Our Journey With Dried Flowers
- Sep 21, 2022
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Hi y’all, Harleigh here! Our dried flower journey started out several years ago as nothing more than a grand experiment. As the end of the fresh flower season drew near, we started thinking about ways to use excess fresh flowers rather than hauling them to the compost as well as developing a product that could be profitable throughout the winter months. We realized that drying flowers was the answer! Here's how our dried flower program has grown over the past four years.
Year 1: Our reconstruction-era bank barn was in pretty rough condition, but we decided it would be the perfect place to experiment with drying flowers. It was dark and dusty, there were numerous holes in the floor, and generations of junk (including a petrified cat) were piled high in each of the side bays. We strung several lines of string between the four main pillars in the center of the barn and just as the first frost was approaching, we hung a couple of random bunches of whatever crops we had left in the field, just to see if they would dry. Among the first to be tested were marigolds, celosia, and amaranth. Then, (like most great experiments), we shut the barn doors and forgot about all those hanging bunches until the weather warmed up in the spring and we felt the need to open that old barn back up. Much to our amazement, many of the flowers we had hung were still there. They were dry, of course, but still colorful and quite beautiful. We never used any of that first round of dried flowers for products, but we quickly decided that we were on to something with that barn and should give it another go.
Year 2: We spent the whole summer cleaning out the barn (we even had a yard sale to try and get rid of some of the junk) and had a local construction company fix the floors so that we could at least use the space we had. The farm crew ran lines (this time we opted for sturdier baler’s twine) between each of the main pillars as well as all along the walls of the barn. One of our crew had a thing for ladders, so hanging bunched flowers began at the floor and went over ten feet up in evenly spaced horizontal rows. We still had no direction, no end goal, and didn’t really know anything about drying flowers, but the fact that it could be done kept us packing that barn full of late-summer harvest. When the walls were full, we tried to create more space by pouring concrete around a metal T-post in a five-gallon bucket and stringing lines between two of those “dead men” as one of the crew called them. By the time the frost rolled around, that barn was nearly bursting at the seams with a season’s worth of dried flowers. That year, we made our first dried bouquets to sell at our annual Holiday Market, and Jess spent hours crafting willow wreaths adorned with dried flowers (As a side note, I found some of those first dried wreath just the other day and though they had gotten a bit beat up, the flowers themselves still looked beautiful.)
Year 3: By year three, we realized that if we were going to continue to dry flowers and turn a profit from dried flowers, some sort of a system would have to be created. This year, we would limit our drying space to the left wing of the barn and rotate fresh and dried flowers hanging on the walls. We learned that most varieties dry in 2 to 3 weeks, so every time a crop was dry we would pull those bunches down, wrap them in newsprint, and box them up. In October, we jumped back into making dried bouquets and added several other crafty things to the line up. Jess sent a video of someone making a dried flower wreath the same way a greenery wreath gets made to one of our crew, who spent a few hours watching, learning, and trying it for ourselves. After that, the Crop Circle Wreath was born and production was soon in full swing. We hosted our Holiday Market in the drying barn for the first time, and were even featured in a book about creative floral spaces called “Where We Bloom”.
Year 4: We figured out a system for drying flowers that worked, and spent this year tweaking it so that it works even better. A huge push for data collection across all aspects of the farm has made each of our processes much more calculated and streamlined. For example, we used last year’s sales to come up with numbers for products that need to be made and keep track of quantities kept in inventory. The barn itself is a much more usable workspace, as it got renovated again (more support was added to the old beams underneath the floor, the floor was completely recovered and painted a lovely shade of “vintage claret”, and we had an electrician add lights and outlets). We also began experimenting with other methods of drying flowers including using a dehydrator and pressing flowers.
That pretty much sums it up! We're really proud of how far our dried flowers have come since their *very* humble beginnings. If you want to experience some of this everlasting floral beauty for yourself, check out our dried bouquets, wreaths, and more here!