Q+A with Ang from Meadow Farm Florals

Ang From Meadow Farm Florals

I have something really fun for you all today, we did a Q+A with Ang from Meadow Farm Florals!! While we still may have several more weeks before spring fully hits (sigh) – I know my fellow gardeners are likely busy getting started! Buying seeds, researching plants, buying more seeds, making all the lists and schedules, buying more seeds, starting seeds, buying more seeds…. you get the idea. I thought while we are all dreaming of sunnier days ahead it would be the perfect time to interview our favourite flower farmer!

If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Ang, she is a ray of sunshine! Her flower farm is local to Central Alberta and she is passionate about using regenerative practices, helping educate others, and building community. She makes beautiful bouquets made from the freshest of flowers (available as subscriptions), sells to some local flower shops (like us!), does workshops, offers wedding services, and also a Grow Together program to help others learn more about growing their own flowers! Let’s get to know her a little better, shall we!

Ang with Meadow Farm Florals

What inspired you get into the floral industry? 

My introduction to the world of flowers began somewhat unexpectedly through an agricultural lens. Unfortunately, there’s no abridged version of this story, and it runs a little lengthy, so brace yourself!

My husband and I are both city slickers who decided to try our hands at farming as adults. His passions in farming led him into raising and direct marketing grass-finished beef, but try as I might, I couldn’t quite find my niche as a city kid in the world of farming.

In the early stages of our farming journey, my husband, still working full-time as a carpenter, stumbled upon a shared interest in flowers with his then apprentice during an evening of cold beers after a long day of work. Who would’ve thought that two burly carpenters could revel in the beauty of botanicals!?

Somehow, their conversation led into them deciding that they should start a micro flower farm on the property that we were renting at the time and market their flowers to brides! If I’m being honest, I rolled my eyes at the whole notion. Not only did they not know the first thing about floral trends, especially with respect to weddings, but I myself, actually didn’t particularly care much about flowers and found absolutely no excitement in the notion. In fact, I was actually the girl that told her husband to never “waste” his money on flowers! Can you believe it? I know! Don’t worry, that all changed. I promise.

Despite my skepticism, they went ahead with the plan and somewhat proved me wrong. During lunch breaks, and after work, they poured over seed catalogs, placed orders, nurtured hundreds of flower seedlings, and painstakingly transplanted each and every one of  them out into our little garden.

But, then the busy season began. The dog days of summer set in and my husband was full time farming and full time framing and the gorgeous little oasis that him and his friend had created just sat. No harvests. No sales. It was a pity really, if only because they couldn’t see their little goal through to fruition as a result of other work taking priority.

Then, one day, a little bee entirely and forever changed the course of my life.

One day, as I happened to be walking past the fully in-bloom flower plot, a busy bee zoomed in front of me, almost brushing my nose with his furry tummy. I collected myself the way one does when a bug almost hits them in the face, and turned my gaze to follow him. He gently and purposefully landed on what I now know to be a snapdragon, but at the time, probably didnt’ know it from a tulip.  Then, right before my eyes, the little bee disappeared. Just like that. Poof. Gone.

I was invested. I walked over and knelt down to the plant, eye- level with where the little guy had landed to see what in the Alice in Wonderland was going on and if he hadn’t been swallowed up whole by the snapdragon bloom then the sky isn’t blue! I could all but see his little bum waggling around inside the mouth of the snapdragon, doing his skillful bee dance, busy collecting his pollen. 

I might not ever exactly be able to put into words what happened to me in that moment, but when that snapdragon opened up and the bee flew on in, it was as though the natural world simultaneously opened up, all around me, like a personal invitation for me to follow that bee into the flower to learn and explore to my heart’s content. Guess what?  I dove in, feet first, chasing after that little bee, or the metaphorical white rabbit in keeping with the Alice theme, voracious to learn everything that I could about plants, and flowers, and bugs, and bees, and all the things that work together to make the whole thing tick.

That fall and winter, flowers took over. With any spare time, I took courses and endlessly researched both online and off and by the next year, I started my own flower farm. Fast forward to today, 7 years, 3 kids, and 2 farms later and I still thank that little bee for waking me up to the world he was a part of but that I hadn’t yet found. 

What have been the some of the biggest lessons/growth since you started your floral business?

There are too many to count! Something that comes to mind are the growing pains and the growth required in order to ‘be who you are on purpose’ within a business.

What I mean by this is that even within one specific industry, there are a lot of different hats to wear, but that doesn’t mean you should wear them all. In my field of flower farming, there are many aspects to the industry including wholesale, event design, seed production + selling of seeds, dried florals, workshops, subscriptions, flower breeding – the list goes on and on. In the early days of any business, it can be tempting to try and take it all on. What I’ve learned for myself is that the more clearly I draw the distinctions around what my business is, what it does, and who it serves, the better. 

What is your favourite thing about being in the floral industry?

Nothing beats cutting a flower, and sending it out into the world knowing that you planned for the very flower to serve that very purpose for months beforehand. From planning your crops, to ordering your seeds, starting them in the dead of winter, and nurturing them until they are in full bloom – it’s pretty special to have your hands in every step of the journey. 

A bit of a controversial topic – what are your thoughts on DIY wedding flowers? 

Long answer: As a ‘farmer florist’ (a term coined as an increasing number of flower farmers began to take on design work as well) I likely have a different take on this than a more conventional florist. DIY couples tend to be much more common in the farmer florist world. A significant amount of my wedding couples incorporate at least some elements of DIY into their wedding florals. 2 or 3 buckets of loose blooms go out with 90% of my wedding orders.  Just like there are all kinds of people, there are all kinds of brides and grooms! Some put a very heavy emphasis on the impact that they want their wedding flowers to carry on their big day, and for others, they may be of lesser importance or, frankly, the funds just aren’t always there for full service floristry.

If a couple is expressing an interest in DIY, I always encourage them to do their homework and to PRACTICE designs beforehand.  Another great option is enlisting the help of someone close to them that has some experience or an eye for design. There are also courses that exist out there that are specifically designed for couples that are DIY’ing their wedding flowers. YouTube is a pretty great resource too.

I would also stress researching proper flower care so that they don’t end up damaging their precious wedding blooms.

Having said ALL of that, you’ll never get to re-do your wedding day. Your florals, especially your personal flowers, like the bridal bouquet, are meant to support the bride in whatever style, essence, or vibe she is aiming to achieve. When flowers go right, they go really right but on the flip side, when flowers go bad, they go very bad. You want to have a clear plan in place so that you aren’t finding yourself in an added state of stress or panic on your wedding day and you certainly don’t want to look back on pictures and wish you would have trusted an expert.

Short answer: You get what you pay for! haha

Ang with Meadow Farm Florals

Are there any wedding flower trends you are really loving at the moment?

I’m loving the really delicate, daintier, bridal bouquets and pocket boutonniere for grooms! 

What is your favourite flower? 

I’d never admit to loving one flower more than another – but the Queen Lime series zinnias have my heart.  

What are you most excited about growing this season?

I have a lupin patch that is going to absolutely be exploding this spring that I can’t wait to see in its full glory. I also have about 70 peonies that will be mature enough to start putting on blooms this year . There are a good handful of soft, buttery yellow peonies that I have been pinching buds off of for the last 2 years that I’m finally going to let bloom this year! Can’t wait to see them! 

What is something you wish more people knew about flowers? 

I’d love for home growers to learn more about the proper stage of harvest for the flowers they are cutting from their gardens. Lots of flowers get a bad reputation for having poor vase life, but many times they are just being cut at the wrong stage of growth and at the wrong time of day.

Each flower has an ideal window in which it wants to be harvested for longest vase life. The classic example is that people cut their peonies when they are fully blown open and then feel upset that they only got one or two days with them on their kitchen table before they started dropping petals! Ya! I’d be sad too!

Peonies like to be cut first thing in the morning after they have dropped all the heat out of their stems and have the highest moisture content and when they are just barely open. They should feel and look like a soft, squishy marshmallow when you cut them. Anything past that phase and your vase life will drastically be reduced. 

What would some of your top tips be for growing flowers?

  • Start with your soil. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. 
  • If you’re new to growing, choose varieties that can be direct sown. This means you can plant the seed directly in the soil in the spring. Some flowers need to be started indoors which can be a little more intimidating and requires some gear (e.g. grow lights, shelves, trays).  If you’re a new growers, starting seeds indoors can sometimes feel overwhelming and discouraging – but you’ll almost always have success with your direct sow flowers. 
  • Plant a cross section of plants that all serve a different purpose in your design work. Plant showy focal flowers (e.g. giant zinnia), secondary supporting flowers (e.g. strawflowers), tall, spikey flowers (e.g. snapdragons), dense filler flowers (e.g.yarrow), airy, wispy flowers (e.g. corn cockle), and foliage (e.g. honeywort)! All these elements will give you a dynamic range of flowers to cut from and design with. 
  • Succession sow your fast growing/fast dying plants like calendula and bachelor buttons so that you have flowers all season long. Planting out 2 or even 3 rounds, a week or two apart, will mean you always have a nice wave of flowers. 
  • Read your seed packets! Sometimes it’s just that easy.

Tell us about your “Grow Together” Program? What is it, how do people get involved, and when is the cut off for signing up?

Grow Together is a unique, collaborative course and gardening club which will walk you through how to grow cut flowers at home while being supported by a like minded community. Membership includes access to 8+ video modules from expert growers across Canada.

Topics include everything from prepping soil, growing in small spaces,  saving seeds, designing with your cut flowers and more. Full membership includes a planters pack of 30 unique cut flower seedlings that are ready to plant out so that you can enjoy top quality cut flowers at home without the effort of having to start seeds indoors in January and February.

My favorite part of the group is the online chat platform where we share our successes and challenges and weigh in on one another’s questions and queries. We typically meet up once or twice a summer to nerd out together at the flower farm about all things flowers! You can visit my website and find the “Grow Together” link for more details. Registration is live until the end of March. 

What are some ways that people can support your business?

We run a weekly bouquet subscription, host a seedling sale at the farm in May, and of course run our Grow Together program. We are also thinking of trying our hand at some u-pick nights at the farm this year! 

Do you have a biz you would like to give a shout out to? Local or not, floral related or not.

I have to give my big brother Mike Kozlowski of Steel Pony Farm a shout out. He is doing incredible things for local farmers and our community by sourcing the healthiest, freshest and most local food to families in Red Deer, Lacombe, Bentley, Sylvan, and beyond. Check out Steel Pony and think about switching some (if not all!) of your weekly shopping over to his completely customizable food box program that includes everything from dairy to veggies, to coffee – and everything in between!

I have to second this.  I have been receiving farm shares from Steel Pony for over 3 years.  I had wanted to sign up for forever, but was always worried I would get stuck with produce that I wouldn’t actually use. Then I found out you aren’t just given a random assortment, you get to pick every single week from the produce they have available – SOLD! In the past it was just Steel Pony produce, which is amazing, but he has since partnered up with a number of other local farms/businesses so you can get a large range of locally grown/made items. You can choose from small, medium or large packages available weekly for delivery or pick up – with a number of different location options.  Not around this week? Have an overabundance in your own garden and not needing your share this week? No big deal, you can skip your week if you need. Highly recommend. 

Ang with Meadow Farm Florals

I hope you all enjoyed this little Q+A with Ang from Meadow Farm Florals. A huge thank you to Ang for taking time out of her busy schedule to participate and share a little bit about herself and flower farming!

To learn a little more about Ang, Meadow Farm Florals, enjoy some reels, or about her brother, Mike, and his farm Steel Pony feel free to check out the links below!

Meadow Farm Florals website

Meadow Farm Florals insta

Meadow Farm Florals Grow Together Program

Steel Pony Farm

Photo Cred – Karmen Meyer Photography

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