By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN There’s a lot of growing going on at the Flower Farm in Delano lately.
“People are just going bananas over this,” community relations manager Adam Kleve said, explaining that not only is the Highway 12 site gearing up for spring, but it’s also introducing several new product lines.
“Our new feed line has been a huge success,” Kleve said. “We now carry exclusive feed brands like Purina, Nutrina, and Powergold.”
Flower Farm used to be seasonal, but now it’s open year round, offering horse, chicken, wildlife, goat, cat, dog, and bird feed, as well as softener salt.
“When we opened Feb. 14, we started with 25 product lines,” Kleve said. “Now, we’re up to almost 40.”
According to Kleve, talk about expanding Flower Farm began more than a year ago.
“Eighty-five percent of our business takes place in an eight-to-10-week period, starting in April,” he said. “The question is ‘what do we do with those other 42 weeks?’”
The answer came when Flower Farm staff realized the need for a high-quality feed supplier close to home.
“For a lot of people, Flower Farm is on their way home, and it’s just convenient for them to stop here,” Kleve said, adding that he expects horse feed to make up the bulk of the sales.
Flower Farm staff is equipped to help people who have concerns about their animals’ diet and nutritional needs.
“If it’s an uncommon question, we also have the support of a nutritionist,” Kleve said.
As time goes on, Kleve plans to continually evaluate and expand animal feed selection to match customers’ needs.
Another way Flower Farm has increased its convenience factor is through offshoot locations.
“Last year, we added a second greenhouse in the Delano Coborn’s parking lot called Flower Farm Express,” Kleve said. “This year, we’re also having one in Maple Plain next to the old Hennepin Co-op.”
Flower Farm has a total of more than 40,000 square feet of greenhouse space. Growing starts in mid-December and continues through the first week in April.
“I don’t think people understand that when they drive by this place and it’s 5 degrees outside, we are producing nearly 100,000 plants inside of our greenhouse,” Kleve noted.
Flower Farm plants are special because they’re all from generational cuttings instead of seeds.
“This sets us apart dramatically,” Kleve said, explaining that seeds tend to produce “smaller, more gangly-looking plants.”
Flower Farm vegetation is given royal treatment throughout the growing season.
There are eight heaters for optimum temperature control, high-powered fans for circulation, and an injection fertilizer system.
Plants are either watered by hand or automatically, and light is controlled with strategically placed shade cloths.
“It’s kind of a science of sorts,” Kleve said.
Potting soil arrives pre-sanitized, and reused pots are bleached to avoid any type of contamination.
“Once a disease starts in a greenhouse, it’s very hard to control,” Kleve said.
There are four temperature zones in the greenhouse, ranging from 65 to 72 degrees.
A device in the center monitors temperature and humidity fluctuations 24/7 and calls Flower Farm staff if it senses something is wrong.
A time for everything
One of Kleve’s favorite times at Flower Farm is the week of Mothers Day.
The farm produces about 4,000 flower baskets each season, and over half of them sell that week.
“People come down here a week or two before the sale starts and scope out which ones they want. I find them hidden all over,” Kleve laughed. “Then, the morning the sale starts, 10 or 15 people will fly by as the door opens. It’s entertaining.”
Although Mothers Day flower baskets always seem to be a hit, other Flower Farm items vary with the latest trends.
“In the last couple years, we’ve seen a dramatic change in what we sell,” Kleve said. “We’ve had major increases in vegetable and herb sales. I would say that spike is mostly due to the economy and people wanting to simply eat healthier.”
Kleve said the economy might also explain increased “do-it-yourself” landscape project sales.
“People are staying home more, and they’re doing things to beautify their properties,” he said.
To learn more about Flower Farm, go to www.ottenbros.com or call (763) 972-2311.