“A story. About local women. All of them working hard, trying to bring back a sector of farming that had mostly dwindled away in a generation. Last year all of us Flower Farmers in Spokane put our heads together to make a flower market for florists to go to. The model did not quite work for Spokane’s floral commerce and needs. So, we as a group adjusted. We pivoted, as all good business owners do. Each one of us is working hard to meet the needs of both professionals and the public, in ways that Spokane businesses have vocalized is most convenient for them. We are doing the hard work of internal and external growth. One component of expanding local flowers is getting flowers into people’s hands when we’re all in the depth of winter still. Instead of flying flowers in from Ecuador, can Spokane grow them?”
These were the words shared by Kimberly Lango, owner of Prairie Sky Farms to their Facebook page. She was calling out other local growers in the flower industry for their innovation in providing businesses in the floral industry with flowers grown locally. She goes on to add “We are pushing the limits, getting you a plethora of quality flowers grown earlier, and at home, and expanding the ease of commerce and delivery. If you haven’t noticed, a flower shortage is close behind the TP in the stores and wholesalers. As the world streams Netflix, we are in the field seeding, planting, and growing.”
Lango grew up in the orchard and winery area of upstate New York. After contracting a debilitating illness, she and her family moved to Cheney in order to recover and experience a slower change of pace for herself and her children (two of which have chronic auto immune disease as well). Previously, she had been a pediatric nurse working around the country and the world doing pediatric oncology, refugee care, disaster relief, and humanitarian aid, all trying to make a difference. That is part of the reason why organic, regenerative, non-GMO, is a big part of their story. She says “As this beautiful place brought us healing, we planted our dream. 2 1/2 acres of Orchards. We added Specialty Cut flowers 3 years after that.”
When asked how her business has been affected by social distancing mandates and non-essential business shutdowns, or “COVID pivoting” as Kim calls it, she said it was the fuel for the fire to get a completely new website up and running with 100% online ordering and delivery. They also had 98% of their weddings cancel as well as all previously scheduled sales events. Florists who are the main vein of floral customers are classified as non-essential businesses. Although Prairie Sky Farms is feeling the fallout, they remain positive.
In response, they started thinking outside the box and began growing more food crops for their farm stand and are now offering veggie starts as well. They also had to make a change in farmworkers; with quarantine measures in place and taking into consideration Kim’s health and the health of her children, it has really become a family-only affair. All hands are hustling to get plants in the ground for the growing season and gearing up for Mothers’ Day. Many local businesses use Prairie Sky Farms flowers during the holiday, and Prairie Sky Farms has CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) bouquet subscriptions that will keep them busy and bring in the revenue to help make up for lost profit and already thin margins.
The hardest part of being in the agricultural industry during this economic downturn really comes down to economics. Kim adds “What people expect to pay for any agricultural good is usually below the cost of what we can grow it for. The mental and physical toll is hard at times. However, the rewards—I love what I do! I love working outside in nature and being a part of healing the earth through healthy agriculture. As tilth increases in soil, the amount of atmospheric carbon we can sequester on our farm goes up. That gets me super excited to really be part of reversing climate change. I am a WSU Master Gardener and love growing, being outdoors, and teaching the public how to grow food and beautiful things for themselves and their community environments. What keeps us going is faithful customers who come back again and again, who know how we grow, who trust us, and we have wonderful relationships supplying them with fruit, plants, trees, and flowers!”
Prairie Sky Farms has a brand new, developed website that is beautiful and easy to navigate. Their inspiring story graces its front page, and there are stunning photos to accompany the flower and fruit ordering pages. It is easy to find their you-pick fruit options, and they are offering affordable bouquet subscriptions that begin this month, just in time for Mothers’ Day. (Hint: you only have 10 days to make a statement for those special moms in your life!) www.prarieskyfarms.com. They are also on Facebook, Prairie Sky Farms Blooms and Pommes.
“Because our city needs reminders that there is beauty, now more than ever.”