propagation area in the field in learning about the cultivation of flowers in today's episode. We're going to talk about why flowers, what's the aperture unity. How big is it? And why should you consider growing flowers on your farm in? Why it might be possible to make a really good living growing just cut flowers on a small scale here. It is. I hope you enjoy it. The flower grower with Benny Pino. Benny it's been a while since you been on the podcast, you you're last on the podcast ovary year ago with your wife, Courtney, and you all run a now flower farm, lob lolly farm at the time. I think you're producing some vegetables. And now you're exclusively flowers for people that miss that interview. And haven't heard of you. They don't follow you on Instagram. Can you talk a little bit about who you are? And what lob lolly farm is in one. It's about jor. So LA Boeing bar is located in southern Maryland were actually Charles county, your town Waldorf, and we have eight acres of arable land recall today about two this year. We did one last year, and we're hopefully moving into two we are covering everything with tarps. And and so that takes a little time to open up new ground. But yeah. We're going to grow exclusively cut flowers like you mentioned, and we're predominantly selling in farmers markets to local Flores to do, weddings. And we're using about a quarter of those flowers also in our own wedding design business, so horny mostly does the designing I go with her on the wedding day or the event day usually a Saturday. And so we did forty weddings last year. And hopefully this year will be able to use a lot of the powers that were going on the farm in those weddings in a lot of people listening to this. They are in the veg- world there. Veg farmers growing at your scale. But vegetable crops, what are the big differences between flowers in veg- from a sake cultivation growing standpoint? So yeah, that could take up the whole interview easily, but I would say that it's a little more. Technical and horticultural in what I mean by that is there are a lot of subtle nuances in starting your seeds and the types of cross. Growing. So you know, I never considered perennial vegetables much when I was growing for market in that world. And now, it's all about understanding. What's a biennial? When is it gonna flower how quiz it gonna flower because getting to market with that is a lot more tricky? You know, your days maturity on flowers are extended considerably like a hundred twenty days when I first saw that when I was getting into those like, how am I ever going to make a profit because you know, you look at a lot of other models in the veg- world in. It's like crank those days to maturity down as far as you can with flowers. It's like a car ball. You've got a thing. Okay. I am going to over winter these or I'm gonna plant some Perennials. And the Broncos will be the first thing is that lower spring. So there was a lot of going back to the books and and learning a considerable amount to shoot get myself. You know aware of all the different possibilities. So. Yeah, it flowers are. I mean, I love it. I love nursing out on this stuff. And I feel like it's expanded my agricultural horticultural knowledge considerably since I've gotten into it. And I still have a lot to learn yet from visiting your farm from talking to you. It's definitely a specialty. It's something that I think if you're going to go big into even on a small scale. But if like if it's all you're doing flowers like you really need to specialize in that same specialization is probably there in the veg side in maybe I'm just more familiar with it and take it for granted. But I feel like just hearing some of the nuances that go along with flowers like all the little tricks in things you have to do to get certain seeds to germinate. It's it it is more horticultural along the way. Wouldn't you can pair say a- veg farm? To alive stock pharma a lot one other thing with Vegf farms is a lot of edge farms kind go the model of eighty twenty at down to will. We're not gonna have a bunch of crops, and we're just going to focus on that quick turnover crops with flowers, you you can't do the same thing is flowers more of a variety game. Or can you specialize in a certain thing on a small scale in in still make it work. So what a lot of veg growers who side hustle with flowers. Do is they focus on summer annuals. And that means a quintessential sunflower Zimba and those flowers are fairly plug and play. We grew those way back when when we first started getting into flowers. That's what we started with an S like the gateway, you know. That's how you get to to understand at least generalities of for exam. Apple picking time. You know, you you get used to how you harvest when you harvest what you do in post processing when you bro those silver Endo's in. That's where I would say most people should start. If you like have never grown flowers at all. I would definitely start with summer annuals because they're very forgiving. And then they also have a a much shorter turnaround time. But yes. There's for example, you get into the details of the flower industry, and you look up some stats in floriculture, really cut flowers is is kinda down towards the end of how much you know, in terms of millions. There are over the course of any given year. So, you know, the floor clincher industry is in the US right now around four point two billion dollars, ry and garden plants bedding plants are over a million of that where you look at cut flowers, and they're only about three hundred seventy four million. So, you know. You can get really into the details of growing or different market streams and make a lot of money in flowers going that that way, but you have to you have to consider all the avenues. And then kind of make your choice if you want if you want to specialize flyers wanna really only grow them than I would save the good to take a step back and get a full lens picture of what the industry is like. And then choose what to go into in the give people some perspective on what the industry sector is. Like what opportunity is there is there room for the two acre flower farm in the three hundred seventy five million dollar market. Can you carve out a niche out of that? Or is it dominated by imports and bigger players that really specialize in one thing that quote, commodity growers. Yes, that's. It's a really big question. And I've spent a little time researching that recently, and I feel like the answers resounding. Yes. In terms of there's opportunities. So the first thing to do is like you into that look at the import market, and you know, we in the US only grow about a quarter of the flowers that are consumed locally so Columbia by a long shot imports. It's like close to seventy percents of the flowers that we see here. And you know, you have to do is think about the seasonality in Columbia and the days of the year that most people consume flowers here in the US, and it's you know, the winter holidays, so you've got Christmas and Hannukah and that two huge like if you look across the grab across time. They're like these like bunny ears these really high outliers which are mother's day and down. Tines day. So you know, you can sell most of your cut flowers during that time of the year. If some way you're able to grow the reduced during that time of the year. So if you had protected culture, and you've got heavy into that, you could I mean overnight, the a success in growing Thouars, you would just have to have, you know, a series investment in Rena houses at protected culture. So that being said there are lots of other options there are like I already said the annual garden plants, the ones that you find it nurseries. Most often pot in flowering plants or another sector, so you can grow things that like balls that people buy so that they can put them out during Christmas time like amaryllis, you can grow those for those. Seasons as well. Those holidays, you can grow other specialty products like wreaths reserve, a popular that just you know, in December that just passed you can grow herbaceous perennial plants and another category is even like, you know, your starts. So all of those categories that I just named actually in the US are more limited than cut flowers across, you know, this assistance that I found the the USDA so you can look into each of those in a great place to kind of introductions all of that. That's like berry user friendly and a little more readable than you know, USDA statistics is this book called the fifty mile k which is by Deborah frenzy. And she does this really great job of syrup touring the US and interviewing a lot of different. Successful florists and companies that have found creative ways of selling mostly cut flowers. She reviews really a lot of individuals who are like I said selling stars and other things, but there's interviews with people who have started markets a really big place in US is like Washington in Oregon. They got a really booming cut flower industry out there. So if you get into this, I would definitely pick up her book, and, you know, maybe even visit those places where you know, cut flowers are a real big thing. So with all those different niches there that people could plug into on a flower farm level. Do you think the small farmer has opportunity to compete in those niches? One thing is I think, and I don't want to say this is true. Is you look at say farmers markets in small farms. They're selling CSA's, they're selling at farmers markets. There's a lot of vegetable producers all competing, but I would like to think in this might not be true that if you overlaid that same area or that same Marquette with small flower growers. There's a lot less. So a lot less could mean more opportunity, or it could also mean there's less for a reason. There's just not enough demand to support more are flowers a sneaky way to bypass a crowded market leg veg, or is it more competitive than we may see on the surface. I have two answers to that one. Which is the macro look at the marketplace. And again from my reading, it's a growing industry. It's an industry that year over year has seen by percent increases, which is it's also pretty resilient. You'd be surprised to secede. It like, you know, weddings, especially people don't. You know, restrict their spending during downturn years in empowers which I found really surprising. So so, yeah, I I noticed that there's a even a five percent increase year over year and has been for quite a while in blower culture in on the antidote or or personal level. I went to market last year with Courtney, and we sold out almost every single time with games market with UK's. And so, you know, you know, how it's talking about the, you know, annual flowers being a gateway the same. I would say in terms of market, you know, like UK's are an easy simple straightforward way to try your hand at getting into cut flowers. You you can also do you know, like like people will say. Sell individuals stems and bunches. But I find that a k gives a value add that catches people's eyes and allows them to drop some money Whitley for an occasion. So the old think about flowers in terms of do I am I going somewhere later in even if you walk up to a lot of Flora's stands at in arms market. It'll say like where you going like, no be like posted question, or, you know, do you have a special occasion coming up a special that you can ask when someone comes up in their like browsing, you know, it's all about gifting flowers. The number one person who buys flowers is a woman buying for another woman. So that really opened my eyes you you, you know, you sort of look for this individuals in. So we use those tricks in sold out almost every single time. I can't tell you what that would look like in a. Very large marketplace where like let's say you read up arms market that has forty plus vendors, and you have a few other cut flower growers. We damn our, you know, had to compete against a lot of that. But I can attest that most markets in DC area in their slop arms markets here. They don't have a lot of cut flower growers who are really killing it. You know, it just just go in and take a walk through your arms market and see how many producers there are that are doing cut flowers, and in what most people do do like a small little dinky thing. It's got like ten stands. Maybe fifteen they're they're gonna hit and miss and they're not really arranged. If you just upped your game from them in stood out, it I mean flowers that the whole pilot high wash it fly tenant, you hear a lot from from, you know. Bench producers. I mean, the flowers of all to attract us, they bald to attract pollinators, and so they already have a huge one up in in that they can show off. And so if you arrange them to to have a big abundant looking display like that we sold out almost every time from from day one. And and it was I think the other trip was doing price at ten dollars. So people will part very easily with that ten dollars and annual. I think you'll be impressed. If if you give it a go, so what I'm hearing is there's a chance to go in disrupt the market if your strategic about it because there may be isn't as many producers in maybe the producers aren't as savvy. I mean, that's painting with very broad strokes. But but I kind of look at it like, I don't know. Lot of young exclusive flower growers in I've tried to find them in. I've tried to look in. When I go to my local farmer's markets. It's kind of old school flower growers that have you know, carnations and flowers they've they painted in there. They wrap them in the colored cellophane I don't know that that appeals to the more sophisticated customer the younger customer in the definitely not young people at the booths. Yeah. I really do think that there's an opportunity in terms of updating your your your flowers seeing and you know. Again, our experience was that you we we did we did elevate things a little bit. We thought about our presentation and in how we we wrap things. Yeah. We we tried to stick a little more to something that looked like it was recyclable in eco-friendly in and used paper products in in. I think that made a difference for sure, and I would I would say you could start it, you know, alive. It was funny. A lot people started growing flowers in selling them when we when we they noticed that we were selling out each week. And you know, they would just grow like half ten bouquets at their checkout, and it would sell a number of them. But it was like, you know. They weren't really really trying. I don't know where the mentality comes from. I don't know why people think that they're not a serious product that people are willing to spend. But I read some market research from, you know, growing for market and across the nation. If you look at bombers markets, the number one selling item. Across not just number of sales. But, but, you know, take home, hey, is is tomatoes. And then right after that is lowers. So, you know, it's like, I don't I don't get it it it's like a one of the industry's best kept secrets. And this is all stuff, you know. Now, if we go back in time in forget what you know now in everything that you've learned when you all initially decided to do flowers, what was the business plan where was the market gonna be in. What were you gonna wanna grow because where I wanna follow up with that is how did that play out? How did it change? So if we go back to day one ignoring what you did during what you know. Now, what was the initial plan based on assumptions, then it was pretty much always case and enjoying farmers markets. That's where sold most of our badge. And so we just naturally segue into that. I would change significantly over time is that we had so much success, weddings. So are predominant income stream is is doing design with flowers. And then putting them in wedding. So so I mean, that's a that's a whole nother discussion. An honestly Courtney would be much better suited to speak about it. But the. From the floriculture agricultural standpoint value at the most to a flower when you sell it in an event and even more so at a wedding. So I can take a stem of say Dalia in south farmers market for at the absolute most like a dollar two dollars. You bring that same Dalia stem and sell it via a wedding. And then you put it in Brian's K that Dalia stems were six eight ten dollars. So you know, that was like an aha moment. And we said why don't we do two things one make more money per stem. You know, circulating those flowers through weddings. But then the other big thing is that we can we can value. Add we can we can make our weddings, so much more robust in interesting in. Run the gamut with color, and you know, supplement with overabundance to how our brides, and then have a lot more material visually so to speak to to grab hold of a marketplace. And in standout him. If you strip away the design chunk of the business the endlessly just sold cut flowers. I know that businesses profitable. Is it enough to? Make a living on in your area on an acre. I will caveat this by saying that we're still pretty new to it. But from a pretty objective standpoint, if you look at a bed of sei's zinnias Juanita's, popular flour. And you do the math per square foot bursts is some of the best veges out there. Absolutely. It competes not only does it compete, but dollar for dollar that you can you can produce more. And so I feel like while this is a very underrated searched market space in terms of like, you know, small sustainable Ag. I feel like I've set in very interesting place where I'm going to start researching details of that. And and sort of report back oblique over the next few years as to you know, what the nitty gritty are of each of those crops. And I've got a lot of like this hideous, for example. They're they're very exciting mate. They're very productive. And I feel like you could very easily hit the numbers that John Martin encouraged all those guys that that, you know, have these video circulating about how much you can make off of a one acre farm, I feel like flowers could easily easily do that in with flowers on a small scale in. Let's just stick with cut flowers. Not any other selling starts or potted plants or landscape plants, but cut flowers, you're not gonna play the game that the mega producers would be you're not gonna grow, you know, one primary crop and sell it to a wholesale or or somebody like that. Right. Like, you're having to make a business on a small scale work growing cut flowers. You have to find the higher value Ma. Market streams or is there opportunity at your scale to sell to some of the quote house. A bigger company buyers out there I had done some market research in that respect too in terms of florists. So you can you can go to ways that I've researched and one is bouquets on a very high like intense around and and crank so that you can sell them to sake grocers, and in the other one that I am leaning towards a little bit more. So is due to sell to Florus. And what I think you really need to do is do some market research get out there and find what people don't have access to. So the way the most Flores yet, they're flowers is like we are talked about. Lumbia and these importers and there's an Evan flow to that in his issues analogy, so sometimes you can get a dollar yet. And other times you can't. And what we found were people telling us that there are a lot of gaps there. There are a lot of opportunities or you to produce one that we've heard a lot of greens. And so if you take a perennial lightnin bar that is a bushing perennial herbaceous, and you cut from that say a third maybe a quarter of it stems year, you could easily cover Nacre with just a few plants like that. And you would sell out you. I mean, if it's anything like it is here in, you know, the DMV your or the DC area, you would probably find a lot of demand for those it there. Are there are some plants that are difficult to ship? They fall apart Dalia is one of them. And so, you know, I can't tell you how many times the opened up a box that we've ordered from a wholesaler, and we literally can't use the product. We just have to throw it away. And so it's a crap shoot what you're gonna get whether the colors are gonna come in correctly. You know as a local producer of flowers. You have a huge one up just the same way that they don't get your, you know, lettuce from California to live you live over here. If you wanted to have some shelf lie, it's it's even more. So with flowers, you know, they get the they're very delicate. They get beat up very easily, and it's very hard to color match. So you can show your local buyers that you have XYZ product in presented in person and cut it in the next day. Bring it to them your value, adding on a scale that will really. Catch there. I and and to really answer your question. Yes. You could just grow say five or six things there. There are some local growers who just snap dragons, for example, and they've almost entirely made their living on growing Snapdragon. That's not year round. You know, they have unprotected culture. But they for the most part grow just during the warmer season. And in no living entirely snap dragons, let's not the route. You're currently going down in you are selling to the wedding market through the design section of the business. You sell bouquets does that in a way necessitate or dictate that you have to have variety on the farm to mix up the bouquets to have flowers kinda consistently over a long period of time. The the way is for us right now. Or at least when we started was, you know, smart annuals will give you about four to five months. And you do have a riot in there. You do wanna have like fifteen to twenty different kinds of flowers, and then within them, you wanna think color, and so you're gonna expand that out to have say Rita four different colors within those variety, grow mixes. Also, if you want to sort of make that a little easier on yourself, you know, if you if you just gonna grow for case, and you're just going to slap together in catch people's eye without having to sell to like another market stream like we are for example with the the wedding flowers. You can you can kind of Kate with broad strokes and variety mixes to get your your colors in there. And then just grow like, I was saying fifteen or so, and then you have a pretty solid. Foundation. And so that's gonna give you or to five months or so just sell a lot of of those. But then you if you really want to get serious about flowers, you you start to look at your your shoulder seasons. You start to branch out into growing, cooler weather lowers. And so, you know, one thing I've learned over the last few years is that real you can take flowers and divide them almost. It's accurate down the middle with your annuals at least, and you can say there are cool annuals and there are heat loving annuals and the way treat both those flowers is not the same. And I love the cool weather flowers because they have all these like superpowers like they basically sit out there and laugh at a frost. And I mean, the first couple times I did that I almost had a frigging heart attack because you know, how much time and effort is it to to plant a whole bet of something just to have it like. By frost? I've seen it happen with tomatoes so many times. And so the cool weather flowers allow you to branch out into spring in give you the ability to sort of circumvent that really long date. Immaturity problem that you see when you look at lowers verse. You're like, oh my gosh. One hundred twenty days, I'm never going to get to market me this darn thing. And and so really with the cold flowers to plant them in all energy over winter than their bite. The first thing to pop up in spring. So the day maturity thing it becomes like almost in big use. It's like what 'em how I think about this. But so so that's one the weather's. And there's the Perennials. So as you like really, I would suggest people pick up a book by Lorette. It's called the cut flower garden, and if you go on her website, she also has a really excellent blog and she. Now has a seed company, and you know, you considerably fall in love with flowers through Florette because she is she hasn't technical media. Her. Pictures are like jaw-dropping and her flower farm, you know, she grows into Skagit valley out will Washington, and their soil is just remarkable. And so every little seedlings she throws in the ground turns into this glorious. Flirt, so out what you do is you you just you kind of tour the seasons in her book, and you. You can see that from spring summer on winter. She's got different suggestions of what you're going to be harvesting during those times of year. And so that's like one of the ways that you can you can understand how broad the flower world is how obsessed people across history of been in cultivating all these different varieties thrive into times of year in in basically at that point sky's the limit. Like, I probably will spend the rest of my life learning about all of the different varieties. They have all the shows where people compete, you know. So so yeah, you can run your season that way and then Brian yard stream, you know, as as you you get more expertise would your USDA climate zone. So we're in seven. You know, I think we're sort of inbetween A N B zone seven. What's the earliest? You can go to market with a nice bouquet. You know? That's a moving target for me. I it. It's a question that I ask myself all the time. And as of right now may is is my target this year. And I hope if you were to make it April that would be April would be protect culture and may is getting good at weather flowers in June is with your warm weather flowers. Okay. So that's that's somewhat parallels. Veg-? I mean, there's obviously parallels more than maybe the warmer than crops. You can definitely get a lot of edge out Rollier than that one thing. I'm thinking is say somebody's listening to this. And they are. Or a competent vegetable grower. They don't know the problem growing crops. They understand the aspect of growing that civil soil managing weeds all that type of stuff, but they feel like, you know, their market is crowded. They're not getting as much further vegetables as they would like to. And they're hearing you talk about flowers and they're considering looking at flowers or switching over to flowers. If they were to sit down in front of you. What would be the things that you want to ping them about or bring to their attention before they made a shift from veg to flowers. First of all I'd say be confident. I think that sometimes when I I described flowers get so excited, and I talk about how much there is to learn, and I think a beginner might find that a little daunting. The the truth is still crops just like the bed are, and if you have experienced rowing bitch in you know, how to manage the, you know, the big topics like soil and era Gatien in host harvest and things like that you're already pretty well suited to to get going in. You will have a successful year with most flowers as long as you just do a bit of preliminary research in decide on a market stream. And then you have the question would be to them. What do you want to get into? So let's just say, it's bouquets. I would say. Trying and give yourself sort of a little will room and say five you're gonna have five to six months where you're gonna produce. You can have five to six months when you get started that you can feel pretty confident in that. You'll have a a bouquet the flower production field, and then as the years go on that will slowly creep out. And you'll expand that production cycle in you'll get to seven eight months, maybe even nine when you're really good in becomes a game of how much are you willing to invest in protect your culture. So yeah, I all the big, you know, learning curves in terms of Bej production like your production. You're you're you know, infrastructure and your soil working in things like that. You've got that nailed down. You can you can pretty much jump into the deep end with flowers and get started on that five six months cycle. I guess a way to you know, really dabble in this. If you're curious is to do that. What you're saying? Is that on business start selling bouquets while you sell veg? And that, you know, most people who are growing veg have some extra land that way, you're not really a shooting yourself in the foot. You're not killing off the edge to go to flowers before giving it a shot you can sell it in parallel. See how you like growing them? Get your experience. All you like doing all the post harvest processing, which is easier after having seen you done do it. But it is different in it seems like an easy relatively easy add on for some vege farms if they're curious about going down this route deeper. Yeah, I I want wanna win out that the post harvest I didn't quite realize its first, but you got to walk in cooler. You've already got most of what you need. Some people don't even have a walk in cooler, but you know, you can process flowers just by bringing them in the feel is if you of them that you might want to, you know, like basil, for example will wilt pretty easily. You don't see her the ends of the stems. So there's a little bit of care there. But honestly, I had to like take most of my post harvest stuck on the bench world and either give it away or use it for some other function because I wasn't doing any of that stuff anymore. So you free up huge amount of time. Not having to worry about post harvest processing, it becomes a little bit more about bunching shortening. You know, but again nets like something you have to do veges anyways. So there's I feel like I I don't want to say that there's no post harvest, but it gets truncated by like eighty percent. Cents which you know, it is eaten up a little bit more by the fact that when you go out to the field, you are you are cutting for longer. So you you don't have like a root digger to come along. And and pull everything up real quick. You don't have a quick cut breeze harvester that you can just zip along the crop the top of the bed. So yes, do spend more time in field in terms of harvesting. And and that can be a little bit of a bear. If you don't schedule yourself directly or break it up, but still overall time as I would say you not having to wash vegetables at the end of the day saves, you way, more time. I I can say that berry bike accurately, I think from from having transitioned from the veg- world into this. For example. I walk people through what a week might look like on a one flower farm in the middle of the summer. How onerous is the workload? How many hours are you putting on just in terms of say the field work in preparing for market? Let's not count the wedding work because I see that is that's a side business. You know, your the way I break out my week is I think about the nurse refers. And so it's all about I start seeds on weekly basis, and you wanna really nail that game down. So that has flower seeds can be very tedious and difficult to work with, but I'm not gonna get too much into that is just you you spend safe four to six hours on a Monday doing that. And and getting all your seat started. Then you grab a hold of your transplants. And hopefully, you got a systematized way of transplanting via the paper Potter water wheel something like that. And you get out there, and you drop those hopefully, you've got weather's cooperating in on say that same Monday or Tuesday, you basically should finish up your transplant in. And then by the time you get around to Wednesday, you should be harvesting. So you really wanna have like I mean in on farm like no gaps. You know, you need to be you need to be constantly in production. So you're going to get out there, and you're gonna cut from all your like half of your fields after your beds. And so you know, that comes the the largest task that's can take up say that Wednesday in either into Thursday as well or in a your your staggering, and you're going into a a Wednesday in say a Saturday cut the thing about. Flowers. They'll they'll keep for like almost universally from five to seven days. No problem. And and that'll give you enough time to get to market. And then when those people bring that home, they should get another by seven days in vase at home. So, you know, that's where you're wanting cooler is gonna help and you're gonna cut without having to worry too much about you know, what day of the week that then on Friday Saturday, you're going to essentially do like field work. I'll pray beds. I'll turn things over again out there, and I would suggest will use a flail mower or something in the store to to knock down your your cross because in flowers can get pretty big, you know, some people would do a hand clear with badge. I think that that's a local. But anyways, you clear out your fields. And then you get them ready to plan again on Monday when you compare some of the potential problems, or maybe more labor intensive processes on a veg farm harvesting. In washing product. Like, that's obviously out in on the washing side one area that a lot of edge producers spend a lot of time managing is we'd pressure weeds versus flowers. How does that compare to weeds versus vegetables, I find that? It varies a lot. There are some flowers like, you know, the state flower here is Rebekah, and I feel like it grows. So well that there's no we could beat it. But at the same time, you also wrote things that are a lot more fragile into flour world than most Dench. It's almost a little more akin to say trying to take on a. Specialty cut green or curate. I wouldn't say it's onerous is a carrot. But you know, you you definitely want to give your flowers clean bed almost every time. And I I honestly simplified in almost entirely down to using tarps ally. And I find that if you can get your perennial weeds situation under control, you know, your annual leads the the I use transplants so transplants give you a pretty good leg up in terms of being head of the weed pressure. And then once, you know, if you're planting intensively, you're headed the weeds out there, and and the flowers will cover them out in in they'll be fine. So honestly, I think it's more about like how good is your your cultivation game in general. I didn't have to change things very much. I didn't have to develop a whole new system from. Going from bed to flowers. It's more like how clean is your bed in in. How systematized is your cultivation practices? And when you think about setting up say, a flower farm, this is a point that you made to me when we're communicating before the show of comparing say startup expenses advantage to flowers. If I glance around in my mind, flower farm versa. Veg farm could the obvious is you're not going to have to have the whole wash station infrastructure that you'd have to have on a veg farm on a flower farm are there other differences that would make say setting up a flower farm less expensive in there. Maybe things that a flower farm would have to have that veg farm wouldn't have that could make it more expensive. I thought about this question. A lot of light. You know, what's the minimum out that you could spend to start a small scale farm like this and. Honestly, all I did was get rid of a quick moment when I transitioned from veg into flour there you like buckets, for example, become like more of a thing. You know, we Prokhoda buckets. I can't advocate for them enough. They are a pretty straightforward square boat. It's tapered a little bit. So that it's, you know, getting wired towards the top and has handles on either side, they're built into the bucket, and they they just hold way more stems than say, you're five gallon. So I would really suggest people if they're going to get into you know, a series production model with with lower. Today that go towards proponent Baucus. But honestly, I I need to buy anything new or extra. The only thing that that really stood out to me was the flail lower because you know, in terms of turning your beds over there's more Ganic material. So, you know, you want to think about how to handle that in in the flail mower is actually an investment I'm gonna make this year. I haven't used the debt. But I mean from all the research, I've done it looks like it will be the perfect tool and NASA, bow I honestly, I own one other big thing. I would say is transportation. So one of the limitations with flowers is that you can't put them in a box and stack them if you you can do that when you ship them like if you like when you go to the wholesaler, that's that's they have them in buckets. But then they'll put them into boxes to ship them. Or like they'll arrive. Directly from say Columbia in a box. But then there's like a ton of packaging in all sorts of tricks that you have to do to keep them from expiring. So you know, you really when you're bringing them at a small scale roar to to sell them, you can't stack them unless you Bill shelving in your transport vehicle or in your walk in glitter. So that's something that I would have people think about your swear digital walk in cooler isn't gonna go nearly as far than like when you're producing vegetables in. You can just, you know, stack them in boxes as high as you want. So all in. I think this episode. Makes the case that small scale farming of flowers cut flowers, specifically is a viable business. Do you agree with that statement like you can make a living doing this? Obviously, you know, there's the the nuance of well, you have to be business Avondale that type of stuff, but a well run cut flower farm on an acre. That's gonna make sense, you know, I wouldn't just go as far as viable business. I would say that. It's the curve ball. I'm gonna say that I heard an analogy recently that you know, if you want to get into an Ivy league school, you should go into fencing, you should specialize and learn how to fence because no one does that. And it's a way to Padua resume. So that you get in without a whole lot of effort. This is. As far as my experience has shown me in the last three years. It's it's a very easy way. If you already know how to farm to Padua resume to to increase your offerings. And honestly, if you wanted to just simply do flowers, you probably would make a tidy little living yet in this is going to be the first episode in a whole series of episodes that we're going to do in the first half of twenty nine teen with both yourself in your wife, Courtney talking everything flowers, so people if people are interested in this. They can stay tune they'll be more ahead in the coming months. And if people wanna learn more from you, you do offer advice consulting for people for people that want to get in touch with you if they have questions about the flower business or wanna get some advice. Where would you send them we have a website that has contacted nation on it? It's WWW dot LA. Lolly dot far or you can type in lob lolly organic farm dot com. And then we're also at loud lolly farm on Instagram. You can just shoot us. A message that way or you can always Email me, I'm at a Benny at mob, Lally dot bar. There you have it the flower grower. Benny Pino of lob lolly farm, would you think of this episode? What do you think of the idea of growing cut flowers? Do you want to hear more about this? Let me know shoot me an Email Diego at paper pot dot co- or hit me up on Instagram at Diego footer be sure to check out everything that benny's doing on his farm at Lumley farm, which I've linked to in the show notes for this episode. And for those of you who do want hear more about growing flowers? Stay tuned over the next few months because I'll be doing an ongoing series with both Benny and his wife Courtney who you didn't hear today, but you will in a future episode talking all about cut flowers and everything that they've done to Bill the market and Bill the farm around growing them at lob lolly farm, that's all for this one. Thanks for listening until next time. Be nice. Be thankful and do the work.

Coming up next