In rural Woodstock, a flower farm blooms
Liz Cardella may know how to garden, but making a hobby a profession means encountering some unexpected challenges.
“It’s been a great learning experience,” Cardella said of her new business venture, Collie Flower Farm, rural Woodstock.
The business is structured the same way as community gardens, though community gardens are primarily set up to grow vegetables.
“It’s very interesting. There is a lot of attention on locally grown, and flowers are a part of that [though rarely thought of that way],” Cardella said.
Customers subscribe for a certain amount of weeks and receive a large, arranged bouquet of seasonal, annual and perennial flowers. This year, the cost is $220 for 20 weeks or $110 to receive the flowers every other week. Next year, the cost structure may change slightly.
“I love flowers,” Cardella said. “My favorite part [of owning the business] is hearing people say how much it means to them [to receive the flowers each week.]”
Cardella said she has partnered with Cheri Doetch of Beaver Creek Flowers. Doetch generally grows the annuals while Cardella’s property is more conducive to perennials. The business is named after Cardella’s love of collies and, of course, flowers.
Because she was new to commercial growing, Cardella said she went into the season with plans to “under-promise and over-deliver.” She said she spent time marketing her business as well, delivering occasional bouquets to non-members as a way to attract potential customers.
“I’m hoping for more subscribers, and plan to develop a relationship with event planners,” Cardella said, noting that event planners can make one-time purchases of available flowers. Because she knows when they will be in bloom, she can assist the planners in determining what will be available at what times.
In addition to being her first year of commercial growing, Cardella fought with the weather.
“It was a lot harder than I expected because of the heat and the drought,” she said, adding that the challenge will ultimately make her a better grower. “A good farmer knows how to manage the extremes.”
Although only a year into the business, Cardella has already been making an impact on the community in other ways. She has been working with local Girl Scout troops by offering gardening programs.
Cardella had worked as a carpenter prior to the economic collapse, but always made Girl Scouts a priority for herself and her daughter.
“When I was working construction, that [Girl Scout meeting night] was our sacred night,” she said.
Cardella welcomed as many as 19 kindergarten and first-graders to her property during the summer. As they grow older, Cardella said she would be happy to invite the Scouts to learn a bit more about the actual production.