Growing and Selling Cut Flowers in the Midwest
Thursday | 1-6:30 p.m. | CCAs: 4.5 CEU credits approved
Friday | 8-11:30 a.m. | CCAs: 3.0 CEU credits approved
One of the hottest trends in in specialty crops in Iowa and across the country is flower farming. Excitement for locally grown cut flowers has grown, along with the number of current and aspiring flower farmers. PFI is excited to host a flower farming short course that addresses some of the biggest questions Iowa’s flower growers face and (we hope!) strengthens the network of people growing and marketing these very special, diverse crops.
Session 1: Making Mother’s Day: Extending the Flower Season
At Happy Hollow Farm, Mother’s Day weekend represents the biggest flower sales numbers of any weekend of the year. So how does farmer Liz Graznak produce enough flower bouquets as early as mid-May? In this session, learn about how to extend your flower season in both directions with high tunnels, caterpillar tunnels and more.
Session 2: Pricing Flowers: What’s Possible, What’s Fair?
At Dancing the Land Farm in 2022, two-thirds of farm income came from flowers – a huge proportion for a diversified farm with 20 acres in reduced-tillage specialty crop production and pasture for grazing livestock. Farmer Liz Dwyer is excited to share how she markets her flowers and prices them in a way that balances her need for business profit with what her direct and wholesale market streams will bear.
Session 3: Grower Roundtable: Flower Variety and Cultivar Favorites
Everyone has their favorites, and flower farmers are no exception. Among all the flowers of the field, which do you love best? Peonies for their star power? Lisianthus for their stamina? Zinnias for being colorful little workhorses? Bring your thoughts – and your sources! – to this flower farmer roundtable to share which species and cultivars of flowers work best on your farm, in your bouquets or for your style of growing, arranging or selling.
Session 4: Three Years, 20 Weeks, 3,300 Bouquets: Telling Your Story to Grow Your Flower Farm Business
Branding and marketing are key for direct farmers’ success. At Over the Moon Farm & Flowers, Anna Hankins and Shae Pesek have grown their flower CSA from zero to 150 shares for 20 weeks in just three years. Discover some of the key ways they have used social media to tell their story, grow their flower business and support the growth of their overall farm.
Session 5: Processes, Tools and Supplies for Post-Harvest Handling of Flowers
While operating a flower farm is a lot about growing and selling flowers, in many ways the key to success lies with the step in between production and sales: post-harvest handling. Cutting, dipping, temperature, timing and more can vary widely among species and even among varieties of flowers. Calvin Franzenburg of Pheasant Run Farm will discuss processes, facilities and favorite post-harvest tools for several species he grows at his family’s farm.
Liz Graznak grows organic vegetables for CSA, farmers markets and wholesale accounts at Happy Hollow Farm in Moniteau County, Missouri. MOSES (now Marbleseed) recognized Liz with the 2021 MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year award for her work raising outstanding organic vegetables while expanding the borders of organic food through her CSA and market stand, her community-building efforts and her engagement with other farmers.
Liz Dwyer runs Dancing the Land Farm, a small family farm on Dakota and Ojibwe lands in central Minnesota, with her husband and their young daughter. Since 2012, they have been rehabilitating former row crop ground and raising produce, flowers, medicinal herbs, wool and mohair, chickens and quails for eggs and heritage meats. The farm markets through a CSA, multiple market locations and by supplying local restaurants and co-ops. Liz spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the ethics of food and eating, relationship to place, beauty, lineage, grief and the majesty of a small, purposeful life.
Shae Pesek and Anna Hankins are co-owners and operators of Over the Moon Farm & Flowers LLC, based on Shae’s family farm near Coggon, Iowa. Shae grew up on the farm and has been raising cattle and crops the majority of her life. Anna now lives in Ryan, Iowa, with Shae and is thrilled to be putting down roots in the place she has been so lucky to call home these past few years.
Calvin Franzenburg owns and operates Pheasant Run Farm with his parents, Ann and Eric Franzenburg, near Van Horne, Iowa. Starting work on the farm at age 14, Calvin’s farming experience extends to both row crops and specialty crops, including the farm’s flower and herb enterprises. In 2016, Calvin officially took over flower production at the farm and continues today with growing, harvesting, marketing and delivering flowers to wholesale and direct-market customers.