PENDLETON — The bees living in a controlled hive at Earl Gray Fields don’t know how good they’ve got it.
Edith Dubree plans to launch a fresh-cut flower business this summer, inviting customers to stroll the grounds of her 7-acre farm, which will soon be covered in colorful blooms.
“Right now it looks like a muddy mess,” said Dubree as she sloshed her way through the property one dreary afternoon in March.
Dodging mud puddles while strolling between empty flower beds, she and her husband pointed out the beehive that is home to the colony of bees which will soon pollinate their burgeoning floral crop.
“That’s good for the bees and good for the flowers,” said Dubree’s husband, Dustin, who is part of the business venture.
The Pendleton couple can’t wait to welcome the public onto their sprawling property just south of Pendleton, about a mile inside Hancock County, where customers will be able to commune with nature while picking their own flowers.
“I want people to have an almost park-like experience when they come out here,” said Dubree as a chorus of frogs sang out from a marshy area at the rear of the property.
“That’s why I want to invite customers to pick flowers by reservation only, so they can enjoy their time without bumping into people or fighting for the same flowers,” said Dubree, who whimiscally named the farm after her favorite tea.
She and her husband have big dreams for their farm at 2302 E. 1000 North, which they’ve called home since 2017.
It wasn’t until the start of the COVID pandeic that Dubree started giving serious consideration to making a living based on her lifelong love of fresh flowers, a trait handed down by her grandmother.
“When COVID hit and everybody started spending more time outside, I started growing some flowers from seeds,” she recalled.
“I started doing research and found most of the flowers you buy are flown in from somewhere else, so I started thinking of ways to sell people flowers grown locally to brighten their day a little bit. It just grew from there,” Dubree said.
She and her husband started out by planting sunflowers in 2020, and planted a wider variety of flowers the next year starting from seeds grown in their home and garage.
Dubree started selling fresh-cut flower bouquets through Needler’s markets last summer but is looking to expand the business this year.
She plans to grow more than 100 different varieties of flowers, including several native to Indiana.
Lais McCartney, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Purdue Extension-Hancock County, said Earl Grey Fields is one of only two flower farms in Hancock County.
The other — Floral Compass Flower Farm in New Palestine — was started in 2017 by Nick and Carrie Kleiman, who sell fresh floral bouquets professionally arranged by Carrie.
“Having places like this in Hancock County is so great. It’s a great resource for people who want to beautify their homes and improve their quality of life with fresh-cut flowers,” said McCartney, who was blown away by the tapestry of color at Earl Grey Fields last summer.
“It’s just beautiful out there, and Edith is so welcoming and knowledgeable. She shows you all these different varieties of flowers that I didn’t even know could grow here,” said McCartney, who also had high praise for the Kleimans’ flower farm in New Palestine.
Having local farms with tens of thousands of gorgeous blooms is not only great for county residents, she said, but is also a boon for bees.
“Obviously bees need to have nectar, so it’s nice people are growing things that can beautify people’s homes while caring for the bees at the same time,” she said.
Both Earl Grey Fields and Floral Compass Flower Farm have received support from state government agencies.
The Kleimans recently won a conservation award through the Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District, while the Dubrees won a state grant to build a 30-by-96-foot hoop house to grow plants year-round.
Both flower farms offer floral bouquets through individual sales and recurring subscriptions, and both have garnered high praise from customers online.
McCartney said the farms are a wonderful compliment to other local agri-tourism businesses like Lark Ranch, Tuttle’s Orchard and a handful of Christmas tree farms.
“We think of Tuttle’s for apples and Lark Ranch for pumpkins, but seeing these flower businesses (sprout up) is something different, which is a really good thing for Hancock County. I think they all definitely draw people in from outside the county,” she said.
Dubree, who is also a professional photographer, is thrilled to be living out her dream of providing fresh flowers for all to enjoy.
“I think flowers are meant to be brought in and enjoyed. They really help to beautify your home,” said the entrepreneur, who mostly tends the plants on the farm while her husband does most of the handiwork.
He recently put the finishing touches on a glassed-in 26-by-20-foot greenhouse with aesthetic appeal, with a decorative chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
“We plan to hold events there like wreath making and bouquet making, and eventually I might rent it out for birthday parties and bridal showers,” said Dubree, who also hopes to host educational classes for children.
While most of their flowers won’t start making an appearance until May, the Dubrees are now watching as some 7,000 tulips gradually pop up out of the ground.
“We’re hoping for a great year,” said Dubree, who calls the blooming business a labor of love. “It all depends on this crazy Indiana weather,” she said.
For more information on Earl Gray Fields, visit EarlGreyFields.com or follow the business on Instagram.
For information on Floral Compass Flower Farm, follow the business on Instagram and Facebook or email [email protected].