As farmers, we are constantly met with many challenges. These challenges can be relatively benign, like heading outdoors on a cold rainy day. The challenges can also be much deeper, like seasonal cash flow, or incessant pest problems that can compromise an entire crop. Losses can be staggering, and take a big toll on our desire to forge ahead.
Rewards are what tip the balance. Rewards
keep farmers in “the game”. Keep us hedging our bets towards success. Keep us planning for the future. These rewards can be quite diverse.
The first that comes to mind, are financial rewards. Out of necessity, these are often the first rewards we seek. However, as seasons pass and years go by, it has been my experience that the urgency of financial rewards can start to diminish. At this point, the more subtle, yet more powerful rewards start to present themselves.
The joy of raising children on a farm is a huge reward. The joy of being outdoors under a bright blue sky, watching the sunrise turn to daylight, and the daylight turn to dusk, is immensely rewarding. Listening to the birds sing, watching a fox slowly, quietly, and surely hunt his way down a long row of peonies is also deeply rewarding.
What tops the list for me now, more than anything, is the great reward of reach. Creating a farm, a business, an ecosystem that has reach is something I have found to be profoundly satisfying! At heart, I truly believe in the power of farming. I also believe in the power of community. So, as the Mountain Flower Farm has grown into a position of supplying flower farms all over the country with their peony root stock, it has been in this fact that I draw the most reward.
Why? Because of success… not personal success, but the concept of reaching out from our little Vermont hillside farm and spreading success.
I know that when I’m packing a box full of 100, 200, or 1000 roots for an aspiring flower farm, I’m setting them up with the best tools possible for success. I know this from the experience of 20+ years growing cut flower crops. On our farm in Vermont, we have trialled hundreds of different flowers, and I know with great certainty, that no other flower will produce equivalent yields in both stems and dollars, as a well cared for peony crop.
This certainty is what drives my motivation. I want other farms to succeed. I want local, organic agriculture to thrive, and I want families to spend their days together, outside, in nature. I want their customers to deeply inhale the sweet intoxicating scent of fresh cut peonies, and let this scent guide them to the memories of grandparents gardens, and the bliss of youth.
I know, that as the reach of the farm continues to expand, we will become an even greater catalyst for a shift to #americangrownflowers. When I see April blooming peonies from the southern most growers, or August blooms from Alaska, knowing that these plants started their life here in the hills of Vermont is one of the deepest rewards. The reach of the farm, the reach of these two hands, the reach of what we can accomplish with help from friends and community, this for me is the greatest reward…
Up next on the Mountain Flower Farm blog, we’ll start to shift focus towards some specific agricultural techniques with subjects like “Cover Cropping 101 for Small Scale Farms”, “Pest Management for Market Growers” , and “Low Impact Cultivation Techniques”. I hope you’ll tune in!
Best Wishes from Vermont,