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U-pick flowers diversify crop farm

Traditional farmers add a flower enterprise to diversify their operation.

August 4, 2022

3 Min Read
Lyndsay Ploehn, farm florist and marketing manager at Anderson Flower Farm works with farm-grown flowers
BEAUTY EVERY DAY: Lyndsay Ploehn, farm florist and marketing manager at Anderson Flower Farm, Frankfort, Ind., works with farm-grown flowers every day during the summer. Morgan Hauger

Anderson Flower Farm, Frankfort, is nestled in some of the most fertile land in Indiana, otherwise known as the “12-Mile Prairie.” It’s a special spot rich in prairie soil. The Anderson family has farmed corn and soybeans on this land for the past four generations. Just within the past few years, they have expanded the operation with the addition of a U-pick flower business.

The 200-acre farm is owned and operated by Stan and Lois Anderson, longtime Indiana Farm Bureau members, and Stan’s brother Don and niece Lyndsay Ploehn. Lois is the head grower of the flower farm, and Lyndsay is the farm florist and marketing manager. While Stan and Don mainly focus on commercial corn and soybeans, everyone plays an intricate role in growing flowers and interacting with visitors.

“I started farming in 1974 with my dad, and I’ve always loved it,” Stan says. “But it was an uphill battle trying to grow the commercial side of the business and build a small entity into a larger one. The flowers helped us start to diversify.”

New enterprise

Lyndsay studied horticulture at Purdue University and previously worked at her dad’s landscaping business. They were looking for a way to scale back landscaping and be more involved with the family farm. That is when they approached Stan and Lois about diversifying one-tenth of an acre of the farm into flowers.

The family worked together to weave their knowledge of gardening, grain farming and horticultural farming to produce the flower operation, which consists of 12 flower beds, each 18 feet by 50 feet.

The farm boasts over 40 varieties of flowers, including perennials, annuals, shrubs and herbs, along with sweet corn varieties available in late summer. The goal is to make sure any visitor can make a bouquet, which can be accomplished with the U-pick concept. This U-pick model has taken off over the last couple of years due to the pandemic.

Teachable moments

“At the beginning of the pandemic, about 85% of our business came from the Indy area, which is about an hour away,” Stan says. “People were locked down and looking for something to do outside with their families.”

Besides the U-pick approach, the farm offers events and workshops to attract visitors, including Make & Take bouquet workshops, Music on the Prairie concerts, bridal bouquet workshops and school field trips. At Anderson Flower Farm, it’s all about connecting with visitors, educating them and ultimately bringing them joy.

“I love to see people ask questions about agriculture while they are here picking flowers,” Stan notes. “I had a combine out once, and a lady and her 5-year-old son asked, ‘What’s that?’ I thought ‘Oh boy, here is my opportunity to educate!’

“The agritourism component really opens the door. More and more people are getting so far removed from the farm, so we must do our part to try to connect with people, and hopefully we brighten their day a bit, too.

“There is just something about being out there with Mother Nature.”

Baker is public relations manager-brand for Indiana Farm Bureau. She writes from Indianapolis.

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