7 Ways for Farmers to Market Flowers

Flowers are easy to grow in little space. Here are ways and places to market them, including farmers markets, weddings, restaurants and wholesale.

by Jesse Frost
PHOTO: Stevens Point Area CVB/Flickr

Flowers are an underrated market crop, and one that every market farmer should consider growing. For one, many flowers are easy to grow and require little fertility (often even thriving in poor soils). Some, such as zinnias and cosmos, grow fast and are prolific. Plus, you can grow a lot of flowers in a small amount of space. But, once you grow them, you have to sell them. So let’s dive into the many ways to move your flowers.

1. Prepared Bouquets

The farmers market is an ideal place to sell flowers, even if they’re not the main item at your booth. Flowers draw people in, so even having a handful of bouquets on the table can be a boon. Making bouquets look pretty is a bit of an art, and it takes some practice and study. Some people come to it better than others but anyone can learn. If you can get adroit with scissors, twine, garnish, color and stem selection, pre-made bouquets can be a profitable opportunity.

2. Arrange-Your-Own Bouquets

You can also sell bouquets that customers arrange themselves (or at least pick the flowers for). This usually involves bringing loads of flowers to market and letting customers pick their color scheme, preferred size and stems. You offer some guidance or even construct the bouquet, but some customers will love to put them together themselves. Of course, also consider having some pre-made arrangements for the flower lover on the go.

3. Wholesale

If you decide to grow a lot of flowers, you should probably find a wholesale outlet of sorts. You might have a flower distributor nearby, but I would start by asking around at your local florists and seeing whether they’re interested in local flowers and, if so, which ones. See whether you can grow something specific for them or whether they want to get certain types of flowers locally. Wholesale is often less money but more reliable sales. Proceed with caution here but don’t rule it out.

4. Weddings

Local flower arrangements for weddings can be highly lucrative but also very demanding. If you decide to go down this road, you must have patience and develop good skills with making large bouquets as well as boutonnieres and corsages. Weddings can also be difficult for less technical reasons as well: Color themes, wedding planners under pressure and nature don’t always cooperate with one another. But if you are up-front about these things and are selective about the weddings you provide for, weddings can be a great option.

5. Restaurants

Though they often hire a flower designer or arranger, higher-end restaurants (and some local cafes) interested in selling local food will almost definitely be interested in buying flowers, sometimes even on a weekly basis. If you already sell produce or meat to restaurants it’s worth asking if they would like some local arrangements. They might say yes or direct you to their flower person. Either way, if it’s food or flowers, restaurants are a reliable place to sell.

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6. Edible Flowers

Speaking of restaurants, there are many flowers grown as edibles (and many that are poisonous, so definitely learn the difference before marketing them as edible). Restaurants love to use them on salads and various dishes. These can be sold by volume (pints and quarts for instance) or by weight, but make sure to charge enough to cover the labor of picking the often tiny edible flowers.

7. A Flower CSA

A weekly bouquet for your shareholders? Why not? In the CSA model, customers pay up front and receive their flowers every week and get to enjoy the seasonality of flowers as they might vegetables or fruit. I don’t see this marketing opportunity employed enough, as the CSA model is such a farmer friendly way to sell perishable products.

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