Highlighting the Family Business
Flowers, Farming and the role of both in Community EventsThe past 15 months have been crazy. Lock downs, social distancing, businesses closing and people filling hospitals and morgues. Faces covered with masks preventing real human interaction. We crowd into big box stores like Walmart and State Brothers to hoard toilet paper and mason jars, but we couldn't join with family to celebrate holidays, births and life's achievements or to mourn deaths. Our clans were dispersed and our tribes became fractured.
Nothing eased the pain of separation or healed the wounds of a global pandemic like flowers!
I am a farmer (and a naturalist, teacher and writer), but there is no question that our family business is FLOWERS. For more than 20 years, we have operated retail floral businesses. My wife has been in the industry for a bit longer than the rest of us, as it was her first job at 16 and she has never looked back. She is a world class designer, creating the finest floral arrangements for rock stars, 5-star resorts and the rich and famous. Her specialty, however, is bringing smiles and sometime tears (of Joy) to our neighbors, friends and community. And that my readers is how we weathered the pandemic.
I mostly grow vegetables and herbs, but I have grown sunflowers, bachelor's buttons, baby's breath, zinnias and statice for use in our flower shop. I am now trying my hand at growing some greens and specialty items as a way to support our family business. Over the past year I have also set up a farm stand table outside the flower shop to sell my vegies as a way for the family business to support the farm.
For the past 18 months, our agriculture related businesses, the flower shop and farm operations, have grown tremendously. The pandemic did a lot to drive us in one of two ways-- either to close our doors or to find new paths to success. We chose the latter!
We started doing no contact deliveries and added wire services to our line up. We began promoting flowers as way to connect with one another when we couldn't physically be together. And we reached out to our community which has always supported us and again stepped up. Business stayed strong, even grew. The entire family stepped in to help out and we even hired some help.
Unfortunately, during the pandemic, funeral business excelled as so many people succumbed to the the coronavirus. It was, however, an honor to assist our friends and neighbors, in bringing beauty and light to an otherwise dark and challenging time.
As the flower shop business grew, I also added a CSA program as the primary sales avenue for my produce. This provided a direct source of locally grown food for our community and memberships sold out every season. I also increased production of greens and fillers for the flower shop. I planted more statice, lavender and zinnias. I also started and orchard of pussy willow and curly willow trees to further support the floral ends of our family business.
All of this happens on just a little over an acre of land in Norco, California and demonstrates our families efforts to create a strong, community based economy while supporting each other through Soil, Seeds, Sunshine and Soul!