by Dave Warner
For the last three years, Tabitha and John Houle have been building a flower farm business on a property they bought sixteen years ago north of the City of Little Falls.
Tabitha stated that it had an old farmhouse on it and that they had been fixing things up slowly but surely. “We both have a day job, he works construction and I work at General Electric.”
She said that she’s always had a passion for flowers and wanted to work or own her own florist someday. “I just took a different path into business, and as I got older, I realized there was such a thing as flower farming.”
Houle said that she had two young children at the time and that she was just looking for something else to do besides work. “Something that just made me happy,” she stated.
She says that at first, it was just dabbling with the idea by putting some seeds in the ground that were simple to grow like sunflowers and zinnias. “Three years later we have the whole flower farm.”
When they bought the property, they had really just been focused on fixing up the farmhouse and had never really thought about the fact that they now owned a farm.
Even now, she says that they don’t really farm because they don’t have animals and they have someone who hays their land. “It was a surprise when we fell into flower farming. I did my research and found out that a lot of the flowers that we buy today are not local.”
Houle said that 80% of all cut flowers are shipped from countries in South America and around the world. “I realized there was a need,” she said, especially in this area.
“The community has been so supportive and people just love flowers – they make people happy.”
They try to grow specialty flowers on the farm, ones that you can’t get from a florist or wholesaler like dahlias, or zinnias because they are too hard to ship.
“We grow about fifty different annual flowers, all of which we start in our garage as seeds, under lights. We start that process at the end of January, beginning of February,” stated Houle.
They have a woody section at the farm with nine different kinds of hydrangeas, ninebark, coralberry, and others that they use as fillers.
There are also about six hundred different peonies and a perennial patch where they have a variety of different flowers, mints, and different kinds of bulbs.
They have a new raspberry and blackberry patch that they have put in as well, and sunflowers.
“It’s hard work. My husband tried to warn me, but I guess I was a dreamer. But, it’s enjoyable. However, if you see a flower farm that’s just filled with flowers in bloom, then they’re not doing their job,” she stated.
Flowers should be harvested before they bloom and shipped to the consumer.
Houle says that she really underestimated the amount of work required to make her dream come true. “You have weeds, you have pests, you have disease – all things that you have to attend to.”
She says that they’re growing a crop, but it just happens to be flowers. “That’s the one thing I didn’t really anticipate.”
In five years, Houle hopes that she can do this full time, not have it be an evening and weekends kind of thing. “I see more interaction with the community,” stating that the area has been great to them.
Also in the future, she said “I really hope to be able to bring people onto the farm for workshops, and events. I have big plans for the farm. I want them to be able to experience some of the magic that we see every day.”
Right now they have hydrangeas and lilies, snapdragons, sweet peas, and others in bloom that are available at their roadside stand.
To find out more, visit houleflowerfarm.com or follow them on Instagram or Facebook.