By Jill Brooke
Creekside Growers is the type of place you want to go visit for the beauty, versatility and fun. Launched in 2000 by flower lover Sue Dykstra, she started her business as a wholesale grower of perennials and annuals. The business was building but after a decade, she longed for being close to the soil and the feel of terra firma as well as the growing cycles of farming – especially during the summer and fall months. “Cut flowers were always something I grew just for my own enjoyment, but I decided to grow them for an additional sales outlet,” she recalls.
Shortly after a retail garden center was added to the property where she could share her flowers and knowledge with the local community. Because Sue Dykstra is a friendly gal who likes to chat about flowers. Around 2016, Sue wanted to add another one of her passions to the mix and started with a small half-acre cutting and vegetable garden. She wanted to provide her local customers with fresh-cut flowers and vegetables that they would possibly not otherwise get from their own backyards. Assessing the landscape, she also wanted to offer design services to people for events and luckily Kelly Lewis, who had grown up visiting the Dykstra family, joined the team in 2019. Together, they are buildng the business even more with design offshoots. In fact, the team just got included in Debra Prinzing’s book, “Where We Bloom” for utilizing and creating innovative spaces. Now Sue Dyksystra’s small half-acre cutting garden has turned into three plus acres of flowers, shrubs, grasses and more with intentions of growing and impacting the “local flower” movement in West Michigan for many years to come.
1) Superpower Talent or Crop
“Because we have heated greenhouses, I am able to grow a longer season and offer unique varieties that most cut flower growers in our area don’t,” says Dykstra. “Bougainvillea and heirloom mums are just a few of these examples.”
2)Challenge and How It Was Solved
“The biggest problem is increasing our market sales as our crop expands.,” says Dykstra. ” We have a wholesale cut flower distributor very close to us, and many florists and designers still prefer that outlet.” However, as news stories including at Flower Power Daily applaud the efforts of local flower farmers and highlight the benefits to the environment, this education is helping teach consumers about local flower farms. Creekside Growers also realized the benefits of showing and not telling. “We invite customers and florists to visit our farm and see what we have growing,” she says. “We also have dinners in the gardens as well as design classes. We teach kids about cut flowers and their importance.” These strategies have raised their profile as well as business sales.
3) Philosophy – Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
As Kelly Lewis says, “Sue loves to grow and doesn’t have a lot of patience for design work. I am more artistic and like the design part but not the growing aspect.” But of course, this yin yang element makes Creekside Growers not only balanced but productive.
Also, Kelly and Sue are always on the hunt – a treasure hunt of sorts – to find the unique. “Our region is currently on the dahlia craze right now. We do grow many ourselves, but prefer to grow things others aren’t including greens and fillers,” says Dykstra. “We are also committed to using our own flowers in our design work for bouquets and weddings and are working to make this the norm and not the occasional.”
Perhaps this philosophy is reminiscent of Robert Frost’s observation. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD, floral editor for Aspire Design and Home magazine and contributor to Florists Review magazine.