1 Minute Interview: Angela Kilmer, Owner of Meri Jo Flower Farm
Meri Jo Flower Farm is a family business that started two years ago when the Kilmer family bought a 12-acre horse ranch at Beaumont and Livingston roads in Highland. Angie Kilmer had her eye on the property for years, and one day a for sale sign popped up. Kilmer, an accountant, bought the land to grow and sell cut flowers, bringing joy by the bundle to the community.
I have been an accountant for over 30 years, and I have yet to experience someone being overjoyed when I hand them financial statements. Math and science have always been my strength, but there is not a lot of joy inherent in accounting. At this point in my life, I have decided I want to live joyfully and to share that joy with others. When we bought the farm, it was the perfect opportunity to build a business based on growing happiness and providing that joy to others.
Meri Jo Flower Farm is named in memory of Angie’s mom and her husband Craig’s mom, who both passed away within a month of each other. Their middle names are Meredith and Jo.
Angie, Craig and their 19-year-old son Macauley are now in their second full growing season and welcome the community to stop by their farm stand for fresh cut flowers. Owner Angela Kilmer agree to talk with The Spinal Column about the farm and life as a flower farmer.
Tell us about your business, how does it work?
“I think cut flower farming is following the “farm to table” trend. A large percentage of cut flowers purchased in the U.S. are imported from other countries like Colombia. Flowers grown locally last longer because they do not have the travel time after harvesting like imported flowers do. Some flowers do not ship well, which is an advantage for a local farmer since these flowers can be enjoyed with minimal handling.”
“The ‘microfarm’ concept is very popular. You do not need a lot of land to grow flower crops. With tighter plant spacing and succession planting (staggering crops and planting at intervals for a consistent supply of a flower variety) a good amount of flowers can be grown in a small space – even a backyard!”
“Flower farmers sell their crops in a number of ways: farm stands (we have a flower cart at our farm), farmer’s markets, flower subscription programs, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), and wholesale to the floral design industry and grocery stores are among the most popular.”
You are an accountant, so what made you decide to grow flowers as a career? Is it difficult?
“Growing flowers is farming. I’d be lying if I said it is easy, and there is definitely math and science involved. There is an incredible amount of planning to be done relative to planning the crops and ordering at the right time to ensure you are able to purchase the seed, bulbs, tubers, etc. that you want to plant next year. Add to that maintaining soil health, irrigation, and mitigating disease and pests and weeds. And, like any other type of farming, it is plain old hard physical work.”
Have you always loved flowers? What do you love about them?
“Yes! There’s something about flowers that is just so magical. It is amazing to me that something so beautiful just grows out of the ground. Flowers are pure joy from nature. It is scientifically proven that flowers make us happy! A vase of flowers brightens any space in my home and just makes me smile when I pass by them.”
“Flowers evoke memories and emotion. I hear so many stories from the people who stop by the farm to buy flowers. Some people buy a certain flower because it is what they had at their wedding. Others remember their grandmother planting the same flowers and it brings them comfort and a sense of nostalgia. A scent or a color can conjure so many feelings.”
What flower trends are you seeing this year?
“We haven’t yet reached a point where we are providing flowers for weddings and larger events. I do belong to a number of floristry groups, so I am in tune with what is requested from floral designers, and in turn requested by floral designers of flower farmers. I am seeing some fun things like prom bouquets, a smaller version of a bridesmaid bouquet. Wedding trends seem to be following a muted color palette with tall grasses and dried flowers. I have been keeping an eye on these trends to help with ordering for next year.”
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