This Family Left Behind City Life and Started a Flower Farm

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Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

When Phil and Dawn VanBlarcum got married in 2013, creating a blended family with six children between them, their goal was to escape the hustle and bustle of their suburban life in Greenwood, move to the country, and give their kids room to roam.

“We wanted to just slow down, move to a rural community and appreciate the little things,” says Phil VanBlarcum, who worked in the newspaper industry for 32 years before becoming “semi-retired” in 2019. “We never intended to start a farm.”

The VanBlarcums did intend, however, to start a vegetable garden, preserve their own food and grow some flowers as a hobby. They relocated to a 10-acre property just south of Acton, Indiana, and began pursuing their dream.

“When we started our flower garden, Dawn’s friends would come over and pick flowers from our garden to take home,” Phil says. “We quickly realized people really enjoyed being out in green spaces and walking amongst the flowers.”

See more: Portage Community Garden is Growing Together

A Farm Is Born

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

In 2015, the couple launched P&D Flower Farm, which includes 4 acres of flowers with about 25 varieties, including a sunflower field. At any given time, the farm has between 150,000 and 200,000 colorful blooms.

“We planned to just grow flowers wholesale for restaurants and florists, but folks wanted to come out and pick their own flowers,” Phil says. “So we got the zoning and legislation in place to have a U-pick flower farm.”

When visitors arrive at the farm, they are greeted at the flower shed, where they receive a floral bucket and instructions on how to cut flowers. All the flowers grown at P&D Flower Farm are long-stemmed, suitable for bouquets and table arrangements. The flowers are planted in succession, about 10,000 at a time, so there are always fresh flowers available for picking during the summer months.

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

“People love the sunflowers. We grow seven varieties of sunflowers, including chocolate, plum and white ones,” Phil says.

Phil’s personal favorites are lisianthus and dahlias.

“Lisianthus are like a rose without a thorn. They are a very elegant, slow-growing flower that takes eight months to mature,” he says. “Dahlias are so big. We use them a lot in wedding bouquets.”

See more: How To Preserve Fresh Flowers

A Colorful Wedding Venue

Photo credit: P&D Flower Farm

Not long after they started the U-pick flower farm, visitors began asking if they could get married on the farm.

“We hosted six weddings our first year, and by our third year we had to limit ourselves to 30 weddings per year,” Phil says. “In 2020, we have 36 weddings planned, some here at our farm and others at different venues where we provide wedding flowers. Our weddings are simple, elegant, rustic and affordable. What gal wouldn’t want to get married in a field of flowers?”

In 2019, the VanBlarcums built the new Pavilion at P&D Farm, an outdoor venue space that completed their business model.

“I believe this is God’s plan for our family,” Phil says. “Looking back, we can see how God has guided us and provided for us along the way.”

Photo credit: P&D Flower Farm

The flower farm has truly been a family affair, with the VanBlarcums’ six children – who now range in age from 14 to 26 – all helping out in various capacities. The older ones help with more important tasks, while the younger ones help with chores such as mowing.

“It’s a horticultural dream,” Phil says. “The best compliment I ever received was when a father came up and shook my hand and thanked me. He said it was the first time his daughters had been off their phones in a long time.”

Photo credit: P&D Flower Farm

The flower farm has become a full-time job for Phil, while Dawn teaches robotics and engineering at a local middle school. The family hosts several summertime events on the farm, including Wine and Music on the Lawn, bouquet-making classes, corporate retreats, birthday parties and calligraphy classes.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” Phil says. “It’s gratifying to bring pure, simple joy to someone’s day. We love watching little girls chase butterflies and run through the flowers or watching couples come out on dates.”

Several marriage proposals have also happened at P&D Flower Farm.

“We can usually tell if he’s a keeper,” Phil says with a laugh. “The spur-of-the-moment proposals are a lot of fun to watch.”

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

Ready to pick your own flowers?

P&D Flower Farm is located at 7749 E. 1000 N. in Indianapolis. The farm is open June 12 through Oct. 11 in 2020. Hours are Friday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

P&D Flower Farm offers three different bouquet prices. The $5 “Sweet and Simple” bouquet includes seven cut stem flowers and is ideal for a bedroom or small kitchen table. The $10 “Something in the Middle” bouquet includes 12 cut stem flowers and works well for an entry way table or a sweet gift for a loved one. The $20 “Downright Tickled” bouquet includes 25 cut stem flowers and can be divided into multiple bouquets around your home. Sunflowers and dahlias are sold separately for $1 per stem.

For information on upcoming events, visit pdflowerfarm.com.

 

Photo credit: P&D Flower Farm

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