Something we knew getting into flower farming, but is still hard to digest, is that farming will never ever be perfect. The variables involved in farming (the weather, seed viability, market changes, etc.) are too great to count. So why do we farm with such risk involved? It's because we love what we do.
Today we're sharing 5 important lessons after our first year of flower farming.
Lesson Number One: Order Seeds Early
The number of times our favourite variety of seeds were sold out is too high for us to want to admit...so we'll just leave that as a mystery for you.
Part of the blame here lies with how late in the year we decided we wanted to go ALL IN on starting a flower farm. By the time we had all of our business ducks in a row (budget, business license, bank account, etc.) our favourite Canadian flower farms had already launched their seeds sales and we were very late to the game.
Now, our calendars are marked with seed sales for our favourite seed providers so that we're never late when it comes to securing seeds for our favourite flowers! Less "face palm" moments all around.
Lesson Number Two: It's Okay to Ask For Help
It takes a village to build a greenhouse, and most of your extended relatives too. Our dream hoop house would have been impossible for us to put together without asking for help.
When we ask for help with things that aren't in our wheelhouse (you can bet we are far better at growing flowers than we are at construction projects) tasks are accomplished faster and with fewer mistakes. If you're asking family and friends to help, the help might cost you a pizza and beer OR you can budget to have professionals come out and assist.
Lesson Number Three: Crop Failure Will Happen
The first time we had to give-up on a tray of Lisianthus, it broke our hearts. After weeks and weeks and weeks of nursing the tray of seeds, it was clear that nothing would germinate no matter how badly we wanted otherwise.
It's no fun to lose flowers you've worked so hard for to pests, the weather or poor time management BUT it's going to happen.
The best way to learn from crop failure is to record everything when it comes to growing your flowers. We record seeding dates, temperatures, moisture and soil data to observe trends and do better next time. It's very scientific!
Lesson Number Four: Your Flowers Won't Sell Themselves
We were perhaps too in love with our flowers and their local home-grown qualities. While we know all the amazing benefits of purchasing locally grown cut flowers, our ideal customers might not!
A major project for 2023 is educating our potential customers and getting our flowers in front of our ideal buyers - Edmontonians that love supporting local business and love fresh flowers. This year we will devote more time to creating compelling flower farm content and meeting our ideal customers where they are at.
Lesson Number Five: There Will Always Be More Work to Do
This goes for any farmer, whether they raise livestock, grow veggies or harvest grain, there will ALWAYS be more work to do on the farm.
With a short three month blooming season we found ourselves reaching the point of burnout with a seemingly endless to-do list. Burnout is not sustainable. We can't possibly do our best on the farm if farming is burning us out.
To help prevent cyclical burnout, we created two categories for our to-do list:
Need to Do
Nice to Do
If something fell under "Need to Do" it took priority, whereas a "Nice to Do" task could wait till our slow season.
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All our best,
Janelle & Lynn