Imagine spending spring, summer and fall surrounded by gorgeous fresh flowers, with bright bouquets cheering your office and jaunty little posies on your nightstand. It sounds like a luxury, but it’s merely a CSA subscription from a flower farmer—and it’s one of the most affordable ways to buy flowers.
What are CSA flowers?
A CSA or community-supported agriculture subscription is much more than a flower service. It represents a relationship between you and a farmer. You are committed to supporting a flower farm throughout the growing season and your seasonal subscription fee allows the farmer to launch their season with start-up capital in hand. “The CSA model is essentially an investment in a farm, where the farm repays you with their crop,” says Sarah Macalpine of Two Birds One Stone Farm in Hall’s Harbour, N.S. “We don’t take this trust in us lightly and we go out of our way to make sure our subscribers get the best of the season.”
What do I get with my bouquet subscription—and how much does it cost?
Your partnership can range from three weeks to six months. You might enjoy a few weeks of tulips in spring, biweekly offerings in summer, or even weekly bouquets from early May to late October. Bouquets often come wrapped in pretty paper, which is especially nice for gift giving. Costs vary, but average about $30 a bouquet.
Related: How To Make A Stunning Bouquet On A Budget
Regardless of your choice, you’ll be blown away by the quality of the flowers—and the variety. Rebecca Herfst from Petals & Stems Flower Farm in Chilliwack, B.C., says that even small farms can offer a full range of blooms. “I grow over 30 varieties. That includes bulbs, annuals, corms, and perennials,” she says.” A few things we will be harvesting this year are tulips, ranunculus, peonies, sunflowers, snapdragons, lisianthus, eucalyptus, stock, larkspur, and cosmos.”
Over at Just Another Weed Patch Farm on B.C.’s Gabriola Island, offerings include unique seed pods like poppies, nigella, hop buds, and echinacea centres as well as love in a puff and Chinese paper lanterns, according to owner Sonja Zupanee.
“We grow about 100 varieties altogether,” says Alix Tabet, co-owner of Larkspur Farm in L’Ange-Gardien, Que. “I think that it tends to surprise people that we can grow so many different varieties and flowers on a small scale.”
How many months of the year can you get flowers?
If you think Canada has a limited growing season, think again. At Just Another Weed Patch, the growing season starts with pussy willows, narcissus and tulips in April, and ends with rudbeckia, dahlias, zinnias, hydrangeas in September.
In the spring, Two Birds One Stone subscribers will receive lots of fancy tulips and other flowering bulbs. “As the season progresses,” notes Macalpine, “we get into perennials like columbine, peonies, lupins, iris and alliums.” Summer brings an abundance of annuals, including snapdragons, stock flowers, strawflowers, zinnias, cosmos, foxglove and lisianthus, while fall is “all about the dahlias.”
With that variety comes durable, diverse bouquets. Meagan Warren runs Wilding Acres Flower Farm with her 10-year-old son Jax in Kemptville, Ont. She loves creating bouquets for her subscription service because freshness is on her side. Dahlias, for instance, have a relatively short bloom time, but she feels confident tucking them into arrangements because she doesn’t have to consider how long they might spend in transport or storage.
“We grow heritage varieties that don’t ship well in airplanes but last a long time in a vase,” echoes Zupanec.
What about pick-your-own flowers?
At Janet Tuenschel’s Country Cut Flowers, located just outside Newmarket, Ont., CSA customers know they’re getting the freshest possible flowers by picking them themselves. “Most of my CSA subscriptions are pick-your-own, and the customers get to know what they’re doing throughout the summer, so it becomes pretty easy—we hand them their jar or bucket and off they go,” she says. “I love seeing the vastly different flowers that each customer picks.”
How a CSA flower subscription helps birds and pollinators
The benefits of a CSA subscription go well beyond long-lasting, memorable bouquets: Supporting your local flower farm means far less fossil fuels are used to transport your blooms, and the farms also benefit the local ecosystem. “Our flower field is home to an abundance of pollinators, birds, toads and plenty of insects,” says Tabet. “With so many unique varieties, it is also one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and natural spaces on the farm.” Another bonus: Many flower farms also tend to avoid using pesticides on their crops.
A flower CSA subscription is lovely whether you’re keeping it for yourself or giving it as a gift. “CSAs are truly the gift that keeps on giving,” says Macalpine. “Receiving locally grown flowers is a really great way to be present in the season and to enjoy the beauty they bring.