The journey of a flower farmer

Hello there! Thank you for being curious about what a flower farmer’s journey may be! My name is Thanu, and I am about to start my second flower growing season with Farmers on 57th and couldn’t be more excited to get the seedlings in the soil. In the last few years, I have met amazing individuals who grow flowers in Vancouver, and every single farmer has such a different story of how they got there. Ultimately it was the realization that growing flowers fed our soul in a way that is indescribable, yet so fulfilling, and this is my journey of how I got here.

I first started growing flowers from seeds in Guelph, Ontario. A few of my friends had also caught the gardening bug, and we would spend hours nerding out in the winter about cool heirloom vegetables and flowers we can grow once the snow melts away. The most exciting part for me was that the entire growing process felt like a giant experiment that sparked my curiosity, and resulted in multi-coloured carrots, beets, and variegated zinnias. It was just so beautiful, and the visual result along with fast progress (~4 months) felt so satisfying. In between writing my MSc thesis, I would work from home, and take (frequent) breaks observing the new growth and the little critters that pollinated the garden. I was hooked.

When I moved to Vancouver to start a brand new adventure with my partner, I was sad to leave the growing space I had created behind. However, I soon found myself working with organizations that specialized in garden education for students and adults. In these moments, I was expecting to keep building on my success year after year, but all of a sudden I reached a point where I was so burnt out from work and another Master’s program, that I fell into a serious depression. I felt broken and started longing for my friends back in Ontario. It was one of the most confusing stages of my life and it lasted for months. I wasn’t sure whether I would ever feel hopeful again and felt scared about what I was ever going to amount to. So much education, but what did that even mean? Finally recognizing this is not me, I actively tried to get myself out of negative ruminating thoughts, and started art therapy. At the start of 2019 I made a new year’s resolution to spend more time with flowers, and cast those positive intentions out into the world.

As luck would have it, Jess who was the flower lead at Farmers on 57th and a friend through sustainable community programming, was planning on taking the year off and introduced me to Karen and the team. After discussing the opportunity with Karen and figuring out the layout for the year, I was given the chance to run it. Wow – what a sweet opportunity! I knew I could do it, but also had so many questions, and felt terrified and excited at the amount of responsibility. I have grown flowers that were sold as market bouquets before, but not for a weekly bouquet subscription where subscribers were expecting top quality florals from seasoned growers like Jess. With gentle guidance from Jess and Karen, and amazing support from Angeli and Fon57th volunteers, we were soon swimming in rows of dahlias, zinnias, snapdragons and sunflowers.

It was one of my favourite career highlights as I would visit the dahlia patch before sunset, and notice so many species of bumblebees sleeping in the flowers (they love apple blossom dahlias). The whole process of setting out an intention, and having it manifest in front of you as you take one step towards it after the other was a profound learning experience for me. It can be the smallest of gestures in the direction that you want to go towards, but by doing that one thing, it will lead to the next thing and the next, and eventually you may find yourself surrounded by a fabulous community of people, laughing and harvesting buckets of flowers on a Friday afternoon.

If you want to support our flower CSA or veggie CSA, CLICK HERE!

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