Sarah Lutte is growing flowers.
Lutte and her husband Mark have started a flower farm in Farmingdale, and their flowers are being distributed in Boothbay Harbor and Wiscasset, to Boothbay Region Greenhouses, Water Lily Flowers and Gifts, and through Lutte's mother, Sally Bullard, owner of A Maine Wedding.
Growing flowers is a labor of love for the Luttes, and that, along with producing pork and poultry, is just a part of how they spend their days. Both work at full-time jobs outside their farm, and they have two young children, Henry and Polly.
Lutte has been a fundraiser for the Nature Conservancy for 12 years, beginning in Washington, D.C., and now in Brunswick.
Lutte, who grew up in East Boothbay and Damariscotta, and her husband, who grew up in New Harbor, met while attending Lincoln Academy in Newcastle. They were living in Washington D.C. when they started talking about moving back to Maine in 2008. “My goal was always to have horses,” Lutte said. They found the perfect place in 2009, in Farmingdale.
Thanks to an old sign that read “Lay Z Acres,” that they found in the barn on the property, they had a name for their farm. It's called Lazy Acres.
After starting a fence for the horses, the couple began to formulate a plan to generate some income on their farm. “We were spending all our free time working on the farm, because we loved doing it.”
Lutte started researching flower-growing. She found several icons in the industry, and began following “every single thing they had ever written in their lives about growing flowers.”
She learned that MOFGA was offering a free tour of a flower farm in Whitefield, and signed up. The owner, Andrea Ault, was a florist who grew all of her flowers herself. She soon became a mentor to Lutte.
The Luttes started getting serious about growing flowers. They rototilled a few rows in their fields last fall, and in the spring they started planting.
They agreed that their first year growing flowers would be a trial period, so they wouldn't get too stressed out over weather and learning curves. They were going to determine if they could grow flowers, and if they liked growing flowers. “We decided to put seeds and seedlings, and some plugs (tiny seedlings), in the ground, and see how it went. If we lost them, we lost them.”
“It was so different from the way I'd grown flowers before, which was to not cut them, but to just let them grow to look at in the garden,” Lutte said. “With this, everything blooms, and then you chop them.”
An 8-foot by 10-foot glass greenhouse on the farm was given to the couple several years ago, but it had never been utilized, but for a few tomato plants, Lutte said. “This year I went whole hog with it, and in February I had heaters and heat mats in there. I completely maxed it out, space-wise, for our first season here.”
Bullard uses some of her daughter’s flowers for her wedding planning business, and helps her daughter and son-in-law with deliveries and securing new accounts. Lutte said at this point they're not growing a lot of anything, but a little of lots of things, to determine what grows well on their land, and figure out what florists are looking for.
The first flowers grown at the farm were brilliant orange dahlias. They were started from her grandmother's gardens in Massachusetts. “They grew there for years and years, and I loved them,” Lutte said. “When we were planning my wedding at my grandmother's house, there was an arrangement of the orange dahlias on the table. I loved them, and we built our wedding colors around that arrangement.”
When her grandmother dug up tubers from the flowers that fall, Bullard and Lutte gave some to family and friends to plant, so there would be enough for the wedding. Lutte's grandmother died a few months before her wedding, but her spirit, through her dahlias, was ever-present.
There are now around 50 varieties of flowers of all colors and sizes growing at Lazy Acres Farm.
“This has really been a labor of love,” Lutte said. “We took a week off in May and got everything ready to go. My brother came up to help, and we laid irrigation and ground cover. My husband gets into it, and my kids are out there with us sometimes. The sales have been the cherry on top this year.”
All of the flower sales, so far, have been wholesale. “The people we sell to are doing all of the arranging. We've learned that we're pretty good at growing flowers, but arranging them is a whole other skill. We're toying with the idea of taking a class in floral design this winter.”
There's plenty of work in store for the flower farmers now that things are slowing down and fall is almost upon us. “We're going to move some of the rows and cultivate some new rows, so we might end up doubling the production space.”
Lutte has just ordered a bunch of tulips and daffodils she will plant this fall, so her fields will be bursting with color in the early spring.
For more information about the flowers and the farm, call 207-512-6135, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.