Farm Profile: Brightflower Farm
October 3, 2016
Located in Stockton, IL, is Brightflower Farm—one of our wholesale growers. With only a handful of employees, owners Jeanie McKewan and Michael Staver grow about 200,000 stems of flowers and succulents, supplying to grocery stores, designers, and markets throughout Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee.
Nevertheless, what makes this four-acre oasis truly special and unlike the rest is a passion and support in the arts between founders Jeanie and Michael—one with horticulture and the other with culinary.
1. We hear Brightflower Farm was founded in July 2006 by you and Michael Staver. Can you briefly tell me a bit about yourself and Staver? How did you two meet?
We met in graduate school. Both of us have Masters in Plant Pathology from Oregon State. Michael was in Cancer Research for 20 years then taught Food Science, Culture and Food, and Foods at UIC. I started small businesses for a number of entrepreneurs until it was time to start my own business and that was what we did with Brightflower Farm. We married in Corvallis after our degree programs were complete, raised 2 boys, and have been married for 37 years!
2. What do you love most about working within the fields?
I love the choosing of seeds, planting the seeds, planting the seedlings, cutting the flowers, and making the bouquets!
3. How has owning your own growing operations changed your lives?
Well, being president of a company was always on my bucket list and I can cross that off! I I have enjoyed the experience immensely so far and look forward to many more years of growing cut flowers.
4. If you can send a message or advice to those interested in flowers and farming, what would you say? How can someone get started?
I love managing all operations of a small business. It is much easier with someone else’s money however! An operation like ours takes at least one off farm income to make it work and even then if you want to continue to build the infrastructure and add to the plant inventory, there is not a lot of money left to pay the principle owner. If someone wants to farm, my recommendation is start as an employee and save your money. It is very difficult to earn a living on a small farm.
5. Do you offer apprenticeships or opportunities for people to learn the trade?
I have mentored many young aspiring growers and welcome them to my farm.
6. Finally, fall has just arrived! What is your favorite flower or plant of the season?
Well, of course dahlias!
You heard it from the expert herself:
dahlias are a must-have for the table this season.
Grab some fresh & local ones in our farm bouquet today!