Organic flower farms: a trip worth making

Organic flowers aren’t as talked about as organic food. And it’s not difficult to understand why. It’s been tough getting the public at large to focus on organic food–food, something we ingest and rely on as fuel for our body. Focusing the public eye in on the importance of organic flowers, in addition to their food, isn’t an easy task. But organic flower farmers are out there and with a little field trip to one of their farms, you can learn more about organic flower farming than you’d probably guess and savor some breathtaking views while you’re at it.

%Gallery-121462%I had a chance to visit my first organic flower farm in August 2010. I pulled up to Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, a farm within the Columbus, Ohio city limits, not knowing what to expect. I had heard few things about Gretel and Steve Adams, the young couple who own the farm and farm the land. Of those few things I had heard, the general consensus seemed to be one that was in unison: Gretel and Steve are remarkable people doing something remarkable with their lives. And with this kind of build-up, I figured I could only be disappointed. Rarely does anything, particularly anyone, built up so well fill the shoes of their own reputation. I soon found out that this would be one of those rare instances, an exception to the rule.

The dust and gravel kicked up at the friction of my tires as I parked in their driveway. I slipped out of the car to find myself within a dusty fog within a summer’s haze within a lush paradise. I wondered if I was truly, actually, technically still in the city of Columbus. Intellectually, I knew that I was. But this didn’t feel like Columbus.

I grew up just two hours or so southeast of Columbus in Marietta, Ohio. Marietta is a small town, a country town. My taste for rurality isn’t one I’ll deny. I’ve always enjoyed long walks in the woods, the smell of summer, bonfires, barbecues, and wild flowers. But a certain duality within me, a flip-side that craved culture and art and good food and music festivals and people, kept me busy creating reasons to visit Columbus while growing up in Ohio. And so, for all intents and purposes, Columbus was my big city.

Columbus was where I went to feel grown-up and tempered, well-rounded and experienced. Of all the things Columbus was for me, there were some things it definitively was not. Columbus was not a place to visit an organic flower farm. I was a little miffed to return to the Ohio capital on this visit and find that things had changed, that Columbus was something other than I had decided it was long ago. As I shook hands with Gretel and Steve Adams and began my tour of their 10 acre farm, it was clearer than it ever was: there was a lot more to Columbus than I’d previously assumed.

Walking through their farm was surreal. Here I was, in the middle of an actual city, not a city like New York City, but still a fully functional city and The City of my childhood… and yet I was surrounded by blossoming flowers everywhere, their colors splattered like paint across a wide canvas. I brushed the silky petals as I walked past them. I rubbed their leaves between my thumb and index fingers. I wasted no time with concern over pesticide remnants on my fingertips–there were none. Their flowers are organic.

“Nothing is as beautiful and peaceful as a huge field of flowers waiting to be harvested, teeming with life, slightly swaying in the wind”, says Gretel, a woman who clearly loves what she does for a living. “You will see the bees flying around doing their work, monarchs love zinnias, and we encourage praying mantises and ladybugs to come to our farm and be our pest control”. Gretel furthers her infatuation with the organic flower process by explaining to me that non-organic flowers have a sterility to them, a difference that you can feel.

Steve and Gretel revealed to us pieces of their story and their selves as we walked through the dirt passageways, dimmed in some parts by plants so tall and heavy that they canopied over their stems at their tops. Neither Steve nor Gretel had experience farming before starting Sunny Meadows Flower Farm. They refer to themselves as serendipitous farmers and it certainly appears as though serendipity has been working in their favor.

An apprenticeship at Anderson Orchards seeded a passion for farming within Steve, who was lucky enough to have Gretel around, who was lucky enough to have inherited a 10 acre lot in Columbus that her father had purchased in the 80′s. Since both halves of the whole loved nature, they gave farming a shot. And as serendipity would have it, other farmers in the community stepped up as mentors for the pair. Although they also farm organic herbs and vegetables, organic flowers are the focal point of this urban oasis.

Sustainability is a way of life for the Adams. They don’t just own an organic farm–they implement organic practices in every facet of their life possible. They heat their home with wood, they can and preserve all that they can, and Gretel makes some pretty amazing all-natural soap.

I’ve heard that you don’t remember days, you just remember moments. I think this saying is meant to inspire the cultivation of moments worth treasuring and my walk through Sunny Meadows Flower Farm is a moment I still find myself clinging onto, remembering fondly. A lot of things go into the making of the perfect moment, but a field full of chemical-free flowers sure doesn’t hurt. Imagine yourself surrounded by vivid colors in a moment like this. if you like imagining that, I encourage you to research your nearest organic flower farm and pay the people behind these beautiful scenes a visit. You just might treasure your moments in their field for longer than you’d suspect.

And with that, I’ll leave you with some reasons to visit an organic flower farm straight from one of the Sunny Meadows Flower Farm owners, Gretel Adams.

1. Most flowers that are purchased today come from places around the equator where they can be grown year-round and then are shipped all over the world. Worker’s rights and chemical restrictions in these near-equator countries aren’t always consistent with those of the U.S.A. Additionally, shipping across the globe isn’t good for the environment.

2. If you buy your flowers from a local farm producer, you are not buying into that system, and you are supporting your local economy.

3. If you visit a flower farm that uses organic practices, you will quickly be able to see the growing conditions of your flowers and be able to decide for yourself which methods seem safer and make more sense. Organic is about being proactive in creating the best environment rather than being reactive with chemicals like conventional farmers do.

4. And finally, because food may feed the body, but flowers feed the soul! Coming and seeing an organic flower farm allows people to take a break from their crazy busy lives and “smell the roses” for a minute.