When Maria Michelle Panter and her husband bought their first house last year in Lehi, one of the first things on Maria’s to-do list was to plant a flower garden she could farm. “I grew up living in apartments, and it has always been a dream of mine to become a flower farmer,” said Panter. She fell in love with the “slow flower movement,” which promotes field to vase flower farming. After researching online and reading many books on flower gardening and flower farming, Panter planted her first garden last spring in a 1000 square foot space in her backyard and started her small flower business, “Maria’s Fresh Cut Flowers.” (See Maria’s Fresh Cut Flowers on Instagram and Facebook.)
Panter’s harvest this year included organically grown zinnias, dahlias, sunflowers, Persian buttercups, peonies, tulips, snapdragons, foxgloves, and other specialty flowers. Her mission is to offer seasonal flowers and bouquets, as well as workshops and advice for others who want to become flower farmers in a Zone 7 climate.
“I am documenting my flower farmer journey and made lots of notes along the way about things I did right and things I would do differently for next season,” said Panter. “I am happy to share that information with others.” Panter has learned about the different varieties of flowers that grow in the Lehi area and has experimented with picking seeds and tubers that are specifically for growing bouquet flowers that are taller, longer, and more fragrant. “The flowers you may plant in your yard to add color to your landscaping, are very different from the flowers you plant for flower farming and harvesting for cut flowers for arrangements,” she said.
Panter cuts, arranges, and sells about 20-30 flower arrangements a week. The peak flower farming season is from about Mother’s Day until the first frost, around October.
“I have sold flowers at the Provo Farmer’s Market and I also deliver arrangements locally to Lehi residents, or people can pick them up at my home,” said the stay-at-home mother of two young children. “I grow organic flowers and use varieties that attract bees and other pollinators. I also added ladybugs to my garden to eat the aphids.”
“It’s been a process, learning how to flower farm and I have learned so much in just a year. I eventually would like to sell my flowers to local flower shops or to do flowers for weddings and events.” Panter’s website, www.mariasfreshcutflowers.com is up and running, and she has a newsletter where customers can be alerted to what fresh flowers are available, read her latest gardening tips and get information about upcoming workshops.
“My site is a space for me to document my journey and share what I learn along the way. I love being a stay at home ‘mom-trepreneur’ and love becoming a flower farmer.”