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Issue: 4  - July 2023
My goodness how has time flown by!  This news letter is a bit later than anticipated because since we started planting, it has been a 
non stop whirlwind.  Mother's Day was a huge success as it was our first mother's day since starting this business.  Last year we were still hanging drywall during mothers day and trying to order a few products to show up in time for the launch of our gift shop....sorry Ashley!  The first two weddings of 2023 went through FLAWLESSLY!  We were so happy that our brides were pleased with our home grown products!  We were asked to supply a third wedding for a customer who was growing flowers for it, but had a fungus outbreak along with a few plants that were not producing in time. Custom orders have come in, a funeral, and many other "just because" bouquets have went out the door. 
As we started the summer, the Solomon Valley Farmers' Market fired up, and Ashley has been going to that weekly.  God has blessed us with a different vehicle that suits our delivery and transportation needs with flowers better, and in turn has changed our market days  from stressful to very manageable! Ashley goes to set up while Tristen stays home with the kiddos and gets supper ready.  It makes Wednesday nights quick and easy!
Issues of bugs, pests, weeds, and everything else that comes with a hot dry summer has plagued our farm, and we are taking measures to manage the less pleasant parts of flower farming.  We are pulling out cold season plants out of the hoop house that are done and preparing the beds for more hot season plants.  The west bed expansion is growing quickly and blooms will be arriving shortly!  We are excited to transition to the hot blooms, but sad to see the spring ones go!
The biggest change to the farm comes in October of 2023, and we are prepping for it daily! We will be welcoming our third child to the farm and will learn how to manage 3 kiddos and a home business.  Our two kids already love being outside on the farm and growing up in the country, being around our animals and plants, and learning to care for the land. We will start the process on #3 next!

Thank you for your continued support and business, and we will do our best to keep updated this year!
Issue: 3  - February 2023

HAPPY NEW YEAR.....a month late.  January is such an interesting month. The lights and magic of Christmas is put away, families go back home, and the cold really sets in. For many it is a time of hardship and sometimes depression.  For others it is a time for renewal and fresh starts! Keep that in mind as you go about your days; we don't always know what is going on in other's lives.  For us at the farm, it is a time to rest, recap what happened in the previous year, and set the current year into motion!  Currently we have 

literally THOUSANDS of baby seeds growing!  A large goal of ours in 2023 was to TRIPLE our flowers available for cutting.  Along with the bigger selection for farmers' markets and general bouquets, we have booked our first wedding for May, and have another wedding pending for June!  Lastly, we plan to launch our first "U-Pick" season this spring! 
Many people may not know what 'U-Pick" means.  The basic idea and vision is for you to come to our farm, pick out a bucket and a pair of snips, and start harvesting your own blooms!! This is meant to be a fun and interactive
 activity that will take some time and practice, but will be so rewarding after you're done cutting!! We then bring your harvest back to the studio, help arrange them and get them ready for your home!  This way of collecting your perfect bouquet will ensure the MOST FRESH FLOWERS in the county! There is nothing better than a fresh picked vegetable or fruit, which is why many people grow their own gardens. The same can be said about flowers!  They will last in a vase much longer because of how quickly they are transitioned from stem to vase. 

We look forward to serving your families with this new attraction, and cannot wait for you to come experience the stillness of the farm, and the peace that comes with our flower gardens.  God has been good to us and entrusted us with this
 farm.  Some days can be headaches, but many days are like heaven as we walk through our blooms.  We want that experience for you too!
 

Issue: 2 - November 2022

This month has been an adjustment for the farm as we transition from flower farming to construction work!  In a typical year, we will still be farming late into November due to what we are working on now!  But currently we are driving over our main growing area with skid loaders and trucks as we construct our 72x38 hoop house!  This is kind of like a greenhouse with no floor, as we will still need the soil exposed to grow directly in the ground.  This building will have clear UV resistant plastic sheeting so that light will come through naturally and give light to our seedlings. Most of all, this building will create a safe environment for the seedlings will grow without the danger of high winds and late/early frosts that Kansas likes to throw our way in the middle of spring and fall.

We are blessed with the equipment and help in our small community to make this project happen! Ackerman Supply has rental equipment to help hoist the strong steel beams into place, Fugate Construction helped us source soil as we needed over 10 truckloads of dirt to make the area level and usable, and Beloit Ready Mix graciously gave us extra help when Tristen was working alone pouring the foundation footers for the building. 
 

Tristen and his father Steve will continue to work on the building to get it ready to plant this fall. Yes!! We have varieties started in our basement grow room!  Over 400 plants are currently growing in our grow room that hare winter hardy (to a certain point) and with the mild fall we have had, there will be plenty of time to get these plants well established before the hard winter freezes come.  Looking ahead to 2023, we hope to have a growing season from March till December with the help of this new building!

New items continue to pour into the studio as gift season is upon us!  Tristen and Ashley look carefully into their vendors to find the best products and pricing so that they can have a gift shop full of unique items.  The biggest challenge for any small business at this time is inflation as all Americans are feeling the effects of rising prices.  Slowly it is causing prices to creep up each time we reorder, but the retail price in our store is remaining the same as long as we can.  We try to pass savings on to our customers, so when Tristen can get discounts and deals for bulk orders, he then passes those savings on to the consumer.  Overall, our vendors are an absolute joy to work with, and we look forward to continually bringing new items to the studio in the coming months.

Our family is here to serve yours, and we appreciate your continued business and support as we get this business off the ground!  Stay tuned for more updates.

 

Issue: 1- October 2022

 

It’s newsletter time! We haven’t written an update about the farm happenings since the newspaper article in the Beloit Call. A lot has happened since then and we thought now would be a perfect time to share it with you all! What a whirlwind year 2022 has been.

 

The Vision

We started this venture with a desire in our hearts to have Ashley stay home and raise our children. When we purchased our farm, it was overgrown with weeds and pests, but we could both see the potential beside the beauty that the previous owner, Lois Krone, had already cultivated.

2021 was spent maintaining, cleaning up the property, and clearing ground for the business. Tristen’s favorite hobby in life is gardening, and luckily for Ashley, his desire to create acres of beauty blended well with her business idea. Tristen had already started the process of creating gardens, but flowers were not on his mind. Ashley dug deeper into the idea of flower farming through research and found another world that we had never been exposed to, especially in “small-town Kansas”. In August 2021, Long Stem Gardens was born. 

 

It was very apparent that a central home base was needed on the farm for what we planned to do. January 2022 began the renovations to what is now the Long Stem Gardens “Flower Studio”. A 24’ x 14’ garage was turned into a gift shop with workspace and a walk-in-cooler to keep all of the fresh picked blooms in peak shape. All plans and details were made by Ashley, perfected by Tristen, and set into motion, at the perfect time, by our God. We intended to open the Studio in spring before the tulips were ready, but life got full with our family expecting a baby boy in April. Jaylen arrived, and Tristen said he would never again start a new business, run an existing business (Ackerman Supply) in its peak season of spring, and have a newborn in the same year! Fast forward to June 15th and the gift shop began to be in full operation with Ashley managing the daily hours at home with our kiddos alongside her.


We saw our Beloit blooms take flight at the local farmer’s market and word started spreading. Slowly, God sent more people to our farm and growth was in place! However, the biggest issue that we faced was…wind! The location of our farm is out in the middle of a field with no real windbreak of trees. When trying to grow healthy, long, straight stems full of beautiful flowers, wind was a challenge. God came through again, as he always does, and supplied us a building that will be made into a greenhouse to protect our plants! This building will take our product to the next level in quality, quantity, and protection against early and late frosts.

 

What’s Next?

2023 will bring us a new growing area that will be three times larger than before. In turn, production and variety will be much more extensive. This means more choices and variety for you, the consumer! We are also looking forward to our first opportunity to provide beautiful, fresh flowers for a local wedding! We are beginning to offer complete growing customization plans for desired flowers, within our geographical and land abilities, for weddings or large events that are scheduled 9+ months out from the date. We are also excited to expand our offerings of flowers for special events, so don’t be afraid to reach out with questions about private bouquet-building parties, bridal and baby showers, parties, reunions, and much more!

 

Our most exciting addition to the business is our “U-Pick” option for our consumers. We aim to grow flowers in our open acres that will be available for customers to come and cut their own handmade bouquets and partake in the beauty of the farm! This experience will be unique to our area and be enjoyable for the whole family. Details and varieties will be released soon, and we can’t wait to get our farm on the map as a destination of fun for our rural area!

 

Overall, we want to express our heartfelt thanks to YOU for your support this first season, and for the months to come. Even though we will be out of flowers later this fall until early spring, our gift shop will be in full operation on a daily basis with our 9 AM – 4 PM hours on Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday schedule. We are closed on Wednesday and Sundays for farm maintenance, family time, and rest from our busy lives.

 

We did not know what kind of response we would get or if we would have enough interest to bring this vision to a reality. But, 2022 has shown us, once again, that God continues to be faithful and provide everything we need to grow and be relevant to our community. Here’s to growth and excitement in 2023!  We will do all we can to serve you in the coming decades!

-Tristen & Ashley Long

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