PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2014, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information. Typically, the flowers are expected to be ready for picking by mid-July, but Mother Nature really runs this show 🙂 We encourage you to contact Susan Petersen (she’s wonderful! you’ll love her!) at email@example.com or 860-608-3921 for the most up-to-date information.
Before I get into today’s post, I have to thank Mandy for jumping in at the eleventh hour yet again and helping me out with an extra post last week. You see, I was unexpectedly without Internet access. Why, you ask? Well, as Mandy alluded to at the start of last Thursday’s throwback post, I am in the middle of a big house project. Actually, that’s code for: I’m moving.
Now, nobody get all worried or anything. It’s just down the street. I’m not even leaving my current zipcode! But it is very exciting for my family and I’m so happy to be able to share that news with all of our readers. However, this move has seriously cramped my blogging over the past several months. I was never good at math equations but I can tell you that buy house + sell house + 2 kids + 1 dog = reeeaaalllllly busy summer. But now that we are finally getting settled in at the new place, I’m hoping we can return to (relative) normalcy. So thanks again, Mandy! For all your help covering for me this summer. Isn’t she the best? 🙂
Now, back to today’s regularly scheduled blogging…
As a kid, did you ever wander around in fields or parks or your own backyard plucking dandelions and clover and buttercups and other assorted floral weeds and then making a “bouquet” for someone special? I did all the time. I guess that was really a case of “it’s the thought that counts,” because a bunch of wilted, slightly smushed dandelions is only beautiful when a 3-year-old is handing it to you 🙂
So when a reader told us about a pick-your-own flowers farm in South Windsor, CT, my inner kid lit up and I couldn’t wait to fulfill my childhood fantasy of picking a “wild” bouquet of beautiful flowers!
Petersen Farm in South Windsor is a family farm that offers PYO flowers as well as a selection of picked fruits and vegetables. From July to September (or until the first frost), their multi-acre field of hand-planted flowers blooms, and visitors can enjoy looking at and cutting the blossoms. And when I saw “hand-planted”, I am not exaggerating. These flowers do not grow themselves people! They are lovingly cultivated from seeds in the family’s geenhouse, then the seedlings are planted in long rows where they are tended to often. And they do this EVERY YEAR. A-mazing!
What’s also amazing, beyond the floral and produce selection, is that the whole business is run on the honor system. The Petersens have set up a shed at the front of their property, which they stock with produce for sale as well as flower cutters, water jugs, etc. Payment is made by cash or check through a slot in a lockbox. I don’t know why I am so enchanted by this, but it just makes me smile thinking about how simple and wonderful this concept is: just stop by anytime and pick some flowers or pick up some produce. Honest people, honest products. Wouldn’t it be so nice if the whole world worked like this? (Insert John Lennon’s “Imagine” playing here.)
Because I had read somewhere online that the farm is only open on weekends (that’s not true), we ventured out there on a Saturday. Turns out, as I’m sure you suspected, that the farm is really pretty much open anytime there’s light enough to see the flowers and the little lockbox where you can deposit your payment. The Petersens are not picky about when folks can stop by. Come whenever you like.
If it’s your first trip out there, you might be a little confused trying to find the location because the address of the farm is actually the address of the Petersen’s home (they live in the house at the end of the flower rows). That is, 125 Burgess Road. But if you turn onto Burgess Road and head towards their house, you are going to be heading away from the flower field, which is located on the corner of Burgess Road and Foster Road. So don’t turn onto Burgess Road. Instead, look for the sign out on Foster Road because that’s where you’ll want to park.
Really it’s fine to park anywhere on the grassy area in front of the rows of flowers.
I wasn’t sure what to expect so I brought my own clippers. But that was totally unnecessary as the Petersens leave everything you might need out beside the shed: clippers and jugs with water that you can use to store your flowers in while you pick them so they don’t start to wilt (just make sure you return both these items to the shed before heading home; they are just to borrow, not to keep).
As you can see above, flowers are $8/pound and inside the shed is a scale to weigh them with, as well as a calculator to figure out how much you owe.
I was a little unsure how the boys were going to react to an outing of flower picking (despite my whole-hearted attempts at gender-neutral parenting, my boys will always pick rough and tumble over quiet and thoughtful any day; must be genetics 🙂 ), but they were all smiles as we walked out into the rows and rows of beautiful blooms. Boo was totally into it, telling me which color flowers to cut, how many of each, even whether I should cut the stem short or long. And of course, he had to carry ALL the flowers himself. Of course.
There were so many different kinds of flowers, it was hard not to pick one of everything. I was practically giddy the whole time. I just couldn’t believe that we could cut any of these gorgeous flowers that we wanted to and bring them home to enjoy. But you can. Any and all of them. It was magical.
Before our visit, I had contacted Susan Petersen about coming out for the blog, and I was lucky enough to run into her the day we were there. She was so sweet and took time away from a big painting project at her house to talk with me about the farm, give me a garden tour and even a lesson on how to properly cut the flowers (aim for the lower part of the stem but make sure you just cut off the bloom, not the entire plant).
It was so wonderful to talk with her about all the different flowers and find out more about them. My mom is an avid gardener but apparently I did not inherit the green thumb gene because I may be the only person on the planet who can kill a cactus plant (yup, got two on my back porch that I murdered this summer–not even sure how because I never touch them; I guess I’m such a terrible gardener that I can kill plants solely by telepathy–Ha!).
I was especially excited to stumble upon this plant below, as it is one of my favorites for its unique color, texture and character, and was used extensively in the centerpiece arrangements at my wedding.
Now, do you have any idea what this lovely specimen of flora is commonly called? “Love Lies Bleeding.” Yup. That’s right. The tables at my wedding were covered in a plant called Love Lies Bleeding. Good thing my florist kept that bit of information to herself!
Susan also showed me their array of fruit and vegetable crops, including squash, watermelon, and tomatoes to name a few. These are not really pick your own per se, but as they ripen, the Petersens harvest them and bring them to the shed where they are available for purchase.
When we had selected enough flowers to create the bouquet of my childhood dreams, we headed for the shed to settle our tab with the metal lockbox.
For less than the price of a supermarket bouquet, we had spent a lovely morning frolicking in the flower fields and creating a stunning floral arrangement that would be a beautiful centerpiece at home or make a wonderful surprise for someone special (grandma? auntie? or, ahem, mommy?).
Sure beats those dandelions, huh? 🙂
Because the Petersens have other full-time day jobs besides the farm, they don’t do a whole lot with promotion so there’s no website or Facebook page right now (although, they are listed here; the information seems to be a little out-dated though). However, feel free to call or email Susan Petersen with any questions you may have. She’s wonderful!
Open daily from July through September (or first frost)–peak flower picking in August; it’s an honor system so there’s no one really manning the checkout. Just come when you like and leave your payment (cash or check made out to “Susan Petersen”) in the lockbox in the shed.
PYO flowers are $8/pound. We picked a good size bouquet and it weighed in at about 1.5 lbs.
- Stroller Friendly: Sort of. You could try it if you really need to use one. There are pathways between the rows of flowers, but it would be restrictive. A wearable baby carrier is a better option for a non-walker.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: YES.
- Restroom: NO
- Baby Changing Station: N/A
- Parking: YES. Just pull onto the lawn in front of the flower field.
- Food for Sale: YES to fresh produce, but NO to any prepared, ready-to-eat foods. Although, fruits and veggies do make great snacks 🙂
- Outside Food Allowed: YES. Bring a snack, have a picnic. It’s a lovely setting.
- Cash Required: YES, unless you carry your checkbook with you. Cash and check are the only methods of payment. Also, there is no change.
- Dress Code: I recommend sturdy, closed toe shoes like sneakers. We all wore flip flops, and we all needed to give our feet a good scrub when we got home. Next time I’ll take the extra minute to locate real shoes.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. Petersen Farm is open daily for PYO flowers from July through September.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- August is the peak month for flower selection. Go now!
- Cutters are provided, no need to bring your own.
- Unless you are going straight home, bring a vessel that holds water that you can put the flowers in. Otherwise, they may start to wilt pretty fast. On the plus side, even if they wilt on the trip home, just get them into a vase of fresh water ASAP and after a few hours they will spring back to life (a tip from personal experience).
- Adults, please supervise your children and if they are too little to be cutting flowers with sharp instruments, don’t let them. Common sense, ok?
- I let Boo “pick” the flowers by pointing to where on the stem I should cut it, and that seemed to engage him just fine.
- Petersen Farm is located not too far from Nevers Park and the amazing Boundless Playground there, so make an afternoon of it and visit both!
- 4D Vision Gym – A vision training center located in Cromwell, CT where Dr. Juanita Collier, MS, OD and her staff show members how to utilize Vision Therapy to correct visual issues and make learning and playing easier and more fun.
- NEW Imagine Studio – Under the direction of Karla Kress-Boyle, opening this fall at 97 South Street is West Hartford’s only Creative Arts Studio. Focusing on building imagination and self confidence, our wonderful staff will be sharing their talents in Dance, Art, Music, Yoga and Theater programming.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
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