I’m taking a little break from France-related stuff to switch gears and write about a great visit I had recently here in the SF area. I love living here because I am surrounded by people who are conscientious about the origins of their food and drink. However, another fresh product we might think a little less about is flowers. So many of the flowers we see in supermarkets and florists are shipped across vast distances and treated with harsh pesticides.
That’s why I was excited for the chance to visit Chica Bloom Farm, an organic flower farm founded in 2012 Ariana Reguzzoni and Lisa Murgatroyd. It’s located in Petaluma, only a stone’s throw away from SF. My friend Betany Coffland has been volunteering there for the past several months, and recently announced to me that she has been accepted as a partner (Don’t worry, opera fans, she is still singing and performing, too!)! I couldn’t be happier for her; I have noticed such an enormous change in her since she began working with flowers. She moves with a new sense of purpose and of commitment to the roughly 60 kinds of flowers she and her partners cultivate. She loves sharing her growing knowledge of farming—from flower arranging principles (“Use odd numbers of stems,”) to pest problems (cucumber beetles!) that come with managing an organic farm. I suppose that is the power of flowers. They bring joy just by existing.
We arranged a day where I could visit the farm with Betany. She needed to be there at 7am, though, so I drove out from the city the evening before and spent the night in Petaluma.
The farm has a bouquet CSA program in Petaluma (with plans to expand), and a good amount of Betany’s work the following morning included harvesting flowers, making bouquets, and delivering them to CSA clients. I, on the other hand, spent most of my time there that morning admiring the dizzying array of blossoms and trying my hand at making bouquets with as many of them as I could. All of the flowers were gathered before 9am, and then we got to work making posies. I think I went a bit crazy. There were just so many color possibilities! I ended up with three gorgeous bouquets. We finished off farm stand work by creating some mini bouquets for the farm stand store (located at the entrance to the farm, and yes, you can visit it!). Betany showed me that adding a drop of bleach to the vase really does help keep flowers longer, since it prevents bacteria growth in the water (This is something I have always wondered about. I’m so glad Betany explained the bleach tip to me.)
With that, my work was done, but Betany went off to share our day’s photos online, since she’s the social media maven of the group, attend to some other farm business, and practice her singing.
It was pretty impressive to see how many flowers this talented team (now consisting of Ariana, Betany, and Daniele Allion) can grow on only a ¼ acre of land. They haven’t even developed all of it yet, although that will happen. After all, the farm is only in its second year. You can get your hands on their beautiful blooms in downtown Petaluma at Paperwhite (119 Kentucky St., Petaluma, CA 94952), at the First Light Farmstand on weekends (4588 Bodega Ave., Petaluma, CA 94952), or by subscribing to their CSA program. For more information about any of this, you can check out their website, Facebook page, or email them directly. For the locally-minded, community-focused folks who are planning events, Chica Bloom Farm also will provide floral services on a limited basis. Contact them for more info.