Gardening on the wild side
Before Europeans came to North America, wildflowers grew with wild abandon and knew how to survive for thousands of years. Miriam Goldberger and her husband Paul Jenkins are striving to bring them back. The couple farms 100-acres of wildflowers in Ontario, Canada.
The business started over 25-years ago as a pick-your-own flower farm. Miriam says at first, farmers who drove by fell off their tractors laughing because they thought the couple was growing weeds. But, the enterprise eventually drew thousands of customers to the farm during the summer months, where they learned the benefits of growing wildflowers. The couple saw an opportunity to expand their business by harvesting the seeds and selling their own wildflower seed mixes.
"It’s very different from what most people find commercially available as meadow mixes or wildflower seed mixes, because these are perennial, really hardy mixes that combine wildflowers and native grasses," says Miriam. "You just seed it once and it lives, oh gosh, 75-100 years."
Harvesting acres and acres of wildflower seeds is a lot of work. Miriam says they
collect seeds in two ways.
"We have extensive demonstration gardens, and those flowers in those gardens are harvested by hand. However, we also have fields growing for production purposes and those are harvested mechanically," says Miriam. "We take everything into our big beautiful barn that was built in the 1880’s and we dry everything in giant, open bins."
Miriam has also written a book about wildflowers and their benefits to our ecosystem.
Learn more about Miriam's passion for wildflowers and her book "Taming Wildflowers" at wildflowerfarm.com
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