After six years in bloom in Orient, the North Fork Flower Farm is starting anew on its very own 24 acres of land in Southold.
The group had been farming on a two-acre site on Terry Lane and outgrew the space, said co-owner Charles Sherman.
“We’re going to dramatically expand the flower farm,” he said, adding that the new site will allow them to introduce new flowers, ornamental herbs, grasses and grains and explore new areas like flowering shrubs and trees. “We’re going to be planting lots of hydrangea, viburnum as well as some fruit trees,” Sherman said, adding that their blossoms make a nice addition to floral arrangements.
The new site is located at the former Moffat Farms north, just ten miles from their current location in Orient.
“You always have a vision of growth,” said Drianne Benner, another co-owner in the project. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us.”
At the new property, plans are underway to design a barn, where the owners hope to offer flower arranging workshops, create-your-own bouquets and weekly CSA pickups.
“We’re building it with a real flower farm experience in mind because we know that’s what people like. They want photographs, they want to be able to walk around through flowers, see pollinators. And we want to be able to host workshops where you can make your own bouquets,” Benner said, adding that it will probably take a year or so before the barn is built as they seek OKs from the town to do so.
They’re still mapping out a vision for the property and have already planted one acre transplanted from Orient, some spring flowering annuals and put up two hoop houses.
“We will have over 300 different varieties. Right now, I’m over 200 with things I’ve started from seed starting in December,” Sherman said. “And there’s lots more yet to plant.”
In addition to relocating their plantings, they are plowing the new fields and preparing beds for both annuals and perennials. Of the 24 acres, approximately 20 are preserved as farmland with development rights sold and four have development rights intact. While their vision for farming the property takes shape, they plan to start out actively growing on four acres this season.
This summer, they hope to offer additional varieties of old favorites like agrostemma, Queen Anne’s lace, mountain mint, cosmos, zinnia, celosia, and agastache as well as new offerings including phlomic woad, madder, angelica, balsam, and ratibida. Benner said they also hope to expand their offerings seasonally, by doing earlier blooms and holiday flowers thanks to the hoop houses, as well as more dried florals.
The business, founded by Benner and her husband Kevin Perry, Sherman and his wife Karen Braziller, also recently welcomed Al Martinez-Fonts and his wife, Raquel, as partners.
Fonts moved to Cutchogue with his wife after retiring from careers in finance and government, became a master gardener through the Cornell Cooperative Extension and also serves as co-president at Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead.
“I’m still pinching myself,” Raquel Martinez-Fonts said of the new venture.
In a recent newsletter announcing the move, the owners expressed gratitude to Priscilla Bull and the Terry family for hosting them in Orient for six seasons. Benner said the opportunity helped them learn about growing flowers and their business. “It’s such a beautiful farm and it’s important to Orient,” she said.
While workshops are temporarily on hold until they can find a venue to partner with, the flower farm plans to continue offering florals for weddings and events as well as a flower CSA.
The Southold farm is located at 48455 Route 48 and slated to open the first weekend of May. For more information, visit their website.