My wife Kim and I met at the Lyons Farmette, a working organic farm and education center, in 2015, through the internship program. Our business and growing partner Garrison Schulte hired both of us as his field assistants. Back in 2015, most of our growing fields were dedicated to vegetable gardens—we ran a local veggie CSA, and sold high-quality produce to chefs for the farm dinners we host here at the Farmette. Slowly over the course of a couple years, our passion to grow more than food inspired us to turn the fields from primarily veggie production to primarily flower production. In 2018, Farmette owners Betsy Burton and Mike Whipp gave us the chance to take over all field production and that’s when we created Plume and Furrow. Plume and Furrow is a farm and floral design studio—Grant runs the flower fields, while Kim runs the design studio. We grow hundreds of varieties of high-end cut flowers, harvested fresh daily from May through October, and then arranged in our on-site design studio. Before 2020, almost 95% of our flowers went to weddings hosted by the Farmette, RiverBend, or Planet Bluegrass. Since 2020, we’ve essentially changed everything about our business to provide beautiful flower arrangements to the local people of Lyons, Longmont, and Boulder, and to couples who are now opting to elope rather than wait out the pandemic. We are absolutely in love with what we do—we are passionate about nature, flowers, the land we take care of, and the final product we put out into the world. We hope our flowers bring joy to everyone who sees them.
So far this year, almost 80% of our wedding contracts have moved from 2020 to 2021, which means we are essentially spreading one year of business over two seasons of time. Additionally, because most of our clients have moved to next year, we have little room to book new clientele for the 2021 season. We’ve had to postpone major expansion projects, such as leasing an indoor studio space in town, as well as limiting our hiring and training capabilities because of an inability to pay multiple workers a fair wage. We’ve missed paychecks to keep money in our business account, and we’ve had to keep the farm and studio running with half of the staff that it actually takes to run our farm successfully. Even for a slower summer, we’re often tired and worn out by sundown.
Because we have an incredible product (beautiful locally grown cut flowers, arranged gorgeously by Kim), we have been able to keep busy and keep our product moving. And the support of the Farmette has also helped us through these tough times. In April, Garrison built an incredible flower stand, located just off of Ute Highway on the Farmette property. We invested in a cooler to keep our wrapped market bouquets and vegetables fresh, and we kicked off our flower season with a Mother’s Day CSA. Since May, we’ve been lucky enough to have the support of 25 local families who receive weekly flower arrangements, as well as a partnership with the St. Vrain Market selling our product throughout the week. Many people have stopped by our farm stand to pick up flowers, eggs, and veggies, and we couldn’t be more grateful for all of this support. In a way, the pandemic has allowed us to step back from the wedding industry and enabled us to diversify our business, share our passion with our neighbors, and hopefully brighten up people’s homes and spaces.
The pandemic has actually allowed us the opportunity to have a smaller but more meaningful impact on our local community. We love weddings, we love being a part of the joy and celebration that weddings are all about. But before the pandemic, we had little time or ability to get our flowers into the hands of our friends and neighbors. Now, we can see the importance of both revenue streams, and we get to see the joy on the faces of people in our community when they stop by our stand or receive their weekly CSA bouquet.
We made many quick decisions in April. We knew that our wedding season was essentially ruined, and for a couple of weeks our hearts were heavy for all of the couples we were working with who made the tough but necessary decision to postpone their celebration. But then we focused very quickly. We knew that we would have fields of flowers that would need good homes. We built our farm stand, reached out to a couple groceries and markets for wholesale accounts, and developed our flower CSA, which has been well-received. Because we work with flowers, we’re naturally inclined to see the beauty in things. Even on the heavy days of the pandemic, walking the flower fields and seeing new blooms daily enhances our ability to keep pushing and working hard.
Another awesome opportunity we’ve been given in this pandemic is the time to take some of our extra flowers and veggies and donate them to LEAF. We’ve always had extra flowers sitting around, but we’ve never had the time to find a good outlet for them. Since May, we’ve been delivering small arrangements to the Food Pantry pickup every Wednesday. After our first delivery, we received word from one local woman that the small gesture of our flower donation made her cry. She had never received a flower bouquet and the bright and beautiful local blooms sparked joy in her own life, in her own home. We’ve taken that feedback and committed to bringing our extras to the food pantry every week. Sometimes small businesses, especially newer ones, are so focused on the bottom line that we miss the opportunities we have to give back. It’s been very heart opening to be able to get our flowers into the hands of our neighbors. We hope we can continue to do this for many years to come.
Lyons folk who are able to directly purchase flowers from our flower stand are helping us out tremendously. Our flower stand is all honor system—we accept cash, check, or Venmo (@plumeandfurrow) payments. No one mans the stand during the day, but we check the stand multiple times a day to wipe down the cooler door handles and make sure that everything is clean and safe. For those who are “shut in” but still able to purchase flowers at this time can join our CSA. We offer no-contact delivery every Saturday morning—we bring the flowers to your doorstep, ring the doorbell, and move on. This has worked out great for many families in the area. For those on limited budgets, we’ve been taking special orders for less pricey, smaller bouquets, and we’ve been putting them in our flower stand with the clients name on them. We’re also open to new ideas—we’d love to help facilitate flower deliveries to those who cannot afford to purchase them—if someone would like to purchase a bouquet on someone else’s behalf, we’d be so happy to deliver the bouquet for free. We’re trying to do our best with our limited labor and time. August and September is flower season here in Colorado—we’d love to get them into everyone’s hands, in whatever way possible.