Photos by Sonja Reis
By Elizabeth Perry
If you happen to have recently traveled along Ewing Road in Kennedy Township you may have seen a roadside stand offering “Home Grown & Happily Harvested” bundles of flowers available for purchase using the honor system.
For just $10 cash or a quick scan of a QR Code for Venmo, you can pick out a bunch of colorful flowers for yourself or bring them home to a loved one.
The unexpected flower farm right across the street from the Sto-Rox Upper Elementary belongs to Paul Phillips and his wife Lauren Work-Phillips.
Work-Phillips, originally from Uniontown like her husband, comes from a long line of farmers.
Initially, she didn’t see farmwork as her calling and went to school for business at Duquesne University before moving to New York City to stake out a career. Phillips, a Point Park grad, moved with her.
“I was gonna go where she’s gonna go,” Phillips said.
Work-Phillips had several jobs before finding her calling at a flower shop called Zu Zu’s Petals in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
About nine years ago, the couple moved back to the area and Work-Phillips continued working with flowers. They grew blooms on her father’s Uniontown farm, and she arranged wedding flowers out of their apartment. Seven years ago, they purchased their brick-and mortar location at 502 East Ohio Street in the North Side and named it The Farmer’s Daughter Flowers.
Five years ago, they purchased their family home in Kennedy Township with the intention of growing hard-to-source flowers on the property. They needed an acre of land in full sun to ensure their blossoms could grow. He went back to the same house at different times of the day before they bought the property to see how the sun traveled across the property.
“The lady must have thought I was crazy,” Phillips said.
The Phillips are growing a crop of richly colored, but fragile dahlias. To the Victorians, dahlias represented eternal love and commitment. The dahlias also represent an intense commitment to the Phillips. At the end of every season, Philips and employee Allie Logue dig up the 2,000 dahlia tubers, divide them according to color and variety, and store them through the cold winter months.
The high-maintenance plants require thought all year, Logue said. However, Phillips said, “the more you cut from dahlias, the more they give you.”
This year, they are raising chickens, and hope to offer eggs and possibly fresh produce at the roadside stand next year.
The couple’s suburban garden is just 12 minutes from their work on the North Side. At present, they supply floral decorations for at least seven weddings a weekend.
Ever innovating, these entrepreneurs offer monthly and weekly flower subscriptions online as well as coffee and assorted gifts. They also have workshops on flower arranging, including one where people can learn to harvest flowers from their property and then arrange them.
The 2022 Dahlias
The 2022 Dahlias, Dahlias, Dahlias Workshop on the Flower Farm is set for 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19.
Attendees get to cut dahlias at the flower farm to use in the creation of a centerpiece to take home.
Participants will also receive tips on how to grow their very own dahlias and receive a bundle of their favorite dahlia tubers in the spring.
The class will be held on the Kennedy Township farmette. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the class which is expected to last 60 to 90 minutes. Cost is $200.
To learn more or to register for the class, head to instagram.com/thefarmersdaughterflowers.