Help us celebrate the NEW Bexley Farmers' Market, and the vendors that make it special! We invite you to meet our farmers and producers to learn more about what makes our market so special.
Today, we sit down with Steve and Gretel Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm.
BFM: Tell us a little about Sunny Meadows Flower Farm and how it all began. How is it different than other farms in the area?
SMFF: Steve had an apprenticeship on a farm which sparked our interest in farming and gave us a mentor to learn from. The land became ours the year after this relationship developed which allowed us to start our own endeavor. We knew we wanted to grow flowers since that is what Steve did with his mentor, but we also wanted to grow vegetables. The list of things we grew and products coming from our farm has been diversified as the business grows, now including Gretel's Handcrafted Soap, egg production, raising pigs, a Community Supported Agriculture program, and production even happens in the winter with our greenhouses full of spinach and root crops. We are only six miles from downtown Columbus, a true urban farm. We are on 10 acres, so it is our little piece of the country in the city. We sell our flowers to local florists and to Whole Foods, at farmers' markets, and we also do weddings. We are working this year on extending our flower season through the use of our greenhouses and cool weather tolerant flowers, so we have will have flowers available from Mother's Day to Thanksgiving.
BFM: You both are relatively young farmers. When did you realize that you wanted to be farmers?
SMFF: We both loved to be outside, Steve through playing sports and gardening on a small scale, and Gretel being a part of Camp Fire and attending their nature camps. Farming is an outlet for that desire to be a part of nature which was brought to our attention through Steve's apprenticeship at Anderson Orchards.
BFM: What is a normal summer day like on the farm? Do you wake up before the sun?
SMFF: In the middle of summer is when we are busiest because all the flowers are in full bloom. We have two employees this year that will be helping us get through this summer with five farmers' markets a week. And since it gets hot fast, we are typically out in the fields by 7am. This means we are usually up about 5:45 or 6am, having a cup of coffee, eating breakfast and trying to answer any emails or do any other business owner things necessary to prepare us for the day.
We harvest the flowers before it gets too hot and zinnias are especially sensitive to the heat, so they are always first thing. That usually takes about four hours and by that time, we harvest any vegetables we need to, hand water anything in the greenhouse that needs it, and start arranging the flowers while someone makes us a quick lunch. We quickly eat as not to totally stop the swing of production we have, but to refuel from the morning calories you have sweat off. All flowers going to the market can just be bunched and put into buckets, but Whole Foods orders must be packaged and labeled too. One person puts labels on the sleeves for the flowers while everyone else is either bunching sunflowers or arranging bouquets. Once bunching, arranging, and packaging are done, it's sent off to the Easton market while another person delivers a van load to Whole Foods, and then heads off to the Bexley market. Typically Gretel and our employee Amanda will be the market goers while the boys stay at the farm to work on planting, weeding or hoeing beds that need it, or any other projects needing done. This may include mowing around the farm, any building that needs done, and cleaning up the mess we have been making all day buzzing around the farm like busy bees. Markets are over at 7pm, and by the time Amanda and I return from the market, the boys will be just finishing up, then it is time for dinner and bed because Friday is another crazy busy day getting ready for our two Saturday markets in Granville and Clintonville.
BFM: Besides the flowers and produce, you are also crafting soaps and salves. Tell us a little about how that all evolved.
SMFF: We have a beekeeper here at the farm and he had given us a fresh honeycomb from the bees. After extracting the honey from the wax, I thought I could probably do something with the wax, and started reading about making soap. I started investing in the materials and talking to other farmers that were making soap. One of our farmer friends actually was pregnant and needed help making her soap because the essential oils made her nauseous. This was a perfect opportunity for me to see how it was actually done and apply everything I had read about. That really kick started it all and what started out as a winter hobby has become a part of our market offerings and even has its own website, www.gretelshandcraftedsoap.com.
BFM: What can we expect to see each week at the market from you?
SMFF: Once people are done buying plants for their gardens, we will have lots of beautiful bouquets of sunflowers, zinnias, lilies, and other assorted flowers. The soap and salve will be there every week as well as our smiling faces!
To learn more about Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, visit their website at www.oursunnymeadows.com.