What does a bouquet of flowers mean to you? ‘I love you,’ ‘congratulations,’ maybe ‘thank you.’ For Dana Vargo, owner of Flowers From The Farm, flowers instill a sense of inner peace and make her smile. A bouquet of flowers can mean so many different things to different people.
“People of all walks of life come to my booth. From a retired marine taking flowers for a special dinner to a 20 something buying flowers for their mother,” Dana said.
Dana sets up her bouquets for sale at the Asbury Fresh Farmers Market every Sunday and uses that opportunity to get to know the different people buying flowers.
“Many locals buy them weekly and tourists buy them to say thank you to a host or take them for a journey back home. My customers are drawn to the wide array of flowers I offer and respect flowers that are locally grown without the use of harmful chemicals.”
Avoiding chemical covered floral arrangments is a lot more difficult than you’d think.
A Budding Problem
Most of the flowers bought in the U.S. are shipped in from other countries and most are filled with pesticides… oh, and growth hormones and non organic fertilizers.
“What we bring into our homes is as important as what we put in our bodies,” said Dana. “There is a large movement within the U.S. to grow our own flowers, while not all flower farmers are organic, more and more are moving closer to it.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 80 percent of all flowers sold in the U.S. are imported, primarily from south American industrial flower farms that (no surprise) use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, not to mention unfair labor practices, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
While not completely certified organic, Dana follows her own code of ethics. Dana adheres to organic methods when growing her flowers are grown without the use of harmful chemicals or hormones.
“I grow them with organic practices because it is good for the earth, the environment in general and for me and my clients. We don’t need to import our flowers as they can and should be grown within the 50 states,” Dana assured.
Dana worked in corporate America since she graduated college, but it wasn’t until practicing yoga consistently for several years that her outlook on life started to change. Refocusing the successful wave of her past with an alternative path was what Dana needed. Farming gave her the response she was looking for.
“I began looking for something more fulfilling and kept saying I wanted to do something of the earth. I did not know what that meant, until four years ago when I was driving to work that it just hit me that I should be a flower farmer.”
With the help of an incredibly supportive husband there was no stopping her. In July of 2015 Dana quit her job running an insurance agency and began concentrating all her energy on flowers.
“I believe the seed was planted (laughs) back when I was married in California wine country and was fortunate to have a local flower farmer provide the wedding flowers,” Dana reminisced. “That along with the fact that seasonally I have always bought flowers from local farm stands.”
A Blooming Business
Creating a successful business is tedious, but Dana thinks it’s worth the sacrifice.
“Since the start this has brought me a sense of peace and excitement all at the same time. Yes it gets overwhelming and is hard work, but helping to create something that brings such joy is beyond words,” Dana smiled.
Flowers have a natural capacity to cheer people up and cheer up life. A business model surrounding that premise seems pretty air tight.
“Life changes so fast and to be able to slow it down a little and observe others enjoy the pure beauty of nature is something not to be taken for granted,” said.
Dana’s optimism and positive attitude is pushing her business to new heights. She offers a seasonal CSA starting in June, participates in Asbury and Belmar Fresh. You can also find Flowers From The Farm at Calgo Gardens, a local garden and landscaping shop located on Adelphia Road in Howell, NJ.
Although Dana is only in her 2nd year, her mind is focused on growth and direction.
“I can take various paths and I am still discovering which ones they are,” Dana said. “I feel that opportunities are presented to you that may not have been part of the initial of changing vision, being open and recognizing when that happens is part of the process.”
Next time you stop to buy that special someone a floral reminder that you love them, think about some that are chemical free.