Our FarmMy husband, Caleb, was raised on a conventional irrigated farm by parents who strongly emphasized helping out neighbors and building community. Caleb was helping an elderly neighbor, Hank, put up his hay the summer of 2010 when Hank passed away. Hank's surviving family members were not interested in farming so we agreed to care for the farm for the rest of the crop year while they took the time they needed to decide what to do with the estate. They eventually offered the land and homestead to us at appraised value before it was placed on the open market. This was a huge, amazing blessing as land is hard to come by in our area---especially with sellers who were 100% on our side as we worked to get financing. It was humbling that they choose us to continue their father/grandfather's farming legacy. The process took almost a year, but in the end we still couldn't believe our dreams were coming true and we now owned land.
Even after marrying and buying our own place, I have stayed involved in the Farmer's Market, both selling my parent's fruit and growing cherry tomatoes for sale as well. Last year I tended 70 tomato plants and lost track of the harvest somewhere around 200 pounds, not counting the huge amount we ate! I love spending time outside in my garden. I have spent the last 5 years perfecting my cherry tomato growing techniques until I figured out the best varieties, spacing, watering and trellis system. There is nothing like the rush of harvesting something you grew to perfection.
The Flower Field DreamWhy do I want to grow cut flowers? The idea started innocently enough---the old garden spot is going to become field and road so the new garden spot is moved to what used to be an awkward patch of field in front of the house. At 150ft x 120ft it is not small, which led to idle dreaming. How many tomato plants would fit in that space, how many bean plants, how many berry bushes? Really nothing in the glossy seed catalog could be denied due to lack of space...
Even after my cherry tomato patch expanded a bit from last year, I would still have extra space so the ideas turned to other cash crops. I asked myself what was already being sold at the Farmers Market, looking for that niche. Is there a heirloom tomato grower? Yes. Peppers of every shape and color? Yes. Blueberries? Yes. Strawberries? Yes and yes again. Cut flowers?...wait, is no one growing cut flowers? I realized that other than some veggie vendors that grow a few blooms on the side to sell sporadically, there is no one dedicated to selling cut flowers at our Farmers Market. Growing cut flowers would be like growing presents out of the dirt, for what is a more perfect gift than a bunch of flowers? Universally liked with one size fits all, they come with no obligations for long-term use or storage.
Sometimes I fight with myself because my heart wants beauty but my mind says it isn't practical or it costs too much. When we first moved into our house the yard was only lawn and trees and I figured that was good enough. Why spend money on frivolous flowers when you could be growing food? It took some time, but I have now made peace with my need for beauty and creating beauty. I believe we are made in the image of our Creator, the One who created "frivolous" beauty in nature just for the pleasure of it, so it is only right that I feel the same need to create beauty. Just a few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of growing flowers of the Farmer's Market, but I now believe the heart's need for beauty can be just as important as the body's need for food.