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April 15th 2015

Looking back on the early years

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07092011 6188I can’t tell you how delighted I am that there is so much interest, energy and momentum behind the Seasonal Flower Movement now. I get so many messages and notes from beginning farmer-florists around the world who are embarking on their first voyage into the wild and wonderful world of flower farming.  Millions of tiny flower seeds are being lovingly sown in greenhouses and under grow lights this spring with so much hope, promise and wishful thinking.  It’s thrilling to imagine all of the new beauty that will be grown and created this season as part of this incredible movement.

8358679665_b12eb98320_b When I think back to my early years of flower farming it is with a mix of heartbreak, regret and compassion.  I made so many mistakes, which is normal and to be expected when you’re learning something big and new. The sad part is how hard I was on myself through the learning process.

The early years were lonely, and scary and I felt so insecure that I beat up on myself the majority of the time.  I hadn’t a clue what I was doing and reading something in a book or on a growing forum is very different than actually doing it.  In addition to feeling completely lost when it came to growing flowers, I was spending long, backbreaking hours planting, weeding and battling insects that I couldn’t even identify. All with two small kids in tow while my husband was at work. I felt like a failure on every front.

6473477733_b833e55ee0_bWith so many hours alone, my head was filled with thoughts of doubt about whether I was doing the right thing or if I had really just made a huge, expensive, stupid mistake. Everyone who stopped by would tell me that I was “living the dream” and they wished that they too could stroll through the field and “play with flowers” all day.

Those visits always ended with me sitting alone in the field, crying to myself that something must be very, very wrong because I didn’t feel like I was living any sort of dream (more a nightmare!) and flower farming never felt like play. If I could go back and tell my younger self anything, it would be to lighten up and fail proudly! It was through those massive plunders that I learned EVERYTHING I hold dearly now. But back then I thought they were proof that I was on the wrong path and that I was a failure.

07092011 13766Here on the blog I try and share the very best of what is blooming in the fields and the most wonderful snippets from the week. But I want you to know that for every photo I post, I have at least 100 others that didn’t make the cut. I also chose not to share the ugly side of our life too much. The overflowing, unturned compost piles, the stem-strewn disaster area that is the studio after a big order or wedding, or the diseased plants that are loaded with aphids that Chris and I fret over with sick stomachs. And hardly ever do I post images of me looking as tired or stressed as I actually am.  While all of that is very much part of the mix here at Floret, the beauty and positivity is what I choose to highlight.

07092011 4160I’ve worked really hard to create a space that is filled with inspiration and useful information, so I focus more on the abundance and less on the toil. My belief that the world is ugly and negative enough on its own. The media, our Facebook threads, the industry forums, the radio, they are all filled with fear and negativity and drama.

I want to cultivate a space that focuses on the best and most beautiful moments of my life and our flower business. If you were here in person, you would see that the majority of my day is filled with putting out fires, solving problems, cleaning up messes and brainstorming fixes to things that seem impossible. But this space allows me to stop, and sift through the chaos and highlight the gold. To share what I’ve learned so hopefully you can have an easier, more successful time than I’ve had.

07092011 4690But today I want to take a minute and send a big ole dose of encouragement to all the newbie flower farmers, farmer-florists and greenhorn gardeners out there.  I feel your pain! I know you’re excited, and scared and probably walking in circles freaking out about the upcoming growing season and how the hell you’re going to get it all done. I’ve been there, felt it, survived it and lived to actually love it in the end. I’m still doing a bit of it today myself. It really does get easier as you go along though.

I thought I’d pass on a few things I’ve learned along the way that I wish I had known way back then. I’ve also included images from the early years in this post, before we had a team, a fancy camera and the kids and Chris (after work) had to help with every aspect of business. It was pretty rough around the edges those days and we’ve worked really, really hard to build what we have today.

07092011 10943Farming if HARD work and so is running and growing a business. The process of taking your passion and hobby and turning it into something that can not only sustain itself one day, but also generate a profit to pay you is no easy task. Give yourself a huge amount of credit for even trying! If I had known how many times I would fail before I got the hang of it, I probably would never had ventured in. But luckily a few very wise and very patient souls mentored me in the early years. It was their steady counsel and generous sharing about their own journey that paved the way for mine.

If you can find a mentor, someone who has actually done what you want to do, I highly recommend investing in this relationship and listening to their hard earned wisdom. But beware of free advice! Everyone has it and if you’ll listen they’ll drown you in it. The lady at the bank, well meaning friends, total strangers, your neighbors, your husbands best friends mother in law!  For me, advice is poison and I avoid it at all costs.

07092011 5777Early on I didn’t trust my own knowing or intuition and assumed that the folks with a lot of confidence and a loud voice must know more than me. Many of my biggest mistakes were because I didn’t listen to myself or seek wise counsel from someone with real life experience and instead followed bad advice. My rule now is unless I ask for it and the person has actually done what I’m trying to do, I completely disregard what they are saying. That sounds harsh, I know. But I do take in the love and genuine good will they are trying to impart to me, but I make sure to let their words fall away as soon as they leave their mouth. Most of it is just fear and concern anyway.

What I’ve found is that the most successful people I’ve ever met, rarely give advice and when they do, it’s never unsolicited. When they share, it’s always rooted in their own experience and comes with wisdom, humility and compassion.

8145241637_ee21300b91_bYou’re going to kill a lot of plants. It is best to just resign yourself to this fact now and avoid a lot of heartache through the years.  Even after flower farming for so many years now, I still overwater plants, accidentally run over rows with the tractor while mowing, or “misplace” flats only to find them totally dried up and dead in the corner of the garage because I got distracted by a drop in visitor.

Killing your baby flower plants that you’ve tended for weeks or even months can be so frustrating and heart-wrenching. But it’s going to happen a lot along the way, especially when you’re first starting out. Don’t let it get you down. Think of it as a rite of passage. Just jot it down in your notes, learn from your mistake and I promise you’ll laugh about it someday sooner than you think.

IMG_9655There is more than enough for everyone. Enough business, enough money, enough new customers, enough followers, enough happiness, enough doors that will open, enough opportunities. In the early years I got a lot of flack from more established growers and designers because I was “giving it all away”. That trade secrets are just that, secrets. But from day one I have been blessed with so many generous opportunities, tips, tricks and looooooong emails from very patient people explaining exactly how they achieved such amazing success.

When I first started writing for Growing For Market, I asked Lynn if it would be ok to interview all of my flower heroes. We joked that they’d never even return my email, but it was the only excuse I could think of to actually contact them and ask a bunch of my most burning, personal questions. Before each email I would say a little prayer, that if they agreed to talk with me and they shared their secrets, that I promised when I had something of value to share myself I would always pass it on. Every time, amazingly enough, they agreed to the interview and told me the most amazing things that have made a HUGE impact in my own life. It disproved the theory I had heard so often, that if you shared what you had, you would end up with less. Those generous souls taught me the true meaning of abundance.
07092011 5385Just because you don’t love to weed doesn’t mean you’re a bad farmer and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! While I so badly wanted to be Eliot Coleman and have the perfect weed free show farm, the first year I grew flowers, my cutting garden was a ridiculously delightful jungle of flowers and chest high weeds. While I loved the process of selecting varieties, planting and picking I didn’t anticipate just how much energy would be used battling weeds.

After losing the war on weeds my first year, I borrowed $1,000 from my Mom and invested in landscape fabric and have never looked back.  It was a significant initial investment up-front, but it has saved me-and my back–a lot of work in the long run.  Be sure to check out my post on landscape fabric for a few tips for use and installation.  When you come out someday, you’ll see I still hate weeding and there are quite a few growing in amongst the flowers. We go for a “good enough” approach and now weed just enough to not inhibit the flowers blooming ability.

IMG_9605It is possible to be both a farmer and a florist.  I have heard so many behind the back whispers and spiteful comments over the years from both farmers and florists along the way, that you can’t do both, that you have to pick just one. Well, it certainly isn’t the easiest route to be a farmer-florist, but it is indeed possible.

IMG_3063What you put in you will get back out. (or) You reap what you sow. Cutting corners, skimping, trying to cheat the process will always bite you in the ass, so don’t even waste your effort! Chris and I have come back to this truth hundreds of times. We’ve planted stressed plants, sown seeds into very poor soil, under watered, ignored what we knew was right and not once, ever, did it turn out alright.

Years ago we rented a two acre field down the road, in addition to the two acres we tend here at home. At the rented site we were in a hurry and were out of money so we barely prepped the beds. A tiny sprinkle of compost, minimal fertilizer, no fabric on the beds and overhead sprinklers instead of drip. That year about killed us. We weeded and drug hoses all summer, hired extra labor just to stay on top of the weeds, battled insect pressure and disease like never before and had to scrape for good quality flowers tossing at least half of everything we grew. The crops at home were grown in heavily amended beds, with consistent irrigation and produced literally three times the amount. When we did the math at the end of the year we found that the entire rented plot had been a financial loss. In an effort to save time and money up front, we paid for it in the end.

The next year we let that field go, tilled in all of our grass paths around the farm and added another 40 beds when we thought there was no way to expand. We also worked super hard to grow the best possible blooms and packed every square inch with production. That massive failure taught us such a great lesson, and our farm has been profitable ever since. Now we work really hard to do our best because half-assing things never pays off in the long run.

07092011 3265Looking back, it’s hard to believe it has been seven years since I officially became a flower farmer and nearly 10 since I started down this flower road. While every mistake has led to so much growth and learning, I do wish I had gone easier on myself and enjoyed the ride a little more, even when things seemed hopeless. When the kids were small I felt bad that we worked so much, but the flower business is what allowed me to be a stay at home Mom and also help pay the bills. It sure has been a beautiful, crazy, growth inducing ride.

My wish for you is that the beauty on your journey outweighs the hardship. That when you’re scared or feel like you don’t know, that you can listen to that quiet whisper inside yourself for the answer. And when you make a mistake or try something and it doesn’t turn out like you had hoped, fail proudly my friend. The growth that comes from failure is worth its weight in gold and bruised ego’s heal faster than you think. Then, if you can trust in the abundance of the universe enough, try passing on what you’ve learned to the next person behind you. I promise, you won’t regret it!


  1. PayDaySay loans on

    What a heartwarming and inspiring reflection on the early years of Floret Flowers! It’s incredible to see how a small family farm can blossom into something so much more.
    Your journey, from a simple backyard garden to a thriving flower farm and influential online presence, is truly remarkable. The dedication and passion you’ve poured into your work are evident, and it’s no surprise that you’ve become a go-to resource for flower enthusiasts worldwide.
    The emphasis on community and sharing knowledge is something that sets Floret Flowers apart. It’s heartening to see how your success hasn’t just benefited your family but has been extended to your local community and beyond through workshops and educational resources.
    As you look back on your early years, it’s clear that the values of hard work, sustainability, and a deep love for flowers have been at the core of your journey. These are values that resonate with many and are incredibly important in today’s world.
    Your story is not just a testament to the beauty of flowers but also a reminder of what can be achieved through passion and dedication. It’s stories like yours that inspire others to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact on the world.
    Thank you for sharing your journey, and here’s to many more years of growth, beauty, and inspiration from Floret Flowers!

  2. Plot Sovannry on

    I feel so emotional reading this post particularly. I haven’t done all the way through, I am just a new florist farmer. Thank you also to be transparent, giving us a glimpse of the ugly side of farming, it is so true when we talk about the real life farming, the commitments the failures the successes come in all shapes. This is probably why I am fond of you and your approach. You make us feel real .

  3. deviamelia07 on

    Hi Erin,
    Thanks for your story and for sharing it here. After I read it, I feel that I get more motivation and experience from your story. And I really feel grateful to you.
    Thank you always, Erin.

  4. Sara H on

    Your honest words are so comforting and inspiring. They resonate with me so much. I would love to feel I could take the leap of starting down this path of building a business, and it will all will work out… both the successes and failures. My biggest concern is the doubters winning, and support from those closest to me, when I am the biggest doubter. I would love to hear how you manage this aspect on a day to day, month to month, year to year basis. How do you keep looking forward and assure yourself that it is worth it to keep leaping forward into the unknown?

  5. Rachel Ozios on

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post. This is my first year and nothing has gone according to plan. Many seedlings are dying or got in the ground late, and the rain has been crazy this year so my beds are waterlogged. I’ve been feeling like a failure already. But there’s something deep down in me that knows I made the right choice to pursue this even though I feel like a crazy person. I needed this reminder today. Thank you for sharing the encouraging words and how you started out just like everyone. Your wisdom is priceless!

  6. Chris Saenz on

    This is my first year flower farming and the brutal heat we’re experiencing in Colorado has stunted so many of my seedling’s growth. I’ve done a lot of sighing over the past few days as I try to come up with proper shade strategies. Your beautiful post helped remind me that I am not alone! Thank you for sharing so much wisdom with all of us. I’m honored to be a part of this movement (despite all of its challenges!) with so many other dedicated growers.

  7. Janice Mankovich @ Little Flowering Mtn. on

    Awe, this is truth speaking. Today was my day to be freaked and somehow I stumbled onto this post. This affirms to me all I trust about help coming when you need it the most. Thank you.

  8. Leslie on

    This brought tears to my eyes. You’re words are full of grace! I try to battle those feelings of failure and worthlessness all the time. Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. Shelia.M on

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing.

  10. Tracy on

    Beautiful words of encouragement! So real ❤️

  11. Kristin on

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing your failures along with so much success!

  12. Melissa on

    Thank you, Erin. Your soulful generosity is cherished by all of us who have a dream of making a living doing something we love. Thank you for acknowledging that there is a huge learning curve filled with mistakes and self-doubt. Most of us are voracious in our desire to learn — reading books, sites, and joining organizations to support our new endeavors. Many of us work during the day and are filled with anticipation to get home and care for seedlings, design business cards, set up meetings with prospective customers, and dream of spring planting.
    When you wrote, “There is more than enough for everyone…” I agree. It is a stark difference to what I experienced yesterday in Ohio, where aspiring farmers were told to “please go home if you’re here for a hobby and not to make a living” because we were crowding the market with our flowers and low prices… Followed by more ranting by multiple people on the abrupt saturation of people in their markets who are suddenly trying to do what they do.
    I know it was said out of frustration and not meant to discourage, but wanted to mention the contrast because your article came at a time when I needed to be reminded why I set out on this journey. And although it is hard, there is enough room for all of us to pursue what we love while respecting the experience of those who have hoed the row before us.
    Thank you for being you.

  13. Darlene on

    Wonderful words of wisdom! Thank you for having the heart to share all that you’ve learned through the years!

  14. Shannon Babinsack on

    This made me tear up, perfect timing for me, thank you for sharing!

  15. Alexandra on

    Wow. Thanks for this article and sharing your story. :) Your words are so helpful!

  16. Monika on

    Thank you for taking the time to create these articles. I really feel overwhelmed at just trying to start on this journey, to know of your struggles and hardships helps me to keep going, knowing that I am not the only one in this boat! I live in Texas and our weather is crazy to say the least, so just trying to plan the garden setup is a task in itself, along with two home-schooled elementary children, a teenager and a husband that is home only briefly every couple of months, it is so easy to give up. I am so in love with growing things and would like to transition that into some income for our family.The information on your site is extremely valuable! Keep up the good work! I would love to see more on your bed setup and pest and disease control methods.

  17. Janine on

    Hi and thank you for the momentum in my current phase! I’m signed up for the workshop and thrilled to learn so much more from you. The link to the landscape fabric seems to be broken by the way…


    • Team Floret on

      So delighted to have you join us for the workshop!

  18. Farah on

    Although this post was written a while ago, it’s just spot-on describing how I feel right now. I’m just starting my seed flats but lost the first batch to damping off and poor germination. I’m beating on myself like crazy because in theory I have read everything needed but yet couldn’t succeed with some varieties. My stomach aches at the thought that I wouldn’t be able to produce flowers at the timing I have agreed upon with my customers. Your words of encouragement hits right home. I have read this post several times for reassurance and I really look forward to learning from you in the upcoming course.

  19. CheyAnne Sexton on

    You just amaze me and I watch your journey with pride that you are doing what you set out to do. I use to want to have my own flower farm but now living in northern New Mexico is not as lush as it needs to be to have growing healthy flowers. More water is always the dream around here.
    Keep up everything you are already doing. And I love those videos especially when the cat ran when Chris chopped the stems, but he/she wasn’t scared.
    peace n abundance,

  20. Jodi Passwaters on

    I just happened upon Floret a few months ago, searching organic flower farming. What an inspiration you have been since that day. The information you have on your blog alone is so generous and helpful. This “early years” post in particular hits right at home for me, with little ones, a full time job and a dream to make my farm happen. I know it will be messy, hard work along the way, but hearing this honestly from someone who has managed to make flower farming work is just what those of us starting out need. Thank you.

  21. Jane Emery on

    Wow, the way that you share your journey is so humble and inspiring. I love your approach which seems to be as much about life as it is about flower farming. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and wisdom, it is generous indeed. I’m in the dreaming stages of organic flower farming here in a small coastal community in Western Australia. I have begun to grow from seed and this summer will be planting out some new varieties to see what happens!

    • kathy on

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. Very inspiring for others just starting out. Obviously it has taken a lot of hardwork and some mistakes/ learning experiences along the way to becoming the successful flower farmer you are today. Love your blog…… and book. Hoping to signup for the online workshop!

  22. Ann on

    Such a beautiful post <3

  23. Barbara Davis on

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts This particularly poignant post was just what I needed this early morning, as I ponder the monstrous set of chores that lie ahead of me today. It is easy to become lost in your work, in your failures, in your weeds, so to speak. Thanks for admitting that everything is not perfect. I will now pick myself up and head out to the fields with renewed spirit as a result of happening upon this post, when all I really wanted was to re-read your posts about bachelor buttons.

  24. Heidi on

    Thanks for sharing the good and the bad! I’m glad you didn’t give up!

  25. Heather Collins on

    Oh my goodness… I am officially head over heels with your blog, your farm, photos and floral designs. Thank you for humbly sharing both the sunny & rainy sides of your reality as a flower farmer. I am just in the dreaming stage on my 1/3 of and acre in the country, but am so inspired by you & your farm.

  26. Holly on

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. Your flowers are beautiful and your voice is much needed in this world.

  27. Esther Durnwald on

    Our farm’s project manager suggested that I check out your article about planting into landscape fabric and we are now adapting this technique for use on our wildflower seed production farm. Reading that article led me to ordering your beautiful book and reading all of your articles. Now in my 21st year in operating this farm, I can relate to so many of the experiences and feelings that you share in Looking Back on the Early Years. I can not thank you enough for being so generous in sharing your thoughts, knowledge and such beauty. Your work is truly inspiring and you are making the world a better place. Keep up the great work!

  28. Melisa Green on

    I have been following your blog for about a year now. Have your new book too! I am a brand new flower farmer this year. For some reason though, today is the first time I’ve read this post. It is beautiful, encouraging, and hear-warming. And I thank you so much!
    ~New flower farmer in Gas City, Indiana

  29. Georgia on

    This is exactly what I needed to hear, thank you!
    Being on the other side of the planet – I’ve spent the last few months battling (and mostly losing) to the weather and wildlife in my garden. It’s so nice to hear and see your journey, it’s such a great encouragement.

  30. Emily Sotelo Tomulty on

    Wow. I needed that. I have commented only once in my life on anything internet.
    I am a mom of 4, oldest 12. I think it’s really important to stress how real and “normal” that feeling of inadequacy is when you are trying to invent with the simple means that you have. As a mom trying to grow kids alone, is crazy hard. “Staying” home without a price tag or checkstub to refer to for encouragement, cutting corners to relieve financial stress…then paying in heartbreak when you can’t keep up. I am never happier than when my hand are in the dirt. It is a place that I sow tears but reap a small fortune in breath and smile. I will always feel unworthy (because I’m self taught ,wasn’t raised farming, because I have “no right” to imagine a profit) however I don’t anticipate that feeling ever leaving: I’ll call it all “Fortitude Farm”
    +thank you

  31. Kimi Hopkins on

    Hi! I am Kimi Hopkins, an ICU nurse living in Texas. My husband and I have an acre garden that we plant vegetables on and sell to local restaurants. It’s nothing to quit our day jobs over, but last year we actually made a small profit (if you don’t include the investment of our time). This year one of the restaurants asked if we could grow table flowers for them as well. So… after looking into your website, blog, and book (I read it in two days), I’m hooked. I’ve devoured every book I can put my hands on except the APRN books I should be reading for my masters. If I had it my way, I’d turn our entire acre into a flower farm. We even have another 1.5 acres planted with peach and plums. My husband, however, only laughs and says, “one step at a time, Kimi.” The only thing I’m wrestling with is our differences in time zones and how you kept your cut flowers cool at first. Former: Texas gets hot hot hot! Latter: investing in a cooler seems too early.

    So, what did yo do early on after you cut your flowers to keep them cool without a cooler?

  32. Sarah on

    WOW!!! This is the most inspiring thing I’ve read in ages. I’m just completing my final year of a B. Agriscience majoring in horticulture, and I’ve found that quite frankly the idea of becoming a banker, fertiliser salesperson or marketer for ZESPRI kiwifruit (like so many who do my degree end up doing) actually crushes my soul a little bit. Flowers, however? Love them. I’ve got a green thumb and my house is spilling over with my beloved cacti, flowers, ferns, bonsai, venus flytrap and a whole host of veggies. If there’s space for a plant, I’ll fill it. I’ve got no doubt being a flower farmer would be hard. I find it intimidating and know it would take years to build a successful business. But I also know that I already spend hours up to my ears in soil, picking bugs off my plants, pruning bonsai, and digging peat and pumice into the appalling thick grey soil at my rented house, and frankly out in the garden is where I’m most at home. I’ve felt a bit ashamed about not wanting to go for the more profitable, marketable, business-y, glamourous career options, the kind where you wear heels and snazzy white shirts, and every time someone asks me what I want to do when I graduate, my stomach lurches a little. I want to grow flowers, I say, and they ask if there’s really a market for that and is it that profitable and wouldn’t it be awfully hard work? Yeah. I know. I know I’m only twenty with a head full of dreams but that’s what I want to do. This post has made me feel so much better, seeing that you began humbly and slowly, and then seeing the full splendour and beauty of where you are now. Thank you so much. Next time I tell somebody that I want to be a flower farmer, I’ll hold my head a little higher.

  33. Cynthia Wong on

    Erin, thank you so much for your honesty. I can deeply relate your experience, esp. the advice from someone who said it is impossible. I started my organic herbal tea farm since May 2013 and all along the way my farmer friends told me it is impossible to grow and make herbal tea at the same time. What we here (in Hong Kong) means regarding organic farming is all about selling fresh vegetable, I’m the first person who makes herbal tea starts from growing them. My farmer friends seem like waiting to witness my failure. But now I just launched my first tea collection and it’s going on shelf in some organic shops. It’s hard and I make many many mistakes, but I feel I find a place that my soul can settle comfortable. The farm does give more than what I expect… …

  34. Anna King on

    Thank you for your honesty. You are an inspiration.

  35. Laura Furness McNew on

    thank you for sharing your inspirational journey, keen wisdom and abundance of kindness and spirit.

  36. Helen Cocran on

    Erin – Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am going to start my “2nd career” as a flower farm within the year. Your openness about your failures gives me encouragement to move forward and to remind myself that, I, too, will have failures. No doubt, plenty of them. I am looking forward to reading your book – meals and dishes can wait! Deborah Budge, you too, have given me encouragement to begin my 2nd career as a flower farmer. I’ll be 58 in June. As they say, it is never to late!

  37. Viv on

    Erin–as I have said in the past. I’ve been following you and watched you ‘bloom’. I’ve gardened all my life, and it comes from the passions and beauty in one’s soul, to be as you dream to be, and do what your heart tells you to do. The gift you give of knowledge, and flower love you share has not been easy on you,–yet, you kept going, you kept giving. The flower movement owes you a huge thank-you for your gifts. Keep calm and carry on.

  38. Heidi Grengg on

    Many things you shared in this post spoke to me, especially about abundance and persistence. I started flower “farming” last year (1 4’x140′ row)and really questioned doing it again this season. It was a ton of work, I made very little money (but enough to cover the grow lights and seeds!) and there is already an established flower grower in my small town. But, I decided to go for it anyway! Because I love it, so what are you gonna do?! Thanks for the words of encouragement that come from your experience; it feels better to know that a very successful flower farmer has also gone through mistakes, heartaches and setbacks.

  39. Deborah Budge on

    Thank you Erin for the encouraging words. I’am 64 and retired from over 30 years as an RN. My second career starts soon, flower farmer in Idaho. The climate is different, the soil is rocky, the deer and moose eat everything. But I’am going to try. God bless you, you make the world a better place.

    • Marie on

      Love to hear how you go Deborah – I am doing the same :) why not? if you have lots of anumals that eat things I would say the first thing you need is a big fence – where I live – in the middle of national parks the pressure of Kangaroos, wallabies, deer and wombats means nothing grows unless everything can be fenced out – good luck :)

  40. Renee on

    Erin, I have been following your progress for several years and cannot tell you how proud I am of you. You are not only a beautiful, generous farmer/florist, but an absolutely amazing woman.

    Renee`, Michigan Flower Farm

  41. Marie on

    From my little farm just south of Wilsonville OR, on a rainy February day, this post is just what I needed. It brought back some energy and positive thinking about starting my little flower farm this year! Thank you so so much for all that sharing.

  42. Susan Peters on

    “What I’ve found is that the most successful people I’ve ever met, rarely give advice and when they do, it’s never unsolicited. When they share, it’s always rooted in their own experience and comes with wisdom, humility and compassion.” This is so true. Definitely my experience.

    Feeling overwhelmed this year. We’re ramping things up and getting more organized. There is a lot of work – business set-up, bookkeeping, taxes, marketing, etc – on top of growing flowers. This article is inspiring and helpful. Thanks!

  43. Valerie on

    Erin you almost brought me to tears with this one! Thank you for pouring your heart out. I just finished reading “Better Sweet Peas” by George J. Ball that you sited in a Sweet Pea post. Amazing how much your philosophy is like his, and a century apart! In the foreword part of his book he says:

    “We, in turn, owe it to future generations to make the best of this heritage, and hand it on. The grower who attempts to guard a “secret”, as he calls it, is an unnatural product, indeed, a sort of vacuum, that nature in her profound wisdom will not tolerate. He is not paying his debt to the past, present, or future, an old world type of the narrower past.”

    It is so important to build others up, life is hard enough. On top of that, it’s amazing how you found this book over a century later that revolutionized your Sweet Pea growing, this shows how important passing on knowledge is. You are becoming a legend yourself, and people will remember your name for a very VERY long time. Just like George J. Ball you are making the future better. Thank you!

  44. Kate on

    Thank you so so much for this.

  45. Linda Kuo on

    Brand new to you Erin, love this blog post. When I was teaching yoga, I would sometimes have to sub myself out. I would look for a teacher that was of higher value than myself. My other yoga teacher friends didn’t understand that, and looked for a new trainee, or less experienced teacher to use as a sub, for fear they would lose their client. That route had never occurred to me. In my view, my client was my responsibility. Her well being and body was my responsibility so to find the best teacher possible to take my place temporarily, was the only choice. I never lost that client and additionally, it only solidified our relationship because even though I had replaced myself with one that was very skilled, it’s the whole package, it’s what Y O U bring to the table that matters, and she told me that she really loved me and how I taught. This story is in response to…there is enough for everyone. The universe is abundant and limitless. Every time when I run into a situation where someone feels jealous, or withholds, if I can, I immediately remove myself from that negative energy. I only want to be around tribe people. People who champion one another regardless of what their life circumstances are. I’d be the first one at your parade throwing confetti, even if my life was in the dumps. They have nothing to do with one another. Also what really resonated with me was your comments on opinions. If I could turn back the clock, decades of me wasting my life valuing the opinions of others over my own inner voice, which has NEVER let me down. So it was good to be reminded of that once again reading this post. So refreshing to come across authenticity. That is truly why your farm is flourishing. Can’t wait to purchase some of your seeds, chock full of genuine wisdom and beauty.

  46. Kim on

    Its been a while since I have had a moment to read your blog. This was exactly what I needed to read today as I am feeling like I should maybe move on from my dream. While still working full time and trying to make a go of this, I became very frustrated. My brides were plentiful last year and so grateful and I created some beauties, but my gardens were not so plentiful. I had so many bugs I wanted to just burn it all, and only until July did I have lovely somewhat bug free blooms but not as many as previous years. I finally did get to use some blooms in one wedding.. one. I had done quick plantings, no tilling, added very little ammendments and still had not invested in any fabric. There was just never enough time. I am hoping I can balance things a little more this year and maybe attend some markets. I have not done this, but I did send my amazing delphinium… thanks to you, with my daughter to a market she attends for her soaps and she said they came right to her trunk to buy them as she was unpacking, so there is hope. I also had a few friends purchase bouquets through the fall, and I had to stop my mind from feeling they were just doing it because they felt sorry for me… and when they posted pictures of my bouquets I realized they were so beautiful who couldn’t love them.
    Thank you so much for all your inspiration, and personal help along this uncertain journey. I will let you know if I make when I grow up ;), now to even find where I put my leftover seeds from last year!

  47. Molly on

    Erin, I agree…with everything you’ve said. It’s hard, you make mistakes, you move on. My situation is different, but you’ve put into words my experience. And, I thank you for your generosity in sharing your hard learned lessons. I had some very good advice from some very surprising sources.
    I’ll add that it was a longer journey for me to get started. And I’m thankful for all of the experiences I went through so I could see first hand what worked and what was fluff. It’s easy to get drawn into all the shiny, fancy ways to do things when it’s good but basic equipment that helps get things done.
    And, even when you’re being incredibly hard on yourself, it’s because of the level of service you’re trying to provide. I take it too personally. But that has helped me keep my customers and grow them based on word of mouth. I am pitiful when it comes to self promotion and greatly admire your skill and intuition for it.
    Thank you for all these posts. I can’t wait for the book, love the calendar, and keep killing your seeds. :)

  48. Emily Masiello on

    I have been making my way through your blog and I just wanted to tell you that what you post matters so much. You are an amazing soul. Thank you for pouring your love into your work and sharing and encouraging others.


  49. Elysa Casey on

    Just discovered this blog post and I have to say it took a lot of stress from my mind! As silly as it sounds, as I’ve been venturing into flower growing in the hopes of learning enough to someday make a career of it, in the back of my mind I kind of felt like I’m the only one who has killed plants, forgot to water, etc. I’ve loved flowers since learning floral design several years ago, but after just starting out this year learning to grow them and making so many mistakes so far, I was starting to wonder if being a farmer florist was even worth dreaming about. This post really helped lift my spirits and helped me see that mistakes are just part of the learning experience. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences (even if it was a year ago)!

  50. Angie on

    I’m spending time this winter gleaning the internet, books, magazines, and of course, your blog for any and all valuable information about flower farming in preparation for next year. This post has been extremely helpful (mostly for my mental health) as next year will be my first year full time flower farming. While I am researching like crazy, I know that all the research in the world will not fully prepare me for what’s ahead. More than half of the things I am growing next year I have zero experience with, yet I am banking on growing, harvesting and selling them successfully. Going through my seed order yesterday, I would pick up a packet, read it, and get extremely excited for the potential within. But the excitement fades quickly when I remember there is a good chance I will somehow botch the process, fail the plant, myself, and my business. Your writing serves as a reminder that failure is part of the process and should be celebrated-with it comes experience and knowledge. Thank you!

  51. Viv on

    OMG!!!!!! Thanks Erin!!! I think you’ve “Found your voice” ,–and it’s speaks volumes about all the things that you’ve gone through. I knew when I found you last year that you were on one hell of a journey, and that you’d been a workhorse to get there, and come this far. Congrats on your flower successes AND on your failures. Being honest, helpful, and sharing, in this biz, is a true gift to the rest of us out here. We are all on our own journeys–I’ve found the last phase of mine, thanks to you. I’ve ran my flower train for many different things,–but it all started here, at Sweetbriar Gardens, years ago,– with two small greenhouses. Leaving those for weddings,( some here at the gardens), design work, floral shop, whatever I could get.
    School certification, and events followed–but,– nothing ever really flowed as it should’ve:(( Eventually, I have “warped out” of that journey. I had some successes/failures. Mostly, just wanted to be with flowers. Thank God ….I’m a NEW florist–a farmer florist, and I LOVE selling my slow flowers and designs at market or to whoever. I also do a lot of give away bouquets after market is over. I wish Scottie would have “beamed me up” a few years back!!! L Thanks Erin and Family!!!!!!!! I’m micro farmin’ here and at another location, also have dibs on a weedy lot where I’ve picked for years. Flower Power to the people!!!!!!

  52. Corinne on

    MY biggest problem is finding a market . I keep emailing, calling, senting samples and I receive no response. I mean at least email and say” no thanks!”. Thank you for your blog love reading it!

  53. Kate on

    Thank you Erin for this. I killed a few of my flower plant and I start thinking I’m not good enough, and I start thinking to stop. Reading this bring tears to my eyes, as I feel that finally, someone who tell me the real deal. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I wish u all the best!

  54. Ginny on

    Although I read this back in April, I searched it out again last night as I was really feeling the challenges of being a newbie flower farmer. With two greenhouses full of plants that needed to be in the ground yesterday and the main planting field still not tilled, the fatigue of working seven days a week and still falling behind, the expenses, the loneliness, the undone laundry and housework, neglected family members…I was in a dark mood. As usual, your honesty and encouragement was just what I needed.. Reading that you had the same fears and doubts helped ease my mind enough to get to sleep. I’m still questioning my decision, abilities and sanity, but this morning I was up at dawn and plugging away again. Thanks, Erin.

  55. Melissa Brown on

    Thank you thank you thank you…so very much, Erin. I’m exactly where you were, beating myself up and having the hardest time seeing the beauty. This post is the most important thing I’ll probably read this whole damn year! Thank you for reminding us all to fail proudly and with gusto! This is my second year trying to make a go of being a serious farmer-florist, and damn, I think it’s ok that I’m making mistakes! It means I’m trying and pushing my boundaries, and that I’m learning. All good things. Thank you a million times over for sharing these words, Erin. You are a peach :)
    Flying Bear Farm

  56. Brenda on

    Thanks for your great post and your honesty. I think if more of us shared our fears about our lives and trying new things we would realize that we are not alone. I went way out of my comfort zone 25 years ago when I set up my own home based Nursery business and I recognize all your fears because I also felt them. The stress, the fears, the bugs, all of if was a very real part of the negative side and sometimes it was very difficult to hang onto the good to get me through the days. Good for you to want to focus on the beauty of the plants that grow from this good earth and on all the positive aspects of your life. I no longer operate my business but I look back on it all and do you know what I see? Me following a dream and it all unfolding to bring that dream to fruitation. Here is to all of us who put ourselves out on a limb!

  57. Luc on

    Hello from France,
    I just discovered your blog and saw this publication. I admire your attitude and believe. Great article.
    I am sure one day I will follow your steps but than in France.
    Take care and stay possitive. :)

  58. Leah on

    As I was endlessly preparing my soil in the field I can in and took a break and read this article. I was filled with self doubt and questioning, what the hell I am doing anyway! Thanks for these words I will allow them to come to the front of my mind rather than that nagging voice of doubt and second guessing. I took a leap of faith trying out my own small flower farming venture and it is so helpful to read the words of others out there. Thanks!

  59. Sybil H.Skinne on

    Thanks – I so needed these words – I am one of those crazy folks that grows flowers so brides have some great color and textures for their flowers…going into my second year on my own and man growing hard work…but so rewarding…

  60. caz Owens on

    Once again your words have inspired me Erin. The work we initially do is a labour of love and passion and if you have that magic touch and connection with the earth then I believe Mother Natures is overseeing and sometimes correcting and reminding us of why we do what we do. We love flowers, love growing them and most of all we love to share them for their fragrances, beauty and the joy they bring… Keep writing as you do inspire many I am sure…

  61. Putri on

    Hi Erin,
    Thanks for your great story and sharing here. After I read it, I feel that I gain more motivation and strength from your story. And I totally feel gratitude to you.
    Great thanks always to you, Erin.

  62. Kim Carter on

    So many times visitors to my farm tell me that I’m also living the dream and I flashback to fifteen years of nightmares and tribulations that brought us to where I am now. When people say this I am equal parts grateful and taken aback, because they truly have no idea about the reality of farming. However, I am living my dream. I’m so pleased to have discovered your blog and can’t wait to see where we all go next.

  63. Karin on

    Me too Tania! Paying it back and forward and hard work. Taking the lessons and composting them into good use. That’s why I love your style Erin. XO

  64. lou wesolowski/mountain road flower farm on

    Erin! You are a ROCKSTAR in the flower farming world. I’m a 61 yr old guy who has spent the last 40 yrs (yikes!) designing and building McMansions in New England. In 2006 we bought an old farmhouse and small farm with the intent of restoring both the house and farm. Over the years I dabbled in different vegetable crops to grow and sell, not having any success. Then I bought Lynn Bycynski’s book and I stumbled upon your website about 3 years ago. This summer will be our third year selling flowers as I transition the farm (and me!) to fulltime flower farming. You have been a huge inspiration as well as a wealth of knowledge. Thank you and congrats on all your accomplishments

  65. Carolyn on

    Dear Erin, Frequently I ask myself “why am I trying to do this?” Thank you for sharing your experiences; it helps to put things in perspective. Also, congratulations on the all your achievements this year! Your Martha Stewart article turned out great!

  66. Killoran Moore on

    It’s been so great to see your business grow in the last year. After finding your blog, I went back and read all through the archives. I’m so glad I did. Reading through the blog like that, it’s a lot easier to continue the story (best word I can think of) – you really did share, even if it was just in tone, that it can be incredibly stressful and hard, but also that it’s rewarding. It was certainly nice to see that it’s not all gumdrops and rainbows, and that there was actually a small business owner who was okay with showing that. Your generosity has been really inspiring – I love that you share so much in an industry that seems to be full of secrets (though, I guess they all are). Tips, tricks, plans, specifics, flower focus, etc. It’s all been so helpful and informative.. and beautiful to look at.

    I’m glad you made this post. It’s so easy to fall into thinking that everything is doomed and that failure is the only possible outcome. It’s definitely helped along when you think $3 for compost is out of your budget. And the yard is under inches of water. And you can only get 30 minutes of work done at a time because you have to wear the baby and he’s bored. But then you read a lovely post and remember reading about someone else’s struggles and it makes it feel like “fuck yeah! I can do this! Fuck you slugs! Fuck you deceptive early spring and lasting rain! Fuck you bee that stung my eye! I’m the best around and nothin’s gonna ever keep me down!” Thanks. Seriously.

  67. Kathleen on

    Thank you for sharing such useful experiences. I really like your intention to generally highlight the positive! That was a lovely post and applicable to all entrepreneurs and gardeners:).

  68. VillageKid on

    I must say thanks to you, Erin, AND all the others who share on your site. It gives me a place to go when all the testosterone, competitive back biting locals and remoteness get to be ‘too’ much.

    Thank heavens I have a spouse who is a ‘sharer of information’ who is also overall supportive of my efforts to add my farming efforts to the family business of fishing and flying!! It is not all roses at our place all the time but overall I am able to keep pursing this love I have had to keep bottled up for some 20+ years.

    Slowly but surly we are progressing and I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. I appreciate the honesty and struggles you share with all of us.

    The lovely colorful petals (as I think of how good will from flower lovers goes out into the universe) land on many far and wide places and into the hearts and minds of so many of us. We are blessed to share this with each other!

  69. Libby Wilkie on

    This is a remarkable piece of soul searching, and then sharing. Thank you so much. It holds true, of course, for so many of life’s paths. Your blog and story are such a pleasure to read and to follow.

  70. Silvia on

    Wow Erin! This blog can be applied to every area of life! Thanks so much for sharing these pearls of wisdom. I just had to “hear” this today. I added this one to my book of famous, healing and “get-up-and-keep-going” quotes: “The growth that comes from failure is worth its weight in gold and bruised ego’s heal faster than you think.”
    Love, blessings and gratitude!

  71. Chase Allen on


    You impressed me so much at the Martha Stewart award weekend and reading this blog makes me wish we had had more down time to talk shop while in the “winners circle”. I no doubt relate to all that you have written and admire that you have taken the time to share with others the importance and reality of failure. I have been trying to put in to words a similar message and am encouraged to continue to try. Magazines and awards make what we do appear glossy impressive and simple. However, the behind-the-scenes is reality, not always pretty and yet, when we take time to reflect, perhaps the failures and struggles are exactly where the beauty is found. Again, I tip my hat to you. Way to put it in to words. Glad we met. When you vacation, come to Daufuskie Island. Best wishes to you for continued successes…and failures:-)

  72. Karen G. on

    Beautiful, encouraging words. So, who ARE your flower heroes?

  73. Marina on


    I love how you share that it’s not exactly all picture perfect to be doing what you are , but all at the same time .. It’s a beautiful process that’s totally worth it . While being too afraid to go after what I really want, because I feel like I’ll fail .. I read how things are never going to he perfect and that’s okay . You just have to stay positive . I’m only 21 , and yet when opportunities come up I’m still battling if I even want to take that road based on previous failures . I’m going to try and take the advice to your younger self and not give up just yet because of bumps along the road . From every mistake comes a lesson . I never really pictured myself attempting to learn how to grow flowers , not just designing them .. So when I also read about how you spent so much time reading books , it gave me a little more encouragement to give it a try . I recently just found the perfect encyclopedia of flowers ! Thanks for all your words , and taking time to share your thoughts . You’re a busy woman that keeps going and it’s really an amazing thing what you’re doing here .
    – Marina

  74. Jeanie McKewan on

    Erin, your eloquent tale of flower farming is so, so true. I have now been a flower farmer for 9 years. For the first 8 I grew more than 2500 flats of herb and vegetable starter plants. We never got any of the flowers planted in time, never got to the perennial beds in time, when people came to visit the farm all I could say was please don’t look at the weeds. I was embarrassed and humiliated. This year without the starter plants, we can see the perennials, we have already planted thousands of flowers and everyone is smiling! It is a business of hard work but I love it. Thank you for your commitment to the written word, you are a talented woman who I enjoy reading about!

  75. Tara Fodor on

    Thank you for sharing this! I kill plants…more so this year than last. I even managed to kill half of the sweet peas I bought from you because I neglected to harden them off properly. I have all kinds of excuses this year for my stupid mistakes, but it’s reassuring knowing I’m not alone. Though we haven’t met, you just became very real to me and for that I appreciate your knowledge even more. You’re human just like me! :-)) Our first baby is on the way in less than 6 weeks so I’m sure I’ll find time to kill more baby plants and cry my eyes out in frustration (darn hormones), but I’ll keep plugging away! – Thanks again for all you share!

  76. east coast Erin! on

    this was perfect. Very inspirational and reassuring. I’m grateful that as growers (I’m a newbie) we all can be in solidarity with so many of these issues & emotions. Thank you

  77. Lynn Rapp on

    Ok, Erin, so I’m sitting here bawling! This get printed and put in my back pocket to pull out each time I am terrified that I have made a huge mistake choosing to do what I love, each time I feel overwhelmed and each time I feel like a failure. Thank you, so very much, for your transparancy, honesty, and for taking the time to share this with all of us.

  78. Daniele Allion Strawn on

    Erin – My sincerest thanks for these kind and experienced words. I really needed this right now. Lots of love to you, your family and farm <3 Daniele

  79. Rondi Anderson on

    Thank you.

    How easy it is to let fear enter in. It consumes hope and pleasure. Faith, really. I think your are correct when you encourage us to listen and believe that still quiet voice inside. I find embracing the mystery, the unknown future and trusting it’s in good hands and is meant to be a blessing not only has a better outcome, but helps me clear my head for positive solutions to come. That being a duck and letting others advice go to the wayside, not taking it personally (their not trusting in the wonderful future) is the hardest.

    I am learning.

  80. Lauren Brown on

    Thank you for this much needed read! As I dive into my second growing season as a flower farmer, I reflect back on last year, learning from ALL of my mistakes, as well as my successes. I find myself all too often wondering why I put myself through all the hardships until I find that first bloom of the season and am overwhelmed with joy and happiness. It is nice to have a reminder that I am not alone and I am not the only one that makes mistakes in this crazy life we call flower farming.

  81. KJ on

    Thank you for sharing the story of your journey. Sometimes we look at Floret and your success, and are just despair that we would be ever able to reach that level of achievement. This post however, sheds light on the fact that you too, were once discouraged, worried of failure and ruin, but through perseverance and resilience you were able to overcome any and all obstacles. Thank you for being vulnerable and exposing some of the not-so-pretty stories of your past – these are extremely powerful and useful for those of us that are on our own journey.

  82. Katie on

    Erin, this was so helpful and wonderful to read. I shared it with my husband and we talked about it last night. He also found it helpful and inspiring and applicable to anyone starting a new venture. So a big thank you from the both of us on sharing your story and really giving us the encouragement we both need on our working towards our dreams. xo

  83. Andrea Clemens, Lovelight Flowers on

    Wow! You are my kindred spirit…I cannot wait to meet you in person someday ;) this is my 10th season working on fulfilling my farmer florist dreams. I have two kids as well and haven’t given up despite of having to “start over” so many times. We are settling in on a small family property in wisconsin this season. I am working harder than ever, keeping a positive mindset and attracting the abundance! What a beautiful life We live and share with our kids. I am incredibly grateful for our flower farming community. Thanks you for sharing life’s beautiful fleeting moments with all of us. <3

  84. Anne Matthews on

    Spot on!
    I have been at it the same amount of time here in chilly VT. Just love it that our lessons are quite the same.
    Martha inspired me years ago to branch out from a traditional flower shop. From seeding to cutting gardens to lush designs.. or fun jars of zinnias… this captured my desire…It’s Dahlias and Ranunculus in high tunnels now.
    The old dairy men of the area don’t know what to think of the lil girl on the hillside!
    So many flower shops have vanished, most had a small greenhouse attached. The public is out of touch with the magic we see daily. Wonderful to see a change coming :)

  85. Dawn Adams on

    I have followed you for several years now and am constantly inspired by you, your husband, and your farm. It is so absolutely wonderful that you have been recognized by so many, including Martha Stewart! Thank you so much for your practice of abundance and sharing. I, too, have always believed that there is enough business for everyone and am not naturally competitive. I love to share the things I have learned along my own bumpy road so that others may benefit and then share in turn. I am so happy to see that people like you are turning the tide in the floral industry against the secret hoarders, the stingy, mean-spirited, nasty, competitive people. (I have had my fill of these types in my 15 years in this industry and always felt so alone in my belief that there was a better way.) I started out in the floral industry as a farmer along with my father and our little flower farm (mostly sweet peas and David Austin roses), after 5 years, was no longer able to operate due to my father’s sudden and untimely death. Heartbreakingly, my husband at the time was not at all interested in continuing and the project was abandoned. I now have my own flower shop after much hard work and beating the odds, and my husband (the new, supportive one!) and I garden a tiny plot of land at home to augment our flower market purchases for the shop. Someday I would love to return to my roots and farm again and you have inspired me to keep that dream and my father’s legacy alive. It is such hard and messy work, just as the shop is, and people say all the time to me “I wish I could play with flowers all day”, so I really relate to your comments about that phrase. I have learned to smile and nod, just as I do to all the well meaning fearful, often negative “advice”. It literally brought tears to my eyes to read your post of honesty, encouragement, and kindness to the dreamer in all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  86. Mary Stevenson on

    Erin, a treat to read your blog!
    Keep going; your encouragement is of immense value, and your generosity is key.
    Thank you.

  87. Little White Dove on

    what a gorgeous post! I have loved following your blog over many years and I remember some of those early photos – especially the fishguts throwing one :-) I think your advice holds true for all creative endeavours too, if I’m knitting/crocheting something and it’s not going so well, I need to remember that it’s not going to get better if I keep going, I need to unpick that crap and start again, properly. Doing it right from the start and with the best of intentions, no shortcuts… and staying true to the dream even when it doesn’t feel so dreamy, so many things to keep in mind from this post… thanks so much…. It’s been such a pleasure to watch Floret grow!

  88. Terri on

    Erin, thank you for your honesty! I am blinking back tears while writing this as I know all too well that loneliness & soul crushing self doubt. Wondering why I bother with all of this? Why am I putting my family through this? You have put into words what has been on my heart and mind. I needed to hear this, to be kinder to myself, to remember why I chose this way of life. And to “lighten up and fail proudly” You are truly an inspiration! So nice to know that I am not alone in this crazy floral adventure!

    • Terri Bowlby-Chiasson on

      Hi Terri,
      I feel as though you have written exactly what I am thinking and feeling…even the tears…we can do this!
      I have to believe that if the “Seed of my Dream” comes from a Higher Source, then it can’t be wrong, I am not wrong and everything will work out better than I can imagine as long as I stay in Faith and not in the fear…fear kills dreams…
      We have been given a wonderful opportunity to pursue that which has been in our minds and hearts for a while now…Lets GO FOR IT!!

  89. Shelley Yoshiwara on

    Thank you for sharing. No one ever gets the bug and weed part of gardening and I was happy to hear I’m not alone. When the sun goes down in the evening and I see all the bugs in the air I feel like it’s me versus the millions of bugs and their going to win! I do the best I can to keep a handle on what I can. Then the weeds another never ending battle! The term growing like a weed certainly rings true! They never seem to have a bug problem and grow like crazy!! Here where we moved 3 years ago in Redding , Ca we have prime soil, and so everything grows really well and we’re learning what can survive the heat in the summer. Each year gets better! Can’t wait for your book!!!

  90. Domineke on

    Thanks Erin, this was just what I needed. I seriously need to step up my game this year and it’s nice to hear some of your experiences.

    I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn – Maya Algelou

  91. Heather on

    Beautiful post, thank you. Your blog is such an inspiration to me and you are a beautiful, generous person for sharing all that you do.

  92. Melinda Studinka on

    I think it’s been a long time coming, but the dam broke about 2 paragraphs in, and as I was reading your post to my husband, had to stop several times to gather myself and continue. Third year growing, and it’s such a roller coaster. I completely relate to so much of what you said, even tho I’m sure I’m old enough to be your mother. Bless you for taking the time (how in the world do you EVER have time to write?!) to reflect and write. You’ve done a good thing here, Erin. Thank you.

  93. Kim Stearns on

    Awesome blog post Erin!!! My first year growing to sell, soooooo excited!!! I attended your flower farmer/florist workshop last fall, learned SO much and had tons of fun!!!

    Nutty Brown Farm.

  94. Kate on

    What an amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m working through a horticulture course, hoping to some day be a flower/market garden farmer and it is so heartening to hear stories of people succeeding.
    And well done to you! It is obviously not easy, but just think of the amazing life you’ve created for yourself and your family!
    Best luck for the future.

  95. Vivienne Lowe on

    Thank you Erin, Chris, Elora, Jasper, for the flower filled journey.

  96. Natalie on

    Thank you for sharing this! You and your farm are beautiful and I’m so glad you didn’t give up in the early years!

  97. Corinne on

    I know that feeling of failure and tears. Your blog helps me think I can do it, because I sometimes , mozt of the I donot think I can.i love the blog and intragram.

  98. Jamie Sammons on

    Wow, I need to hear that today. I have been so overwhelmed thinking about all the things that could go wrong. It hasn’t even happened yet and yet here I am having nightmares about it. I just need to relax and everything will be okay in the end and guess what? If its not Okay…well then its not the end. Right?

  99. Misty on

    OH ERIN.. THANK YOU for this blog! I soooo needed to hear it. I do have a question about using the landscape fabric with Dahlias though. Does the fabric attract slugs?

  100. Frances on

    Absolutely lovely! Your sage words can be applied to all of life’s endeavors – thank yo so very much for taking the time to share and it is especially appreciated that you choose the gold rather than the rust!

    Many heartfelt thanks!

  101. Trina Coombes on

    thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I feel so much better for reading this.
    You are an amazing woman who has inspired so many to believe in their dreams and to act upon them.
    Thank you. I love catching up with your week.

  102. Corina on

    Just for the record: I hung out with Eliot Coleman once, even slept in his guest cabin. We spent the day talking, and guess what? While we talked, we weeded. Yes, we did. So all I’m saying: Even Eliot has weeds! Lots of them! His books just don’t show them. So there!

    • VillageKid on

      Thanks for that insight!! I think I knew that but it sure helps to read it from someone who saw it first hand….it brought a HUGE smile to my face!!

      (Now if we could get MS to admit she has weeds too….life would be perfect ;-))

  103. Catherine on

    Thanks Erin for such an inspirational post! I am a stay at home mum to 3 little girls and started out on my adventure as a new flower grower last summer, which was full of highs and lows. My first flowers are just coming into bloom now marking the start of an exciting but scary time ahead and reading your blog has just given me a boost of confidence and encouragement that I can do this! Thank you!

  104. Carolyn on

    You brought tears to my eyes…….I am just starting my own farmer florist business & am bursting with excitement but so scared of failure. I also work a full time job (reducing hours soon – yeah!!) Driving to work in the dark this morning I thought I should dig through your first blogs to see if I could find how you overcame your fears! I guess there is someone listening to me as you posted this today. Thank you, thank you – deep breaths – I can do this and again thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration to so many people.

  105. Shelley Bergman on

    Hi Erin,
    From a flower farmer at the top of the south Island of New Zealand… Thank you … I love to read everything you post.

  106. Kristen Carrier on

    This has brought me to tears. It catches me on a day that has some doubt and fear weaved through it. Thank you for your honesty. I am feeling a bit lighter :)

  107. Janis Harris on

    Thanks Erin! You are one of my celebrity flower farmers :). This is an awesome post!

  108. Charlotte Chastain Flora Lore Flower Farm on

    I also appreciate you giving a glimpse of what is was like as you were getting going with a young family. My husband is a teacher and I am at home with our three little children and we are all nurturing the land together. It is quite something…a true adventure! Thank you again for your wise words…I can feel them nurturing me!

  109. Cindy on

    I am in tears at how honest and how true your words are. I have felt every one of these emotions and still feel them all the time. Thank you and so many like you for leading the way for the rest of us, for working so hard, for sharing so much.

  110. Anna Taylor on

    I am starting a flower farm and floristry business this year. Single mum, two small boys and a big garden. This post is so welcome right now. Thank you for your generosity.

    Another one for you “no one ever became poor from giving”. Thank you

  111. Terri on

    We love you, Erin.

  112. Charlotte Chastain Flora Lore Flower Farm on

    Thank you Erin!!! I am a fledgling flower farmer and your words of encouragement couldn’t have come at a better time! This is a post that I know I will read countless times in the years to come…What a true gift! Thank you for being generous and kind.

  113. Susan on

    I just saw the article on your business in Martha Stewart. Immediately I went to your site and read this post. I had big dreams to do exactly what you are doing. My space was smaller but nicely laid out. It was initially a lavender field that we planted. There was a beautiful simple steel gazebo painted black in the middle thinking that a young bride might someday want to be married in the midst of beautiful flowers. I had rows of weedblock in between the rows for planting. There was no tiller, no greenhouse and really no help from family. I have a darling cottage that was to be my design studio.There were/are 3 rambunctious dogs, one of them being a very intense digger. The weeds… well they did my lower back in and the other constraints did my spirit in. Sadly, very sadly I have walked away from that dream. We are moving the lovely gazebo to another location tucked in between mature evergreen trees on our 5 acres where hopefully it will serve as a place for our girls to married. It will be surrounded by hydrangeas and hostas. I am giving the perfect place for a cutting garden over to my horses. They will be thrilled and that makes me happy. Every day I worry I am making a mistake. Every day I plan for something different to do with my lovely property. I applaud you for your tenacity in the pursuit of your dream. Your arrangements are truly lovely. As so many people say… it is a lucky person who is able to work doing something they love. What you do truly is a labor of love. I look forward to following you on Instagram and reading your blog. I wish you much continued success.

  114. Marci F on

    Thank you for this post- this week has been full of doubts about my decision to start following my dreams of being a farmer florist- I needed the reminder that I’m not the only one that has or ever will feel that way.

  115. amy - hopefully The Flower Forest someday soon! on

    I’m holding back tears after reading this blog post Erin.

    I’m at a crossroads. I’m in the very early stages of trying to set up a tiny flower growing/arranging business. Got a plot to rent, have started growing seeds, planning etc BUT after 3 yrs of staying home to raise my youngest, I desperately need to get a job as we’ve hit a wall financially. I’m having a complete meltdown of confidence and just keep thinking what on earth am I thinking, how can this possibly work? Can I realistically make enough money doing this to help support the family? I’m qualified in nothing, the business side of it all completely freaks me out, I have no…and I mean no money. Is flair and an overhelming desire to work with flowers and people enough? I can’t do a ‘normal’ job, raise kids AND grow flowers! I so desperately need to hear at least one bit of encouragement from somewhere that I shouldn’t give up now. I wish each one of us newbies could be assigned a flower fairy godmother!! I have always believed that if you ‘receive free, give free’, and you more than any other farmer/florist epitomize that quality in your blogs. It is really important in our early stages, when self doubt can be so overwhelming, that we see or hear the bad bits including the really bad bits, otherwise the bar often can feel too high and unachievable… as nice as it to see all the pretty, perfect looking bits. Thank you for all your advice and open heartedness. Sorry for the off load everyone! x

    • VillageKid on


      To question yourself is normal, especially when dealing with family and financial. Give yourself a chance on this dream, discuss possibilities with your spouse and then go for it.
      Over the years both my spouse and I have found we do much better at tasks/job/hobbies when our hearts are totally in them. I am sure you can look back and see some similarities with your past.
      IF you have to put this flower dream aside for a time, be it PT or full tide, keep learning and doing things that fit your time and ability to hone your skills. My guess is that there will be a time shortly, maybe when your child starts school that you can expand out on your dream.
      Be honest with your partner and see what you two can work out….it might be going it ‘tight up against the wall’ for a bit more to keep at what you are in, cutting back on some lifestyle things or biting the bullet but you will get back to flowers, sooner than later….I am sure of that…seen it too many times! Good luck and give yourself a hug for ‘dumping’ today, it is good to do at times!!

  116. Christy Twigg on

    Good ole’ UCA lead me to your website and how thankful I am!!! This post is an inspiration as well as all of your beautiful photos.

  117. Chelsey C. on

    As always, your generosity is sincerely appreciated. It makes it hopeful to know that someone like you who we can all see has “made it” felt the same way starting out. You deserve every success you enjoy, thank you so much!

  118. Abbey on

    I’m not even attempting to make money growing anything right now but just trying to keep up a garden and 4 month old baby ( my first). I loved reading this. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and killed a lot of innocent plants. There is hope.

  119. Sierra on

    Exactly what I needed to read this morning! Thank you for sharing.

  120. Jane Berry on

    Thank you for this beautiful post. We are just starting and have 7 -120′ rows ready for planting. We have run into little hurdles but have learned from them already. I’m excited, anxious, and hopeful for the things that will come! I love to read your page and thanks for sharing the not so pretty side of flower farming. As with everything in life you get out what you put in!

  121. DaNae Smith on

    I definitely enjoy reading about the “mistakes” too! I know that we all have them and it’s good to show that everything is not “perfect”. Just the other day I was participating in a whimsical outdoor floral photo shoot and a mom of one of the models slightly lamented about her age while sitting amongst the young women (ages 16- 20 somethings). I am slightly older than this mom and I thought to myself about how I would much rather be 45 than 20 because of all I have learned and become over the years and I think this applies to us in our ventures as well. & years down the road has taught you to enjoy the journey. I had hoped for a better start this year but with a new property that requires much work on the soil; I know that it is better to work on the soil this year than to forge ahead. Preparation will make all the difference so I must be patient. Thank you again for this post!! Keep them coming! ( the beauty and the dirt!)

  122. Jenny Rae on

    I really appreciated this post, and I garauntee I will re-read this many times over! Thanks for the honesty and reminding us that “perfection” is only in the eye of the beholder.

  123. Liv on

    these peaks behind the scenes are my favorite. i do trust in the abundance of the universe;) thank you for sharing your experiences!!

  124. Caroline on

    When I first decided to become a flower farmer a year ago, I stumbled onto your website and blog. I admire you and all your hard work. You have given me such inspiration! Thank you for that.

  125. Anna Mather on

    Hi Erin, this is totally bizarre but this post was timed for me to perfection. I have been obsessively reading your blog for weeks and weeks which I love and this article has just brought me to tears. 5 months ago I decided to leave my six figure corporate job to have an adventure with my girls (Grace and Drew) and flower farming is what I have chosen. I am working my final few days in the old life and then its full time for me (with a little part time job on the side to ensure we can all eat!!). Everyone thinks I am mad and you can see in their eyes a disbelief that it could actually work. Your journey helps me enormously during those scary moments so I just wanted to say, thank you. Anna (in the UK)

    • erin on

      Dear Erin,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been debating/pondering chucking my high paying, soul sucking job and starting my farm. I know my family will think I’m bat crap crazy but life isn’t life when you spend most of it In a place where you are miserable. Thanks for putting out out there that there are others who are jumping in feet first and taking the risk!

  126. Cathy Bartolic on

    This is one of your most amazing, heart wrenching, truthful blog articles. Actually just the other day I was wondering why we never see the ‘dark side’ of farming, because I know it is on every farm and then I read this. And I totally understand why you want to stay positive but this entry makes it all more real for me. Just knowing that you have tough days when not everything goes totally perfectly is great inspiration for me. Yeaaah, I am normal after all.
    As always, thanks for sharing.

  127. Ariana on

    I think this is my absolute favourite blog post of yours Erin. Thank you for your honesty. I have been going through all of what you describe above, and am working on making peace with the reality that it is just not going to all happen overnight, and on celebrating the learning that comes from mistakes. I find the hardest thing is wishing I had more time for my flowers. Maintaining enough private marketing clients to keep a steady income flow while I build my flower business means that I often feel I am doing the flower work when I am over tired and lacking the focus I would like. But I can also see that learning to balance all of this is only going to make my business stronger in the long-run. Last year I was amazed that most of my flowers survived and thrived despite all the struggle of growing them in my attic apartment and a tiny hoop house with no heat….I think that in reality many of them ended up thriving because they had to struggle so much in the early stages to survive. It may be cliched, but I think it is true — struggle can make us better appreciate our successes when we do have them. Thank you for this post. Here’s to savouring the process as well as the results! :-)

  128. Caroline Waller on

    Erin, you are such an inspiration on so many levels. Thank you for sharing your heart, your journey, and your tips with all of us!

  129. Morgan Wilson on

    You are awesome. My favorite ? to ask farmers is “what are some mistakes you’ve made and learned from”. This post is just what I needed as a total newbie who just finished planting my first 70′ row (in landscape fabric because of you!). I also just dropped my first tray of baby plants this week (a big week of firsts!!). Thank you for sharing so much in this space. I learn from you every time I visit.

  130. Michaela on

    Love it Erin. Thanks for your generosity in sharing your triumphs and your failures! It’s important to take stock once in a while and remember we are only human. Thanks for the reminder today as I plan my first year of farming :)

  131. Allison on

    Erin!!! Thank you for such a beautiful, honest, post!! Your words hold such hope and encouragement! It’s so reassuring to know that so many of us are in this together. The commrodery is comforting when those hard moments enevitably reveal themselves. I know that I’m my own worst critique and the reminder to be gentle on myself is so precious. Thank you, thank you, thank you, a million times thank you!!

    • Jessica on

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your business, I am a farming wife and mother as well. We opperate very much the same as you. I really appreciate you sharing this peice of reality. My favorite part was the paragraph about “advise”. You have inspired me.


    • Molly Westfall on

      Erin, Wow. Just wow. I am 25 and have a love for flowers that I am just now entertaining the idea of being more than a love- being a career. When I discovered you on IG I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Being the daughter of business owners I know that nothing is what it seems. Like yourself, my parents dove into an industry they knew nothing about and eventually came out on top. The top came after many failed attempts and many years without profit. It is so encouraging to hear you embrace the downfalls and so inspiring to see all of your hard earned success. My flower journey is just beginning but Thanks to your honesty I have hope. Keep blooming! I am rooting for you every step of the way!

    • Marlene on

      Thank you! You are an excellent writer, someone who has seen failure, defeat and success. I laud you and your persistence, patience and love for flowers. Not only has this been a journey in your business, but I can see that your life lessons are good for us all in our every day pursuits. Thank you…and oh, how did you fight rabbits, etc that wanted to eat your tender flower garden? I was so ready to give up my own small flower beds because the rabbits would eat everything I planted, til I read your blog. Persistence! with something I love! Thank you!

    • Brenda on

      Thanks for putting into words the same emotions that I felt at many times in my life. I had a home based seasonal Greenhouse business which for many years, which was my dream. I learned though that dreams are dreams and reality is very different. I was full of fear many times and only at this point in my life can recognize that those fears paved the way to my self-confidence. Thanks for sharing, it takes a lot of courage to say all, the negative and the positve.

    • Monica on

      your comment about understanding you would kill some plants along the way (like forgetting the flat somewhere..) made me chuckle. Yes, we’ve done it. Yes, it is heartbreaking. However when I am really having a bad day and that happens I say to myself “well, at least it wasn’t one of the animals we used to raise”. Perspective right?!
      But then….more often than not we see the plants grow and flourish……and make their way out into that big flower bucket.– LOL
      I have to say we could not have gotten to the point we are at without your class…and your blog (and fabric!!). Super BIG thanks!! Congrats on everything and we realize even more now how damn hard you (and Chris and your kids) worked to get there! :-)

    • Lorna on

      I was recommended to read this by my mentor and I am so glad I did – we do make ourselves burdened with our failures and we really don’t need to thanks for the reminder – I intend to live in abundance all my days and hope you continue to also

    • Sarah on

      This! This! Synchronicity at it’s finest. Thank you for this article, as it continues to find an audience that is in these same trenches. The entire way pouring through this article I was awash in either tears or chills… so touching and truth filled. I, too, believe wholeheartedly in the vast abundance, that there is always enough, and that there is always more when you give what you have to others who are ready to receive… I just don’t always remember to apply it at every turn. What a wonderful fresh breath of life into my current first stage of experimenting with starting seeds, digging my new gardens and dreaming of bundles of flowers in my arms. From the deepest parts of me, many thanks!

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