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September, 11 2018

Meet a Grower: Bloomhouse

Tags: Farmers, Hilarious

LoCoFlo was very excited to buy the first flowers grown by some spanking new local farmers last week! Bloomhouse is an ambitious new business founded by Jess and Sam, former best friends who are participating in Future Harvest’s Beginner Farmer training program. If they sound like contestants on “The Amazing Race” - that is exactly what I thought when I interviewed them about their business.

In addition to Bloomhouse and learn-working at Butterbee Farm in the program, Jess joined us late last year to be the new Stacy. Still on probation, she is really making a go of it as a designer. When I asked to interview her for this blog, she wanted to make sure Sam was included (“Sam doesn’t want to miss out on anything!”). So we face-timed her in…

Jess, Sam and their first Bloomhouse check

How did all this begin?

Sam was rehabbing an ankle injury last year by hobbling around a park and thought there needs to be a better place to rehab ankle injuries.

OK. Strange. Very millennial - like an episode of “Girls” - then Bloomhouse was born. Why not “Broken Ankle Flowers”?

Ha. Ha. Jess needed to be included in the name. We found the LoCoFlo website and the grower’s page. That helped us to discover all the other growers in the area. We went to Bob Wollam’s farm for his annual festival and was inspired to build a place like that.

Acres of flowers, residences, flower interns, venue rental, dog park, ferris wheel, a true compound? This is sounding a little like Waco.

Yes! Like Chip and Joanna!

I was thinking more like David Koresh.

(blank stares)

This was back when you were in the “best friend zone”.

We’re still best friends.

But you can really have only one best friend. And Jess found a new best friend at LoCoFlo. Anyway, Do you have $10,000,000?

No, but we just sold $24 of flowers to you and we will each have $1,000 at the end of the farmer training program and Jess’s fiance Toby has equity in his house.

You’re on your way. And, Tobs will be an investor?

He will have a music studio on the compound.

And when was this ankle-injury-inspired business plan conceived?

Just last year. We came up with the name while watching football.

Wow. And you have already sold flowers?

Yes. We are growing at Toby’s house for now. Plus we are on the LoCoFlo growers page!

Jess at the Food Market with Bloomhouse flowers

Who are your flower mentors?

Definitely LB at Butterbee. Also, Maya at Hillen Homestead

What about local flower O.G.s like Dave Dowling, Bob Wollam and Leon Carrier?

They are so accomplished and know so much, we get nervous.

What else do we need to know about Bloomhouse?

Jess is the muscle and Sam is the business.

Nice. At LoCoFlo Ellen is the macaroni and I am the cheese. Partnerships like that can’t lose!

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July, 31 2017

Baltimore In Bloom

Tags: Friends, Farmers, So Local

Last weekend we were thrilled to host Dave Dowling, President of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and Mimo Davis of Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers in St. Louis Missouri for a whirlwind tour of flower farming in and around Baltimore.

We’re so proud of our Baltimore flower farming community and we were excited to introduce Baltimore to our out of town guests.

We started at the Sunday market to visit Elisa Lane of Two Boots Farm. Elisa started farming in Baltimore City when she co-founded Whitelock Community Farm in the Reservoir Hill. She and her husband now farm in Hampstead, Maryland. Each year she grows more and more flowers (because it’s addictive!)

Next we headed over to Ananda Growers. Jen and Abhi are first year growers growing in East Baltimore in the shadow of Dr. King’s image. In addition to Ananda Growers, Jen also runs a youth farming program called Common Ground Youth Farming as part of her OSI Fellowship.

Next, we traveled a few blocks east to visit Walker at Tha Flower Factory. A big sunny half acre in the middle of East Baltimore, Tha Flower Factory is in it’s 2nd year of growing. Watch for big things from this urban farm.

Next we headed north to Hillen Homestead. Maya has been growing flowers in Baltimore City for five years. With two sites, she is the biggest producer of flowers in the city.

At her original plot on Hillen Road, we checked out a plethora of gorgeous blooms including lisianthus, zinnias, love in a puff, snaps and amazing dahlias!

After a quick stop at the Crown gas station for a snack (Turkey Hill lemonade and chips for everyone…just call me…the hostess with the mostest”) we drove 45 miles west to visit our friends at PlantMasters. Mimo was especially excited to see Leon and Carol Carrier’s farm because of all of the ways the extend the season for sales in early spring and late fall/winter. Their new hoophouse is filled with gorgeous Cafe Au Lait dahlias.

Of course, we couldn’t be touring around without Bob Wollam getting in on the action. It was pretty great to see these two flower friends reunited.

Our last stop on the tour was Endless Row Farm, owned by Leon and Carol’s son Lee. The name is so fitting! This farm is so beautiful! It reminded us all of the wide rows at Mel Heath’s farm.

As we headed back to Butterbee Farm for dinner, my heart was so full. I’m beyond grateful to be part of this amazing flower farming community. From teeny tiny first year farms, to farms that have been producing local blooms for over 30 years, all of these growers play a crucial role in making the Mid-Atlantic such a special place for growing flowers.

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November, 19 2016

Getting Smart and Sciencey at the Flo

Tags: Farmers, Friends, Nerdy AF

Spent some time this week with amazing Chris Wien, Emeritus Faculty member at Cornell who continues to do valuable cut flower research in his retirement. Flowers growers in our region cheered a few years ago when this giant in the cut flower world decided to make Annapolis his new home after leaving Ithaca.

This week, the designers and I got to contribute our experience with lisianthus to be included in his research on spacing, stem production and bloom time. We also got to here all about the creation of the black pear pepper and it’s journey to market beginning at the USDA research lab in Beltsville.

We’re so grateful to be part of this weird, wonderful flower growing community!

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