Almost five years ago we bought a cabin, rather a dilapidated attempt at a renovation in progress. We went up there as much as possible all year round with our small children in tow. We did the work and endless projects on our own and many times with the help of some generous friends and family. It was somewhere within that open space that I finally began to feel lost. The tragedy and loss associated with my full time career had finally intersected into a place I had always held separate for home. Admittedly, we took for granted that we had plenty in each other alone. We found ourselves consumed in our careers and never ending list of things to do, which left us with little patience, sense of joy or time at home. I had wanted another child somewhere in all of this, but had no idea how challenging that would prove to be. A void was created which left us feeling incomplete. It was clear we desperately needed a shift in mentality. We had to pull our family together and find a greater purpose outside of the day to day routine we had become so accustomed to. I wanted deeply to fill that space with beauty, so I shifted to flowers.

We reluctantly decided to move again, from what I had resolved would be our forever home. Starting over was rough, but it was in this new beginning that the seeds of Farm & Flora were sown. We found ourselves once again consumed with projects and renovation, but this time it would be connected to rebuilding and growth. We wanted our children to help this time instead of being in the way. It is here that they will learn the value in hard work to achieve accomplishment. It is outside and working together from the ground up that we are able to teach them the forgotten values of kindness, patience and generosity. They will learn to communicate outside of the classroom while learning to serve as stewards of the land. We believe teaching our children to take care of each other and the land produces better humans.

The move brought about many changes, and with change comes challenge. The whole house would need gradual repair and renovation. Infrastructure was weak, but existed and our soil would require rebuilding. The initial investment would be extensive and ongoing, which meant leaving a good amount to chance when starting a small business. There have been many sleepless nights, missed dinners, frustration and tears. There have been more days than not I have been ready to give up and return to what I felt was normal life. Here we are on our second season, which I had thought up until now was our hardest season. Endless rain and mud, inability to plant, lost time and massive frustration. I needed a reminder why we were still doing this and what it meant to us.

I started to reflect on my earliest memories of flowers and why I felt drawn to them. I began to recall memories of my Grandmother, a blue collar working florist and loving mother. She had always sent us flowers to school on our birthdays and I’ll never forget how special I felt that day, every year. The greater gift she gave me without intention was to instill a joy in giving to others. I had been missing so much joy in the recent years and flowers offered a way to create something beautiful that I could in turn pass along to others. The lesson for me was that the joy of giving and receiving is something that is alive and well in me, and still resonates today with others. I had always immersed myself in challenge and growing flowers could satisfy that desire.

This wouldn’t end up being our hardest season after all, it was the season that led us here. It was taking the leap and hearing you can’t and doing it anyways. It was trusting each other and believing in change and starting over. It was accepting the things we had no control over and learning to lean on the support of our friends and family. It was learning it’s okay to lose it sometimes, as long as you get it back together. It was accepting that it was time to make a change and it wouldn’t happen over night. We learned to live in the mud and in someone else’s house. We learned how to start making that house feel like a home and rebuilding from the foundation. We are building a new community, with the help of the community we’ve already built. We are doing this one day at a time, attempting with grace and patience.

Our lesson, life is tender, fleeting, like the shift in seasons. Flowers make it easier and remind us of the existence of ethereal beauty. This is why we celebrate seasonality. This is our chance to be authentic, not like anyone else, but a better version of ourselves. Attempting a richer, fuller way of life.

As I’m writing this we celebrate Mack’s birthday, he turned one today. Our family is complete, we just had to wait for the right season.

Here’s to every new season,

Kari & Brad

About Us

Farm & Flora is a family farm centered around small agriculture and big sustainability. We specialize in growing heirloom flowers and vegetables using organic practices, while raising grass fed Scottish Highland cattle on our tiny plot in Northern Illinois.

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