It’s hard to describe how lovely a flower farm in the fall makes you feel.
Sitting out in camping chairs directly between rows of exuberant dahlias and towering sunflowers, some at the zenith of their bloom and others that were slowly turning to seed, the air felt perfect. A light breeze blew, sunshine temporarily obscured by billowy clouds, and a rich earthy smell permeated the air after a much-needed rain. Meeting farmers out in their “office” continues to be one of my very favorite parts of this job.
Of course, fall weather isn’t always so accommodating so I was sure to count my blessings as I talked to Triple Wren farmer and co-owner Steve Pabody. Sarah, the other half of the equation, had work offsite but her presence was still felt – they are a powerhouse farm family.
Steve manages their blueberries and handles marketing, logistics, irrigation, construction, and landscaping for Triple Wren Flowers. He also cultivates honey and keeps an assortment of hives on the property. Sarah manages the flowers by planning crops, plantings and harvests, managing employees, and is the driving force behind the design branch of the business. She organizes their Flower Farmer Internship program and in 2014, she began offering retail design in Whatcom County. She also works with brides who want to DIY their wedding flowers in the greater Bellingham area and teaches farm workshops.
They’ve accomplished a lot since they’ve started (they are a Salmon Safe Certified Farm, a certified American Grown Flower Farm, part of the Slow Flower movement, and part of our Food to Bank on Program…among other things). What’s incredible though, is that they’ve only been at this for the last few years – though it took them a few tries to find their niche.
In 2009, Steve, Sarah and their baby Trey traveled west after Steve was offered a job. With Steve’s background in sales and Sara’s in teaching, they thought the area would be a perfect fit. Sarah has a masters in music education and an undergraduate degree in French, Steve says that she is probably one of the smartest people you’ll meet! Steve himself happens to be one of the most gregarious. They found that the job wasn’t the best fit, but a nearby friend did have an orchard he needed someone to manage, and just like that their journey to becoming farmers had started.
They started with vegetable growing, but like most new to the industry, they ended up with and underwhelming first crop, what Steve called the wimpiest carrots you’ve ever seen. At the same time, Sara was reading a number of books that challenged the mainstream U.S. floral industry, learning that 80% of the flowers sold are imported and that 70% of all flowers sold are through chains that mostly seek out the cheapest flowers possible.
It set a course in Sarah’s mind, and though Steve was initially skeptical, Sarah persuaded him to try their hand at flowers. They focused on quality rather than quantity and they sold every stem they grew that first year. Seeing that they were on to something, they shifted their farming focus.
They credit a number of industry professionals for helping to get them going including Lynn Byczynski the grandmother of organic flower farming and Erin Benzakein a local flower grower in Skagit County. It’s clear they have a knack for this though, in search of the perfect bloom and they grow truly gorgeous flowers. Café Au Lait Dahlias, vibrant trailing amaranth, bright zinnias, and so many more. They are passionate about working to change the floral industry, one stem at a time, because where you get your flowers from matters! For the health of our environment and our community.
In addition to flowers, they also have a u-pick blueberries during berry season and u-pick pumpkins starting October 7th. In fact, to kick off the fall harvest they are having a party out at the farm on October 7th with ACME Farms + Kitchen and Feast Food Truck with games, prizes, and lots of family fun.
It’s a great opportunity to meet this amazing farm family and enjoy your very own fall day out on one of our gorgeous flower farms! If you can’t make then you can always look for their flowers at grocery stores in our area like the Community Food Coop, and Whole Foods. They also encourage brides that are planning weddings for next season to get in touch now as they are booked fast!