It is the season for feeling thankful, and I am incredibly grateful this year. Of course, for important things like family and health, but also for all the little things like watching my son play soccer or performing in a concert, a purring cat on my lap on a cold night, or preparing a new recipe that the family loves. All these big things and little things put together make me so grateful for my life. I’m also especially thankful this year for having the opportunity to turn one of my greatest passions into a business. So, as I wrap up my fall garden chores and tuck the flower beds in for their winter’s nap, I’m also taking the time to reflect on what this first season at Whistling Bee Farm has meant to me. It was a challenging first year with many ups and downs, but as I look back at the last couple of months, I’m so proud of what we accomplished and excited for what the future holds.
It all started with a passion for growing and a dream. I’ve worn many hats over the years: wife, mother, animal caretaker, author, illustrator, and gardener, to name a few. But, several years ago, what started as a gardening hobby, grew into a passion that I couldn’t ignore. So, at the beginning of 2022, I decided to dive headfirst into flower farming! Growing up in rural Vermont, I wanted to own a farm since I was a little kid. Our elderly neighbor, Floyd, used to indulge me by allowing me to romp through his farm hay fields and rolling hills. It was magical. Then our beautiful life happened, and I have yet to achieve the dream of owning acres of land. However, when I learned about micro-farming, I decided that perhaps it wasn’t too late to follow my dream of being a farmer. I’ve always had a fondness for flowers, not only for their beauty but also for how they bring happiness to others. So, it seemed like a good fit, and I decided to start spreading kindness through flowers. I dreamed of creating a place where we nurtured plants, the earth, and others. A place where the bees are so happy they whistle while they work. And thus, Whistling Bee Farm & Florals was planted.
Our first season was all about learning, and I had a lot to learn! The first thing I discovered very quickly is that there is a big difference between gardening for enjoyment and flower farming. This season involved a lot of trial and error as I had to determine the best growing, harvesting, and conditioning practices for each flower variety. I gained a new appreciation and respect for Mother Nature along the way. She threw us many curveballs this year with record temperatures, devastating drought, pest pressure that led to crop failures, and mischievous wildlife. Besides the natural obstacles we had to face, there was also plain and simple farmer error. Yup, I will be the first to admit that I had more than my fair share of farmer fails this season. Thankfully, for the most part, I was able to forgive myself and move on, chalking it up to the learning curve.
But, for each of my failures, I also had a triumph. I was elated to have successfully grown several new crops this season, including specialty tulips, ranunculus, anemones, sweet peas, amaranth, celosia, and more. And with each new crop’s success, I gained a little bit more confidence, and with each completed bouquet, I gained more courage. The flower farmer imposter syndrome I felt each day at the beginning of this adventure started to fade with each achievement. Perhaps I could do this after all; this wasn’t just a silly dream. And then I sold my first bouquet! I was giddy with excitement and a ball of nerves as I handed over that first bunch of Whistling Bee Farm flowers. Filled with doubt and numb with worry, I held my breath to see the customer’s reaction. Were my flowers good enough? Would they like them and know the value they provided? And then I saw a smile, and I knew that everything I had gone through to get to that point had been worth it. I was spreading kindness and happiness with my flowers, which brought me great joy.
As much as I noticed throughout the season that my flowers fulfilled others’ emotional needs, I would be lying if I said growing them didn’t also benefit me. Growing and being among the flowers feeds my soul. Although, I will admit that it is one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever had, both physically and sometimes emotionally (losing an entire crop of sunflowers to pests was a little stressful). And it certainly is nowhere near the glamorous portrayal of playing among the blooms all day that you may see in magazines. Yet, I enjoy discovering new varieties, watching the pollinators among the flowers, and making the world a more beautiful place. Also, the artist in me loves creating floral arrangements that allow me to express myself using flowers as a living artistic medium rather than paint or pencil. So, yes, growing, arranging, and sharing flowers fulfills me.
I still have so much more to learn, and I know that I will make many more mistakes, but getting the chance to do what I love and sharing that with others encourages me to keep going and pursuing this dream. I am thankful for this opportunity and am so grateful to all of you for supporting us during our first year in business. Whether you bought a bouquet, read our blog, liked a social media post, or offered a kind word of encouragement, it all meant so much. I have big plans for next season, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Until then, I hope that all of you have many things in your lives to be thankful for.