We took a daytrip to visit Gull Croft Gardens in Gloucester, MA to meet owner, gardener and Duckfeet fan CJ Vachon and her team of gardeners, watch them work and ask a few questions!
First thing we had to know was how she named her business and lush garden, CJ says–
“The name came from the British word "croft" which refers to, usually, a smaller plot of farmland, rented out to a farmer by the owner. I felt that I started this business on land owned by all those who came before us, and we see evidence of them when we dig. We've found the vertebrae of a whale, old pottery, etc. And, because it overlooks the coast, and we're often visited by seagulls while we work, I threw in the reference to "gull".”
How Gull Croft Gardens Came to Be…
In 2019 I had a spine injury that ultimately made it impossible for me to return to my prior profession full time. So, as I was hunting around for ideas of what I could do next, a friend of mine who was managing a local, private personal farm called me in a panic needing someone who could help her with being back-up to care for the animal and the primary person in charge of the plant-based products the farm aimed to sell to the local community.
I spent two years working there where we did cut flower farming, hydroponics, microgreen and lavender and other oil production. It was an incredible experience and the team we ended up creating was amazing. We ended up bringing on Sue D because I have known her for years, and she has an animal and plant background. In the plant part of the business, I consulted Wendy who I have also known for years, and she has master gardener training and runs Sunflower Turning - a nonprofit dedicated to fighting food inequality and insecurity by teaching people to grow their own food or for others.
When the owners of that farm decided they didn't want the farm business anymore, I opted to do the cut flower business myself. My husband has been a huge help along the way. But, I quickly realized I needed help. Of course, I immediately reached out to Sue & Wendy. This past year, I realized that we needed an extra set of hands and brought Susan on. She works at a nearby farm where I board my horses.
Working in the Garden Seasonally
“We like all times of year working on this cut flower farm - for different reasons.
Spring is new beginnings - the earth is rich, the spring flowers are fun.”
“Summer is when the blooms really get going. The intense heat of summer here, with the southern exposure can be brutal… but, that intense heat makes the dahlias happy!”
“Autumn means cooler temperatures, winding things down for the growing season but getting things ready for the next season. That usually means some heavy manual labor where you really see the results of your work, like bringing in manure.”
“Winter has its own life. There's still work to be done outside but we also start the new growth inside under lights.”
Tips for An Emerging Entrepreneur
“I think whether in my prior profession advising new businesses or in being a new cut flower farmer, I like to remember that when you start something new there will be failures and learn from those as much as the successes. As a cut flower farmer, I've learned that there will be many failures, small and large, when there is absolutely nothing you could have done. Like a microburst right over the plot of dahlias. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty and laugh.”
“As a cut flower farmer, it's no small thing to say "when I wear Duckfeet boots, I don't have to worry about my feet!". They're comfortable and I'm not going to slip. I can crouch down and dig with no impinging. I can be on my feet working. I'm not worried if they get wet.”
Gardening in Duckfeet? Team Gull Croft Garden votes yes!
“We love our new Duckfeet. As Sue said ‘my feet are so happy!’”
“It's good looking footwear that you can really put to work!”
Follow along Gull Croft Gardens
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gullcroftgardens/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100088154206633