US (MT): Flower farms proliferate across Flathead Valley

From tiny backyards to wide-open farms, a local flower movement is taking root. "It's all about using flowers grown locally and seasonally," said April Vomfell, who started one of the first flower farms in the Flathead Valley, Montana.

She launched Flathead Farmworks in Kalispell in 2015. Inspired by the movement around locally sourced foods, Vomfell started cultivating vegetables and plants in her backyard. During her first few years, she noticed plenty of enthusiasm for sustainable food raised close to home. But she didn't see many options for products that aren't edible.

She created Flathead Farmworks to fill a gap left over by gardens, nurseries and corporate floral businesses. At flower farms like hers, a small team hand-plants and hand-picks a special selection of flowers. Weddings, florists and members of a Community Supported Agriculture program make up a lot of the usual customers.

The business model started to germinate over the past few years, but the Covid-19 pandemic turned it into a full-fledged industry. "People see it and go 'I could do that,'" Vomfell said.

Vomfell works on a half-acre plot tucked innocuously behind her Kalispell home. The garden is an explosion of life and color, although it's barely noticeable from beyond the gate. A rainbow of dahlias, zinnias and sunflowers seems ready to burst out of the tight rows that keep them contained behind Vomfell's wooden fence.

Every day, Vomfell commutes a few steps from her house to her compact garden or the nearby greenhouse. When she's not in the yard, Vomfell is usually planning out seed schedules, arranging bouquets or making deliveries. Two part-time employees help out in the busy summer months.

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