We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Walker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have always loved flowers, and have added them to my yard and gardens. Living in Arizona, I wanted more color than what the native desert plants have to offer. I began researching what I might be able to grow here and pushing the envelope to see what I could get to grow that people told me would not grow here. I began to grow amazing flowers with much success. I would grow them and cut them to bring inside to enjoy. As I grew more and more beautiful flowers, I wanted to share them with others so I began taking them to friends. Then I started taking them to church to beautify our weekly women’s meeting and giving them to one of the women to take home afterwards. Pretty soon, one of my friends told me I should start selling bouquets. That thought was absurd to me. Afterall, these were just the flowers I grew in my backyard. As I thought about it, I realized that, yes, I really could sell my flowers. One day, I cut a few bucketfuls of flowers and drove down the street to a nearby florist. I nervously, and I’m sure very awkwardly, walked in and asked if they wanted to buy any of my flowers. They did! And I walked out with $94 in my pocket. I then knew that I could make a go of farming and selling flowers– even in the deserts of Arizona! Although growing and selling flowers is my main gig, I am also a Certified Master Gardener, educator, garden coach and consultant.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I grew up in a family that always had a summer vegetable garden. Every Saturday we had to weed, or snap beans, or shuck corn. And I hated gardening! As I grew older, I loved the beauty that flowers brought. The thought of flower farming stewed around in my head for quite some time before I even got started. I knew that flower farming in the desert would be tricky. The biggest obstacle was my mind. I talked myself out of starting a flower farm multiple times. I worried about all the hard work, the failure. Mostly I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put in all the work, but I set aside a large part of our property for flowers. It sat and sat. Finally, while my kids were home during quarantine, I knew I just needed to start, but getting that large part of land prepared for flowers seemed daunting. I kept looking at another area we had designated for a pool. My son had built a half-pipe for skateboarding during quarantine and put it on the site of the future pool. There was a little space left- it was small, about 30×60 feet, but I knew I could start something there. So, I did. I cultivated that ground and built a fence around it to keep out the dog and rabbits and then I began planting. My little plot of land flourished and I had the most beautiful field of flowers all summer. It is exciting to see this dream take off and to realize that it is possible. It is a lot of work, but so rewarding. There are very few flower growers in the valley and I am so proud to be doing something that many have thought impossible in our climate. Today, I offer CSA Subscription Bouquets, Special Order Bouquets, Flowers by the Bucket, Workshops, and Garden Consultations.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Of course, living in Queen Creek, we would eat at San Tan Flat, visit the Olive Mill and Schnepf Farms. I love taking out of towners to tour the Mystery Castle in Phoenix. It is the most intriquing structure with such a compelling history. We would paddleboard at Saguaro Lake and enjoy the drive to Tortilla Flat for lunch and ice cream. Hopefully we could take in a professional sports game. And, of course, shopping at Merchant Square!! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
All of my friends and family have been so supportive as I began my flower farming venture. In fact, my 74 year old mother came and helped me plant my first official field of production flowers. There are a few growers scattered around the state who have mentored me and offered invaluable knowledge. My friends often contact me to purchase bouquets and cheer me on. My children help me in the field, weeding, harvesting and planting. My husband has encouraged me every step of the way and has spent countless hours setting up, maintaining and running my website.
all taken by @the_potters_bench