Tiffany Cade of Deep Rooted Organics in Westby, WI and Heidi Hensel-Buntrock of Willow Creek Farm and gardens in Wautoma, WI join hosts Ashley Olson and Alana Lynn Voss to discuss growing and marketing fresh cut flowers.
Cutting Edge: In Search of New Crops For Wisconsin
Episode 16: Cut Flowers
Recorded February 12, 2021
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock, Heidi Hensel, Tiffany Cade, Ashley Olson, JASON FISCHBACH, Alana Voss
JASON FISCHBACH 00:00
This is a podcast about new crops. You’re gonna love it. Join us on the cutting edge, a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. (music)
Ashley Olson 00:06
Well, we would like to welcome you to the cutting edge a podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. I am your co host Ashley Olsen. I am with the University of Wisconsin Madison Division of Extension in Vernon County. And joining me as my co host today is Alana Voss. She is the UW Division of Extension agriculture educator in Juneau and Sauk counties. So Alana up today a podcast talking about cut flowers. It’s minus 10 outside. How nice to talk about something spring, bring some hope here. Right.
Alana Voss 00:34
I know I’m looking forward to those spring colors. I know when we’re looking at the house situation for ourselves. My fiance and I were really looking forward to planting those flowers and getting them started for our future home. So yeah, I’m excited to hear and learn more about these cut flowers and what you know what’s going on with that. Today we have with us, Heidi as well as Tiffany. And so if either of you who’d ever liked to go introduce yourself and give us a brief background.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 01:39
Well, I can start my name is Heidi Hensel-Buntrock and I am a 4-H coordinator in Washara County. So you may ask, well, what does 4-H and cut flowers have to do? Well, I have a side business that I, it’s very, I guess started as a hobby that’s gotten out of hand. A side business called Willow Creek Farming Gardens, which was started 10 years ago. And we have purchased a nursery. Really had no idea what we were going to do with it. And one thing led to another we got into irises, peonies, and growing cut flowers. So while I do not necessarily do like a subscription based cut flowers, I’m more girl to cut flowers for flower arranging, and weddings and different things like that. I also do have people who come and buy cut flowers, but that’s not my main focus. My main focus is I grow it to sell it just to people who come to my business. I’m open on weekends, and then also more for weddings, events, floral arrangements.
Alana Voss 02:49
All right. Thank you, Heidi, and Tiffany, how about yourself.
Tiffany Cade 02:53
So my name is Tiffany Cade, I own Deep Rooted, and we are a 20 acre certified organic farm. Um, we have a spring garden center, and then also a greenhouse operation where we specialize in organic tomatoes. The cut flowers kind of started as like, more of like a passion project, it was like my way to kind of unwind at the end of the day. Um, you know, walking past the fields, I would grow like zinnias and different things and just trim little bouquets to take home or send to my family. Um, and then it was probably about three years ago, my future sister in law was getting married. And it was the night before her wedding. And she had all these buckets of flowers in her basement. And she was like, so about my bouquet, and essentially expected us to just like whip something out. We did manage, they turned out gorgeous. But it was kind of a nice way just to be thrown into it. So that next year, I really kind of ramped up and started seeding a bunch of different varieties of flowers that I typically wasn’t um that familiar with. Um, so each year, we kind of keep growing new things. And this year, I’ve got a whole list of different varieties that I’ve never grown before. So I’m super excited to start those.
Ashley Olson 04:25
Really get us, dive as deep here into how you how you determine what flowers you’re growing, how are you growing them, when are you growing them?
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 04:33
So what I do is typically with my annuals, I know what weddings I have this year. So last year I did in September, the beginning of September, I had a wedding that was all sun flowers, and they did up I was able to fill in with some other flowers that would complement sunflowers. So mostly like as you mentioned, Tiffany The zinnias, yellows zinnias. So what I do is I start, I make a list of what I need what I’m thinking. And of course, when you’re doing a wedding you’re shooting for a certain date the beginning of September, you never know is sunflowers okay that the packet of seeds says 60 days? Well is that 60 days, it’s typically an ideal growing situation. But last year, we had a hot summer. So of course, a lot of my, what I was planning for the beginning of September, they were ready mid August. So what I do is set the subsequent plantings, so I don’t just go out on May 15. And plant all my seeds, I do multiple plantings, especially on sunflowers where you’ve kind of got that one, you’re going to get a one pop shot of the bloom. And now a Zinnia. On the other hand, you plant those seeds, probably mid July, they should start blooming and if you keep cutting them back and what does that mean? You have to deadhead go out and cut anything that’s past prime, and then the plant will send up new shoots, and that they will continue blooming up until frost. So I look through seed catalogs and really make out a list of what I want to grow. And then with my space that I’ve allocated for the annuals, I go out I make a diagram of what I’m going to grow. Now my perennials, I grow Irises, which are not necessarily a good cut flower. But I do grow peonies, and other perennials, peonies, our peony weddings in June are very popular. And of course, if someone wants to get married in September and have a peony wedding, that’s not an option on peonies, you are able to cut those in a tight bud stage and wrap them and keep them in the refrigerator. What I do is, well, if you cut them in a very tight bud stage before they start to bloom, you can put them in some water in a refrigerator, cover them, cover them up with a plastic bag, and they will last probably until a good month, so probably through July. But of course, you’ve got some there, there’s some risk factor in that. So what I really recommend to people is if you’re looking for peonies, you’ve really got to shoot for that July timeframe.
Alana Voss 07:26
Tiffany Cade 07:28
Yeah, I totally agree with Heidi. Um, it starts you know, with all the seed catalogs coming in, and it is a very, very dangerous time. I go through probably like four pads of sticky notes of just flagging different pages and varieties that I find interesting. So one of the interesting catalogs that I get an order from is Geo Seed. And that has been, it’s been really helpful because all the varieties are listed in Latin names, and there are no photos. So it’s a lot of time on Google searching. So that’s kind of one way I’ve found some more interesting varieties, different colors, things like that. So a lot of it has been just trial and error.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 08:20
A lot of that too. It’s kind of that hit and miss. Oh my gosh, this took forever and and then all of a sudden you see a description and you think oh my gosh, I have to have this and you grow it and it’s like seriously what what are they thinking at least? But that’s the other thing, just because something grows well in my garden and my soil, I’m in a very sandy soil area and sandy soil can grow anything but it requires water, so in the July when we we’re in that three and four week drought, I’m having to water every day. Now people that live, oh, probably on the eastern end of Washara County is big heavy soil there. The commercial growers do not even have irrigation. So it, a lot of it also is your soil, can your soil, and I don’t know what kind of soil do you have? Tiffany?
Tiffany Cade 09:14
We have a heavier clay on our farm. Yeah.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 09:18
Which would be in Eastern Washara county but I’m in central Washara county and it is total sand.
Tiffany Cade 09:27
Yeah, most years, we don’t have to worry too much about irrigation. You know, just when we’re transplanting and things like that, we make sure that we’re doing it an appropriate time where we see rain in the forecast, or I do have a way to get some sprinklers and stuff out there. But we start the majority of our seeds here at the farm. I do order in some plugs for varieties that are a little bit harder to start, like lisianthus, the eucalyptus that just take a little bit longer. And one of my first years I started lisianthus from seed. I started them in February thinking like, Okay, awesome, I’m gonna have plenty of time. These seeds weren’t ready to plant until like, August, which, luckily, I did order some plugs. So I was already harvesting from those. But yeah, it is really just a lot of trial and error. And each year, you know, I keep a big notebook of notes of when I’m planting things when I start harvesting how long I’m harvesting. So it’s, you know.
Ashley Olson 10:37
Yeah and probably, why don’t you share with the group? What is a plug? Because not everyone may know what is a plug.
Tiffany Cade 10:44
Yep. Um so plugs, you typically will be started from like a commercial grower. There’s a lot of growers out on the west coast, California, and that will start seeds, and then you essentially buy like the baby plant from them. And I got introduced to the plugs, because of our garden center in the spring. So a lot of the, you know, petunias, kali’s verbenas, things like that all have patents on them. So if you’re wanting like those specific like proven winners varieties, you can’t actually just start those from seeds. Those are all tissue cultures. So you buy in these baby plants. So it’s kind of like a little jumpstart to the seed starting, but you know, I do enjoy the seed starting process growing everything from seed to flower. It’s just fun to watch the progress of everything. But there is a lot of starting vegetable seeds, because we’re primarily a vegetable farm versus starting flower seeds is two totally different beasts. A lot of the flowers are much longer to germinate. And then you also need to do like succession planting. And so you’re getting different harvest times throughout the season. So snapdragons,zinnias, delphinium,stock, we start all of those in succession. So we’ll do usually two weeks apart So we’ll start some. And then two weeks later, we’ll start another round of those. So we have a continuous supply of harvestable stems.
Alana Voss 12:32
Heidi Hensel 12:33
Oh, it’s interesting. You say you do Zinnia’s in succession. I’ve never found that, I’ve found we do one planting. And if we do the deadheading, we have that continued ample supply of the zinnias throughout the season.
Tiffany Cade 12:49
Yeah, we can continually harvest from some of the varieties but the flowers has, like our flower business has been more of like my passion project. So I’m not always out there to deadhead or things like that. So we are actually looking to have like a you-cut day this summer to kind of help me with the deadheading and keeping things you know, trimmed down.
Alana Voss 13:19
That’s a neat idea. Especially
Heidi Hensel 13:20
That’s a neat idea. Yeah, exactly.
Alana Voss 13:27
So you kind of hinted at it, but can you kind of give us a calendar view of you know, how you get started, how you’re growing season goes, you know, am I starting in May, am I starting in March, you know, some of those different parts?
Tiffany Cade 13:39
Yes, so, um, we have a greenhouse. We have four greenhouses, but one is primarily for like all of our seed starting and then our flower production. So I’m starting.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 13:52
So I just want to jump in, so what percentage just flowers versus your vegetables, because I know you mentioned you are predominantly vegetables.
Tiffany Cade 14:00
Yeah, so the flowers is really a new section of our business probably in the last like two years. And I have like a quarter of an acre. And then I do have a high tunnel that we grow in. And then this year, we’re going to be putting up a couple Caterpillar tunnels. And just to kind of help with that season extension, because we do have a cut flower subscription in the spring. So we grow around 5000, Tulip and daffodil bulbs. And so those are all in the high tunnel. So those will be blooming a little bit earlier, probably two to three weeks earlier than what would be blooming outside. And so the flowers is really a small section of our business, but it’s becoming more popular. And I mean, especially with COVID and 2020. A lot of people were wanting fresh flowers.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 15:01
5000 sounds like a lot to me. Do you pull them up each fall and replant them, or do you leave them in the tunnels?
Tiffany Cade 15:12
I will pull them up. So for example, with tulips, when I harvest it, I will actually just pull, I’ll grab at the base of the plant and then just pull the bulb up with it. And from the research in different classes I’ve taken with other flower growers, there’s a big chance with like disease and things with tulips. So they recommend to pull up the bulb. And then when I store them in the cooler, I will store them kind of how you’re talking about with the peonies, I will leave the bulb on and then just like wrap them up really tight and some craft paper and they last four weeks in there. And then when I’m ready to use the tulips, I’ll cut the bulb off and then hydrate them, stick them in some water, allow them to hydrate and then they’re set and ready to go. I do take the bulbs and plant them outside. We’ve had you know some that have come up some that haven’t but I figured it’s better than composting them.
Ashley Olson 16:22
So then you buy new bulbs to plant for in the fall for next year’s fresh tulip harvest.
Tiffany Cade 16:30
Yes, correct. Yep.
Alana Voss 16:33
Heidi, how about you for a calendar year? What are you kind of looking at?
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 16:37
Well, I what I do is right now I’m looking at the seeds, I do not have any greenhouses, I direct seed everything. So typically that’s May 15 to Memorial Day. So in that maybe 10 day timeframe is when I’ll direct seed, my zinnias,my sunflowers but then again, I’m talking that succession. So some of the flowers, like your snapdragons, I will be planting later into June. And some of the flowers like a snap dragon, I might also be buying plants from a nursery. Some of those that take a little longer. But that’s all part of that research that trial and error zinnias grow very easy, direct seeded into the ground slope. So do sunflowers, marigolds do it’s just they take a little longer to get growing. So if I know I want some marigolds early on, I might buy some plants first and then also do some direct seeding. So basically, about mid May is and you want to make sure that the frost is passed. And I think like for our area, the last frost date is around like the 10th 11th or 12th of May. So anytime after that I would be direct seeding. And then of course, your Frost is typically around October 1. So then it’s it’s a very sad day when the season ends. So I do not do anything with the greenhouses or the hoops.
Tiffany Cade 18:08
Okay, yeah, interesting, we start all of our seeds. indoors, the only thing I’m really direct seeding is sunflowers. And a lot of that has to do with our soil type, just being a heavy clay soil, they’re not going to germinate well, and then I also feel like it gives us kind of a little bit of a jumpstart, you know, in the season, so I’m able to start planting in our high tunnel, I’ll be planting snapdragons and like sweet peas, probably like end of March beginning of April. And that’s an unheated high tunnel. So you’d be surprised, actually that a lot of like the stock the snapdragons and the sweet peas, they will, you know, take a little bit of cold weather, I was harvesting snapdragons this fall, and it was getting down to like, you know, mid 30s in our high tunnel and they were still growing.
Alana Voss 19:09
And it’s such a neat opportunity to hear two perspectives for individuals that are interested in you know, potentially growing cut flowers, you know, you get to hear the differences of you know, working with, you know, no nurseries, no greenhouses, no high tunnels and and being able to hear that too. So we really appreciate being able to hear both of your perspectives on this opportunity. So, okay, we’re getting through the planting season, then what you know, are you watering every day? Are you weeding, you know, how are you working through some of those activities that you know, we all love to do in the heat of summer.
Ashley Olson 19:42
We’ve heard the term deadheading a lot too. So when does that start?
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 19:46
Well, typically what I do is when I start the planting, then I wait for everything to germinate and germination means once it starts growing zinnias are typically quicker the four to five days and that’s where something like that works very well for direct seeding in the ground. Also sunflowers are about the seven days, some of those other plants like the snapdragons may be a little harder. So that’s where I’m buying the plants, they may take like a 21 days, well is sometimes between the planting in the 21 days your weeds start to take over. But what I do is once my plants have started to grow, I put on a pre emergence, which will help with the weeds, but it is weeding probably after two or three weeks down the road is also side dressing with fertilizer, I use just a generic basic, triple 12-12-12 fertilizer to give it that extra oomph I’m in that sand, sand is that there are no nutrients in the ground, I’ve got to put something in there to help them along. And pretty much the unless we’re in a drought, the May June probably does not require watering although because like I say with that sand. After three or four days, if it hasn’t has not rained, I need to get water on those plants. And I do have underground irrigation to all my beds. So that does help the the watering process. And then once July comes along and the plants get bigger, the weeds tend to not grow. Plus I have used that pre emergence. So don’t need to go in and weed between the rows. But then when we’re in that those drought times, it’s watering every other day to keep those plants alive. And once the plant has bloomed like a Zinnia once it’s bloomed, and it starts to fade, then that means that when I say the deadheading, that’s what deadheading is once that flower has started to fade, it’s not in its prime, then you want to cut it, so the plant will continue to grow and send off, um, new shoots and new buds.
Alana Voss 22:12
How about you Tiffany, you said that you’re organic? Right?
Tiffany Cade 22:16
Yep, yep, we’re certified. Um, I do not certify the cut flowers, obviously, because you’re not eating them. But we do grow everything on our farm organically. So as far as um in the spring, we will start everything in the greenhouse. And then we actually plant into like a landscape fabric. And so essentially, that’s just a fabric, a lot of people use it and like their garden beds to kind of help with the weeds coming up. So we have a four foot landscape fabric that has holes burned into it. And so we’re actually just planting the plugs right into the fabric, which kind of helps, again, give it a little bit of a jumpstart. So then it’s like, not as many weeds are coming up, we do have to weed quite a bit in between our rows. Going back, I think if I were to set up my flower field a little bit different, I would have paths that I would like mow like keep it with grass or something so that I was able to mow it. Right now we just use like a hula hoe. To go through and weed all the rows. This year, I am going to trial, I’m going to be putting down some leaf mulch in the rows to kind of help combat those weeds. But yeah, the biggest thing is right away when the plants are young to make sure you’re getting all those weeds. And then once the flowers are established enough, they’re likely shattered, creating enough of a shade where the weeds aren’t germinating as much, but it’s an ongoing thing.
Ashley Olson 23:58
So besides weed pressure, which we’re hearing a little bit about, and the great weather we have in Wisconsin, it changes every day. What are some other challenges that you have growing the flowers? I mean, what insects do, what if we get a hailstorm? Things like that?
Tiffany Cade 24:17
Yeah, so we’re up on a ridge. Um, so it gets really, really windy up here. So the wind is one thing that we will struggle with a little bit in the spring, we’ll have like plants that’ll get knocked over, you know, during, you know, a storm or anything like that, but I try to stake and provide support for some of the varieties that are a little more prone to that. Um, but as far as disease, we don’t really have too much unless it’s a really wet season, we might run into some detritus. Um, but other than that, you know, it’s actually we have more beneficial insects in our flower field. So we’re seeing you know, a lot of um you know, butterflies, bees, green lacewings on. So that was also another part being that our farm is certified organic is kind of helping introduce and create a habitat for those beneficial insects.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 25:15
I would say for us, it would be the wind, we do tend to if we get a bad storm, it may sort of knock a bloom off, but a lot of your annuals are going to regenerate those blooms. So, but you do it, it’s like any type of agriculture. Hail, wind, you just never know what to expect. And it’s, it’s a chance you have to take.
Alana Voss 25:43
You know we’ve kind of covered it all. But you both have stated how you have very different soil types. Do you do soil testing and you know, putting some fertilizers on to help make sure you’re getting those nutrients in? Or, you know, what are you kind of doing for that aspect of it?
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 25:57
Every couple of years, I do a multiple soil testings from the different gardens that I do have, and then amend the soil as as needed. But we also in the fall, put the leaves in, like till those in and pine needles. So but definitely yes, do I would recommend a soil testing. So you’re doing,know what you have and how you’d have to amend the soil.
Tiffany Cade 26:27
Yeah, I agree. Um soil testing is really important. One thing I’ve found to be helpful is making sure that you’re taking the soil test the same time of the year, when you take your soil test, so then you have a really good comparison. So if you’re taking a soil test, you know, the spring of one year, and then the fall of the following year, you know, it’s hard to kind of look back at that data because they’re at two different points in the season. But we use a compost, so I will put fresh compost down on all of our fields. And we do a light tilling of the fields. But however, I’m trying to move more into the no-till just to kind of help with our soil health. So that’s something new that we’re trying to work on. So one thing I’ll do to kind of help prep my seed bed is like if I’m direct seeding, say sunflowers is I’ll actually put a tarp over my row. So I’ll just go and get, you know, we live in Vernon County, so there’s plenty of dairy farms in this area. So I’ll go and get the old silage tarps that people have, and then I’ll just cut it into my strips of 100 feet, you know, I like to keep my rows pretty consistent. So I’ll just cut a strip of that and then I’ll leave it on there for a couple of weeks. So it essentially just stops the weeds from germinating. So then that gives me a really nice, like fresh seed bed to kind of seed into.
Alana Voss 28:03
Yep, letting that sun do the work for you, in a sense. That’s great to hear and really great that you’re both you know, able to talk about how you do that soil testing to help with that. And again, like Ashley and I, we can offer those opportunities in our Extension offices. So feel always feel free to reach out to your local extension offices.
Tiffany Cade 28:22
Yeah, the extension office in Vernon County. And then I’ve also worked with the one in Monroe County, extra kind of right on the border with our farm, but they’ve been incredibly helpful. Um, I don’t know that I’ve used them so much for our flower production that also with like the tomatoes, like I can just, you know, snap a picture of something and send it off to my agent and be like, What is this, you know, especially right away when we were just getting started. I was so fresh, I had no idea. So it was really nice to have that guidance.
Ashley Olson 28:59
I would like to say that when there’s been calls to come out that way, I mean, who doesn’t want to come out to Tiffany’s greenhouse and want to just be out there and eat tomatoes and the other fresh vegetables and different greens that you package. I mean, it’s just it’s a nice breath of fresh air to come out with and and see what you have going on there. Once again, just we are listening and to the cutting edge podcast in search of new crops for Wisconsin. We have our guests Heidi and Tiffany with us today discussing their cut flower agriculture operations. As we keep talking further into this. We’ve talked a lot about our how we grow them, our soils, fertilizers, maybe we can move a little bit over to some of the marketing and and how we you market your cut flowers subscriptions or your your centerpieces and bouquets Heidi in your case?
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 30:02
Well, I am, I do a lot on Facebook promote on Facebook, it’s free advertising, but I am more word of mouth. And if I really, really wanted to be busy every weekend and do a wedding every weekend, I would attend the bridal fairs and that, but I, I have a full time job. So I do need to pick and choose and weddings are very time consuming. But I would say if you want to Facebook advertising, also going local to different groups and promoting your businesses, with your local Chamber of Commerces maybe speaking to your local Rotary Kiwanis. The other thing is I have actually, when flowers are in bloom, and I’ve got way too many I will take some drop them off at a restaurant, they in turn then have said, Oh, hey, I didn’t know you did this, could I get some next weekend for something I have going on. So that’s also who doesn’t like to get a surprise bouquets of flowers. So that’s another good way to promote your business. But I’m not aggressive, very aggressive with my marketing. In that I have more. I’m very, I pick and choose what I do. It’s It’s not my full time business. And I do not do the flowers subscriptions. I have a list of people that come out weekly to get cut flowers. But again, it’s not through a subscription base.
Alana Voss 31:38
Great. Thank you. And how about you, Tiffany?
Tiffany Cade 31:40
Yeah, I mean, I agree totally with Heidi, um, social media has been huge. And I mean, flowers kind of speak for themselves or sell themselves. Like they’re so beautiful. And we also have a website. And then yeah, I mean, social media and word of mouth, like those have been probably like our two main avenues of, you know, getting the word out about our cut flower subscription. So a cut flower subscription. It’s like a CSA, which most people are familiar with, but it’s Community Supported Agriculture. So the cut flower subscription is like that in the sense that you’re buying a share into our farm at the beginning of the season to kind of help us with those upfront costs of you know, the tulip bulbs, and all the seeds and just the soil and things that we use at the beginning of this season. And then in return, you’re getting a cut flower bouquet, I have multiple different options, I do a spring share, which is four weeks. And so that’s going to be a mixture of you know, my early season stuff, the tulips, daffodils, ranunculus. Anenome is ranunculus is actually probably one of my new favorite flowers. So that’s been really fun. to kind of expand on I have a couple 100 more that I’m going to be doing this year. But then I also do a five week, a 10 week, and then a full season share, which is 18 weeks of fresh cut flowers. So um, prior to COVID we did we had pickup locations, so deliver all the bouquets to one place, and then you would go to that coffee shop or you know, grocery store and pick them up. And but with COVID, we did have to adjust that a little bit. We did a lot of onfarm pickups, and then I also offered local delivery, which I think people really appreciated. So I will continue to offer that. And this year, we do dabble a little bit with weddings. But I am pretty choosy about that. Just because my thing with cut flowers is I really don’t want to be ordering in flowers. I want to grow everything. I want it to be local. I want it to be seasonal, you know, kind of going back to where Heidi was saying if a bride wants peonies in September, like that’s not really that’s not my jam. You know, there’s other local florists that you know can order things in, um, you know, in the slow flower, like local flower movement has been really, really taking off. And so that’s really just raising awareness to, you know, like food. These flowers are cut premature, they’re shipped in, they have been gassed, they have nasty chemicals on them. So I mean, it kind of just defeats the purpose of having a fresh flower bouquet. You know, you want to be able to smell it and know that you’re not actually like inhaling all these chemicals. So yeah, I’m a huge advocate for slow flowers, local flowers. I try to just use things that we grow here on the farm.
Alana Voss 35:06
That’s awesome. And with, you know, starting your businesses again, you both sound like it kind of started as hobbies with the flowers and kind of turned into more. But for other individuals that might be interested in this, is this a good market potential? I mean, for you know, doing a flower cut, subscription or selling for centerpieces? You know, do you have so many people coming to you that you think there if there was a neighbor down the road, or, you know, other individuals interested that they could get business just as easily?
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 35:33
Oh, absolutely. I’m always about entrepreneurs and small businesses starting up, but I will say it, the gold isn’t going to come rolling in there is a lot of hard work. And what I would suggest is to maybe start small and see how it works, I would hate for someone to have to go in and invest all this money in either greenhouses and supplies. To me, you could be spending upwards of $50,000 to get going. And I think if you would just start small, and do some trial and error, take some flower arranging classes, or do cut flowers, do a subscription with a couple neighbors and friends. Before you do go really full full throttle into this just that’s what I would recommend. I don’t know, Tiffany, you may have different thoughts. But it is a lot of hard work. And it’s you’ve got to be out there in that hot sun. And it’s it’s not for everybody.
Tiffany Cade 36:40
I totally agree. Um, you know, starting small, grow what you love, you know, varieties, colors that you like, you know, taking the time to experiment before jumping in, because yeah, I mean, farming is hard, flower farming is no different than any other type of farming, you’re out there in all different types of weather, hot sun, rain, you know, you kind of just have to roll with it. Yeah, I mean, we in the driftless region have quite a few cut flower farms. There’s Sunborne, who’s down by Mount Horeb, who’s a super successful flower farm, she does a lot of weddings and events. And then just locally, there’s a couple other subscriptions. So it’s always nice, you know, to kind of have that support system as well, you know, where it’s like, okay, my crop of, you know, snapdragons didn’t germinate Well, you can always kind of reach out to someone you know, or if you’re having issues or, you know, if you’re short on product, there was a time last spring where my delphiniums just like, did not do well. So there was a flower farmer and I just reached out to her and I got two buckets. So yeah, I think it’s taking the time to make sure that it’s really what you want to do before jumping in because it is quite expensive.
Ashley Olson 38:10
And I also think you both have to be very creative. I’ve I’ve seen some of the work being close being in Vernon County with Tiffany and, and watching you on some other local spotlights and how you yourself makeup every every bouquet of the cut, if that’s what you call them of the cut flowers subscription that goes out and, and even for Heidi, I mean, you have to have that creativity and knowledge and and it’s a passion for you. But to make those those bouquets look amazing. You, I think you both.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 38:44
Well I started flower arranging probably in the mid 80s. So I have been doing this now for almost 40 years. And I will tell you even in the last 10 years, I look at what I’ve done when I started my business 10 years ago, and they are nothing where they are today. So it’s you just you keep learning and I and I like to put bows on things, especially for weddings. And I mean, I can make a bow in you know, 10 seconds and people will say oh my gosh, I will say yeah, but I’ve already I’ve made 10,000 bows. So when you get to that 10,000th bow, I have put a 10,000 arrangements together i would i would hope that you would have made some improvement from day one. But what I also do is I have workshops where I bring individuals out I have a class and I charge a fee and then they go to the fields, they cut what they want, and then I have Oh probably 500 up to 1000 different containers on my shelves. They grab a container and they design their flowers. And it’s really about educating and giving people the opportunity and if you don’t like something, pull it out and try something else. So that is one of the other things I do is bringing um people, I hold classes and letting them experiment with the flower arranging to give them practice and making them feel comfortable with doing it.
Tiffany Cade 40:15
Yeah, I agree. Um, so I actually had an art minor. So, um, I’d never thought I’d be a farmer. My dad, and I kind of have this chapter where I went to college. And, you know, he would always say, Oh, you just wait, you’re gonna move back here and marry a hog farmer, which I didn’t. But I’m a farmer. So it’s really nice to be able to use that kind of creative edge that I have um and just experiment with it. And yeah, I mean, looking back at some of the bouquets that I did right away, of course, they’re beautiful, but just the techniques, and I mean, trends change, you know, color combos, things like that. So I think it’s always, you know, kind of important to be um, you know, looking at other flower farmers, what are they doing? How are they using, you know, greens, um, you know, and foraging has been, you know, something that has been pretty popular as of late, you know, so using those thornless, raspberry leaves, and, you know, other greenery that is just naturally growing in the area, versus, you know, growing the blue plumeria, or Eucalyptus, which is gorgeous, but, you know, just kind of getting creative with it. So, yeah.
Ashley Olson 41:37
I do use a lot of what I call just greenery growing. Hosta leaves make wonderful foliage, also the arbor vitaes. The cedar trees, make wonderful foliage, in an arrangement. And even with my arrangements, I encourage everyone to step out of the box, you don’t have to have this fancy vase, could even be a soup can that you took the label off of and you just might want to go out and cut some flowers, then put them in your tin soup can. So it’s just thinking outside of the box.
Alana Voss 42:16
Wow, just all the creativity that goes along with it. But, you know, as we look at the creativity, are there any state regulations or federal, you know, things that you have to kind of be aware of and know, as you’re working through this business? You know, we see so many regulations for other components in agriculture. Just curious if there’s any that you see throughout cut flowers and that.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 42:43
For myself, I’m not organic. So I don’t have any of those regulations. I do have to have a license through the state because I have a nursery but outside of that through the dat cap, but no other regulations for myself.
Tiffany Cade 43:02
Yeah, kind of the same. I have a nursery dealer’s license. But that’s more for like our garden center in the spring.
Ashley Olson 43:08
I appreciate when we’re talking and you’re talking constantly about the different varieties and and experimenting and, and Tiffany, you’re kind of saying well, we kind of need to be you know, and I wanted to say on the cutting edge, just like this podcast series, we need to you’re on the cutting edge of what’s changing what’s new and up and coming with the different flowers that people may want to see or use. And I think it’s awesome that you both are able to experiment with different and new varieties. At myself, you know, I love flowers, but like petunias, and marigolds are about as awesome as it gets for me. And so I really appreciate listening and hearing more about what you both do. As we get closer.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 43:55
Can I just jump in there, Ashley, can I just jump in? One thing, when you talk about like petunias? They have a real like their stems are real like sticky. And oh, well. marigolds are very pretty out in the field, they kind of do have that little more coarser look to them. And they also are they somewhat have a what I would call an not pleasant aroma. And the other thing is like a Stargazer Lily, which I grow some of those because that is considered a perennial. Well, as some people have a strong strong, they cannot take the aroma of a Stargazer Lily. So I had one bride who came this was many years ago, and she wanted to have Stargazer Lilies for her wedding. And I said, Before you do that, make sure you actually have a Stargazer Lily and you can stand that smell because one one person had the actual friend that was with her said I got a bouquet of those and I had to like, throw them outside because I couldn’t stand. So just make sure that some of the flowers do have that smell that might not be pleasing to people.
Alana Voss 45:09
I would have never guessed some of those. And I think that leads to a great opportunity for us to kind of lead to that ending ending remarks, you know, do you have any advice? You know, for those looking to get into the business, or, you know, future things that you look to do that maybe others can think of to as they’re, you know, looking at their business plan of potentially cut, doing cut flowers.
Heidi Hensel-Buntrock 45:36
My advice is, if you’re interested, give it a try. Plant some flowers, start small and go for it. There’s always a market for fresh flowers, especially with all the COVID and the farming and the back to by local, the fresh. So definitely, I would say, give it a try. There’s, it’s, it’s if you enjoy flowers, and it’s your passion, I encourage anyone to but also remember that there it is a lot of hard work. But there is with the hard work, you also have that the satisfaction of these beautiful flowers that you’re growing. So I would close with that. And as far as my future endeavors are right now I’m just status quo. It’s I’m enjoying what I’m doing.
Alana Voss 46:29
Thanks Heidi and how about you, Tiffany?
Tiffany Cade 46:32
Yeah, I agree. 100% with Heidi, you know, start small, take the time to experiment. There’s a ton of resources out there on the web, books. One that I’ve found super helpful is Floret Flower, she’s out of Washington, but she’ll do free like live mini workshops, you know, which kind of she does them on a range from, like seed starting to transplanting to, you know, how to cut and when to cut flowers. You know, I think one can like misconception with flower farming is like, Oh, it’s always so beautiful. Everything’s blooming but you’re actually, like, you should be cutting those flowers before they’re blooming, you know, to provide the optimal stage for them. You know, so, you know, just do the research and have fun. It’s great. And as far as future endeavors, you know, I’m gonna keep experimenting as well. There were a couple of things that we grew last year that I will definitely not be growing this year on. I going to be doing some more you cut days to kind of help, you know, educate and get people into local flowers and to promote that. A couple new varieties of things. I’m going to be experimenting this year with our tuber roses, which have a scent I find it lovely, but some might not. Um, so yeah, just enjoy it.
Ashley Olson 48:07
Awesome. Well, we want to thank Alana and I would like to thank both of you for joining us today. If there’s anything else you’d like to add in, I think we’ve covered a lot of the bases and again thanking Heidi from Willow Creek farm and gardens, located just outside of Wautoma in Washara County, and along with Tiffany Cade from Deep Rooted, located in Westview, Wisconsin in Vernon County. Again, we’d like to thank everybody for joining Cutting Edge a podcast in search of new props for Wisconsin.
JASON FISCHBACH 48:58
Brought to you by the University of Wisconsin Madison Division of Extension