Book Review: “Flower Farming for Profit”

Review Flower Farming for Profit
“Flower Farming for Profit: The Complete Guide to Growing a Successful Cut Flower Business”
By Lennie Larkin
Chelsea Green Publishing, 2024
288 pages, paperback, $45

Flower farmers are known for their unflagging passion for flowers: from seed to bloom with hands in the soil, many have found a life of joy and fulfillment. “Flower Farming for Profit” author Lennie Larkin is no exception. Ten years ago, she jumped into flower farming, first in California then in Oregon, giving it her all. She loved this life but didn’t expect to feel so overwhelmed and burned out. She observed other flower farms in the same boat: burned out, increasing production to increase profits, which did not yield more money, and often giving it up. This situation prompted her to become involved in intense research and education to discover how it could be different. Her second passion, helping flower farmers to be successful, was born. “Flower Farming for Profit” is a product of her research and experience. This information-rich book is divided into three sections: “Becoming a Flower Farmer,” “Planning for Profitability” and “Farm Operations.”

Up first, “Becoming a Flower Farmer” concentrates on information gathering. Taking an inventory of your resources, such as infrastructure, available land and finances, is essential. Researching your markets is the key to discovering what and who is out there to help you define your marketing plan. She discusses different marketing channels, including the ins and outs of retail, wholesale, farmers’ market, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and weddings.

“Planning for Profitability” stresses the need to make a mission statement followed by goal-setting with metrics. This in turn will help to build a solid business plan. Crop planning allows you to determine market demand for each crop, shipping potential, and matching flowers with different customer channels. Larkin recommends basing planning on sales projections rather than yield projections. Pricing can be hard for beginning flower farmers who are anxious to sell the flowers and who often will underprice or look to the markets, an unreliable source, to determine prices. She insists the best way to set prices is to base them on the cost of production. This is the only way to make a profit! Ideally that profit should be about 35% of gross. This section has other important information on bookkeeping, taxes, insurance and more.

“Farm Operations” discusses the importance of efficiency in all your systems due to the unpredictability of factors that are often beyond your control and interfere with the smooth running of the farm. She recommends record-keeping for all systems. Building a team of workers is a key to efficiency, and she expects her workers to be able to work at an 80% efficiency level of what she can do. Growth can be accomplished through increasing scale or efficiency. She advises to go slowly with this step and offers different strategies.

“Flower Farming for Profit” is a book not only for new farmers but also for established ones who are struggling or simply want to improve their operations. It is a detailed road map to success with a wealth of information, charts, resources, a useful appendix and so much more. The message of this book is clear: You can be successful as a flower farmer!

– Karen Volckhausen, Orland, Maine

This review was originally published in the summer 2024 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Browse the archives for free content on organic agriculture and sustainable living practices.

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