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Flower farming busy business for Annapolis Valley couple

Sarah and Kenny Macalpine are shown at Two Birds One Stone Farm in Halls Harbour.
Sarah and Kenny Macalpine are shown at Two Birds One Stone Farm in Halls Harbour. - Contributed

‘Connect with people through flowers’

Things are getting colourful on a farm in Halls Harbour.

Sarah and Kenny Macalpine are beginning to harvest fresh cut flowers on Two Birds One Stone Farm, now in its second year. The couple left careers in the fashion and steel industries in southern Ontario to take to the land in Nova Scotia.

“We worked a lot of opposite shifts and were exhausted, and we came to feel we are not living our purpose. It was like something was missing,” Sarah Macalpine said in a recent interview.

“One morning, we literally woke up and said, 'Hey maybe we don’t have to do this anymore'.”

The couple spent the next two years researching how to become farmers, where they could live in Nova Scotia, and how to make the change that Sarah says they "desperately craved."

The answer? Flowers, says Kenny.

“They are a thing of beauty," he said. "It’s really nice to see the look on people’s faces at the market when they see flowers. They just have to have them. Flowers are a real memory trigger for people. They will say, 'Oh, they remind me of my grandmother'.”

Sarah said one of the reasons they chose flower farming is there are many avenues to get their products into the hands of customers.

“We attend farmers' markets weekly in Wolfville and Kentville. We offer a variety of workshops throughout the year and do weddings of every size. We also run a bouquet subscription as well as sell to stores in Halifax and sell to floral designers.”

And, they add, their name is starting to spread.

“They are coming from Halifax to get our flowers, too,” Kenny said.

A spring bouquet from Two Birds One Stone farm.- Paul Pickrem
A spring bouquet from Two Birds One Stone farm.- Paul Pickrem

Busy season

Preparation for their second growing season started in January, with planning and inside planting. A lot of weddings are booked when people get engaged over Christmas and New Year. They return to the farmers' market in April.

“In May, things get so crazy around here," Sarah said.

That means two inches of compost is spread on the 100-foot rows on the one-acre field, and the greenhouse by hand. Kenny also lays the irrigation lines, and planting begins.

“Even though we only grow on an acre, we replant many plants twice. Some of them we replant three times in a single season. So, we can really crank out the blooms,” Sarah said.

“Putting all of the pieces together requires a lot of planning and an understanding of every crop’s specific needs.”

The farm grows over 100 different kinds of flowers and foliage.

“There is always foliage in a lot of our bouquets. We do a lot of weddings and girls are asking for a lot of greenery in their bouquets. So, we grow our own eucalyptus. “

July to September is the busy wedding season, and there is daily fieldwork.

Weather woes

Like all farmers, the Macalpines have to adjust to the variable weather patterns.

This spring was cold and wet. So, the flowers that were planted didn’t grow as well as they should have. They are also at the mercy of the first fall frost, which signals the end of the flower season.

The Macalpines plan to extend the season, however, by making wreaths and Christmas centrepieces, as well as outdoor planter boxes. Hopefully, they will sell during the holiday season at the farmers' markets.

After a brief downtime, planning next year's garden will begin again in January.

“We want people to experience and appreciate the fleeting beauty of all the seasonal ingredients we work with,” Sarah said.

“We like to be able to connect with people through flowers.”

Editor’s note: This is part of a six-part series looking at local farmers who sell their products at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market.

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