We didn’t set out to be flower farmers. In fact, the story of how we came to our farm starts with a fire. We had a fire on Friday the 13th of December, 2019, and were displaced from our home. It was shortly after this that we bought the little farm we call home today. Very soon after that Covid hit, and we were sequestered even more t
We didn’t set out to be flower farmers. In fact, the story of how we came to our farm starts with a fire. We had a fire on Friday the 13th of December, 2019, and were displaced from our home. It was shortly after this that we bought the little farm we call home today. Very soon after that Covid hit, and we were sequestered even more than ever on our little farm.
As serendipity would have it, we came across the idea of flower farming. The Slow Flowers movement is following in the footsteps of the Slow Food movement. Farm to table. No chemicals. Minimal, thoughtful tillage, to preserve the biodiversity of living soil. No planes, trains, and large trucks to ship flowers thousands of miles.
Both Deb and Joel have careers in healthcare off the farm, but are fortunate to have the flexibility to split their time between the two. We find this is also a healing space for us and visitors alike.
Deb grew up on a small family farm in the area of the driftless region known as the Whitewater Valley. Her grandparents, Greg and Rosalie (Gage) Majerus grew up on traditional homestead farms with cattle, chickens, horses, and hogs, growing hay and lots of their own produce. By the time Deb was born, they had established a turkey farm, but still had a few cattle, hogs, and a big garden.
Deb witnessed the transition at home and around the country from the small family farm to the mega-farms full of chemicals and empty of diversity. Unbeknownst to her at the time, U.S. flower farms were shuttering their doors as overseas flowers could be grown and flown in cheaper, full of chemicals, devoid of fragrance and variety.
Farming in this country is changing again. Large and small farms are starting to implement more sustainable, regenerative practices, with more diversity, fewer chemicals, water conservation, etc. Flower farms are returning to the US, many of them micro-farms at this time, but it is a step in the right direction.
Joel grew up in Rochester, and used to live just down the street from where the farm is located now. Deb’s family moved to Rochester and Joel and Deb dated for a time in high school at local John Marshall High. But then Joel went off to play college football, and Deb went off to many, MANY years of school. Joel disappeared into the wilds of Alaska, before there were such things as Facebook. But, fate again stepped in and reunited them some 25 years later. Now they have a blended family, with Fiona in grad school, Owen adulting, and Klaus finishing up high school.
There is a beautiful, wordless book called “The Flower Man” by Mark Ludy. I bought this book when I was pregnant with my son years ago. In it, the artwork starts black and white. When the Flower Man moves in, he grows a garden and gives away a flower to a little girl, and color enters their world. And that beautiful act propagates and spreads joy and color to the entire community in the end.
We are a little 6-acre island of country around which the city has grown, with a busy road on one side, a paved walking path along the other, a large park, apartments, and houses all around. We want to create a place of beauty and sanctuary, and spread joy to our community.
Who’s your farmer?
We were sitting on our deck brainstorming, trying to think of a name that would encapsulate both of us, Joel and Deb, and the masculine and feminine within us both. Something a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. Think Led Zeppelin, and Steel Magnolias. We were feeling a bit vulnerable after the fire and pandemic, and yet r
We were sitting on our deck brainstorming, trying to think of a name that would encapsulate both of us, Joel and Deb, and the masculine and feminine within us both. Something a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. Think Led Zeppelin, and Steel Magnolias. We were feeling a bit vulnerable after the fire and pandemic, and yet resilient and strong. Superimpose on this moment that my work family had just given me a beautiful outdoor artwork of metal butterflies of all different colors, as I have always had a special affinity for butterflies. And it just came to us, Iron Butterfly Flower Farm!
Immediately Joel started telling me about the band. A Google search also quickly turns up poetry and feminist writings, as well as military operations of the same name, among other things. There’s also a flower called Iron Butterfly, which grows in our zone, and blooms around our anniversary date, which we have of course planted! As we delved deeper into the connections between the name and our vision, we also learned that the popular song by Iron Butterfly, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, is actually an iteration of the phrase In the Garden of Eden. It seemed meant to be.
I soon after wrote this poem, not so much about our garden per se, but where we were at in life at that moment. House fire, pandemic, fear, hope.
I am the iron butterfly
Forged in the fire
Blood, sweat, and tears
See me for who I really am
Not what you assume me to be
I am strong
I am fierce
But I will not crawl on my belly any longer
I will meet my brothers and sisters in the garden
Where hope blossoms
And we will travel across continents on the winds of change
Spreading it like pollen
I am the iron butterfly.