Wow! I let an entire season of flowery goodness come and go since I last wrote here. And it was perhaps our most flowery season to date. Last year we grew more flowers, booked more weddings, and distributed flowers to more locations than we ever have! I was too busy growing and harvesting to make time for writing. But a recent visit to an awesome farm has inspired me to share again.
Last week we took our crew on a field trip to Little Pond Farm about an hour south of Gainesville in the small town of Bushnell. Little Pond was founded by Cole Turner in 2013 on a 26 acre parcel of land. It has grown to an impressive operation now co-managed by Ellen Trimarco and Willie Bonner. Together with their crew of apprentices, they make for an amazing team of farmers producing incredibly high quality organically grown fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers.
Ellen, who worked as a conservation biologist before becoming a farmer, was gracious to give us a tour of the farm during a busy harvest day. She showed us their impressive new high-tunnel greenhouse where they are growing beautiful, early tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Her Masters in Conservation Biology has proven helpful in the management of pest and disease issues and informs her approach to managing them in the high-tunnel.
Next stop was the flower field which was, of course, my personal favorite part of the tour. Ellen told us that Cole is the flower guru of the farm—and it shows. Alongside beautiful cherry caramel phlox, delphinium, larkspur, calendula, and scabiosa, they have a gorgeous crop of tulips coming in right now. I've only tried to grow tulips twice with very limited success. It's encouraging to see them being produced by fellow growers in our Florida climate. Ellen mentioned they are growing in Zone 9a; we're 8b here in Gainesville.
The other blooms that caught my eye were the poppies just starting to show their faces. I have never attempted to grow poppies here, but after seeing these I'm inspired to try next season!
Flowers are harvested Friday morning and brought to the barn to be made into bouquets for Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg. The market is about an hour and a half south of the farm, and the crew begins their market day at 3:30 am to have enough time to travel and set up their stand. I had the pleasure of attending the market to see all of the farmers hard work on display. If you're ever in the area I highly recommend checking it out. It's incredible!
I'm so thankful for the long distance farm friendship we've been able to cultivate with the Little Ponders. I constantly ask questions, share stories, ask advice, and generally check in with Ellen about how things are growing. There is a lack of cultural information regarding farming in Florida; having a network of small farmers to consult with is an invaluable resource. It's clear Cole & Ellen are extremely dedicated to their craft and are pushing the boundaries of what is supposed to be possible in our area. It's impressive to see what they've accomplished and it inspires me to be a better grower!