Episode 8- Supporting Local Cut Flower Growers
Welcome to the Sunshine Gardening podcast this gardening show what liquidity and inspire avid gardeners with weekly tips and tricks to help them navigate the gardening world. The show will also highlight specific growing requirements for several plants, south, assemble shine brighter over there. Kentucky Garden and now here. Is that ray of Sunshine? Garden enthusiasts and Horticulture Extension Agent Kristin Hildebrand with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Did you know that July is American? Ground cut violent. Yes so now is the perfect time to celebrate the abundance of locally grown cut flowers, and the farmers that grow them to discuss more about cut flower production. I interviewed my good friend and coworker Alexis Schiff field to ask her why July is such a special month for cut flower growers Alexis is the Bull County extension agent for horticulture in Danville Kentucky and in her spare time she runs her very. Very own flower farm called wild rates find out more from our interview together on how you can bright American, grown cut, flower month, and how you can also support Local Cup flower farms right here on the Sunshine Gardening podcast today I am so excited to be visiting with Alexis, Sheffield and she's a CO worker friend of mine, and she is also the bull county extension, agent or horticulture Texas. Hey, what's? I'll I'm so excited to have me on my podcast tonight because we are talking things that are related to cut flowers. Flower person so I'm right there with you. Girl right there with Ya I think flowers do bring a lot of joy, and especially right now during this town that we're in, it's really important to have those cultural blames coming from whether your garden or coming in from these our forms that we have so slightly I think they've helped with quarantine and a lot for sure all Ma Gosh yes, absolutely. Absolutely now, this is going to start at the show. I feel like you have a unique story. You're an educator in also cut our grower your sale. So why don't you just tell some of the listeners today on podcasts a little bit about yourself? Okay, sure. Yes, so I to the University of Kentucky and I got my bachelor's and my master's in plain scientists so like uber planner over here. Right and so then and I'm like you said. I'm the extension agent I've been in Boyle County. This is my first. My first big job and I have been here since two thousand thirteen, so iconic can't believe it I'm like no, no, that was like a year ago and I'm like Oh those seven years ago. So? That's been a fun realization this year that I've been here that long, but it's been a good time, and so I got married four years ago and I was already of doing flowers for people's weddings, just friends of mine that were getting married. They're like Oh you know things up plant, so you must know about floral design, which is a common misconception, but I really enjoy doing it, and then I started growing for my wedding. I said you know the plan person I don't. Don't grow things, or I sure hope I do 'cause I have sticks years education of eight four to learn grow things, and so I decided I'm GonNa grow flowers from my wedding, and so I did that and got all the way sucked into growing flowers, and not only just making pretty things out of them, and so I've been riding a flower farmer train now since two thousand sixteen, and it's really awesome to be a grower in an extension agent, because as flower farming has really. Bloomed. I'm saying that Pun intended, but it's bloom. Does throughout Boyle County in this area around here? People are really starting to get into it. It's been fun to share that experience as an educator like Oh. Yeah, the we the Bermuda grass to so bad this year or yeah I'm seeing problems with this insect past being able to share that with my growers and help them. Ahead of time when they might not know they have a problem yet. I'll Yeah I. Don't think I realized that you grew your own bouquet for your wedding. A lot of it. Yeah, I was the first time you grow anything. Is always up in the air? So I had a lot of it I did grow myself, but luckily I was good friends with a couple of different growers in the area and I was like. Hey, can you help me with some flowers? So but yes, there were some things that grew myself for that wedding for that wedding. My wedding and that's just kinda how it all gets kick-started. Yeah, so just out of curiosity which blames. Did you have in your okay Oh. Gosh I had values Zina's Gladioli. I had some so mind. Okay was literally like enormous. It was a monster and would like. Break your wrist if you held it. The wrong way had grapes wild grapes, hanging off of it and blackberries and mom all about in Kentucky. Teaching About Kentucky, natives and so I love to use them in Florida design at rattlesnake master milkweed I mean if I could find it. I thought it was pretty. I shoved it into a bouquet. It's like you WANNA. Make sure everything that you've grown is in that Yes, and it took. It took like two hands to hold. It was a big in. Eleven Alexis. You're a lot like may in that then that aspect. Will. I really enjoyed you telling us a little bit about yourself and the listeners were really enjoy that, too, but the reason I had to come on the senten- gardening podcast with me is that this is a interesting for us? It's a American grown cut flower month, and just out of curiosity to ask you because like you, said your educator as an extension agent and also flower broher. Why do you feel like this month is so important for our cut flower growers, and why should people support local cut flower, farms and farmers in? In the area. Yes, so what a lot of people don't know is that this is actually like Congress to dictate that it was can grow flowers month and the bit July, and so the biggest reason for that across the US is because every single state. Even Alaska has cut flower production harvesting going on right now, so in the last harvesting peonies, which in Kentucky depending on where you are in the state, but we're pretty much in. That may may get an in June, depending how hot we got how early but to think that. Was the start of peony season in Alaska is a pretty cool thing, so every one of our fifty states has flowers that can be harvested right now, which is why Congress made it American ground fires months in Kentucky or in. He's here. we really we really have a great climate for growing a lot of different things in Kentucky, but especially flowers, because we have some cooler time in the spring as well as in the fall are winners are not usually really really bad, or at least they haven't been the past few years. Years of, but we do get a lot that cool season that we need. And then we get nice hot summer, so we can grow a lot of crops here in Kentucky that we get the best of both worlds I think that's something that you know in veggies and fruit as you know, we do as well, but it's neat and flowers. It's really nice visual representation of all the different all the different seasons that we can hit so as far as why people should support local cut flower growers. Same reason we support our. Our local veggie beef whatever a girl was around. It's it's been supporting your local economy. Your flower growers are huge for beneficial insects in bees and things like that, so a lot of flower growers also our beekeepers right because they're. They're kind of feeding each other. That are a little bit, and so they're really great for a lot of our local populations, and both native and our honeybees, as well as something that you said earlier bring so much joy to people and being able to buy locally really supports the economy and then. Then, we're not shipping in flowers from Ecuador and Colombia Holland get much fresher stuff right when you go to the farmer's market or wherever you go to get local stuff. Yeah, I love that aspect of being both support local farms, and like you said with veggies and other mate grow or make producers in the area. You know you can get a nice election throughout the seasons and I feel like sometimes people don't always think of flower farmers instantly they might go to the Jesus the mates and other commodity type things but with. Cut Flower production I feel like it's become pretty popular Nihal more than say maybe ten years ago. Do you think there's a a movement or a reason behind that? I think there's a couple of different reasons one I think is of course you know there's a lot of people wanting to kind of return to the land, so to speak great like as a millennial like. Let's return to the land but there's people who are. Are Wanting, they're also the versa. Affi- right, so we told people get into farming in whatever type of farming is and their meetings to diversify to improve populations in diseases in their needing a rotational crop. That's also something that is high value, right? They can do something with and so flowers are really great example of that and being able to rotate through, and still make money off of your could be considered a cover crop. Citing, that's one reason as we start to diversify, the other reason is cut. Flowers can be grown in a very small scale right, so you can pack a lot of flowers into a space and produce a Lotta blooms on a really tiny. There's a facebook page called urban micro flower growers and they're you know you kind of. If you looked at the price, you would say they're like a commercial. Producer and then when you find out, they're producing on. You know less than a quarter of an acre. It's always really amazing what you can crank out so I think that has a lot to do with it and people thinking local right like they're like people are starting to think about where things come from, so it's not just where my food comes from, but now that we. We kind of have that in our brain. It's important to know where your food comes from I think it's starting to spread to other aspects. Support your local artists support. Get local honey, all these different things and flowers I think just kind of fall. Right into that. Yeah, that's a good point that you bring up. I feel like with everything else. It's probably people right mindset. Mindset in they notice more cut flower growers in their area, and they've gotten onboard with purchasing those now. I realize that not every cut flower grower is the saying. They always have some sorta unique quality to them. They might offer something a little bit differently from another cut flower growers, and you know even throughout the regions. You mentioned July, being American ground month, and you know. Know it's really hard to believe like things in Alaska Ed. Their climate is just so different from us here in Turkey. So one you if you don't mind, I describe some of the cut. Flower markets are available to the flower growers, and what they might offer to people that might be interested in purchasing more cut flowers from them. Absolutely so obviously, the first one is farmers. Farmers market that's immediately what people think when they think weird by local flowers, or how local flowers fit in you think of the farmers market, which is an awesome place ego. Get them until it is like August and it's really high, so I recommend. If you're going to go to the farmer's market, get flowers go early because they will allow out and be, they don't want to. To sit in the heat in the flowers don't like the heat so definitely. Go early to go to a farmer's market. The next one a lot of flower growers are getting into and I see this a lot. When large vegetable production or something when they start to add flowers in their what they already do in the scaled there used to they go in wholesale production which. which is a great way to move a lot of product? You only have to communicate with one or two people and you can move everything this season. So that's a really good thing for people who don't. If you're wanting to serve, you're thinking about growing hours. It's not necessarily something that everybody could do, but you can't push your local florist if you can't find a flower farmer. Farmer, near you or somebody, who's too close, but you know some great local, you know. Ask them to start by local flowers, and so that's one way you can get local flowers that even if you can't get to the farmer's market or something by asking for that from your Florus, another thing that people are doing just like with veggies or even on meets these days is. So bouquet shares are really awesome way every week. They go to pick up site and you grab your Book Hey. You don't have to fight farmers market crowds, and you know that you're gonNA. Get up, okay, no matter what 'cause you pay up front and that's really helpful for the farmer, whether it's veggies or flowers, or whatever you pay all the way up front, you don't have to worry about carrying money around you just show up on your day and you get your flowers and their fresh and your priority for that farmer, and then like I do I've done weddings events like I've said before so a lot of fire farmers are doing. Using their local flowers and with help from local growers. Can have really nice wedding. That's not necessarily wildflowers. A lot of people think oh. Flower farmers wildflowers while they I can promise you. We grow the same things that you're florist wants to buy so roses peonies. Dahlia's all of those beautiful things vernacular, but we're more seasonal right so just like you can't get asparagus from a local farmer in August, you can't get your renown. Farmer in Kentucky in August now we can buy peonies from. Which I guess is better than Ecuador, but Still, it's not necessarily as local and then restaurants have become a big one, so of course with co vigil people not really going into restaurants is a little bit different, but I know some flower farmers that provide flowers for the table of restaurants, and that's also a good way to be able to see, and it's not a farmer in the area. I don't like I. I realized that some of the cut flower growers were doing that in the like, actually doing their bouquets in restaurants. So that's pretty Market ahead heard about do forms. Let you come onto the farm at some times at the season. Oh, yeah, so you pick! That's totally forgot about that so a lot of farmers like strawberries, blackberries, a lot of places do. Do a lot of forms will do picks, and so that's really fun. You know you come and you. Can you get a bucket and you bring your Brunner's with you and you fit as many flowers as you want. In that bucket for a set price. There's a lot of different ways to do it. Just like a Pumpkin Patch, but you know it's not just. Just one week out of the year, so you get to do and pick whatever your heart desires, whatever you think is beautiful, and then you get to go home and make something pretty based on what you love, and so that's a really fun way a not all forms do that and others. You know some liability issues of course with that and their special insurance. Insurance farmers take out till offer you picks, but that's a really cool. I really fun way to take the family out and see things action and I really feel like right now. Some people are not going too far. You know they're not going far away right now. So that might be an experience that your family can have into it. You pick up our form. Form, right, it's outside. You can stay away from people you know and a lot of farmers I know that are doing. You picks right. Now are being very careful. You know if they have five acres free to walk around. They're only going to allow enough people there where you can be spread out a really well in that open air type of situation Elia absolutely. Absolutely. It's kind of a plus it especially. If you have some reservations about going out right now now to transition a little bit, you know we mentioned you being a cut flower growers sales, and I like I mentioned, but you actually ran wild rings, and so you do have the unique aspect that you you know not only at educator, but you do have grower. Grower experienced. So what was the biggest challenge that you faced Gonen to cut flower production? Like you say you probably had a reason behind it ours because you're going to have a gorgeous. Boakye bring wedding. But like when you get into something, you know what challenges are being vice, especially with growing cut flowers sure I. Think I think it's probably the same recommendation on. No matter what you're growing if you're going into business, but it's always and people are gonNA to lash. That's nothing new, and I say this, but don't go too big too fast, so one of the key things with flower farming like I mentioned earlier you can do so much with so little much much different than a lot of our produce and definitely different than any animal that you might be producing. You know even to grow tomatoes a lot of space in the amount of space. Space I can fit tomato plants, and I can fit probably double some the mountains of flowers, or more depending on what it is in that same space for tomato, so don't go too big too fast, and there's no reason to because you can really get your feet wet and really practice the whole our farming gig without investing too much money, because you say small and you do what you can and other recommendation I tell people is what are your? What do you have? Do, you have access to land. You have money. Do you have time a lot of farmers in general work outside jobs, and so what we lack is time, but we might have extra money to invest, so we're GONNA. Invest in things that make our lives easier that we can spend less time in the garden, so things like black plastics while the we'd recommend. Most of the kind of things that are GonNa really make you see the first year second year third year, and you might Kinda know what you're doing by year five and this is talking from the masters. Degree and implants science I just now, Kinda feel like I know what I'm doing. And then Mother Nature turns around. Slap show around a little bit and your own right. I actually go in. And you feel that way. You are not alone for sure. Well like you say you know like when you really do. Get into something you know. There's different obstacles and challenges in problems faced with in. It's like you Kinda have to put on your big girl paintings and try to figure it out and no one good thing I feel like right now. Is that flower farmers really do want to see other folks get into the business if they really do have an interest an unaided in it. Community I. Think Amongst far farmers, because I think we all are under the understanding. There's enough to go round, so there's no need to compete. Let's help each other and like hey, you grow this really well I grow this other thing really wild. Let's work together on this, and that's such an awesome thing to have a community like that a yeah, a yeah, now at one of the tell you. I looked at your instagram account the other day, and you put on here which I find was. Very picture behind this. That's what caught my, but you said being a farmer florist is like being in the center brain of a circus spinning a hundred flights by station fan. So what exactly likes that thing? Yeah yeah, that's how I feel like a ringmaster and. The clown sometimes I'm just the ringmaster and I'm just trying to keep all of the plates spinning, so being a farmer is hard right. We all kind of inherently know that whether you've ever farmed or not being farmers heart, it's sweaty. It's dirty. You know you're just tired all the time being a floor. Just a floor is hard. You are has to be a good people person you have to. To be very organized keeping records making sure that you're getting the right color you know and doing things correctly and budgeting really well. There's very little margin in forestry, and then we're like well. Let's take this really hard sweaty job. Combine it with this literally people person, intense record keeping job, and let's push together. We'll be farmer, Florus, right, and so that's where you're hundred plates. Come in because. Because not only do you have to be the person who leads you have to be the person who harvest you also need to be your for most of us who are too small to have a full marketing team. Your your marketing team. You're putting together all your emails. You're making all those bouquets. Oh, by the way you have aphids. Make sure you deal with that and while you're dealing with. With your aphids, your computer website is going to crash so no now. You can't sell the bouquets that you have worked so hard to be able to put together and it just kind of spirals all the time. There's always a different plate going my always think I'm dropping. Some and I'm just like well. We'll just throw all the broken pieces onto another thing and I'll try and spend those. It's you are a hundred different people, and it's all small business is like that, but when you combine this dirty sweaty outside work with this team marketing side, they're very opposite people, and so we're kind of smashed together to create one job. I'll yeah well NFL like an extension, even know we wear a lot of different hats in its thank type concept with cut flower growers, especially, maybe in the beginning, and then as you start to kind of get the patterns and the flow of things down than it probably evolved, but like you said your what five years into it on. You're starting to feel better about it. Yeah, I'm in my fifth season in for the first time I kind of feel like I. Know what I'm doing like feel fairly confident in. That's changes from day to day. Because some days I'm like I have no idea was. You know. Lou. You know right, right? But. You kinda get that. Feel like you said kind of scheduling, and you get a flow down and mother. Nature will still throw things at you. She always does remember she will always win. Don't be a set to when she beats you because she always. Yeah, but you just Kinda have to go with the flow and year five. You start to find that flow is absolutely so don't give it. Keep on going. Just pick yourself kind yourself off now. Let's get back to Anisimov this about July. Being American grown cut flower meant you and I have worked with the Kentucky. Hort council and we're doing something special for July here in Kentucky once you tell people more about that incentive that we're doing for our growers. Yes, so you know we you and I and Kentucky checkouts or kind of? All talked and we realize that a lot of cut flower growers would be a little bit I. Don't WanNa say left out there, just so new. There's so many new farmers, and there's just an influx in. There's not been good representation because this whole thing is new to the state of Kentucky Right and lately, so we were like okay. Well. What do we do we and and well, we kind of started talking about this at the end of towards the end of June in hit us that. Kentucky, no, the American ground fires month was in July, and so we're like. Let's feature all these cool farms like let's a get to know them. Be them feel like they're part of Kentucky horticulture, his flower growing is a horticulture enterprise. It makes money. and. Let's let's showcase them. Let's tell people about like. Hey, there are local flowers and so Kentucky Horticulture Council has been featuring a flower farmer for some room somewhere in the state of Kentucky. We've gone all the way from East West. North South, so every day they featured at least one, if not two farms, which is awesome. Is that means that we're getting a lot of new farms that are coming onto the? The scene in have things that are available to the public, and so that's been really exciting to see, and I've been around for five plus years an agent so I thought I knew everybody and I'm seeing all kinds of new farms popping up and it's really exciting because I said that community is so strong. I think with flower farmers, and so it's nice to be able to get more people on board. Board to to the community, yeah I was looking at a couple of the nines, and like I think I'm more familiar with the ones right around us here in Bowling Green, but like you said I knew of you, but I really didn't know about some. Probably, that's in your neck of the woods, so to speak, and I feel like with cut flower growers when they noticed several of those kind of occurring on. On the Horton Councils page facebook page then they were like man. I might need to check them out because that's pretty cool. Yeah, yeah, it's neat to see what other people are doing. You know throughout the state or even just like the county over your army, and that's such a cool thing. They're never thought about that, and you can trade secrets, not secrets, but how you get that or what trump did. Did you use and I wish my is look that good, and and it's such a cool thing to be able to do with each other. Yeah, yeah, well I'm really glad that we were able to work on that project together and I guess the last question I wanNA. Ask you today is about. Where can people get more information about cut flower growers here in Kentucky Maybe, they I wanNA. Go visit their arm. Arm Or side I just want to know how to get a hold of somebody that has a subscription bouquet, and then what's the best way to help? Support those local our former. Yeah, so part of what we we had worked on where this map of Kentucky flower growers than I think it's going to launch their end-july if it hasn't launched already, but definitely should be available to enter July with city. City where you're where a flower farm is located, you can just pull the map I've seen a little preview of it, and it's got little flowers all over it and you click one that might be close to where you're at, and it gives the farm name, any website or website information as well as contact information like an email address, or however they prefer to be contacted that so exciting that flower farmers are. are able to be represented this way for the first time in the state of Kentucky and people are going to be easily able to find the our farmer closest to them and I think that's so exciting, but if he can't wait until the July which I don't blame you, because give me all the flowers right. I grow flowers and I'm still like I need them all. Give them all to meet right. And, so going on the Kentucky Horticulture Councils Instagram and facebook where they've been posting those everyday updates on flower farms. You can probably find when close you I know by now. They've posted someone from all the corners of the state I think into. That's probably a good way you know. If you really want to jump the gun to do it that way, you can always email the horticulture council and be like Hey I'm looking for someone in this area and we have that or she cindy. The court council has a good list of that or call your local extension office right so of course where my extension agent hat Give extension agent, a call and see if there's anybody out there, you can support small bid. All small businesses really appreciate those little. A twenty dollar bouquet the purchase of. Okay means the world to someone in when you grown something from seed, and created something beautiful that people love it is. There's no other sense of satisfaction and I've I've found, I guess if you have a child, Kristen that you know you grew this child and you re producing this beautiful thing that would probably be the only comparison but I don't have a kid, so flowers are my children right now and I can tell you it is one of those satisfying things when people just their eyes light up, and as a small business grower I mean it's it means the world to me. You know in to all of us. US when somebody buys something that you worked really hard for yeah, and it's like you said you're able to see it in its infancy, and then go all the white throughout the growing season in an to see it when it's ready for harvest. That's probably does bring a big smile to your face I think I saw some of your pictures in Louisiana. This is in season right now. It S yes, probably my favorite summer. Flowers Lizzy emphas-. I was GONNA ask you. Do you have a favorite or is Louisiana's I would sit as a favorite per season, but I think I changed my mind every time I think. Think if I had to pick one only flour and this is hard, it's like. Are you gonNA. Pick your favorite kid I. Don't know, but I think gladiolas, which everybody's GonNa, ooh, funeral, foul flower, but Gladiolas, reminding of my grandmother and I think that's something special. Just like food can remind you of a person or a place in your life. I think a flower can really remind you of a feeling or cursing, and I remember seeing them growing at her house, and how beautiful they were so I go them if I sell them, but I grow them because they make my heart happy. and I think that's. That's always grow things that make you happy in. Hopefully they make other people happy to yeah. I think that's probably the tight Tom. Message for today's episode is definitely grow you in in what brings you joy, and especially for for this being an American ground kept our met. We probably want everybody to check out this map and we're going to put that in the show notes that the end, and then also you know time to visit your farmers, market or maybe purchase something from your local fire arm. Awesome, thankful I. Really Appreciate You being on the shadow day. Yeah, it was my pleasure. Thanks for chatting with me. Out that you enjoyed our discussion today on how to support local cut flower growers. If you would like to learn more and also get involved with the American cut flowers month, and what we're doing right here in Kentucky, you can join us on the facebook page at Keiwa. Council also on Instagram at K, Y horticulture, and even on twitter at k y horticulture, and you can learn more about cutler growers all throughout the State of Kentucky, you can also learn what niche markets that they have available, and then also how you can even purchase from your local flower grower as well now if you'd like to check out our former florist flower math that Alexis was talking about. I'm also going to post that link in our show notes so. So if you'd like to view, the show notes for episode eight on supporting local flower farmers visit me on the blog at Warren County agriculture. You can go to our website. Eight Warren County Agriculture, Dot Com as always thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening podcast to stay up to date on all the latest episodes. Make sure to hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcast and gardeners remember to keep on digging into gardening. Remember to add a little sunshine. Thanks for listening to the Sunshine Gardening podcast with Kristin, hildebrand if you enjoy today's content, make sure did the subscribe button wherever you get your podcast to catch feature segments of the Sunshine Gardening podcast, gardeners, chief digging and learning more about gardening, so the sun shines brighter over your Kentucky. Garden, the Sunshine Gardening podcasts with Kristin Hildebrand is production of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. Service.