2009 was my second year as a flower grower and it was just as difficult as the year before. Nich was back in good health for the most part so he was back to helping. The resession was really starting take hold in these parts, businesses were closing, the unemployment rate was skyrocketing, and people were scared to spend money even if they had it. Gas prices were through the roof, I was easily spending $100 per week just getting to and from the farm. I knew it would be a tough year but since we had seemingly hit rock bottom I figured the economy had nowhere to go but up. By the time we all recovered I would be a rock star at flower growing.
I had spent my free time that winter (which was not a lot) scouring the ASCFG bulletin board and reading back issues of GFM. I learned some good stuff and got a little jump on the season this year. I only planted about half of that little field but I was getting the hang of succession planting, I ordered lisianthus plugs, and started setting up an irrigation system. I think I even planted tulips that fall despite not having made any money. It was out mantra that year (and every year since) “gotta spend money to make money.” Though we were hesitant to spend too much money on anything permanent at Grandpa’s as it was understood that this was a temporary situation. We were trying to save for a farm but with no one buying my flowers I would not even come close to covering my expenses for that year let alone save anything.
I was still working at that job I hated and driving an hour to the farm. I had flowers for sale a little earlier that year and went to all sorts of farmers markets in the area. Not one of them turned out to be worthwhile, I don’t think I broke $100 at any of them. There were lots of days that I didn’t sell more than a couple of bouquets. This certainly was not going to be the way to make money. My floral designer friend from last year was buying more and I set my sights on selling to more florists. I got in with a few but was hesitant. I wasn’t sure what to charge or how to approach them or even what I would have from week to week. The last thing I wanted was to show up looking like some flakey hippie flower girl with no business sense. So I proceeded slowly with this plan.
In July our lease was up on that inconvenient attic apartment and we moved a little closer to the farm, only 35-40 minutes away. We also had a garage and I set my dad to building me a cooler with a coolbot. Sales weren’t great but I was starting to figure some things out. I was still on the verge of a meltdown by August, I was just so stressed out and tired. Then I lost my job. I sort of panicked, I hated that job but it had enabled me to start this business and it was the only reason I was able to continue. It turned out to be a blessing, jobs were nearly impossible to find so I was able to collect unemployment all winter and just plan, plan, plan.
I went back to that ASCFG confernce that fall with much the same result. A lot was over my head or things that required a more permanent land situation than I currently had. I really needed to find a more permanent land situation if this whole thing was going to work out. I just knew it. I filed some thoughts away for the future and picked up some good tips, reconnected with old friends and met some new ones. And then a much needed mini vacation in New York.
To be honest I don’t remember a lot about that year. It is sort of hazy for me. The newness of the situation had worn off and nothing very remarkable happened. The one thing that I do recall is that I was really enjoying getting to know my grandparents as an adult. I had been away for most of my adult life until now and only saw them a few times a year. But here I was visiting with them four or five times a week. During that summer I know that I would get frustrated, I was so short on time and somedays I just wanted to get out there and get to work. Now, looking back, I would not trade those moments for anything, that may have been the best part about that whole year.