Going from Homestead to Farmstead

We're starting a farm!

We’ve been keeping something under wraps for a bit, and now it’s time for a life update!

The truth is, we weren’t exactly trying to keep a secret, per se. We just wanted to give ourselves time to figure out our plans and what we were thinking before we shared it with anyone else. Life can get noisy sometimes, and turning down the volume in order to hear what’s in your heart is something we really believe in.

So, without further ado….drum-roll, please….

We’re starting a farm!!

Now, let’s get into the story so you can see what led us to this new adventure.

Homestead vs Farmstead: What’s the difference?

Okay, maybe some folks will see this as a matter of semantics. But, there’s actually a really big difference between a homestead and a farmstead. First let’s start with the definitions…

Homestead: A house, especially a farmhouse, on an agricultural holding.

Farmstead: A farm with its adjacent buildings and service areas.

Now, the key difference here is understanding that a homestead doesn’t need to be a farm. You can live in a cabin in the woods, and that’s a homestead. You could even live in a suburban home on a large lot, and that would also be a homestead.

But what is meant by “farm”?

Here in the US, the Department of Agriculture considers a farm to be “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold”. On top of that, the IRS wants to see you have a profit (even if it’s small) for 3 out of 5 years. Otherwise it would likely be considered a “hobby farm” rather than a business.

Viburnum blooms in springtime smell wonderful outside of our farm's bunkhouse

Starting Our Farm

A couple of years ago, we decided that we wanted to explore the idea of starting to farm…and by “farm”, I mean that we actually wanted to create a business growing and selling a crop.

We’ve been growing as a hobby for a long time. I had a decent sized garden in our last home, and when we were looking for our next home (i.e. where we now live), acreage was important to us. We wanted to grow on a larger scale to provide more of our family’s food.

Somewhere along the way, I got the inclination to grow even more than what we needed. I figured we could either sell or trade the excess for things we didn’t grow ourselves, and that would mean that our little piece of land would provide for more of our needs.

Then, during the pandemic, we really started to re-evaluate what we wanted for our life.

It seemed to us like it was the right time to try experimenting and figuring out what we wanted to grow.

So, for the past two-ish years, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. But since we weren’t yet growing for profit, we weren’t technically farming.

These past couple of years are what we call “Year 0″…it’s just a time period where we were deciding what to grow, trialing different options, figuring out whether we even could grow at scale, and…most importantly…if we enjoyed it.

Turns out…we can do it, and we really do enjoy it!

Carrots are just one of the crops we grow on our farm

Deciding What to Grow

I’ve always enjoyed growing food. There is absolutely nothing like the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables.

However, we have just under two acres, and half of that is wooded. That means we have a small amount of acreage actually available for growing a crop.

I really wanted to start growing specialty pumpkins because they’re something I adore. We bought several books and did all kinds of research, but ultimately found out that it just wouldn’t be profitable for us with the amount of land we have available.

After some more research, we determined that the most profitable crop we could grow in the space we have available would be…specialty cut flowers.

Boy was that a surprise!

Snapdragons are one of the specialty cut flower crops we grow on our flower farm

This veggie-lover never imagined the idea of starting a flower farm! Yes, I’ve always grown flowers in our garden, but the idea of farming them absolutely never occurred to me.

And then, there are a whole ton of options to consider when it comes to specialty flowers.

Finally, we narrowed it down and settled on farming dahlias because, I mean, really…who can’t understand the obsession with these beauties!

Cafe Au Lait is truly the queen of the dahlias!

Last year was our first time attempting to grow our dahlias “at scale”…which for us was about 130 plants. We wanted to make a large enough investment to see how it would go, but without investing soooo much that (in case it didn’t work out) we were strapping ourselves.

Yet, still, we weren’t technically farming because we weren’t trying to turn a profit.

It was all experimental, and only local folks knew what we were doing and supported us by taking home bouquets while we practiced harvesting, conditioning, and arranging flowers a couple of times a week.

We now feel ready to make things official and go after our dream of turning our homestead into a legitimate farmstead as we’re starting our flower farm!

At the same time, we’re still doing a whole lot of experimenting.

I imagine we always will be, honestly.

Zinnias and sunflowers are a beautiful complement to our dahlias

Our Crops

In addition to our dahlias (which this year will exceed 400 plants!), we’re growing a whole lot of other specialty cut flowers as well. For example, this spring we also grew:

  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Ranunculus
  • Anemone
  • Snapdragons
  • Allium
  • Campanula
  • Calendula

We’ll have even more varieties to come this summer, and I’ll talk about all of that in a future post.

But even as we move from Year 0 into Year 1, we’re still experimenting. We’re still figuring things out. We’re still exploring what might work and what path we’ll take.

Learning to showcase our dahlias and arrange flowers like these sunflowers and zinnias was a big task when starting our flower farm

What’s Ahead

One thing that we think is important to say about this whole adventure right up front is this: We’re clear about the “what” (i.e. building our farm), but we are figuring out the “how” as we go along.

And that’s also exactly how life works, right?

I mean, if you already knew “how” to accomplish all of your wildest dreams, then you would have done it already. Figuring it all out is the messy, thrilling, joyful part of life!

So, what we’ve decided to do is to document that entire process…LIVE…right in front of you all.

Our intention is to use our YouTube channel to share the ups, down, and everything in between as we go.

And it should be noted that everything we’re showing you there should be viewed as it’s intended…an experiment. A figuring out process. The path, as it unfolds, to creating our dream.

Take what you see there not as instructional, but instead (and hopefully!) as a little bit of inspiration to build the path to your own dreams–whatever they may be!

We’re going to be very, very real with y’all in what we share in our videos. We’re most likely going to fall on our faces in a super public way from time to time. And, we’re going to have some conversations that will be pretty raw and from the heart while we’re figuring this all out.

What we’re doing isn’t meant to be polished and pretty because that’s just not how real life works. But at the same time, we think there’s beauty in that, too.

We hope you’ll enjoy being on this adventure with us, and we’re very grateful for the community and friendships that you all have brought to our lives over the years. The best is yet to come!

Q & A’s

Y’all have asked us some great questions since we released our first video, so we thought we’d capture them here. Just click any of the Qs to reveal the As below…

A: We’re in hardiness zone 8b in Snohomish, Washington.

A: This is part of our “figuring out” process since this will be the first year we try to sell anything. We’ll be having these conversations and talking a lot more about it in future videos. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and hit the notification bell so you don’t miss an episode!

A: It is absolutely our goal to sell tubers! Before we can do that, we will need to obtain a Nursery License and have our farm go through the Washington State Department of Agriculture inspection process. We’ll definitely be talking about this in future videos. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and hit the notification bell so you don’t miss an episode!

A: I have no plans to change any of my hobbies, so I’ll still be writing about our fixer upper home projects (goodness knows, we have a ton of those still to do!), DIY crafts, favorite recipes, and my love of vintage treasures. Everything we’re doing with starting a flower farm is something we see as a meaningful addition to our life and home…not a replacement for our other passions.

A: Many of you know that I developed Long-COVID, and I was ultimately diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). You can read more about that here. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for either of these illnesses. We work closely with my doctors, and we have learned some good techniques for managing my symptoms.

That said, these are challenges that I will presumably live with for the rest of my life. I believe that I can either allow that to make my life smaller, or I can rise to the challenge and find ways to flourish. I choose the latter.

We share in the workload on our farm, and we make compromises to accomplish whatever we strive to do. There are times when I’m not able to do a lot, and we pivot to the things I can do instead. Learning how to navigate the ups and downs has made a big difference in what we can do. Disabled people are not unable people, and I am not about to quit on myself just because my life looks different now.

A: Our plan is to share videos weekly, because we want to show you what’s currently happening all throughout this journey of starting a flower farm. If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or if you receive our emails, we’ll certainly let you know when there’s something new. But the very BEST way to stay in the loop is to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and hit the notification bell so you’ll never miss an update!

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  1. I am brand new to your blog and YouTube videos. I am SO impressed with you two and how you’ve gone about your whole life. I am 71 and of the generation that got a job, did the job, then retired. But, you two? Nope! And I just can’t wait to watch your lives unfold! Yes, there will be down times, but I have no doubt that you two will continue on, gleaning the best from that experience and pop up on the other side, stronger and more confident in your abilities. You two remind me of my own kids and how exciting it is to watch their successes. The best part of that is when we are able to help out in whatever way we can. I am so excited to follow along in your “experiment.” And, while I do love dahlias, you had me at ranunculus!

  2. Congratulations from one to another! My venture is SUPER small and I just started trialing this year, but going for it nonetheless. Came across this blog via Pinterest when I was browsing for some encouragement in my first year and wanted to leave you support and love! How fun to meld together veggies and flowers into a farmstead. Can’t wait to see you grow!!!

    1. Great to meet you, Julie! You certainly have our encouragement–the world needs more farmers and folks with a passion to grow! You might like our YouTube channel where we talk about the process of becoming farmers (versus the work of farming). To us, that’s the real challenge, and we share about it as openly as we can each week. Hope to see you there!

  3. Hello,
    I hope you read this and investigate what I am saying before tax season:) I just wanted to pass on some information that may be helpful to you. You are in your start up year, which means that the government understands you will have start up costs and those are deductible from your W2 income from schedule F. There are you tube videos on that and also Tom Wheelwright wrote a book about the 7 investments the government will pay you to make. Farming, flower farming, is one of them! Form an LLC, and then move on from there!

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