Emily G. Round, owner of Beverly’s Grounded Flower Farm, made her first bouquet when she was a little girl, a gift for her mom made of backyard dandelions. “I give her much better bouquets now,” Round laughs.
Since March of this year, Round has owned and operated a new flower farm on the North Shore specializing in “ethically and ecologically grown” flowers. Working with the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, which operates on fifteen acres of land at the old Moraine Farm in Beverly, Round took a farm business course and then leased her own plot of land earlier this year.
“And then, something that I didn’t plan for shook the whole world—COVID-19. I learned how to pivot fast,” says Round. “My best friends helped me (safely) get the field planted. I can barely believe the amount of encouragement and support I’ve gotten from our community.”
Round has been agriculturally minded for most her life—she attended Essex Agricultural & Technical High School, studied biology in college while working on the UMass Permaculture Committee, and has worked at Boxford’s iFarm, Salisbury’s Herb Farmacy, and briefly doing some freelance landscaping. A fleeting stint into nonprofits only solidified her love for creating and getting her hands dirty.
“I always wanted to have a farm in the back of my mind growing up,” says Round, recalling growing sunflowers with her dad and picking peonies with her mom. Then, as a thirtieth birthday gift to herself, she finally took the plunge into becoming a farmer full time.
Round’s sustainable farming practices make her flowers healthy and environment conscious. Although not yet certified organic, she follows organic farming practices on her plot (it’s actually a requirement for the eleven farmers leasing land with New Entry). Another facet of sustainably grown flowers is financial; Round aims to cultivate a farm where she and other employees earn fair wages for their work.
“I do a lot of my growing so that it’s working in harmony with nature rather than working against it,” explains Round. “I’m building really healthy soil, and really healthy soil’s gonna have really healthy flowers coming out of it.” Hummingbirds and butterflies dart through her chemical-free parcel, and she says you’re almost guaranteed to find monarchs in her zinnia patch this time of year. Bugs like lacewings helps repel pests naturally.
“I can’t imagine being out in a field where every single bug has died and there’s no hum around you of the local birds and bees and butterflies hanging out,” she says.
Round says that healthy flowers are less susceptive to pests, since pests like to target the weakest link. But when all else fails, she uses nontoxic insecticidal soap. And sometimes, she just has to surrender a plant to nature. “Snapdragons have been a no-go for me this year because caterpillars found them really early in the season,” she says. “Some things I’ve just been letting go and saying this is not the year for this plant.”
Round has also been taking care to support anti-racism through her work. All proceeds from her first few sales of the year went to Soul Fire Farm, a farm in upstate New York working to uproot racism in the food system and provide a bigger space for people of color in farming. She’s also donated to Bread & Roses soup kitchen in Lawrence.
There’s a locally grown flower-void to be filled on the North Shore—Round says that local florists often need to travel to Rhode Island or Maine for ethically grown blossoms, or head to Boston wholesalers for chemical-covered flowers shipped in from halfway around the world.
“You don’t get [healthy flowers] by putting in those chemical inputs,” says Round. “You get them by putting in compost and fish fertilizer, and making sure you’re treating the soils right so that people can use that soil for years to come,” says Round, adding that chemical treatments on crops eventually seep into the waterways.
In the years to come, Round sees Grounded Flower Farm expanding to a big space with some greenhouses so she can grow year-round. She aims to employ some “strong, smart women” to keep the business running, and to continue spreading joy to the community. “I want to be able to keep doing what I love and sharing that love with other people,” she says.
For now, you can purchase her gorgeous, made-to-order bouquets on her website, groundedflowerfarm.com. Her September Sunshine bouquets might include blooms like dahlias, sunflowers, and asters, plus some pretty foliage. “I always pick the freshest things I have growing in my fields on that day,” says Round. “I kind of curate them, I put together a bright and cheery color palate.”
Besides single bouquets, she’ll also offer a cute DIY “bucket of blooms.” Plus, she’s now booking weddings for 2021.
“I get to spend my days sharing with others the joy I feel every time a new bloom opens,” says Round, citing the kindness of strangers, new acquaintances, family, and friends during her new venture. “And that is a beautiful, amazing thing.”
For more information, visit groundedflowerfarm.com.