After a fruitless search for a place to start her flower farm, Rebecca Sadlowski got the call in March of 2019 that a nearly 6-acre plot of land in Feeding Hills was available.
Soon after, the adventure of turning an overgrown property into the business known as Rooted Flowers was underway.
2022 marks the farm’s third year of growing and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan visited this field-to-vase flower farm to bring us the story.
In a digital exclusive, owner Rebecca Sadlowski talks about her quest to find a good patch of farmland to transform into a family-run flower farm.
Read the full transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: After a fruitless search for a place to start her flower farm, Rebecca Sadlowski got the call in March of 2019 that a nearly six-acre plot of land in Feeding Hills was available. Soon after, the adventure of turning an overgrown property into the business known as Rooted Flowers was underway.
2022 marks their third year of growing and Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan visited this field-to-vase flower farm to bring us the story.
Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: Not too long ago, this home on the corner of Shoemaker Lane on Silver Street in Agawam was surrounded by so many old dying trees that it was barely visible from the street.
This trailer for an 18-wheeler, which now serves as a storage unit, was once sitting on a lot waiting to be demolished. This unit here, which now keeps flowers cool and fresh was the back end of a seafood refrigerator truck.
It also wasn’t too long ago that the idea of turning that which was deemed unusable into functioning cogs in the greater farming operation known as Rooted Flowers, was just a sketch on a notepad. Here it is.
This whole trailer is just one example of several reclamation projects here on the farm. But before they cleared this land out of all its gnarly brush, dead wood, and smelly mud, this place was a breeding ground for ticks and mosquitoes.
So really, the entire six-acre property is one giant reclamation project. But even with the property cleared and ready for farming, there was still one revision to be made and it involved the business plan.
Rebecca Sadlowski, Rooted Flowers Farm: When I started to grow cut flowers, I thought, “I have to sell these to florists. I can’t create a finished product that they’re going to want to buy.” But they kept asking me for finished products, like bouquets and centerpieces and this and that.
So, my mindset changed, “Well, why can’t we do that?” We’re growing the product. I just have to learn design or learn how to create things that are pleasing to the eye.
So, I did some self teaching, I went to a few classes, and then that’s what ended up happening. We became a cut flower farm that grew for events and then during the pandemic became, essentially, a florist.
Brian Sullivan: The start-to-finish aspect of this operation has its perks as well as its detractors. On the one hand, they can really only grow what’s in season. The flip side is that their yield is always fresh and has zero travel time, and that’s something most people don’t even think of when they pick some up at the store.
Rebecca Sadlowski: They’re coming from everywhere and these flowers are traveling for quite some time, sometimes one week to up to two weeks from harvest to when the stems getting put into a vase.
So, we’re taking all that out, including the packaging that might be involved with it, the carbon footprint that might be involved with it. We’re field-to-vase.
Brian Sullivan: Trying to find those vases? Customers need look no further than the shipping container at the head of the property.
Again, this was the repurposing of an object that in turn became a permanent solution to what was, at the time, a temporary problem.
Rebecca Sadlowski: The initial notion with that was we need a unit that one, we can sell out of, because we didn’t have any storefront space. And then, we also needed something in the winter months that we could potentially store stuff in, because we didn’t have that either — our packaging goods, paper products, cardboard, things like that.
So, when we brought on the sea container, it was like late summer – fall. We ran the farmstand out of that and then we said, “Okay, we’re going to use the rest of it throughout the year for storage.” And now it’s just become a full-time farmstand.
Brian Sullivan: Rebecca Sadowski is a case study in someone following her passion and letting it guide her success. This one-time dental hygienist who used to sell flowers on the side of the road in her spare time when she wasn’t putting her hands into people’s mouths, has now made digging her hands into the dirt a full time endeavor.
And it’s because she knows that flowers are a tangible object with so many intangible and desirable qualities.
Rebecca Sadlowski: It’s an experience, I think. And I am so passionate about that experience, that connection, that local connection. And flowers, especially, they bring us a place in time. You remember those special people looking back and moving forward.
I’ve always considered flowers, really one of the most genuine gifts. And it’s just been a joy to to produce such a thing that we can share with our community.