On the eve of retiring after 16 years as cut flower farmers in Loudoun County, Barbara Lamborne and her husband Dennis Fuze say they are ready for their next phase in life. “It’s time,” Lamborne said. “16 years of working this hard is enough and I’m ready to have more fun and explore new places.”
The award-winning Greenstone Fields flower farm on John Wolford Road in Wheatland, seven miles north of Purcellville, originally started as a berry farm. But they were approached with an idea to grow flowers by Andy Hankins, a Virginia Extension specialist who helped farmers thrive and become more profitable.
Their mission has always been to focus on supporting the local farming movement by using sustainable agricultural practices.
“When I first got started — and I learned that 80% of the cut flowers that people in the U.S. were buying were actually imported — I was shocked,” Lamborne said.
Aside from the rose-like lisianthus, which has been one of Greenstone’s signature flowers, they grow more than 100 varieties of cut flowers such as ranunculus, sunflowers, peonies, lemon verbena, eucalyptus, dusty miller, dahlias, hydrangea, allium, campanula, stock, delphinium and much more. “We try to have what grows well and what people love,” Lamborne said.
Over the years, the cut flower business has exploded in Loudoun County, especially recently, she said. “When I started growing, there were maybe two flower farmers in Loudoun County. Now there are at least a dozen. And all of us growers are working hard to raise awareness of local flowers and to work at taking back that 80%,” she said.
“We plant extras of certain flowers because we know the bees need them. All of our plantings are mulched with mulch hay for weed control but also to maintain soil moisture, conserve water and increase organic matter,” Lamborne said. “Our first line of defense against harmful insects is the use of barriers. We use row cover over beds of impacted plantings or secure nylon organza bags over Dahlia blooms to keep out the cucumber beetles. If absolutely necessary, we carefully apply organically-certified fungicides and herbicides. At the end of every season, we transport all the necessary farming plastic that we can’t reuse to a coveted recycler in Pennsylvania who converts it to salable products.”
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