In Her Boots Workshop

Diversifying with Flowers, Pizza, and Summer Camps

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Two Pony Gardens and Ladyfern Flower Farm & Studio
1700 Deerhill Rd
Long Lake,  MN 55356

 

 

 

 

Reflections and Recap:

By Katie Feterl, Sustainable Farming Association

 

“This place is so beautiful and special to me, and I felt like I had to share it.”

That’s the “long-story-short” of how Lisa Ringer’s undulating Long Lake farmstead has become home to Two Pony Gardens, Ladyfern Flowers Farm & Design Studio, and, for the day, a group of 38 Midwestern women attending a MOSES “In Her Boots” workshop.

Bordering a 40-acre lake and DNR woods (maple basswood, and in fact “sister woods” to Nerstrand Big Woods), the farm feels like someplace special upon arrival. Ringer started growing on this land in 2001 after working as a landscape gardener for 25 years. Her crops of choice were niche and in high demand: dahlias and heirloom tomatoes. Years later, with more acres than she could cultivate herself and a desire to share her farm, she connected with Summer Badawi.

Badawi’s focus is “all things plants.” She studied horticulture, and found herself drawn to vegetable and flower farming as community-based work. She met future business partner Sanna Beek, who was also rooted in vegetable production, first as coworkers at Urban Roots. Years later they reconnected over coffee. That conversation “planted the seed,” so to speak, for flower farming.

In 2015, Badawi began her first growing season at Ringer’s farmstead as a cut flower farmer, and grew and arranged the flowers for Beek’s wedding. It wasn’t too long afterwards that Beek was onboard, and Ladyfern Flowers Farm & Design Studio was off and running alongside Two Pony Gardens.

It was important to Lisa Ringer to not only to share her space with fellow farmers, but to share it with her local community. For years, she has opened up the farm to pizza nights and themed tours (the “haunted” farm in October is not-to-be-missed). She considers their brick pizza oven, framed by the house, flower garden, and several shaded picnic tables, to be the “heart of the farm.” Thanks to Katherine Price, who manages the website, social media, and permits and liability associated with serving food on-farm, Two Pony Gardens also hosts summer camps for kids.

One reason this workshop caught my eye was that I knew absolutely nothing about flower farming. I’ve dabbled in organic and aquaponic vegetable production, and cut flowers had never even occurred to me as an option. As we toured the ½ acre of Ladyfern, it was fascinating to hear the complex nature of a business that attempts to match the timing of blooms with the ever-changing, somewhat arbitrary trends of wedding design. Ladyfern also has a CSA and sells market bouquets, but flowers for weddings and other events make up the bulk of their business.

I was also grateful to hear that keeping sane and taking time to take care of themselves was part of Ladyfern’s approach. While it was a hit to their bottom line, they hired a one-day-a-week staff member just to ease their own load. They were also experimenting with each taking off one weekend a month, and thanks to the late spring planting, were actually able to take a full week of vacation in July. Additionally, part of the reason they even chose to start a flower farm given their background in vegetable production was the toll the sheer weight can have on the body. A lightweight flower crop could be a business with more longevity. We all know that we should allow time to take care of ourselves, but actually seeing someone do it is an encouraging reminder that it is worth it.

I came to Two Pony Gardens for the uncommon opportunity to learn from and alongside women who were each up to their own passion and curiousity-fueled projects and farm businesses. Lisa Kivirist has built the MOSES In Her Boots around the idea that women learn best in these open-discussion settings. She believes that it is “through collaboration and cooperation that we all grow stronger.” Summer, Sanna, Lisa, and Katherine are living examples of this in their diversified, community-focused operations.

Despite being an introvert at heart, enjoying a sunny day in a beautiful landscape with dozens of other hardworking, driven, and creative women in agriculture couldn’t have been more simultaneously relaxing and energizing. That’s something I’ve found throughout much of the sustainable agriculture community–a sense of openness in sharing a collective wealth of knowledge, and an excitement around innovations and seeing each other succeed. It’s the main reason I feel at home in this work.

After a walk in the forest with Ringer, a bouquet-arranging demonstration, and conversational presentations from women from MOSES, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA), Sustainable Farming Association (SFA), Minnesota Farmers Union, and the National Young Farmers Coalition, we got ready to take our new ideas home. “Eat the strawberry,” Kivirist reminded us through a recounting of an adapted parable—take the opportunity to sink our teeth into new ideas and resources as the whirlwind of life inevitably marches on. “And pick your flowers!” someone else joyfully offered—lest we forget to take a moment to enjoy for ourselves the work that we do for others.

 

 

 

Presenters:


Summer Badawi, Ladyfern Flowers Farm & Design Studio

Summer Badawi has been working with all things plants, people,  and design for over 10 years. Summer trained in public horticulture and design at Longwood Gardens. She has worked in landscape design, garden management, floral design, teaching, and program management in urban farming and entrepreneurship. Summer grew up near the ocean and now has settled for fresh water in the land of 10,000 lakes.

Sanna Beek, Ladyfern Flowers Farm & Design Studio

Sanna Beek trained in sustainable agriculture at the University of Minnesota with an emphasis on business and organic farm management. She has worked at vegetable and flower operations, including wholesale management and market coordination. Sanna grew up on the plains as a farm kid and has settled for the city life. Both she and Summer live in Minneapolis and commute to Two Pony Gardens for an honest day’s work.

Lisa Ringer, Two Pony Gardens

Lisa Ringer has been a long-time gardener, dahlia expert, heirloom tomato grower and pony enthusiast. Her approach to community and land stewardship has cultivated a magical sense of place and diverse business ventures. Two Pony has had a collaborative partnership with Ladyfern Flowers via this unique business model since 2015.

 

Lisa Kivirist, MOSES In Her Boots Project
Lisa coordinates the In Her Boots Project, an award-winning woman-farmer training initiative of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). She is the author of Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers, along with Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef, ECOpreneuring, and Rural Renaissance and is an Endowed Chair at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. Lisa and her family run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B outside Monroe, Wis., which is completely powered by renewable energy.

 

 

About “In Her Boots” format:

These daylong, on-farm workshops include a detailed farm tour, lunch, and networking opportunities. With a focus on sharing experiences, stories, and ideas, the In Her Boots format builds on the idea that women farmers learn best from each other. Bring your questions! Women just starting on their farm or food business dream are especially encouraged to attend.

Frequently Asked Questions:  https://mosesorganic.org/in-her-boots/events/boots-faq/

 

Lunch provided by Organic Valley Family of Farms

 

Back to MOSES Organic Field Days

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