Twig & Brindille is a flower farm located outside of Durham, Ontario. Farmer Annabel Por provides seasonal flower shares for community members as well as a wide range of on site workshops that partner with other local small business.
How long have you been growing in Grey County and what’s the story that brought you here?
We’re going into our fourth year of growing at the farm between Durham and Markdale. I had been living in Grey County for over 10 years already and loved it, I wanted to make the switch from town to a rural property but it took many years to find the right place. I knew I wanted it to be close to my son’s school and have open space for growing on. When this piece of land popped up I jumped on it right away. We immediately started a garden and planted cover crop, shrubs and Peonies – long before having utilities installed. It made watering the plants a challenge, but I was determined to get the flower farm started even before we were able to move full-time to the property.
How has your offering changed over the years? What are most excited about these days?
The flower farm started during the pandemic, it was fortuitous timing to be a small business offering a local product that helped people slow down, appreciate nature and prioritize bringing beauty into their life.
Since people have gotten busier once more and resumed traveling we’ve shifted to offer more on-farm experiences. Flower-lovers of all ages can come learn everything from floral design to painting, to yoga and eco-printing. Most of the workshops also include building your own bouquet. It gives people a sense of life on the farm, they learn a new skill and go home with beautiful blooms.
What drew you to flowers? What’s involved in growing flowers in a regenerative way?
I’ve always been into plants, my interest shifted over the years from botany to gardening and landscaping and it seemed like a natural evolution to move into flower farming. I was ready for a new challenge and a big motivator to make the leap to growing cut-flowers was to have a home- based business so I wouldn’t be working offsite during the summers, when my son was off of school. I love how I still get to work outside and in harmony with nature. The beauty of flowers continues to take my breath away.
Growing regeneratively means we are disturbing the land as little as possible and aiming to build healthy soil to capture carbon rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. We don’t till, we use mulch and fabric in the rows and pathways to cut down on watering needs. Instead of using synthetic fertilizers we use manure from neighbour’s farms. Sometimes it means abandoning a crop if it falls prey to insects, rather than spraying with pesticides. We’re also planting more perennials to gradually shift away from annuals that require more labour and energy inputs.
Flowers by nature can only be sold locally – do you feel supported by your local community? Where do you think there’s room to improve?
We are lucky in this area to have many long-standing organic farms that had already introduced people to community supported agriculture. When we had an early frost my first fall offering flower shares, everyone was understanding and supportive, happily accepting fall wreaths of dried flowers instead of fresh bouquets. Since then I’ve continued to be impressed and thankful with customers’ willingness to accept plan B any time there’s a weather hiccough that affects harvests.
Overall, there is a growing sense of appreciation for seasonal flowers, rather than imported blooms. Yet there’s still room for people to seek out a local farm to buy from when they think of offering a bouquet.
How do you manage the seasonal work of growing in Grey County?
The winters can seem really long! We have great cross country ski trails in the area, growing some indoor blooms and dreaming of the warm weather all help!
I usually work with flowers right into December, using dried blooms to make winter wreaths. Then seed starting begins in January, along with planning for the next season. So there’s always plenty to do but I definitely miss the fresh flowers in the off season.
What plans do you have for the coming year and what offering are you most excited about?
These days I’m most excited about refining my growing skills and offering harder to grow and sought after flowers. I’m looking forward to continuing to partner with local businesses to make it easier for people to obtain locally grown flowers. I love it that every year can be a bit different, trialing new flowers, offering new workshops with local creatives, and finding new ways to help people bring more flowers into their life.
Contact: 226-668-9181 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: 423475 Concession 6, Markdale, ON