By Jill Brooke
When Certified American Grown organizers launched their popular Field to Vase dinner experience to raise awareness of the glorious bounty and ingenuity of U.S. flower farmers, it was obvious which farm would be included in their star line-up: The Arnosky Family Farm in Texas.
Frank Arnosky met his wife Pamela while doing graduate work in peach breeding farming at Texas A&M. Pamela was studying the geographical distribution of plants. Connected by a love of nature and farming, in 1990, the Arnoskys bought a parcel of land in Blanco, Texas and embarked on their farming adventure. Thirty years and four kids later, their business has blossomed into creating a variety of seasonal flowers including, as Pamela says, “All Native to the Americas including marigolds, Supercrest Celosias, Pampas Plume Celosias, Sunflowers, Zinnias and Gomphrena.” Other flowers include snapdragons, iris, and statice.
Their farm has grown to 88 acres and they also cultivate another 16 acres in Minnesota for late-season peonies during the hot Texas months.
Furthermore, they were, as Frank proudly says, the first to market locally grown flowers with their own names on the packaging to ensure quality and integrity. Selling to H-E-B, a grocery store chain, they labeled it “Fresh from the Texas Hill Country.”
These days they are most famous now for their Dia de los Muertos “Day of the Dead” festival they championed which is full of bright and colorful marigolds from the farm that also includes family fun activities, lectures and culinary experiences. This Texas Marigold Festival also includes workshops on honoring loved, ones, making marigold bouquets, marigold dances etc.
“When you live in a small town, it’s easier to get things done since there’s not a lot of bureaucracy,” she says, noting how this holiday keeps on growing in popularity.
It is yet another way farmers are pivoting to create visually beautiful and wholesome family adventures that the public continues to pursue, especially after the pandemic. One can always enjoy and learn from a farm.
The Arnosky’s are also respected for a novel approach to sharing and selling their flowers which includes 2500 bouquets during the growing season.
Ever since 2006, they built a Blue Barn and put their specialty flowers inside for sale. “We have the honor system,” says Pamela Arnosky. “People leave money for what they pick or take.” Honor system? Isn’t that risky? “We believe in people,” she says, noting that the generous spirit that perfumes their business policy has proved to work just fine.
There’s a farmers market on weekends and visitors come throughout the week to get flowers.
Although none of their four children have yet expressed interest in managing the farm, their stewardship has impressed many as well as inspired other farmers. Now that locally grown is becoming increasingly more popular, the Arnosky farm serves as a role model to other farmers and the community while also being a laboratory for innovative farming practices. As has been said, a good farmer is a craftsman as well as an artist.
But the one quote that sums up the Arnoskys contributions to U.S. farming is what Thomas Jefferson noted.
“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.”
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.