At Nature Supply Co, supporting our local farmers is something that is near and dear to our hearts. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing a small, but growing movement of farmers who specifically grow flowers. It is our hope that with this series, we can be an encouragement to their businesses and show our thanks for all that they give to their communities. We loved getting to know Stacy of Tiny Acre Farms and couldn't wait to share her story with our readers. We know you'll fall head over heels - check out her story below!
Tell us more about who you are, what you do and where you are located.
Smack dab in the middle of Des Moines, Iowa (and only a few hours away from our Nature Supply Co headquarters!), Tiny Acre Farms is an urban flower farm. Scattered across backyards throughout the Des Moines area, our urban farm grows local, sustainable cut flowers that reflect the season. From tulips to sweet peas, peonies to dahlias, and everything in between. We're starting small but mighty!
I’m Stacy; Owner, Operator and Jack of All Trades for Tiny Acre Farms. I grew up on a family farm just about an hour north of Des Moines. I left for college and thought I’d be a city slicker for life. But the older I get, the more I come to appreciate the slow presence of country life. So after a 10 year career in the online marketing world, I mustered up the courage to pursue my little dream. One that had been quietly nagging at me for years. I traded my keyboard in for garden gloves and launched Tiny, in the fall of 2016.
How did you get started? How long have you been farming? What was your career previously? Is farming your full-time income?
Looking back, the mission and vision for Tiny had been brewing in me for quite a while. I spent years in the marketing sector of the corporate world - on the career fast track. All the while I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me. I felt stuck in the muck in my cubicle. Definitely a square peg in a round hole. I was itching to get out. But I didn’t know what the “right fit” looked like. Starting my own thing felt incredibly terrifying, so I left for a gig in the startup space where I was a part of an amazing community of entrepreneurs. Watching them act in spite of their fear to bring their own gifts to the world was the catalyst for me to muster up the courage to bring my own creative vision to the world.
In the 7th grade, my Mom tried to start a tiny cut flower farm to help pay for the rising expenses of raising two teenage girls on a farmer’s income. I bopped all around those beds asking my mom endless questions. “What’s this one? Oooo what’s THAT one?” It turned out to be one of the most memorable summers of my childhood and I was hooked.
So once I made the decision to pursue my own thing, the flood gates opened. I started volunteering at Dogpatch Urban Gardens, an urban vegetable farm here in Des Moines. I tore up half my back yard and filled it with seeds and bulbs. That winter I read every book and listened to every podcast I could get my hands on while waiting for spring. Tiny Acre Farms was born!
Tell us more about the reasons behind why you do what you do.
When I was dreaming up my vision for this next phase of my life, I was sure about two things: 1. I wanted to spend more time outside in nature. 2. I wanted to help build connections within my community. We spend so much of our time staring at a computer screen or phone it feels as if we’ve almost forgotten how to really connect with our community and with nature. Neighborhood potlucks have been replaced with Facebook groups. Quilting groups with Pinterest boards. Well-loved recipe boxes with Google. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I’m a huge techy, but I think what I realized, at least for me, the connection is not the same. Something just gets lost along the way.
So while Tiny Acre Farms is making its way into the world as a flower farm, it’s really just the first phase of a much grander vision. I’m dreaming up big plans for how we hope to provide an escape to help us unplug and create experiences to help rebuild connection within our community.
What are some of the challenges and hardships you face as a farmer?
The biggest challenge for us is growing a consistent steady flow of blooms to keep up with the demands of my customers. I'm a new grower and am still learning the tricks of the trade. Figuring out how to time successions to ensure we always have a steady flow of the right blooms is an art and a challenge. This year I'll be partnering with other central Iowa flower farms to source more locally-grown flowers. This will hopefully help keep blooms in the hands of my customers while I continue to experiment and learn how to get a consistent flow of my own.
What are some of the positive rewards and benefits you have come across as a farmer?
The highlight of my week is delivery day. When I first added delivery to our offering I was a bit resistant. Quite honestly I didn’t think delivering flowers was the best use of my limited time. Boy was I wrong. It has turned out to be the best part of my week. I get to spend my Fridays celebrating birthdays, babies, new jobs, and anniversaries with my customers. I get to meet and chat with so many amazing people. Seeing their faces light up as they see the flowers helps me understand that this business is about so much more than flowers - it really is about building connection and spreading joy.
What are your goals for your farm? What is your vision, your hopes and dreams, for the future of farming?
One of our goals this season is to launch Des Moines’ first flower truck! We launched a Kickstarter campaign this past fall to fund the remodel and we’re knee deep in that project this off-season. I’m so excited to bring it to this community and see what happens!
Beyond that, as I mentioned before, while Tiny Acre Farms is making its way into the world as a flower farm, it’s really just the first phase of a much grander vision. In the next couple of years, we’re looking to purchase a farm within a 20 mile radius of Des Moines. The closer the better! I’ve got big plans to transition our flower farm into an escape for those looking to unplug and to create one-of-a-kind experiences to start to rebuild connection and bring back some of these traditions handed down from generation to generation. It’s going to be so fun, I just can’t wait!
Do you have any advice for those who are interested in farming?
Just start. Today. The best way to learn is by doing. Buy the books, listen to the podcasts, do your research, but DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT wait till you’ve “figured everything out” or you’ll be waiting forever. Buy some seeds. Plant them. Learn. You’re going to kill plants. It’s just a fact. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to make those things mean anything about you. Failure is just a part of the learning process. Take what you can from the experience and plant more seeds.
What are some of your favorite resources (books, podcasts, websites, organizations, etc)?
I’m a hugeBrene Brown fan.Daring Greatly,Rising Strong andBraving The Wilderness have had a significant impact on my life and my entrepreneurial journey. Anything bySeth Godin.Creativity, Inc. by Pixar’s Ed Catmull.
The Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein ofFloret is chock full of years of flower farming experience and has taken years off my learning curve. Erin is someone who’s really changing the landscape for flower farmers in the U.S. and her website is a great resource.
TheAssociation for Specialty Cut Flower Growers is an amazing resource and champion of flower farms all across the United States. I wouldn’t have gotten through my first year without the resources and connections they provide.
Just to warn you, I’m podcast obsessed. I’ve always got my headphones on while I’m working trying to learn as much as I can. So it’s hard for me to pick a favorite.Startup by Gimlet Media is great. Debbie Millman withDesign Matters is a sensational interviewer and always finds a way to bring the best nuggets out of her guests. Of courseSlow Flowers with Debra Prinzing is a must listen for any flower farmer. And I think every entrepreneur needs to listen to Seth Godin’sStartup School series. It’s required listening as far as I’m concerned.
You can find more information and follow Tiny Acre Farms here!
Instagram - http://instagram.com/tinyacrefarms
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/tinyacrefarms
Website - https://www.tinyacrefarms.com/
Have you checked out our newest farmer tee? Support Your Local Flower Farmer in our sweet blush or cream tee! Find them here!