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Farm Life, Nature

Flower Hill Farm: A Beautiful World Of Its Own

If you have been following the blog for some time, you probably know that my friend Jenny and I set on a mission to visit local farms this summer, to get a better insight of what they do and share it with you on the blog. If you have been following the blog, you probably also know that Re-Discover Washington is driven entirely by my artistic whimsy, which sometimes means that I might have visited Flower Hill Farm all the way back in July and I am just now blogging about it. I like to think of myself as a follower of the Romantics, who believed that in order to perceive the sublime you need to spend some time in quiet contemplation after you have been in contact with it, and only after that you could put down pen to paper and describe in rhyme its immeasurable inexplicable qualities. In other words, I tend to procrastinate if I don’t have deadlines…

Back in July, Jenny and I had the immense pleasure of visiting Flower Hill Farm in Beaufort, MO and meeting its wonderful owners and flower growers Vicki and Jack. Enjoy the interview with them below, complete with pictures and captions.

Upon our arrival at the farm, we were greeted with this amazing sight! Flower Hill Farm is not even an hour away, yet it feels like it belongs to a world of its own.

Upon our arrival at the farm, we were greeted with this amazing sight! Flower Hill Farm is not even an hour away, yet it feels like it belongs to a world of its own.

Meet the owners: the adorable Vicki and Jack! They are the nicest people you will ever meet and we had such a wonderful time visiting with them and touring the farm!

Meet the owners: the adorable Vicki and Jack! They are the nicest people you will ever meet and we had such a wonderful time visiting with them and touring the farm!

How did you decide to start Flower Hill Farm?

Both of us independently, and then together in our marriage have a longstanding desire to live on a farm, in a more nature based rather than urban setting.  Vicki has gone through Master Gardener training, and always has been involved in growing.  Jack grew a first model organic garden at the Arboretum  (now called the Shaw Nature Reserve)  a long time ago.  We didn’t know flower farming was going to be our focus when we found our place in Beaufort. We talked to many people:   Extension agent from Lincoln University, Conservation Department people, University of Missouri Extension, too, as we began to figure out our plan.

At that time, we were able to participate in the Missouri Beginner Farmer Entrepreneurial  Program that was in its third session offered through the University of Missouri in Columbia.   In that program, we visited dozens of farms in Kansas City, Colombia, Burlington Vermont and in the St Louis area.  We had the opportunity to see how others were succeeding, or just hanging on. Some were clearly more about lifestyle, others more about building a business.  The program expected us to develop and present a business plan, and the opportunity to grow flowers came into focus.

The farm is beyond gorgeous!

The farm is beyond gorgeous!

When we arrived in the morning, Vicki and John were still in the field, harvesting flowers.

When we arrived in the morning, Vicki and Jack were still in the field, harvesting flowers.

My friend Jenny brought her girls along, and Vicki graciously let them pick their own flowers, teaching them how to select and cut them.

My friend Jenny brought her girls along, and Vicki graciously let them pick their own flowers, teaching them how to select and cut them with care.

Needless to say, the girls had a blast!

Needless to say, the girls had a blast!

How long have you been in business?

Our first year was getting settled, getting oriented, starting to understand the scale of what we were doing.  Our second year became our first year as cut flower growers.  This is our third year selling cut flowers.

A flower for you!

A flower for you!

Harvesting flowers makes you happy.

Harvesting flowers makes you happy.

Very very happy!

Very very happy!

Do you grow flowers all year round?

The process is almost year around, beginning  again soon after it ends with a frost.  After selecting, sourcing and ordering seeds for the coming growing season, we get a little break before starting those seeds in trays in the greenhouse in late January.  We use greenhouses to get started, but pretty much everything ends up growing outdoors in our process.   We are not currently using high tunnels or greenhouse for production.  We have flowers from late May until an October frost.

Beauties.

Beauties.

Fresh-picked and ready to go to market!

Fresh-picked and ready to go to market!

Jack gets to pull the cart!

Jack gets to pull the cart!

Where can people buy your flowers?

The outlets we have found for selling our flowers are mostly in St Louis.  Florist, event planners, wholesalers, and do it yourself brides are our primary customers.  We participate in some farmers markets as well.

Vicki and Jack aim to raise awareness about how flowers are grown. They keep the well-being of the pollinators in mind as they develop their routines.

Vicki and Jack aim to raise awareness about how flowers are grown. They keep the well-being of the pollinators in mind as they develop their routines.

Their flowers are sustainably grown with organic methods. They source seeds and plants from organic providers whenever possible, and avoid synthetically derived fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.

Their flowers are sustainably grown with organic methods. They source seeds and plants from organic providers whenever possible, and avoid synthetically derived fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.

 

Can people come visit the farm/volunteer to help?

We have occasional work days, and offer pick your own events, but only with advance notice.  We are not set up for  “drop in visitors”–there are just too many details to keeping things growing.  Believe it or not, flower growing can be stressful at times, and don’t forget delivery responsibilities.

Visitors and volunteers are welcome at the farm, by appointment only.

Visitors and volunteers are welcome at the farm, by appointment only.

We were lucky to get a wonderful tour on a beautiful sunny day!

We were lucky to get a wonderful tour on a beautiful sunny day!

Beauty!

Beauty!

Another little helper.

Another little helper.

 

What are the advantages/disadvantages of having a flower farm?

Flower cutting tends to happen in the cooler part of the day–early morning and late afternoon and evening.  It is our good fortune to “have to” be outdoors in the middle of beds of flowers at that time.  We attract lots of birds, sometimes they provide  the only sound we hear, other than the wind in the trees.  It is real physical effort, which feels great.

Flower cutting can be a lot of fun, but it's also a labor-intensive job.

Flower cutting can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a labor-intensive job.

Dottie, bravely carrying the heavy bucket full of beautiful zinnias.

Dottie, bravely carrying the heavy bucket full of beautiful zinnias.

You moved from the City to the Country  – is it possible to get the best of both worlds and where do you feel yourself drawn more?

Having friends and family from St. Louis means we have an opportunity to offer a glimpse of the lifestyle we have chosen. We delight in this.   Perhaps that inspires some to dream a little , and perhaps act on a dream, which is what we have gotten to do.  Not that it’s all fun and smiles.  It is hard physical work, frustrating sometimes (some critter chewed through the irrigation tubing again, or an invasion of insects has to be addressed in a sensible way.)  We come in from cutting some nights at 9:30, and are hungry, and tired.  Overall though, we can only wonder how lucky we are.

You cannot have this view in the city.

You cannot have this view in the city.

But some hard work is required.

But some hard work is required.

However, it all pays off in the end!

However, it all pays off in the end!

Anything else you’d like to add?

We see ourselves as part of a movement that cares about agricultural practice.  Sustainable practice, for us, is thinking long term, wondering about the long term consequence of the way we do things.  Can we leave our property, our region, in better condition because of what we are doing, than we found it.  Will there be runoff, residue or depletion of resource that someone else will have to deal with?  Or can we–learning as we go, of course, make a best effort to do the right thing.  We are part of the Certified Naturally Grown organization, which, while similar to USDA Organic, uses a system of farmers certifying other farmers.  We think in the future, local will be a much more respected part of things than it is now.  We are proud that when someone inhales deeply in one of our bouquets, there is no chemical residue they are inhaling.

We are also members of Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, which is a national organization that wants to promote best practices in flower growing.  And we love the books  “The 50 Mile Bouquet”,  and “Slow Flowers” by  Debra Prinzing  which says a lot about who we are.

We tremendously enjoyed our visit with Vicki and Jack at Flower Hill Farm.

We loved our visit with Vicki and Jack at Flower Hill Farm!

They invited us to their home where we continued our conversation and enjoyed fresh mango juice and watermelon.

After touring the farm, they invited us to their home where we continued our conversation and enjoyed fresh mango juice and watermelon.

You can tell they are loved!

You can tell they are loved!

 

Flower Hill Farm is 35 acres of rolling hills, fields, and woods located in Beaufort, Missouri, one hour west of St. Louis, even closer to Washington, MO.

Flower Hill Farm is 35 acres of rolling hills, fields, and woods located in Beaufort, Missouri, one hour west of St. Louis, even closer to Washington, MO.

Vicki and Jack want to enable flower-giving opportunities. They provide sentimental favorites, old-fashoned heirlooms, the rare and unusual, and special new varieties. They believe the world becomes a better place as more people like you become flower givers.

Vicki and Jack want to enable flower-giving opportunities. They provide sentimental favorites, old-fashoned heirlooms, the rare and unusual, and special new varieties. They believe the world becomes a better place as more people like you become flower givers.

Instead of man-made chemicals, they amend the soil with organic materials, and deal with weeds and insect pest in a way that they believe honors their commitment to long-term care of their farm, their watershed, our environment and your world.

Instead of man-made chemicals, they amend the soil with organic materials, and deal with weeds and insect pest in a way that they believe honors their commitment to long-term care of their farm, their watershed, our environment and your world.

"It really boils down to this: All life is interrelated... whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." -The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It really boils down to this: All life is interrelated… whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
-The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Flower Hill Farm is located at 848 Laurel Lane, Beaufort, MO. You can reach Vicki and Jack at (314)882-9642  or flowerhillfarmgirl@att.net. Visit their website here and like their Facebook page for updates!

About Slava

I am a twenty-something Bulgarian girl in the USA, re-discovering the world through the lens.

Discussion

4 Responses to “Flower Hill Farm: A Beautiful World Of Its Own”

  1. Dear friend Slava, beautiful amazing job! You transported me right back to their farm. My admiration and love!

    Posted by Jenny Conner | September 30, 2014, 7:31 am
  2. Great story and pics!

    Posted by Jan moore | September 30, 2014, 10:53 am

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