By Lindsey Pratt
Farm Institute Associate
Getting to know your local flower farmers is another important step in supporting your local farming economy, even for those who primarily focus on supporting local food producers. It aligns with the principles of sustainable and ethical consumption. Like the local food movement, choosing locally grown flowers reduces the environmental impact associated with transportation and supports farming practices that are often more eco-friendly.
The well-being of local flower farmers is also intertwined with that of local food farmers. Pollinators, such as bees, play a vital role in both food and flower production. By supporting local flower farmers who prioritize pollinator-friendly practices, individuals contribute to the health of the entire ecosystem, benefiting not only flower cultivation but also the pollination of nearby food crops.
Many small-scale farmers often diversify their crops, cultivating both food and flowers. By supporting local flower farmers, consumers contribute to the economic sustainability of these farming operations, creating a more resilient and diverse agricultural landscape. The principles of supporting local economies, fostering community resilience, and promoting sustainable agriculture apply equally to both local food and flower farmers.
Here, we’ll get to know two of Nevada County’s cut-flower and plant-starts farmers.
Keerti runs Crow Song Farms, a small, family-run organic farm specializing in cut flowers and contract seeding nursery starts. Crow Song Farms is located at 1600ft in south Nevada County within the Wolf Creek watershed on Wolf Mountain. Last season Keerti trialed some cut flowers after being asked to do some contract seeding of flowers that have specific light and temperature germination requirements. The starts and the trial plots went so well that she was instantly hooked – Keerti knew flowers would be a way for her to combine her love of farming and her deep love of flowers. 2023 was Keerti’s first season growing cut flowers at scale, and they’re sold at the Nevada City Farmers Market and to retailers in the area.
Keerti has also participated in a lot of the programs offered by Farm Institute, including Farm Biz. In Keerti’s first year of farming, Crow Song Farms began doing contract seeding for area farmers and used that as the foundation for her fledgling farm. Soon after, Keerti took the Organic Certification course with Farm Institute, and proceeded in the year’s long arduous task of getting the farm certified with CCOF, so that they could provide organic starts for other certified organic farmers. At the beginning of 2023, Keerti was matched up with an experienced farmer as part of Sierra Harvest’s mentorship program.
That experienced farmer?
Deena from Sweet Roots Farm & Floral Design, which started in 2010.
Currently, Sweet Roots cultivates just over 3 acres, growing a diversity of flowers as well as a nursery business, which thrives in the springtime when folks are eager to plant their gardens with healthy, organic, acclimatized seedlings. Deena and Sweet Roots have developed a philosophy of growing techniques and business practices that provide our local community with certified organic, high-quality flowers and plant starts. You can find Sweet Roots Floral starts at Peaceful Valley, as well as their cut flowers & starts at BriarPatch Food Co-op. Deena also works with wedding clients to create beautiful wedding floral designs, and sells through Rooted Farmers, an online marketplace that connects local flower farmers, floral designers, and flower lovers of all kinds.
Even flower farmers, including seasoned ones like Deena, still face the same challenges as other small farms. You have to run a profitable business, from marketing to soil health and integrated pest management, and a floral design studio adds value that comes with an entirely new set of questions. Sweet Roots has specialized to highlight their strengths, but still relies on others in the small farming community in many ways to make it to another season.
But Deena and Keerti aren’t concerned about being each other’s competition in the local flower market.
They want more flowers grown in our foothill soils, not flown from all over the world. They want both our food and flower systems to be local and grown with sustainable practices.
Caring about local flower farmers should matter for those who focus on local food farmers because it extends the principles of sustainability, economic support, and community resilience to the broader agricultural landscape. It recognizes the interconnectedness of various farming practices and emphasizes a holistic approach to supporting local agriculture and fostering a thriving local community.