The story of a Montreal flower farmer
Over the past year, gardenstead’s roving storyteller/filmmaker Joana Betzner has taken us to a permaculture home in Mexico, a rustic cabin in the mountains of Spain, and to an artist’s idyllic outdoor studio. So many adventures.
In her latest video story Joana takes us to a spot that’s a little closer to home (for us, anyway). We travel with her to visit Glenisla Fleurs, a micro flower farm just about an hour south of Montreal.
From dairy goat farming…
Jasmine Cyr and her partner, Jason Raymond Anderson, started Glenisla Farm eleven years ago. In their early years, they operated Glenisla solely as a dairy goat farm.
After several years of dairy goat farming, however, Jasmine and Jason realized they needed to create more income for their family.
They considered growing and selling vegetables, something that seemed like it should be a reasonable side operation for an agricultural setting.
But after some research, they came to recognize it would be difficult to make a lot of money growing vegetables. Jasmine and Jason knew they’d have to operate on a larger scale than was possible for their time or energy — and Jasmine has always maintained a full-time job outside the farm. They also didn’t have enough space on their farm for a large growing operation.
...to micro flower farming
Enter the flower business. Specifically, the micro flower farming business.
The farm had plenty of room to start a small flower farm. Jasmine had enough time to operate it. Plus, while they weren’t certain, they were pretty sure there would be a good market for selling her flowers.
The soil at the farm is heavy clay, and both Jasmine and Jason are always pressed for time. Which meant they decided they would mostly grow perennials. “From preparing beds, transplanting, weeding, staking plants that need it (like sweet peas), pinching, more weeding, fertilizing and so on, it’s never ending,” said Jasmine. Every year, they draw up a plan for how to work efficiently throughout their growing season, and their planning is paying off.
Beautiful flowers, glowing reviews
Jasmine started growing cut flowers in 2018, and began selling them to floral designers the following year. Her flowers were a hit with designers, drawing rave reviews from the outset. They had what Jasmine describes as a “wow” factor.
Like all farmer florists, Jasmine is always looking to grow more blooms for flower lovers. This year, she’s expanding her farm by adding even more flower varieties — she’s focusing on adding chrysanthemums to the types of flowers she offers.
Earth-friendly flower farming
The business of growing flowers on a smaller scale has helped Jasmine discover that using sustainable, earth-friendly growing methods saves her time and money. A lot of the material she needs to fertilize and maintain her flowers she can source locally. Jasmine uses goat manure from their own farm for fertilizer and as a soil amendment. Wood chips from a neighbouring farm are used as mulch.
Equally friendly to the earth, growing and selling local flowers creates a much smaller carbon footprint than importing flowers from faraway locations. As Jasmine says, “Imported flowers are not sustainable for our earth. Hopefully awareness about them can grow, so that everyone can enjoy beautiful blooms without the earth paying the price.”
Hard work, but worth it
There’s a lot of work in every flower stem Jasmine sells. From how and when to sow and propagate her plants, to ongoing care throughout the season and harvesting, packaging and delivery, she’s learned that there’s a lot to the flower growing business. But, “Every time I see our blooms in breathtaking flower arrangements, I think it was all worth it,” Jasmine said.
If you’d like to see some of Jasmine’s creations, check out her Instagram page and find out what’s blooming in her flower farm lately.