Trading finance for flowers

In 2012, Grace Lam was in New York City working as an equity sales trader. It was, as parents would say, a 'good job' and offered an enviable metropolitan lifestyle. Yet Lam felt something was wrong. "I was at the point in my life, working at my little cubicle trading desk," she says, "sort of thinking about what else I wanted to do with my life—and it wasn't looking at every day." For years she'd dreamt of doing nearly the opposite: running a vegetable farm.

So, when her company conducted layoffs, she moved back home to Massachusetts and joined the crew at an organic farm to learn more. Around the same time, one of her brothers, a designer at Winston Flowers, told her how hard it was to find good-cut blooms. "And it's true," she says, "because when they are shipped, from California or overseas, by the time they get to you, 20 percent of the box is mangled, and the blooms are ruined." It seemed there were plenty of small vegetable farms serving the Greater Boston area, but she didn't know a single local flower grower. "My mom always had a green thumb and grew vegetables and plants and flowers in the yard," she says, "so I went out there and tore up the grass and started planting flowers and selling them, and from there, the demand just grew and grew."

The business—named Fivefork Farms for the five Lam siblings who all help out, along with their parents—expanded quickly, moving into its current home, a 38-acre farm in Upton, in 2013. The Lams now have seven greenhouses and planting fields, all using organic, sustainable practices, and specialize in cut flowers, with some varieties that customers can't often find elsewhere, Lam says, like novelty tulips, narcissus, anemones, ranunculus, and hyacinths. But the focus is on dahlias and peonies. 


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