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Flower farmer balancing business with field work

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 11:12 PDT, Wed July 29, 2020

Rose Dykstra was always drawn to flowers. So four years ago, she left her job as a wedding photographer to become a flower farmer.

“After being a wedding photographer for 10 years, photographing the flowers was a beautiful break in an otherwise chaotic day. That was where my interest in flowers really peaked,” says Dykstra. “Flowers are so incredibly important to feed the heart, and they also do double duty in providing food and habitat for all sorts of critters.”

The first summer, she grew flowers in three yards. Now, she grows on five sites—including one in Richmond—that total around one acre. 

Dykstra found her Richmond site through the Young Agrarians blog. Because she knew the previous farmer, the paperwork side of things was fairly straightforward.

But finding land isn’t the only consideration for new farmers.

“There are many moving parts involved, and some of them can be pretty expensive like a tractor, a walk in cooler and greenhouses for season extension,” she says.

As a self-employed wedding photographer, Dykstra had already been working nine to 10 hour days on weekends, as well as eight to nine hour days on weekdays. But the lifestyle change to farming was “a bit more chaotic.”

“Starting a new farm on your own—without any help, or infrastructure, or cash to purchase machines—it has always been long days, six to seven days a week for months on end,” says Dykstra.

The balance between business and physical labour also makes for extra work.

“During the summer, there isn’t much time to have my head in the business, so I do most of that work in the winter,” says Dykstra. “The season is only seven to eight months long, and if the weather is bad that year, it could be even shorter—so I need to be pulling as much out of the fields as possible.”

Even during the farming season, she tries to take a few hours each week to work on business matters. And despite the long hours and frequently changing conditions, she keeps persevering.

“Each flower grower has their own plants that they just can’t seem to figure out or get a good crop out of, but we just keep trying.”

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