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How to start a backyard flower farm

With Three Birds Flower Farm

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to start a flower farm in your backyard? Well, prepare to be inspired, because we’ve just met two wonderful women (and sisters, too!) who have done just that.

On a rainy day in March, we drove to Muskoka to learn all about the journey of Jackie and Leslie Brunton, co-owners of Three Birds Flower Farm. Inside their log home (complete with wood stove), we found a warm haven for a friendly conversation, in a cozy contrast to the persistent drizzle and abundant snow outdoors.

A micro flower farm on two acres

Jackie and Leslie created Three Birds Flower Farm in 2021. Their goal? To supply the local flower industry with sustainable, pesticide-free and beautiful fresh flowers. And they’ve succeeded. In just one year, the Brunton sisters have turned the two acres of useable land on their property (their backyard) into a viable flower farm.

Micro flower farming is, Leslie explains, “high intensity planting on a small scale”. To illustrate that definition, on their farm Three Birds grows 120+ varieties of flowers. The varieties range from bulbs and annuals to biennials and perennials, grown in beds, totes, containers and two small greenhouses. In other words, Three Birds is quite an amazing backyard flower farm.

From landscape gardening to flower farming

Together, the women of Three Birds have 28 years of experience in landscape gardening. They’ve found that this experience is undeniably beneficial in their flower farming venture. There’s no question that the transition from landscaping to flower farming involved many challenges. But it helped, they say, that they’re already quite accustomed to outdoor work, and landscaping’s long, hard days.

Pesticide-free flower farming

Jackie and Leslie grow their flowers sustainably, without the use of pesticides. As a result, the flowers attract pollinators and birds, and Three Birds’ farming practices have a positive effect on their local ecosystem. For instance, during the growing season, they leave flower heads on plants longer than “normal”. In effect, this practice gives birds more opportunity to feast on seeds — and provides an even greater benefit to their environment.

A short growing season

Three Birds is located in a relatively northerly region (Zone 4B). Because this zone has long cold winters and a short growing season, much of Three Birds’ season begins indoors, to give the farm a running start. As a result, despite the challenges the brief season presents, the farm grows a genuine rainbow of seasonal flowers. And as a consequence, these flowers are already much-loved for events, weddings and other special occasions in the Muskoka region and beyond.

Sustainable expansion

This year, Three Birds will expand its eco-friendly enterprise onto a nearby property, the sixth-generation Brooklands Farm. Since the owners have also dedicated Brooklands to environmentally conscious farming, the earthly collaboration is a well-made match. As Jackie says, “they loved the practices we’re using, and they wanted somebody who could sustainably grow on their land.”

Sisters and business partners

What’s it like for the sisters to work together day after day? (It should be noted that their two families also live together — in one large, but not enormous, house.) “We’ve been fighting and making up for 32 years,” says Leslie, smiling. And Jackie agrees. “We can tell each other what we really think and not be worried all the time about the words we use, because we’re sisters and we love each other.”

Stay tuned for our summer episode

We’re so grateful to have met the Brunton sisters to learn about their astounding backyard flower farm. We can’t wait to return! (Stay tuned for our summer follow-up episode, bound to be filled to the absolute brim with gorgeous flowers…)

yellow petaled flower by elias sorey unsplash

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