Four years ago if you had told me I would be where I am today, I never would have believed you. I was at a crossroad in my life and didn't know what my next move would be. I knew it would involve flowers, but I also loved to cook— I sometimes dreamt of having a floral shop that would also include my handmade chocolates. I loved walking through Portland, ME (where I lived at the time) looking at all the store fronts and thinking about what my shop would one day look like. But where would I begin?
The world of Instagram was still pretty new at the time, and one day I fell upon a feed that changed my life. Her name was Erin, and she farmed two acres in Skagit Valley, WA under the name Floret. I was surprised that not only did she grow all her flowers, but she created lush, garden inspired designs with her special blooms. She was becoming one of the leaders in a movement of flower farmers not just in the United States, but across the globe. People were becoming more aware of the chemicals and pesticides used on imported flowers (especially after the release of Amy Stewart's 'Flower Confidential')— and with this awareness the movement of buy local flowers had begun to skyrocket. Not only were grocery stores seeing potential in buying from the flower farmer down the road, but so were designers. As I watched what was going on, I knew I had to be a part of it.
I packed a Uhaul, left Maine, and moved back to New Hampshire for the summer. The goal was to hit the road headed west to California by October. The west coast seemed to be ahead in flower farming, especially since the climate was so much easier than growing in the Northeast. I had a friend living in Tahoe so I thought it would be a good start and I would go from there. I loved California but knew it was not destined for me, so in January of 2014 I wrote Erin an email. I told her who I was, what I wanted to do and had done in the past (farmed in Spain with WWOOF, spent my teen years on my dads landscape crew, worked for a local designer for the previous seven years), all about my dads farm, and with it attached my resume and letter of recommendation. I must have re-read it and sent it back and forth to my mom at least a dozen times before I hit send. I checked my email on the hour until the next day when I woke up to an email from Floret Flower. To be perfectly honest I was shocked—out of the hundreds of emails they receive a day, somehow mine slipped through the cracks and landed with Jill, her office manager. We spoke on the phone for the first time a few days later— we laughed a lot, talked about flowers, and what I wanted for my future. Not long after I skyped with Erin and her husband Chris, within hours after our meeting, I was hired!
That April, my 4runner was packed up again and I made another journey, but this time headed north up the coast to Washington state. My first days of Floret were a blur of harvesting thousands of ranunculus, mostly alone, and not really knowing what I was doing. Erin was working on her first book proposal, so it was sink or swim—so I swam, and swam hard. Everyday was something new, and each day at Floret I felt at peace even though so much was happening around me—I knew then that I had found my calling. That summer was brutally hot, Washington was in a drought making the days seem longer. Forest fires raged in the eastern part of the state, landscape fabric burned at the touch, the well went dry, and we poured sweat all day. I didn't mind, it was part of farming and I actually enjoyed the feeling of my body aching after a hard days work. It was a seven month whirlwind— we made thousands of grocery bouquets and harvested endless dahlias. I helped on workshops, watched photographers arrive from Martha Stewart and Country Living, made flower friends, and saw some of the most beautiful flower landscapes only few are fortunate to see. It was safe to say I had a new found obsession with flowers.
October came, and with it a choice of whether to stay or leave. Erin was building a team, but I was also homesick and sometimes lonely being so far from family and friends. I talked to my dad and after a busy summer (following his feature in Country Living, March 2014), he was too exhausted to continue running the farm alone. It was my chance to run my own flower farm, and I took it. By leaving Washington, I knew I was leaving a part of my heart behind— and didn't know when I would return, if ever.
Now in the present day I am running my own successful flower farm along side my pops. Without Erin, I may have never found this path. I knew I had the strength, and with her encouragement and knowledge, found the way to succeeding on my own. After leaving in 2014, I have flown back to Floret more than a dozen times. I have helped on the back end of eight workshops—with each one I am granted a new outlook on my life and my farm. I see the Floret team give everything they have to each attendee at each workshop. I am part of a team that is full of knowledge, strength, and power. My flower friends have quadrupled, and I have met some incredible people on this journey. They have made me into the farmer I have become today, and I am forever grateful for this community of growers and designers that constantly surround me—I have never been willingly granted so much information by people before. We have shared so much of ourselves not just in our farm life but also in our personal lives. I am forever indebted to this support system.
A lot of people ask about my story and how I became a part of Team Floret, so I hope you have enjoyed it! This is last part in the 'Growing Momentum' series but make sure you stay tuned as we blog biweekly throughout the summer! You can also stay up to date by signing up for our email newsletter below and following us on Instagram and Facebook!
Now, back to planting!