News From the Farm | March 12, 2018

Hannah and Dru today continuing their passion.

“It wasn’t as if the flowers themselves held within them the ability to bring an abstract definition into physical reality. Instead it seemed that…expecting change, and the very belief in the possibility, instigated a transformation.”

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

My daughter Hannah and I share a passion for cut flowers. Actually passion might be too light of a word – obsession might be more appropriate.  We scour seed catalogs for endless hours in bed, read blogs, follow hundreds of flower growers on social media, and go to flower meetings on Sundays –our one-day off.  We beg for cuttings, attend conferences and belong to the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (who knew this even existed!) We go to seed swaps, have flower growers to the farm, lead workshops.  We lie in bed at night worrying about rain, frost, drought and wind.  Oh yes… AND we grow 15 acres of cut flowers at Full Belly Farm. 

Dru with Hannah picking flowers years ago.

It all started as a small garden to the south of our little farmhouse when Hannah was just a baby. She would sit calmly in the backpack as I planted and picked and would sweetly ask if the flowers were “ripe yet” As she grew so did the flower plot from a little circular hand-dug garden to ¼-acre with waving beds made finally, by tractor. We learned about varieties, who grew the best seed, when to plant, perennials from annuals, when to harvest and how to store. She fell asleep on the floor many nights as I bunched flowers in the kitchen for the following day’s farmers markets.

Dru’s flower garden 30 years ago.

By the time Hannah was in high school we had graduated to 4-acres, perfecting planting with the precision Stan Hay seeder, and a crew of 4 women who helped with the picking and bunching, and we started selling flowers to stores. At first it was just to our local Food Co-op but soon the word got out that Full Belly Farm flowers were beautiful, local and organically grown. Wholesalers called and the demand seemed endless.

When Hannah left for college we both grew our obsession to new heights. I was now an empty nest mother with more love (and time) to put into the flower production. The demand for our flowers kept growing, as did Hannah’s obsession. Hannah found herself at the University teaching farm, lusting after flowers in people’s gardens on her long walks around town, even helping herself to them as an occasional walk-by flower thief. She began making arrangements, taking photos and started her portfolio on some of those “borrowed” flowers. And then, miraculously, she graduated and came back to Full Belly Farm to be our resident florist. She inspires us with her art and we continue to grow more flowers for her to arrange. Now, about 26 years after starting the first little gardens, we have reached our capacity at about 15 acres, 5 full time flower woman and over 50 year round flower varieties.  Dozens of stores, CSA members and farmers marketers receive our flowers on a weekly basis.

We love that our flowers tell a story. Our story as a mother and daughter relationship transformed by flowers is one but there are many more. The fact that they are certified organic is perhaps the best story. So few people know the farming practices behind conventional cut flowers that they purchase in the store and would be aghast if they knew the un-sustainability of growing them conventionally. We are proud of our flower farming practices and feel that they embody our beliefs in good stewardship of the land where they are grown – at weddings, funerals, center pieces, and on kitchen tables, they speak up as heralds of “right farming.”

We would love to share our flowers with you this season (April 1 to September 30) as a CSA member. We provide weekly bouquets as an-add on to your veggie box. Each week a colorful bouquet will come your way, sometimes a mixed bouquet, sometimes a whole bunch of one variety. We guarantee they will light up your table and perhaps even transform your life. Be sure and tell us your story!

— Dru Rivers, owner Full Belly Farm

Join Our Flower Season

Flowers are $8.50 per bunch (plus sales tax).  You can add the whole season of 26 weeks (from April through September) and get a discount to $8 per bunch ($208 plus sales tax).