I’m going to tell you the story of how my mom, Paula, started Beehaven Flower Farm, and why rhubarb pie is a very celebrated dessert in my family.
My mom loves to grab her coffee and walk her farm in the morning. This ritual used to be purely for enjoyment- she would see the signs of spring coming and enjoy her flower beds- a hobby at the time. Now, this morning ritual has evolved into planning her day and making lists of projects for her ever-growing flower farm. She evaluates her rows upon rows of flowers, decides which are ready for harvest and what to plant next, and what the team will tend to that day. My mom is an incredible flower farmer- growing on nearly 2 acres that is intensely planted in cut flowers. She was the regional director for the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG), and runs an impressive operation supplying grocery stores, farmers markets, and florists (like myself) with unique cut flower varieties that can’t be found everywhere.
I remember the day my mom- at age 36- discovered what she wanted to be when she grew up.
We were visiting my aunt in Montana, and mom looked up from her book “the Cut Flower Farmer” by Lynn Byczinski and declared her new passion.
Becoming a farmer is not an easy task, and requires investments of both time and education to be truly outstanding. Mom LOVES to learn so she jumped in with with both feet and all of us kids (there were 7 at the time- there are 9 of us kids now).
A little risk and a lot of hard work has built her dream. I was 15 when she decided that going to the ASCFG conference in North Carolina was the next step in her education on the path to a successful flower farm. Getting to North Carolina became the goal of that year and she worked so hard to make the money from the farm to fund the trip. My mom is my best friend, so naturally I was working alongside her to make the money. Which brings me back to Rhubarb.
Rhubarb is one of the first signs of spring here in the Inland Northwest. We always joke that spring tastes like rhubarb pie- a family favorite. Rhubarb pie is the first dessert we can bake in the spring from fruit grown on our farm. With a lot of late nights and hard work, the trip to North Carolina was fully funded on the sale of mom’s rhubarb pie and the flowers grown that year. We baked them every weekend to sell alongside her flowers at the farmers market. We stayed up way too late designing bouquets and packaging our pies. We got up early to set up the prettiest market booth, and we stood there all day selling our goods. People returned every week to support the market stand and offer praise and encouragement. Come fall, mom had made enough money to go to the conference and, to my small-town-girl delight, for me to go with her.
The education gleaned from the conference was immensely valuable, but in the end, the most precious lesson for me- far more valuable than any from the conference- was that of hard work and determination. It was an honor to walk alongside my mom and watch her start her flower farm. The operation the flower farm has grown into looks nothing like the tiny micro-farm she let me help with, but I love it just the same. The lesson I learned that summer is one I’ve carried with me in my own journey of motherhood: it is a gift to invite your children to work alongside you, to witness you find and follow your passion, and to observe the American Dream in action- that hardwork and dedication will lead to success.
Mom, it is an honor to love you. Thank you for helping me find my own passion and for walking alongside me in this journey among the messy beauty of children and flowers. I hope I can inspire and support my children to follow their dreams as well as you have. From all nine of us kids, Happy Mother’s Day.
At my weddin, my mom gave me her handwritten recipe to share with my family and serve as a reminder that dreams come true every day. Rhubarb was also the first plant start I brought to our home from the same plants that helped fund the trip to North Carolina. I hope you enjoy this “taste” of spring.
Gotta Get to North Carolina Rhubarb Pie
Serves 8-12 (1 heaping 9” pie)
2 -9” pastry shells
6 cups Rhubarb, cut into ½” slices
1 1/2 cups Sugar
½ cup flour
Dash of salt
Preheat Oven to 400 Degrees.
Combine above ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
Line Pie Plate with pastry, put in mixture and dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Add top crust and crimp the edges. Slice the top to allow air to escape. Brush with a bit of milk and sprinkle with a touch of sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 50 Minutes- make sure it’s bubbly in the center before you pull it out.
*Best served for breakfast with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream, followed by a walk through the garden.