Kendra Ferencak

21 08 2009

By Meredith Hart

A sharp tanginess hits the tongue shortly after the first bite and each subsequent chew brings out an abundance of flavor as the petals release their oils. Dill, calendula, bee balm, and bachelor’s buttons are all edible flowers and they are sold at the Detroit Lakes Farmers’ Market by a woman named Kendra Ferencak.

Kendra Ferencak - By Meredith HartThe tall, lanky woman, carrying a knife from her belt, looks powerful. Hailing from Texas, Kendra harbors no Minnesota accent but has the type of determination necessary for being a Minnesota farmer. The goal: grow as much as possible while the season lasts. She does not however, take the same route as most growers, loading the soil with vegetables. Instead, she grows flowers, 30 different kinds, including some that are edible.

Like a secret hideaway, seven rows of colorful flowers stretch out behind a thick wall of trees. The land for this endeavor is kindly donated by a neighbor with whom Kendra trades flowers and vegetables. She believes part of his motivation for letting her use it is to see the land his mother once filled with flowers become a garden again. With all the blues, purples, and reds painting the soil, he must be happy.

Edible Flowers - by Meredith HartNearby, a small inlet from the Otter Tail River provides water for the plants, saving her money and hassle. Although seeds are cheap, flowers are not, so any cut of expenses is appreciated. “I’m not ready to go into debt for this yet,” she said, laughing a bit. Going in debt over flowers would surely take away some of their beauty.

When not working her day job rehabbing affordable housing, Kendra makes the short trek from her wood shingled one-room home to tend to the buds. Twice a week she heads to both the Detroit Lakes Farmers’ market and the Pelican Rapids Farmers’ Market to sell bouquets. “A lot of people come by the table to appreciate the flowers, but not that many buy them yet,” said Kendra. “But, this is my first year, so mostly I am trying to get myself established as a high quality flower grower and hope that my business will grow from there.” She has also established a bouquet subscription program with 12 members to whom she delivers one bouquet a week from mid June to mid September. Although most people grow some type of flowers on their own, rarely are they as varied and elaborate as the bouquets from Kendra’s farm. From Kendra's Farm - by Meredith Hart
While traveling around Australia through a program called World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming, she traded labor for the knowledge of permaculture and how to raise kelp and vegetables. After returning to the United States, she served as an apprentice on a flower farm in Virginia called Wollam Gardens and interned at a vegetable farm in Colorado. Her extensive hands-on farming education made it possible for her to start growing flowers soon after she landed in Minnesota, eventually growing enough for her own wedding.

Kendra working - by Meredith HartAs she explained the nuances of each flower variety, it was clear that she knew what she was talking about. Each growing point, post-harvest technique, and shade requirement was first-hand knowledge that she is now passing on to an apprentice, a young woman with an interest in farming.

Kendra’s life outside of the annuals has the same sort of whimsy as a flower garden. Deep in the woods behind her home sits a picturesque tree house built by her husband, a timber-framer. Sitting inside it was definitely a treat, no mosquitoes, two thrift store chairs worth much more than she paid, and a few cut flowers on the table. This was the perennial life.

To view more photos of Kendra Ferencak’s flowers, please see the Flickr slideshow.




One response

16 09 2009
Garden Design & Care : How to Make an Orchid Bloom | Your Garden, Your Heaven

[…] Kendra Ferencak « Community of a Plate […]

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