Flower farms are blooming on the North Shore this spring
For the past few decades, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been a great way for people to enjoy seasonal treats grown locally by local farmers. Traditionally, people pay a subscription in advance – so farmers can manage their cash flow – in exchange for a weekly box of vegetables.
Now, we see floral CSAs, thanks to an abundance of floral farms that are blooming across the country, including several on the North Shore. The people who run these farms love growing flowers and want to share their colorful richness with you. Here are several locals offering CSAs.
Kinsman Farm Flowers
“We are known for tulips because we go for the dramatic types with talent,” says Marlene Pippins who, with her family, owns Kinsman Farm Flowers in Ipswich, which has been run solely as a CSA since 2021. not your typical varieties; we source specialty bulbs from Holland like the Apricot and Parrot and Rembrandt Silver Tulips which when opened are bigger than your palm.
Pippins, who one day works as a media officer, also grows – on his six-and-a-half-acre farm – nostalgic sweet peas and romantic peonies, followed by summer specialty snapdragons, Seashell Cosmos, giant zinnias, daisy asters, apricot, fragrant stock and designer dahlias, including showy plates. They all enter the farm’s CSA, which takes place from May to September. Pippins offers a monthly a la carte subscription for a weekly bouquet, available for pickup at the Kinsman Farm Flowers barn. The flowers are wrapped in eco-friendly brown paper with the farm logo and tied with a ribbon.
After graduating from Boston University, Pippins studied floral and landscape design at Essex North Shore Agriculture School. And she’s been gardening on the North Shore for more than 30 years, including volunteering at Beverly’s Long Hill and Ipswich’s Crane Estate, both run by the trustees. She is also a past president of the Essex County Garden Club.
“When you have a farm, you have to get up early,” says Pippins. “I love the morning light. It’s so beautiful and peaceful and the best time to harvest.
After years of working in biopharmacy in Boston and maintaining a community garden as a hobby, Kellie Dodd moved to Manchester-by-the-Sea in December 2020 to pursue her passion: growing flowers organically. to make a living. In February 2021, she completed Floret Flower Farm’s online workshop to learn how to start a cut flower garden and build a flower business. In April she started sowing and Posy Florals was born.
“I have a quarter acre in my backyard and recently got access to new land in Peabody which is just over three acres,” says Dodd, who consults side by side to make ends meet. “I have a large setup in my basement that can hold 64 flower apartments under lights, and that’s where I do all my sprouting and feeding. Then I move it all to my screened porch, which also serves as a greenhouse, to condition the plants before putting them out in the field.” Dodd grows about 100 different varieties of flowers, including exotic Madame Butterfly Snapdragons, Sumikos, Lisianthus, Cupcake Zinnias, Double and Parrot Tulips fancy, Italian buttercups, double anemones and fritillaries.This year, she planted delphiniums, larkspur and hellebores.
Dodd’s five-week Spring CSA begins in late May. Her seven-week summer begins in mid-July. She wraps her bouquets in compostable brown paper with eco-cool moisturizing wrap around the stems and makes them available at various pick-up points.
“Last year I had 30 CSA members and this year I will [accept] 40 for the summer CSA. Next year with the new plot, I hope to make the number of CSAs available even higher.
Maitlin Mountain Farm
Andy Varela and his wife, Holly Maitlin, own the two-and-a-half-acre Maitlin Mountain Farm, the only working farm in Salem. “We’ve been selling flowers for about a decade, but we did a flower CSA for the first time last year,” says Varela, who funds his love of flowers by selling 10,000 pounds of pickles a week that he and his wife make from vegetables from the farm. . “We are true advocates of agriculture and not just growing produce, but also flowers. It is very rewarding not only for the person engaged in the business, but also for the people who buy them. Keeping things local is so relevant and important to the personality of the North Shore.
The farm grows over 100 varieties of dahlias in dozens of colors, as well as snapdragons, bells of Ireland, delphiniums, and more. They all enter the farm’s 12-week CSA, which begins in July. “Our arrangements have a huge change in color, texture and floral variety from the beginning to the end of the season,” says Varela. The bouquets, placed in mason jars for curbside pickup at the farm, also contain funky seasonal additions like garlic flowers, Russian sage and amaranth.
Singing Creek Farm
Around 2017, Deb Coppola and her husband, Steve, started growing flowers as a business on their five-acre Singing Brook farm in Groveland. In 2018, she started her floral CSA. “We started very small with just a handful of friends, family and local people, and that grew exponentially over the last two years, especially in 2020 when people were looking for the happiness they could get. “, explains Coppola.
In addition to spring must-haves like double tulips, ranunculus, peonies, delphiniums and anemones, she grows summer flowers, including 50 varieties of dahlias, lisianthus, sunflowers, immortelles, zinnias and chrysanthemums. Its flowers enter its four-week spring CSA, a six-week spring-summer CSA starting in June, and a 12-week CSA, starting around the end of June and continuing through Labor Day. The bouquets, which contain aromatic herbs such as basil and dill, are wrapped in kraft paper and available at various pick-up points.
“I had a long career in human resources and also ran our family alarm business for many years, so this is a third career for me and by far the happiest,” Coppola says. “It’s so rewarding to dig in the dirt. I joke that I wear earth-toned nail polish in the summer!