Grandma's garden, Durham Region
May 10, 2017
Kirsten, Kim, and Tyler
Tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood is a backyard with a secret urban micro flower farm. Though it may not look like much at first, when you open the gate you're greeted by the smiling faces of a sea of colourful flowers. Our micro flower farm is small, to be exact it's only a 24 x 12ft of raised garden bed that has since retired the vegetables it used to home. Even with small space, using succession planting we are able to fit over 300 plants alone in one season and plant hundreds of bulbs in the fall that will bloom the next spring; then we start all over again. In our first season we grew 20 different varieties with 52 different colourful mixes of annuals and perennials growing. We grow a variety of flowers from perennials like fiery red Iceland poppies, towering black eyed susans, charming multicolour echinacea, and picture perfect dahlias. The majority of our flowers are annuals; for our first year we are growing a colourful mixed array of snapdragons, zinnia, cosmos, scented stock and more. Not everything can fit in the garden, so some special plants have been tucked away in the garden beds at home, among my fathers flowers. We hope to expand our flower farm in the coming years, but for now grandma's garden will more than do.
What we’ve accomplished
and our values on the farm:
After days of work we have restored an over grown garden plagued with weeds to optimum health. First we cleared out all debris and weeds, then tilled so the soil wasn't so compact and once it was ready we spread screened organic compost from a local supplier. Soil health is commonly overlooked by home gardeners, but is the most important component to a thriving garden. It all starts at the roots. It's important that fragile seedlings and newly transplanted flowers have nutrient rich soil to encourage them to thrive. Spreading organic compost before and throughout the season has many benefits; replenishing the soil and giving the flowers the nutrients they need grow. This has made the biggest difference in our flowers; creating longer stem length, more abundance in blooms, and stronger healthier flowers.
Something that was very important to me when starting this farm was giving back to the environment. So in planting a flower farm we have created a new ecosystem for pollinators. Without pollinators we would not have gorgeous blooms and more importantly we wouldn't have food to eat. Pollinators are responsible for 75% of our food crop, without them we're in a lot of trouble. That is why as a flower farmer it is important that I don't cut all my flowers before they fully bloom, and leave some in the garden so the pollinators can enjoy them. We've made sure to plant many varieties that are pollinator friendly to butterflies, bees, and another insect friends. We have seen a large increase of bees and butterflies in the summer season since our flowers have began to bloom, I'm very happy to help protect our pollinators.
Although there are many varieties of stunning exotic ornamental flowers it is crucial to plant flower varieties that are native to where you live. As a flower farmer it's important to plant the most beautiful and breath taking flowers for my customers, but it is even more important to plant flowers that sustain and improve our ecosystem. So instead of planting only exotic varieties, I have made sure to include as many Ontario wildflowers as possible and plan to expand next season on growing even more. Planting native flowers help the environment since they will thrive better in the soils, moisture, and weather of the region they're native to. This means less watering, which is more environmentally friendly and less pest problems that could require toxic chemicals to treat. Native plants also assist in managing rain water runoff and maintain healthy soil as their root systems are deep and keep soil from becoming too compacted. Native flowers preserve biodiversity and sustain habitats for wildlife so it is important to include them in any farm or garden.
We may not be a certified organic farm but we practice organic farming here at Roots & Wildflowers and for one very important reason; our health. Many of the flowers you receive that aren't grown locally get shipped from countries overseas. This may not seem like an issue but what most people don't know is they are sprayed with chemicals that we're protected from here in Canada, but are not illegal in other countries. This means flower farmers across the world are allowed to spray their flowers with pesticides and chemicals so they will survive transportation, that you are unknowingly bringing into your home. As someone who handles my flowers every day and is constantly in the garden I don't want to ingest or spread any chemicals on my skin that may make me sick. Gardening is meant to improve your health and immune system, not depress or deplete it. That is why it's so important that you buy from local farmers that practice organic farming or don't use harmful chemicals.
This takes me to the topic of transportation. As I just explained when you buy locally you don't have the risk of flowers covered in harmful chemicals that are illegal in Canada, but you also have the added bonus of decreasing your carbon footprint. When you buy locally your flowers don't have to travel as far, which means less resources are used to get them from the field to your home. This means less precious resources like gas, less packaging such as cardboard/ plastic, and less preservative to keep them alive. Since we only sell locally in Durham Region our flowers only travel a short distance from our home to yours.