Craving a little color? There’s nothing like a bunch of flowers to infuse a bit of fresh cheer into any space. While social interaction protocols implore us all to hibernate just when spring is starting, Rhode Island flower farms and sellers have plenty of inventive ways to help you bear stay-home demands – and with weddings and events being postponed, these businesses could use a boost as well.
“Flower delivery and curbside pick-up seems to be the new normal,” says Jeffrey Kerkhoff of Jephry Floral Studio in Providence. Kerkhoff has been busy turning his Broadway store “inside out” to showcase every product from his shop windows enabling customers to browse from the safety of the sidewalk. “Change necessitates innovation, and we are working to adapt the way we do business to both keep our employees and customers safe, as well as continue to serve our customers and employ our staff through this crisis,” notes Kerhhoff, who has also been adding items to his online shop.
In the East Bay, Anna Jane Kocon, owner of Little State Flower Company, has been ramping up for a season essentially put on hold. “We’ve been growing flowers and plants all winter preparing for spring,” she begins. “The flowers we are selling are visions of hard work, healthy grown product, and a women-owned business pushing hard to be creative under difficulty to offer something simple and positive: beauty. There is beauty in the now, and I can at least offer that,” says Kocon. “We are thrilled to share this beauty as safely as possible.”
A sea of daffodils may be blooming in Bristol at Blithewold Mansions, Gardens & Arboretum but the venue has dutifully postponed all upcoming private events, classes, and programs. However, Blithewold welcomes online visitors and is assembling a series of workshops which will be live-streamed through their Facebook page. "The estate may be closed to the public but Blithewold is always open, virtually of course. Watch for Blithewold Connects a new series of hands-on 20-minute workshops, 2-minute tiny tutorials and meditative live streams from the grounds," says Tree Callanan, director of Communications and Visitor Experience. The organization launched this initiative with a Make a Wattle Fence tutorial to a sold-out online crowd.
“With everything changing so quickly we have no idea where we are going to be in five weeks when the tulips are blooming,” says Keriann Koeman of Wicked Tulips, the wildly popular flower tourism site looking forward to the first season at their new location in Exeter. “We are farmers and therefore optimistic that we will be able to open in some capacity, and as farmers we are also creating several contingency plans.” Ever resourceful, the Koemans are preparing Virtual Tulip Tours with a live Tulip Cam which will offer 360 degree views of the field, close-ups of flowers, and more. “We’re also kicking around ideas for drive-thru bouquet pick up and tulip field viewing, a tulip delivery service, and donations to nursing homes and hospitals.”
“In this time of extra stress, everyone needs more flowers,” is the message from What Cheer Flower Farm in Providence. The 501c3 charity grows, rescues, and gives flowers to people who could use a boost from blooms, including patients, people in recovery centers and shelters, at-risk youth, and seniors with dementia. Recently, WCFF started an initiative called #ShareCheer where participants are encouraged to make a bouquet from a local florist or farm and post it to Instagram with the dedicated tag. Sounds like we could all use some of that.
With restrictions changing quickly, we are offering a partial list of flower related businesses and advise visiting their websites and social media accounts for updates. Also, visit RI.gov for the latest guidance and information during COVID-19. For an expanded list of flower farms, visit FarmFreshRI.org.