By Jessica Ballard

As I am writing this post, snow is gently falling outside my window. It seems a bit ironic to be writing about flowers right now, but  I just can’t stop thinking about them as we plan our spring and summer gardens. When I began working at GreenHouse17 four years ago, we wanted to grow a garden to create access to fresh produce and integrate nature-based programming into our services. With  amazing support and expertise of our Grow Appalachia friends, we did just that.

And we still do that! The vegetables and herbs we grow on our farm are used in our emergency shelter for healthy meal preparation. We sell some of our harvest to the public too. People really like our tomatoes and peppers and sweet potatoes…

Over the past couple of years as we’ve experimented with different markets, we’ve  found people really love the flowers we grow on the farm too.

Survivors, staff, and the community connect to the flowers. I think maybe it’s because flowers offer something special. Flowers symbolize beauty, gratitude, devotion, love and wonder (and sometimes so much more.)  Flowers  are almost always given as a gift or as an offering with intention. We share them during times of celebration, sadness, ritual and prayer. There seems to be something about flowers that just makes us feel better.

Our flowers help us tell our organization’s story in a very simple way.

That’s why we’re ramping up our flower production and marketing efforts this year. We’ve already sold some weekly summer flower CSAs! And  we’re starting to receive calls about purchasing our flowers for weddings and commitment ceremonies in the spring. Flowers are a perfect demonstration of the immense beauty and grace that can bloom from hard work, patience, and love.

Hard work, patience, and love.  That’s just what we’re wishing for each and every one of you as we begin a new year of growing together.