More sunlight, less blue light: Megh Wingenfeld, flower farmer
Megh Wingenfeld is a flower farmer, blogger, stylist, and creative based out of Cleveland and Brooklyn. A farmer for her whole life, Megh officially went into the business of flower farming four years ago. She grows all of the flowers she works with, and offers floral arranging for events, weddings, and styled shoots, as well as educational events and workshops. On her blog she shares farming tips, wedding stories, recipes from her garden, and styling. Her flowers and floral arrangements have been featured in Arhaus The Blog, styling in Good Housekeeping, and a write-up about her farm in National Geographic. “My work will always be rooted in agriculture and focused on seasonal growing and sustainability,” says Megh.
We asked Megh how being a flower farmer, spending time outside, and interacting with the beauty of nature has made an impact on her life. If you’re anxious for Spring to begin and need a dose of floral inspiration, read on.
Embracing the seasons
“Being a flower farmer in Northeast Ohio has really helped me appreciate the changing seasons and forced me find work during the winter since there is not much to do on the farm with snow on the ground,” Megh explains. During the winter she mainly focuses on planning, working on her website, blogging, purchasing seeds, and forming collaborations with others on weddings and events. “It’s my time to breathe, organize, and build before the seasons start to change.”
“Even when it’s warm in June and it feels like there should be flowers blooming everywhere, it can be a little slow and I am still waiting for most of my flowers to grow. I have learned to be patient and not rush Mother Nature. I need the Wintertime to regroup and rest, and becoming a flower farmer has helped me see that. While I still hate being cold, seeing Winter as a time to rest, relax and set dates in my calendar that are months away has helped my seasonal depression and given me lots to look forward to.”
More sunlight, less blue light
We spend so much time indoors with our faces buried in screens—even during the warmer months when the sun is shining. As someone who loves working in the yard, I asked Megh how farming has impacted her perspective.
“When I started farming full-time a few years ago, I had just gone through a breakup. It wasn’t particularly rough, but [farming] kept me off my phone and focused. When your hands are full of dirt and your face is dripping sweat, there’s not much time for social media or texting.”
You don’t have to have a farm to experience that connection with nature. Even just working in your yard or planting a container garden can have an effect on your psyche.
“I have lived with depression and anxiety my whole life, and while I have never found comfort in meditating, I do experience peace when I am farming alone,” Megh says. “I prefer to be alone and throw myself fully into the physical work of farming. Some people have the gym, I have the fields. Farming has made me proud of what my body can accomplish. Every day, I try to love my body more and thank it for all it does for me. That’s not always easy and I rarely love what I see, but I can’t ignore how strong farming makes me feel.”
Why you should start a garden—or at least buy some houseplant babies
I can personally attest to how amazing it feels to plant bushes, flowers, vegetables, herbs, or shrubs in your yard and to watch them flourish. Even tending to weeds and pruning can be relaxing. Megh, of course, agrees that gardening can be a great pastime for anyone and everyone.
“You have this little seed and you plant it and water it and give it sun and it grows roots and turns into something that makes us happy, feeds us, provides oxygen, promotes pollination, decorates our homes, heals our wounds… it’s pretty rad,” she says. “Plants make people happy. You don’t need a whole garden or jungle to feel that. Buy a little cactus for your nightstand that you can say good morning and goodnight to every day.”
I’m a big houseplant fan, and have found a lot of success with simple plants like pothos, monstera, and snake plants. All three are great for low light situations. This houseplant guide from Better Homes & Gardens is a great resource and includes information on propagating, watering, and taking care of your plant babies.
Tips for starting a vegetable garden
“If you’re just starting out, this May, when there’s no chance of frost and the nights are warmer, build a raised bed or a container garden. Pay attention to what part of your yard, front porch, stoop or fire escape gets the most sun all day. That is going to be your new garden. It may not be an acre sized field but you can get what you need in whatever space you have.”
If you’re into the idea of growing your own food, don’t forget to scale according to your family size.
“You only need to feed yourself, not the whole town,” says Megh.
Who out there gets way too excited and goes crazy buying every single kind of vegetable at the nursery? (Raises hand sheepishly.) In the height of your garden’s blooming time, that kind of scale ends up being a waste. I’ve let too many peppers and tomatoes rot because of that exact problem. They end up growing faster than you can eat them!
Megh’s tip for planting vegetables? “Go to your local greenhouse and buy one plant of each: tomato, kale or spinach, bell pepper, and zucchini. Leave the other stuff like potatoes, garlic, onion, beets, and corn to the farmers! Go support them at the farmers market and leave the basic stuff for your garden.”
If you’re sticking to a container garden, each one of your vegetables can go in their own container. If you stick to simple gardening like this, you only have to worry about a handful of containers, and the payoff will be worth the work: “You will have delicious homegrown salad everyday this summer!”
Where do your flowers come from?
“There’s so much that people don’t think of when they buy flowers from their florist or grocery store,” Megh says. “Like, who grew the flowers? Where did they grow? Are they sprayed with chemicals? How long ago were they harvested and how far did they have to travel? How are the people that harvested these flowers treated?”
Megh explains that almost all of the flowers in the United States are from South America, with most of the American grown flowers coming from California. As Megh puts it, both of those places are pretty far from Cleveland.
“I encourage everyone to get to know their flower farmer,” she says. “When you buy from us, your flowers will have been harvested within hours of you putting them in a vase. They will last longer and create less waste because they wouldn’t have traveled in a box for days. I am all about encouraging people to start their own gardens as long as they show up for the farmers at markets every week.”
“This means so much to me because I care about our earth and the future. I believe in workers’ rights and I want to see local farmers succeed.”
If you want to grow your own cut flower garden instead of vegetables this summer, Megh has a post all about starting one on her blog. She’s also hosting an educational happy hour on May 24th where you can learn all about planting your own garden, socialize and have a few drinks, and take your very own plant home. You can find information about the Flower Power Happy Hour, and other upcoming events, on her website.
You can follow Megh on Instagram @meghwingenfeld, but be sure to check out Megh’s favorite local flower farmers and follow them, too:
What about you, She Leaguers? Are you planning on starting a garden this year? What will you grow? Leave us a comment below to share, so we can all look forward to Spring together!
Feature photo by Zac Bubnick.