Running a flower farm takes hard work, initiative, a willingness to learn, and most of all, passion. Emily Veldman has all these qualities as she works to transform her land into fields of flowers to share with the Meaford community.
Slowly making her way further and further north over the years from Toronto, Emily and her family ended up in Meaford in 2018 with a “blank slate and a big idea.” She doesn’t remember when the idea to start a flower farm first came to her but does know it began with bees. She was mesmerized, watching them tend the two lavender plants in her garden.
Their first year in Meaford, Emily cultivated a test plot to see what she was working with on her new land. Strong winds and silty soil proved that lavender was tougher than she anticipated. Lavender likes a well-draining soil, and the silt earth with clay beneath was not ideal, which meant lots of work and heavy machinery building up the ground into usable mounds. Her current field of 1,000 French lavender plants are for high yield production to distill into essential oil. Next year she will be expanding with a field of English lavender which she hopes to use for culinary purposes.
For those wondering, English and French Lavenders are two different plants. They have different fragrance profiles, different growth patterns, and different maintenance requirements. The French has long, dainty flower spikes, while the English is a more compact, showy plant. Both can be used for essential oil, but the French will produce a more fragrant oil since it has more camphor in its makeup. As the saying goes, English is edible and French is fragrant.
Lavender isn’t the only plant growing on the farm. On a 50 x 100 foot plot beside the farm store annuals are bred and grown for cut flowers. Veldman sells to florists and makes her own bouquets which are sold both at her store and through other stores like Grandma Lambes.
Nothing ever stays the same with flower farming. Extreme weather and the changing climate makes farming challenging. There is always something new to learn, but each lesson is valuable and the end result is a sense of accomplishment. Emily is certainly not intimidated by a challenge, whether it is soil conditions or strong winds. The work is not without its pain, misery, and tears, but the end result is a scene of utter beauty. With three years under her belt, Veldman feels she finally has her bearings with her property and has recently finalized a site plan. She loves flowers, loves growing them, and has translated her previous career in healthcare to plant care. On their secluded property, tucked away in their little hollow, Veldman has no regrets and knows she has done the right thing starting her flower farm.
The goal of Purple Hollow is to create a botanical gardenesque feel without being over-groomed. A place to wander through fields of flowers that has a somewhat curated feel, not perfect, but definitely beautiful. With 37 acres, Veldman wants to interact with the community, both locals and seasonal tourists, sharing her flowers for photo sessions, picnics, and hopefully other events.
The farm store (637295 St. Vincent-Sydenham Townline) is currently open Fridays to Sundays from 1-4 p.m.