In 2015, we began working on our new property in Leduc County. What was a farm field quickly began to take shape into our new home. In the spring, building the fence and earthwork including construction of a berm, drainage improvements, pad for the barn and the nearly 1km long driveway was completed. Next came planting nearly 200 full size trees lining the driveway and seeding the field to hay. We installed the gate, cedar fence, yard art and plantings at the entrance of the farm. Construction of our shipping container barn was a work in progress. Composed of 2 40’ shipping containers, the 40’x40’ structure was clad in spruce.
2016 had a much slower pace. We completed the cedar shake and barn doors. Enjoyed watching bulbs and perennials come back to life after a long winter. We started working on a hand me down outhouse that will soon be known as the “Nicest Shitter 3 Counties Over” and enjoyed spending time relaxing and taking in the beauty of nature around us. We spent the year trying to decide what else we could do with this amazing space. How could we start a business and make a living and never have to leave this oasis?
We considered a tree farm and growing specialty crops. But then it hit us…FLOWERS!
The start of our FIRST season growing local, seasonal cut flowers!
Spring started with the completion of the outhouse and plans to start our gardens. We tilled 10 4’x20’ beds, a pumpkin patch and perennial garden. At the end of May the gardens were direct seeded. Then the War of the Weeds began! I started taking Wednesdays #farmwednesday off of work to spend at the farm and for the first few months EVERY Wednesday was spent WEEDING. Watering came in the form of a 5 gallon Home Depot Bucket from the pond into a watering can on repeat. Finally mid summer we got smart and filled a cube so that I could fill the watering can directly - game changer! We started planting the perennial bed and adding trees throughout the property.
In August we were finally able to start harvesting buckets of blooms. We were supported by our friends, family and colleagues and attended our first pop up shops and the White Barn Market. We purchased our first tractor and built our first greenhouse - which tragically was lost in a wind storm in October.
In September I started the Master Gardener Program at the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens and my 90 year old Oma was able to make it out to the farm and arrange flowers together. We hosted Sweet Jolie to shoot their Fall Clothing Collection and didn’t lose the flowers to frost until October 7th. We then began planting just over 1000 tulip and narcissus and hundreds of other fall bulbs. We carved our own pumpkins for Halloween (was not a successful season for pumpkins) and dried some flowers for winter projects.
It was a very successful first season. Our dreams were coming true!
I completed my Master Gardener Training in April and we decided to go all in at the farm and create a space for our flowers and also for guests when they visit the farm. We wanted to build a space that inspired, had purpose and was educational. We integrate found items and reused items when at all possible. Our focus at the beginning of the season was to create a U Pick garden, and event space. Up to this point we had no services at the farm. In We had power trenched in and our lives were forever changed! The first purchase we made for the farm in 2015 was a fountain for the pond, the moment we were live, the fountain burst into action and was not turned off until October. We built 18 raised beds, a pergola and used 4 cubes of mulch to line the walkways and pergola. The pumpkin patch from last season was raised up to improve drainage and while harrowing the new soil (in a circle) the sunflower dial was born! We skipped Spring and went straight from Winter to Summer. There was still snow on the ground in the middle of April and over 25 degrees Celsius at the end of April. Our tulips and Narcissus suffered in the extreme heat, with less than 20% blooming.
In May, I was honored to speak at the Stony Plain Horticultural Society about our new venture growing and selling Cut Flowers in Alberta. It was my first official speaking engagement and I loved it! I hope to do more in the future!
We hosted an Engagement Photo Shoot with our friends Steph and Andrew by photographer Jill Coursen in July. We built tables and benches for the pergola in anticipation of our first event at the farm, a rehearsal dinner for our neighbors wedding which was also our first time creating full wedding florals. Danielle and Brodie were dream clients for us, they were flexible and easy going and perfect for our first time!
In August we celebrated my graduation from the Master Gardener Program and held our first U Pick with my mom and dad in town. The U Pick was welcomed and successful beyond our wildest dreams. People from all over central Alberta came to visit our gardens. Families, sisters, friends and individuals wandered the gardens with me learning about growing the flowers, harvest and post harvest techniques and assembled dozens of bouquets each week. We got a hot tip on a used cooler and finally had storage our harvested blooms. Sadly a devastating hail storm at the end of August, frosty nights (covering all the beds with sheets and blankets) and a freak snow storm at the beginning of September brought our season to an abrupt halt.
Luckily, just a week before the gardens were lost, we were able to have some amazing photography and video taken by the uber talented Ang from BRZ Photography.
Despite the early loss of our gardens, we harvested and held flowers for our second wedding of the season, Steph and Andrew. Steph opted to do a DIY bouquet, corsage and boutonniere making afternoon with her bridesmaids and I assisted with construction of a wedding arch. The uniqueness of each of the bouquets showcased the individuality of each of the girls and was another way to add meaning and memories to the special occasion.
In an effort to beat Mother Nature, we started the construction of our greenhouse in September. It wasn’t easy, battling poor instructions and inclement weather, but we got the plastic on just in time for winter to stick around for good.
We planted 30 more peony plants for the U Pick and added dozens of perennials and shrubs to the landscape.
Winter has been spent planning and dreaming of all our amazing new adventures of 2019!