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Flower Farmer Interview-February Edition

One of the main goals that I have in creating this blog is to introduce and educate my community on locally grown flowers.

I also have a goal, once a month throughout 2018, to introduce my readers to other flower farmers from around the U.S. All of these men and women are inspiring to me and all have a unique and inspiring business model.

For the February edition of my flower farmer interview I would like to introduce you to Laura Beth Resnick of Butterbee Farm. Laura Beth and her husband Jascha Owens own Butterbee Farm located in Baltimore Maryland.

Thank you Laura Beth for taking time from your busy schedule to answer some questions for me!

You have (in my opinion) a really cool business model selling to florists and hosting on farm workshops. Can you tell us a little bit more about your business (for example: how many florists you sell to and if this was the initial vision that you had for your business or if it adapted into what it is now)?

We sell to over fifty florists each season, and our customer list grows every year. We focus on working with floral designers because we like it the most! My approach has been to try as many things as possible (market, restaurants, CSA, grocery stores, on-farm events, weddings, florists) and then narrow down our channels to the ones that are most profitable and most enjoyable.

You have a really special relationship with Ellen Frost of Local Color Flowers, tell us a little bit more about that.

Ellen is just the best person, I feel grateful to call her a friend and business mentor. I didn't have a background in growing flowers before I started my farm; she patiently taught me how to sell to florists even though I made lots of mistakes. I've known her going on six years now, and I take every chance I get to work with her on something because it's just so fun! We collaborate on different projects, like writing an ASCFG column and teaching classes. I think anyone who knows Ellen would tell you that she has a really special relationship with everyone she knows!

How many years have you been growing cut flowers and what made you decide to follow this path?

I've been growing flowers for five years. I worked on organic veggie farms two and half seasons before that. My background is actually in music performance. I believe that learning how to practice (the flute) set me up for a life of entrepreneurship. Discipline and thinking strategically are important factors in owning a business. I may not have the best green thumb, but I know how to work at it.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career path?

The people! All of my florists, farmer friends, and customers make my work fun and meaningful. There's nothing better than bringing a bucket bursting with flowers to someone you care about.

Is there any one thing that you feel has really helped take your career to the next level?

Absolutely- joining ASCFG was crucial. There are just so many resources there that I had no clue about before I joined. Now, I go to the ASCFG archives almost every day in the winter when I'm researching crops.

What is something in the past that you took a risk on that ended up paying off big time? (Right now I feel like everything is a risk and I am constantly stepping off of a cliff!)

I still feel that way!! Our high tunnels were so worth it. Hiring help is worth it... building our cooler... there isn't an investment we have made that I can think of that didn't pay off eventually. Farming is high risk, high reward!

Have you ever had any huge mishaps and/or major mistakes that you would want to share?

You mean the mistakes I make every other minute? :-) I make them all the time. Like the time I didn't check the dahlia tubers for too long and later discovered they were covered in blue mold? Or the multiple times I didn't put the hoe away and stepped on it and it whacked me in the face? One that weighs heavy this winter is not staying on top of monitoring the low temperatures outside. It only takes one frost to kill a tender plant.

What advice do you have for the new growers out there?

My biggest refrain is to be strategic. Take the time and energy to plan, put it down on paper, and then follow the plan. You can't achieve your goals without a roadmap!

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