It feels like a heat wave again this week, introduced by a rowdy thunderstorm that woke me early in the morning on Monday followed by remarkable rainfall and thunderstorms in the evening. Though any little bit of rain these days feels like a treat in the midst of a droughty summer. When I got to the field this morning, I remembered what mornings are like post-rainstorm. My pants and shoes were quickly soaked through as I walked down paths and brushed past flowers bent over and still dripping wet from the rain. Many things looked rejuvenated and probably grew a couple inches overnight, while others had been pushed down to the ground from the pounding rain all night. Some of the most delicate flowers had petals that were almost see-through from the soaking. During the first hour of cutting, there were still clouds overhead protecting me from a hot sun which soon broke through causing me to squint and feel slightly uncomfortable in my soaked-through work pants stuck to my legs. Every morning in a flower field is an unpredictable mix of weather, insects, and wet pants/legs.
This week your flowers came from CHICORY and Jig-Bee. As I’ve switched gears in my work and started spending more of my time designing flowers instead of growing them, it’s been a treat for me to harvest all the flowers for the csa. Both farms have been generous enough to let me come to their farms and cut from their bounty! This part of the CSA (cutting flowers from farms) is an important part of the process before distribution, allowing me to see and experience the conditions of the actual plots where the flowers are grown. (And also hanging out with some sweet farmers is a plus!)
This week, there are some repeats & some new faces making an appearance in your bouquets:
Strawflower – (aka the golden everlasting) has crunchy, papery bracts as opposed to petals. The very center of the flower is the disc which contains many tiny, individual flowers called florets. It grows wild as a perennial in Australia, but of course can be cultivated in many different grow zones across the United States. The flower heads dry well and are often used in potpourris and other dried arrangements. I like to cut off the heads and glue them on top of gifts, like little bows.
Baptisia foliage (aka False Indigo) –
Hydrangea (“Strawberry Sundae”) –
Nicotiana – Nicotiana is a tobacco plant. Its inherent nicotine, tends to deter most herbivores, with the exception of some insects that have evolved to eat the plant, including the Tobacco Hornworm. (which looks similarly to the Tomato Hornworm.) More recently, new varieties of this plant have become popular with some floral designers. The soft, gestural bell-shape of the flowers adds a nice touch to floral arrangements and the plant comes in nice moody burgundy/chocolate shades favored by designers as well. Nicotiana is floriferous and despite its short, quick bloom time, it will come back after being cut down almost all the way to the ground.
I want to briefly talk about the CSA model of small farm business for a moment. CSA stands for community-supported agriculture and generally involves a community committing their support and resources to the livelihood of a small farm. This model is particularly favorable for a small farmer because it presents the farmer with cash flow up front at the beginning of the season and the flexibility of distributing whatever is produced throughout the season, based on the weather. So when you join a CSA, you commit your support to your farmer by paying for a membership and accepting the unpredictable terms of a full farm season.
For instance, in the case of a vegetable csa, one year there might be a terrible tomato blight that takes out a farmer’s tomatoes early in the season, but maybe the weather patterns that allowed for the blight might also end up producing impressively large beets! Whatever direction the season takes, a CSA member has willingly agreed to take the good with the bad with hopes of ultimately supporting their local small farm. Now there exist CSA models that let their members customize their orders weekly, (i.e. Philly FoodWorks) and by doing so, give a little more control back to the customer. Another example of an evolved kind of csa model, is a weekly farmstand that the customer can pay various amounts of cash up front, creating credit to be used every week at the stand. (i.e. Germantown Kitchen Garden) With this model, it creates a seamless experience of choosing one’s farmstand items every week and avoiding the physical exchange of money, but rather subtracting the amount spent from the credit previously paid. All these slightly different versions of csa’s create a network of support for local farmers who have to compete with grocery stores that stock a wide variety of fruits and vegetables all year round.
I know of a few other reputable flower csa’s in the Philadelphia area, including Love n’ Fresh Flowers, Laughing Lady Flower Farm, Jig-Bee, and Lancaster Farm Fresh. All of these farms grown their own flowers and use them for their csa memberships. From Blossoms CSA is unique in that we currently source and distribute exclusively local flowers, but our model involves buying from a handful of local flower farms. There do exist flower markets in places like Seattle & New York City, that provide a large selection of imported and local flowers. Unfortunately, for now, there isn’t a main location that floral designers, and especially not your average consumer, can go to buy a good selection of local flowers in the Philadelphia area. This is bound to change in the future, but for now, we at From Blossoms are thrilled to be a part of distributing local flowers to more people! (even if we aren’t the ones growing them)
Please stay cool this week. Drink lots of water. Change out the water for your flowers frequently, since they’ll drink heavily in this heat too. You may have noticed that one of the longest-lasting flowers from your bouquet last week was the lisianthus. I recommend cutting off the heads of spent flowers that are starting to wilt or brown, giving the stem a fresh cut, and waiting to see more blooming action happen to the smaller buds left on the stem. Of course flowers are fleeting moments of beauty, but you can definitely take steps to extend their life. Enjoy!