Chicken, Turkeys, and…. Flowers?

What an odd combination! Doesn’t seem to go together… Or does it?

In 2019 our farming season was torpedoed by the combination of two factors.

First, the flood in the basement, 3 days before the arrival of the chicks. The choice had to be made… Fix the basement, or raise chicks. So the very last minute, I had to find buyers for the chicks. Shout out to Kodie and Vicky at Horizon Hog Farm for taking some of them!

Second, I was being deployed to Amsterdam for work from July 5th to October 1st. I could play the victim here, but work deployments (this was my second) are actually quite pleasant and a great family-growth opportunity. Well, those dates limited my ability to produce and sell. I had one chance to do a batch… and there it was, slipping through my fingers.

So what to do when you’re in the Netherlands for 3 months, 1 of which is by yourself? You discover what makes it the most productive country in terms of land mass for vegetables and flowers in the world. Like, seriously. Drive, bike, walk the countryside, and there are countless hints of highly-technological, highly-efficient farms producing global-reaching products. I asked around, and farmers in NL are able to produce, ship, with phytosanitary certificate, plant roots that would cost $35/unit to buy in Canada, at $2/unit. Now mind you, it’s 500 units minimum, but that’s still a fact that blows my mind still to this day.

A picture I took at the RoyalFloraHolland warehouse right about the time when I decided I needed to do this
Those carts might look empty… But look how huge the whole place is!
Vantage point on the other side of the previous picture

So… I’m getting myself into flower production. Basic reasons are that 1. I like them, 2. my wife likes them, and 3. there seems to be a real need to local, sustainable, “slow” flowers in the area. That’s it. No fluff, no big story. Well, ok. My wife like the idea of me growing commercial quantities of flowers better than commercial quantities of chickens, I suppose haha. And flowers do end up being quite the symbiotic addition to the farm. I need some place to spread the litter from the brooder after it gets composted, and being rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, 2 major elements that most flowers need in high quantity, it only seemed to work! Then, you add the bees, the beauty, the smells, the part of the pasture that was more suitable to crop production, and, you get a complex integrated system.

In 2020, we are starting rather small. I’m only targeting to produce approximately 5000 flower stems, but, like spaghetti, we’re throwing it at the proverbial to see what sticks. If you, the customer, like what we produce, please tell us, and quick! The best time to purchase large quantities of bulbs and large-root perennials such as peonies is in July!

Trying out these varieties in various amounts, from a single packet for some, to a whole 10 grams of seeds of others.

Is the need there? The local demand there? I think so. Though perhaps I should’ve chosen a better starting year than 2020, with the virus and all. Oh well. #letsdothis

The Dutch have it right. High Quality living. Surrounding themselves with beauty instead of negativity. I’m going to try bringing that to Black Duck Farm in 2020. My Grand-Père, the green thumb of the family, would be proud.

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