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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Need something special for Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13th? Because let’s be real, Mother’s Day isn’t just about Moms, it’s about all the special women in your life who have put up with all of your shennanigans for years. Here are some great gift ideas:

Pop-up Shop at Retrofit

Join us at a pop-up shop at Retrofit Culture
Saturday, May 12th | 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Retrofit Culture | 104 W. Washington, Bloomington, IL
We will be making custom flower arrangements, with your input, and selling bagged and living microgreens.

Purchase a Custom Arrangement

Purchase a custom arrangement that can be picked up on the farm or delivered just in time for Mother’s Day. Arrangements start at $45 and our anemones and ranunculus are mixed in with other beautiful spring blooms in a ceramic keepsake pot that can be reused to plant summer flowers in. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Arrangements can be purchased here. 

Take a Class

Bring your favorite bottle of wine and create a farm fresh flower centerpiece at Finding Eminence Farm. Even if you’ve never arranged flowers before, you will leave the class with the confidence to do it again on your own. Classes are still available in June and August – but seats are selling fast! Class tickets can be purchased here.

Three Years Old

It’s official. Finding Eminence Farm is three years old and we’re about to enter our fourth growing season. We are not the same people we were when we moved in. This business and land have changed us.

In 2015, we had a handful of seed packets, an 18 month old baby, a freshly bought farm, and a crazy idea that left our family and friends wondering what the hell we were thinking.

Fast forward three years and we have established peonies we will cut on in a few months (see past blog post about how I didn’t believe we’d ever be able to cut on them), a hoop house full of growing ranunculus and tulips, a 4 1/2 year old, an assload of seeds and plants, classes filling up, weddings booked, and our family and friends still wondering what the hell we’re doing.

Somehow we’re still here, somehow our marriage is still intact, and somehow we have a resilient kid who LOVES this farm.

The most baffling thing about our farm is the things that were textbook and should have worked did not. The things that were pipe dreams, weird, and should NOT have worked did. Here’s a list of things we’ve learned the past three years:

There is no manual on how to start a business in Illinois. There’s some pretty crummy and very vague advice online. But no one sits you down and tells you about 1099 forms, or how quickbooks works, or if you should be a DBA or LLC. We’ve paid out the nose to figure this garbage out.

Information on how to grow on our farm, with our soil, in our zone does not exist. And we have no desire to write that manual, but if you ask us a question, we’ll answer it as honestly as we possibly can.

Reach out to people, build relationships. Knock on doors virtually and physically. It’s been super surprising who is willing to open the door and who isn’t going to answer even though you know they can hear you knocking.

Visit other farms. We have learned SO MUCH VALUABLE INFORMATION about how a small farm should run by getting off our farm. And when you get to visit a farm – never show up empty handed, a small thank you gift needs to be in your hands.

We have no business acting there are “secrets to farming” or hiding growing information. The only secret we have (and it’s not a secret) is that we work hard, we work consistently, and we get back up when we’ve been knocked down or told “no”. We can tell you all about our drip irrigation, the thickness of landscape fabric we have, the types of organic pesticides we utilize, the size of our raised beds, or where we bought our BCS Tractor…we aren’t able to teach work ethic or determination. Successful farms run on a lot of sweaty ass, back breaking work by people who are blindly in love with what they are doing.

Opening up your life to strangers online is terrifying and requires stupid amounts of vulnerability. Doing close ups of my face with no makeup on in Instagram stories is not my favorite, but that’s how I look most days and I’m not going to sugar coat it when showing the behind the scenes of our business.

We have to take breaks from the farm. Spending time as a family off the farm, having dates as a married couple, and having fun are necessary in making sure we don’t lose ourselves. It’s easy to get sucked into the black hole of entrepreneurship. We have to be the best versions of ourselves to be good parents and a good team. Having a love-hate relationship with our business and farm is natural. Not all of life is rainbows and unicorns and nether is running a business. It’s also taken us awhile to learn that when winter comes, we hibernate and we rest. No exceptions. Period.

We have worked like dogs, made millions of mistakes, scored amazing clients, lost really big accounts, felt like failures, royally messed up our books, spent hours fixing our books, met other  kick-ass business owners, sobbed uncontrollably, and have laughed so hard until our sides hurt.  But most importantly, Chris and I get to work together. And Chris is the driver behind why we’re hard working and he pushes us to be better people and challenges me to always choose kindness. We will never do this farm perfectly, but damn it it’s an honor to try.

In a few weeks, we will replace the roof over the back half of our home and the front porch. It’s not really how we want to spend our money, but we knew what we were getting into when we bought a 100 year old farm house. The peony class we will teach in May only has one seat left. Spots are still available for our other two classes. Chris will be teaching a microgreen class at Green Top Grocery with his sister in a few weeks.

I leave this post with the most important thing I have learned: chase your damn dream. Life is too short not to. If you fail, who cares. It will be messy. But you tried and now you know. Time will still barrel forward. Wouldn’t you rather say “why not” than “what if”?

Images by Finding Eminence Farm,  Studio Fuze Photography, and Sara Gardner Photography

 

The Biggest Bang for Your Buck

Ah, the joys of planning a wedding, right? You have found a photographer, you’ve found a venue, you are thinking about what the wedding party will wear and now you’re down to the flowers. Before you reach out to any florist, here are some things to think about. Typically flowers account for 8-10% of your total wedding budget. So let’s get really honest about some things to consider to help stretch those flower dollars:

Have a smaller bridal party. 12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen? We know you love your squad, but that also means a bouquet and a boutonnière for each of those wonderful people, which increases your floral budget significantly. Reuse ceremony flowers. Skip the aisle markers
and go with a large alter arrangement or arbor that can be moved and reused at the reception.

Reuse bridesmaids’ bouquets. Don’t pay for additional arrangements for the head table. Get
beautiful vases, place the bridesmaids bouquets in them, call them centerpieces, and go dance the night away.

Reuse cocktail arrangements. Purchase small arrangements to go on the highboy tables at
the cocktail hour and have someone move the arrangements to the gift table, place card table, or
restrooms after the cocktails are over.

Sell your vases! When you purchase centerpieces from Finding Eminence Farm, you purchase the vase. Why? We don’t have a storefront, so we aren’t able to store these items or re-sell them in other avenues like most florists can. Also, styles and tastes are unique to each bride and we don’t believe you should be stuck with someone else’s vision. Sell your vases on Craig’s list, weddingrecycle.com, or tradesy.com to score extra cash to spend on your honeymoon! Win. win.

Don’t have a centerpiece on every table. This is especially important if you have a lot of wedding guests. 350 guests translates into about 35 tables and having a centerpiece on every table instantly makes your flower budget explode. Put a low, lush centerpiece on every other table and fill in the rest with groupings of bud vases or candles.

Pinterest can be misleading. We know, sweeping, lush greenery is beautiful; however, it’s
really expensive because you have to use a lot to make an impact.

Use Color. Big, impactful blooms like dahlias only require a few stems to make a statement. If your ceremony or reception is outside, garlands of greenery get lost against the greenery of grass and trees and that’s wasted money. Punch some color into it to get your money’s worth!

Photograph by Rachael Schirano Photography.

Microgreens are not Sprouts

It was announced yesterday that a salmonella outbreak has been linked to sprouts that were sold on sandwiches at Jimmy John’s.

Some consumers use the terms “sprouts” and “microgreens” interchangeably, but they are actually very different crops that are grown in very different ways.  At Finding Eminence Farm, we grow only micro greens, not sprouts. Since they are often so easily confused, we thought it was important to highlight the differences.  Even the Center for Disease Control posted on their facebook about this breaking news story about sprouts with an image of micro greens. Here are the main differences between micro greens and sprouts.

Sprouts:

  1. Sprouts are germinated in water. To prevent mold growth, they are rinsed one to two times per day
  2. Very little light and nutrition is needed for sprouts to grow
  3. They require high humidity to grow
  4. To ensure their safety, it is recommended that sprouts are cooked to prevent food borne illness since they are grown in dark, humid, and wet conditions (a perfect situation for icky stuff to grow)

Alfalfa sprouts from Johnny’s Seeds

Micro greens:

  1. Seeds germinate in peat moss or soil
  2. Plants require light and good air circulation, just like any other plants that are grown in- or outdoors
  3. The leaves and stems are eaten, but the seeds are not since they are in the soil

Three different varieties of microgreens grown at Finding Eminence Farm

On our farm, we compost our potting soil after each crop and then wash and sterilize our trays every week.  Seeds that are prone to fungal issues are soaked in a mixture of vinegar and food-grade hydrogen peroxide to prevent any possible issues before the seeds are sown.

If you really like sprouts, there are lots of countertop sprouting kits that you can purchase that would allow you to sprout seeds yourself and avoid buying from these mega producers.  We certainly wouldn’t recommend eating store-bought sprouts for the time being.  We’re jaded, but we think microgreens are better anyway.  We’ll just keep eating those on everything, and we’d encourage you to do the same.

You can purchase our microgreens at Green Top Grocery. Keep your eyes peeled for an announcement about Chris teaching a class at Green Top Grocery about microgreens too.

 

Frickin’ Freezin’

You guys. It has been SO COLD. And we have been cooooooped up.

But this is what we do this time of year. We rest and recover. We have to give ourselves grace because come June, ain’t nobody getting that 1:00 p.m. nap. So we have been reading all the books, doing all the yoga, walking on a treadmill in a creepy basement, and eating a crazy amount of Christmas cookies.

There are a few things I’d like to do better in the coming year. One of them is take better photos of us as a family. When we went to go put our Christmas card together, we realized only one photo existed of the three of us together. So the card got scrapped for the first time in seven years.

Read more damn books. Nothing exciting is happening on that phone of mine. I need to detach from it. Little Fires Everywhere and What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky were two great reads from this past year for me.

What are things that you’d like to do better this coming year?