Flower Power

Floral farms in Virginia are sprawling with local flowers.

Photo courtesy of Burnside Farms

sunflowers

sunflowers at Burnside Farms

There are more than 43,000 farms in Virginia, 90 percent of which are owned by families or individuals, rather than corporations. Of course, the top agricultural commodities in Virginia include cattle, chicken, turkey, and milk. However, one lesser known commodity is Virginia’s flower farming industry. Flower farms grow flowers and sell locally grown, domestic flowers to the public. Below are a few flower farms from across Virginia—if you’re in need of a bouquet for a special day, these farms have got you covered!

Harmony Harvest Farm

Weyers Cave

Harmony Harvest Farm is one of the largest flower farms on the East coast, with more than 200 varieties of flowers spread across seven field acres and seven greenhouses. It’s also one of the only farms in the country that ships its flowers directly to the consumer, whereas most other large floral farms only ship to floral wholesalers. The farm was born out of a “true a-ha! moment,” according to Jessica Hall, one of the three owners and operators of Harmony Harvest. She and her mother, Chris Auville (otherwise known to her daughters as “The Lady Monarch”), were sitting out on the beach one day when her mother said, “Where do florists get their flowers?”  

Photo courtesy of Harmony Harvest Farm

Stephanie Auville and Jessica Hall

Stephanie Auville and Jessica Hall from Harmony Harvest Farm.

This question led to the creation of Harmony Harvest, now family-owned and operated. Jessica plays the role of master grower and resident designer, while her sister, Stephanie Auville, handles sales and marketing, and Chris deals with sales and business administration, while also playing the part of bride whisperer (Harmony Harvest offers a variety of wedding packages). They grew quickly, but couldn’t quite reach the level of profit that they had hoped for. Then came another “a-ha! moment” with a FedEx delivery, which led to the creation of their shipping program in 2018. Previously, they had been growing for national wholesalers and selling wedding florals, local bouquets, and flowers in bulk; now they ship directly to florists and other “floral enthusiasts” all across the country.

The 200-plus flowers that the farm grows are available in bouquets, DIY boxes, and bulk flower collections, which come in four color palettes: blanc, vibrant, soft, and essentials. They also offer wedding services and packages for central and northern Virginia, including Harrisonburg, Staunton, Charlottesville, Lexington, Richmond, and surrounding areas.

The family of farmers also recently started a sister company, Floral Genius, which is the only maker of metal flower holders (or flower frogs) in the United States. Needless to say, this all-female trio packs quite the punch in the flower world. HHFShop.com, FloralGenius.com

Wind Haven Farm

Topping

Another family-owned farm, Wind Haven Farm is run by husband-and-wife team Jenny and Paul Maloney. Jenny started out at her in-laws’ farm, Dayspring Farm, which offered its subscribers a flower share that allowed them to receive a bouquet of flowers every week with their produce bags. Dayspring is where Jenny cultivated her love for flowers, but after a while, the farm decided to discontinue its flower production, so Paul offered to till a small property and turn it into a flower farm.  

Photo courtesy of Wind Haven Farm

Paul and Jenny Maloney

Paul and Jenny Maloney with Wind Haven Farm.

Now on their seventh growing season, the Maloney’s farm has grown almost twofold every year. The Maloney’s farm is approximately three acres and has developed numerous different ways to sell their flowers. They wholesale to florists, grocers, and community supported agriculture programs (or CSAs). For flower lovers, they offer flower shares or subscriptions, which allow customers to receive a bouquet of flowers every week either through Dayspring Farm or directly through Wind Haven. They also have a front porch flower market at different times of the year. For weddings and events, you can choose between bulk and DIY blooms, the “a la carte” wedding option, or you can request a custom wedding arrangement.

Set for 2021, the farm is planning a move to a new location in King William County. The new land is prepped with new cover crops and perennials, and ground has been cleared for a new barn. Wind Haven will still deliver to customers in the Northern Neck, Middlesex, and Richmond areas. They also offer group tours and workshops, though the workshops will not be available again until 2021 due to the move. WindHavenFarm.org

Burnside Farms

Haymarket, Nokesville

What started out as a smaller farm in Haymarket and flower shop in McLean has since been turned into “probably the largest flower farm that’s open to the public in Virginia,” says Mike Dawley, a farmer at Burnside Farms. “Our Summer of Sunflowers covers about 40 of our 100 acres and we’re open with sunflowers from mid-July running through Labor Day.” 

Photo courtesy of Burnside Farms

Burnside Farms

Owner Leslie Dawley used to own Hedgerows, a popular flower shop in McLean, until she lost her lease more than 10 years ago. When she happened upon a bin of 35,000 tulip bulbs, she and her son, Mike, had no idea what would become of them. “Most of us can’t pass up a really good deal,” said Leslie. And thank goodness she didn’t. They planted the tulip bulbs and waited anxiously to see if they would bloom––they did. That Easter weekend, the two of them put a wagon out front with a sign urging people to pick their own tulips—and everyone loved it. “Gosh, I think we’re onto something,” Leslie remarked on her thoughts at the time, “And nobody did it. It was not something you could find anywhere to go and do.”

The following year, Leslie and Mike planted 100,000 bulbs by hand, and the year after that, they realized they had more bulbs than could be planted by hand, so they built a bulb planter. This year, they planted 1.5 million bulbs. Along with tulips, they added 300,000 daffodils, and next year will plant 300,000 more. With the wild success of the tulip fields, Leslie and her team decided to plant sunflowers next. Since tulips only bloom in the spring, sunflowers were the obvious choice to keep customers flowing in and out through the summer and the fall.

Burnside Farms was one of the first in Virginia to have sunflower mazes. Perfect for photo opportunities, the farm even provides chalkboards for writing messages for special photos. Burnside allows visitors to snip their own sunflowers with clippers provided by the farm, though this year (due to COVID-19) they may have to request that people bring their own. Lovely sunflower umbrellas will keep you cool and hidden from the hot summer sun. Last year, the farm added the option of viewing sunflowers after sundown, so customers could view the 30-plus varieties of sunflowers in the glow of the setting sun and under the night sky. Even today, Leslie is still in awe of the farm’s crazy success. “It’s amazing, it really is. Just the fact that … There isn’t another place to go for the tulips or even I don’t think anything nearby plants sunflowers.”

For the fall season, expect a corn maze, hayrides, and pumpkin picking. There are also plans for a Bulb Festival in the spring. A picnic, play area, and bouncy castles make the location perfect for a family outing. In terms of photo opportunities, the farm does not charge for photoshoots, unless booked before or after hours. Leslie recommends coming during the week for tulip-season photoshoots, rather than on the weekend, for fewer crowds.

“Growing flowers for people, just kind of, was a happy accident,” says Leslie. “It was just meant to be, just meant to be.” 

NOTE: Do keep in mind that both the tulips and the sunflowers are at the Nokesville location, not Haymarket. Due to COVID-19, customers are strongly encouraged to check the website and/or Facebook page before coming to check for closures or hours. BurnsideFarms.com

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