Friday, May 13, 2011

Urban Cut Flowers are Here at the Youth Farm!

Hi! My name is Molly Culver, and I am a new face at the Youth Farm at the High School for Public Service in Crown Heights. I have been invited by Farmer Bee and Farmer Stacy to pilot what I proclaim as the city's first urban cut flower farm, on 2,000 square feet of lovely sandy loam soil.

I am hoping that the flower farm will serve as an educational plot for urban farmers, students and local community members who wish to learn more about growing flowers for market. I hope that the beauty, color and creativity that working with flowers requires will inspire a new wave of young flower farmers interested in cultivating heirloom varieties... These flowers will look a lot different that the flowers you find being sold at the corner store, which are often dyed, treated with chemicals and grown using pesticides and herbicides that are unsafe for the laborers who apply them.

I am growing 50 varieties of cut flowers this year, ranging from classics like Sunflowers, Zinnias, and Snapdragons to lesser-known essentials such as Larkspur, Mignonette, Scabiosas, and more... My hunch is that these VERY locally-grown cut flowers will hold up longer in the vase than the average bodega bouquet, and due to the rareness and unique beauty of the varieties, will sell themselves! The flowers will be sold at the Youth Farm farmers market on Wednesdays beginning June 22, and also to a restaurant or two. Flowers may be available for special events.

Our Saturday workdays on the farm are a great way to learn more about propagating, planting, fertilizing, trellising, watering, harvesting and marketing cut flowers. Please join me!

Stay tuned for weekly blog posts on the progress of the flowers at the Youth Farm. At the moment, we are busy turning over sod and building four new 70'x4' raised beds, while hundreds of baby flowers are growing steadily in our cold frames. Stock, Bells of Ireland and Zinnias are ready to be hardened off and planted next week, while Sweet Peas, Calendula and Bachelor's Buttons are already nestled in beds around the farm, awaiting their first foliar feeding and second bed weeding.