Why should you support local flowers and flower farms like Austin’s Grassdale? Read this post to learn more!
A few years ago, I embarked on a year-long farm-to-table challenge to discover local foods and learn about the people that produced them. This resulted in picking peaches, playing with goats, and being a beekeeper, among many other experiences. (See it all here.) I knew I would continue exploring local growers beyond that year and in early April, I had the chance to visit a flower farm in Austin.
I am very particular about flowers. This stemmed from a season of working at a floral design company where I made wedding arrangements and statement arches. From then on, I knew exactly what flowers I wanted for my wedding, and I gained an appreciation for the beauty and art of flowers.
With my recent visit to Grassdale, a local flower farm, I was able to merge my passion for local farms and my love of flowers!
Get ready for lots of pretty flower pictures!
Why Support Local Flowers
Similar to my posts about supporting farm-to-table and local farmers, supporting local flowers focuses on the people in your neighborhood. Supporting local flower growers means…
1. You’ll support your local farmer
Farm work is non-stop hard work. Farmers contend with the natural elements like weather and bugs while keeping up with the daily needs of growing. For a flower farmer, it’s a constant cycle of seeding, tending, harvesting, and selling. Farming is a passion and without farmers, our agricultural system would fall apart. Buying from small, independent, and local farmers means you’re supporting their livelihoods and keeping money in the local economy.
2. You’ll learn about seasonality and different varieties
Grassdale grows flowers year-round, and certain weather means specific types of flowers. On my visit, I learned about the quick, short months of ranunculus season, and the way the farm has tested different flowers and methods to fit the hard Texas soil and Texas summer heat. What shows up at the farmers market for sale may not be what you expected because of the season or any farm issues that happened during the week, but you can expect some beautiful, thoughtfully grown blooms.
3. You’ll support the environment
Where do I start with this one?! The majority of flowers, especially ones found around holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, are grown outside of the U.S. This means they travel a long way to get to your home, which means emissions of air pollutants from many planes and trucks. The ideal timing is field to vase in three to five days, which means flowers are shipped daily.
As you can imagine with large-scale farms, pesticides are heavily used to ensure a perfect product, and they are exposed to everyone in the process, from farmworkers to you.
Other issues about flowers grown in other countries include child labor, exposure to toxins, and unfair pay. Read more about environmental and human impact in this Smithsonian Magazine article and this TED article.
4. You’ll get better flowers
Mass-produced flowers are bred to grow strong, produce the best color, and withstand the long trip to your store. They’re bred for hardiness. In the breeding, other characteristics, like fragrant smells, are naturally bred out. Because many local farmers are organic, you’re getting flowers that are authentic to their original form (or closer) and with little to no pesticides. Don’t forget to smell the flowers!
Next time you go to the farmers market or need flowers, look for a local farmer.
Visiting Grassdale, an Austin Flower Farm
I had noticed Petals, ink at the farmers market and naturally, decided to learn more about them online. After following them for a while, I saw they opened up tickets for farm tours, so I jumped at the chance to visit.
Grassdale is located about 25 minutes from Downtown Austin. We meandered around the farm as founder Gretchen O’Neil told us more about her story. Inspired by growing up around flowers and working on a small flower farm in Vermont, Gretchen continued working with flowers when she moved to Texas. She was living downtown when the seven-acre lot in Manor went on the market in 2015. She took a chance and needless to say, the farm and her floral company, Petals, ink, blossomed.
With Darlin the farm cat following behind, we explored the field of bluebonnets and wildflowers and rows of ranunculus, sweet peas, anemones, delphinium, and poppies. I learned about a new flower – butterfly ranunculus, whose petals seem to glimmer.
When you visit, don’t forget to say hi to the donkeys! They are very happy about being fed carrots.
The final thing to do after exploring the farm is to pick a bouquet to take home! These pretty blooms brightened up our house.
How to Find Local Flowers
Let’s put what we learned into action! As I’ve mentioned previously, the easiest way to find local flowers is to check your farmers market vendors. That’s how I found Grassdale. They sell their flowers as Petals, ink at the farmers market.
In the Austin area, you’ll find these in addition to Grassdale:
- Good Juju Flower Farm (Austin)
- Prickly Pair Flower Farm (Lampasas)
- Cassiopeia Farm (Austin)
- Arnosky’s Texas Specialty Cut Flowers (Blanco)
- Winkelmann Flowers (San Marcos)
- Barton Hill Farms (Bastrop)
I hope you get some local flowers to enjoy and brighten up your house!