The joy and hard work associated with growing things has always been second nature to Emily Jackson, the namesake of iconic Dorchester County family farm business, Emily’s Produce, now in its 24th season.
Even as a youngster, she and younger brother Kyle were involved in helping out, especially during busy summers.
Though wistful at times back then, they’re now extremely grateful to parents Paul and Kelly Jackson for the life skills they learned and the legacy they inherit, as their family’s seventh generation of farmers.
This year, Emily has an extra reason to appreciate her farming background. She’s growing her own wildflowers for her upcoming September wedding. She’s also launched a seasonal wildflower bouquet subscription service, or CSA, to share the floral bounty with the farm’s customers.
The homegrown wildflower wedding idea wasn’t something she’d thought about over the years, in fact, any wedding dreams, in general, took a back seat, as she was always busy, first with the farm, then pursuing her Ag Business degree at Delaware Valley College, where she graduated last year. Noting that she and Kyle were “extremely fortunate” for parents who didn’t apply pressure to adopt the family business as her occupation, she also enjoyed experiencing a variety of job possibilities, including at national parks.
Last July, that all changed, after college sweetheart Ethan Wright proposed. As the couple embarked on the nitty gritty of wedding planning details, i.e. floral budget, colors, etc., Emily had the inspiration that “we could make magic ourselves.” The couple are well on their way to doing just that, and Emily couldn’t be happier with their plan.
Deciding on floral varietals in “sunset hues,” some of the Big Day selections to grow include Celosia, Lisanthius (Prairie Gentian), Cosmos, Statice, and, she added, “of course, the Zinnias.”
“I am super excited about the cosmos, the celosia (in colors gold, pink, & rose), and the lisanthius (in colors pink, champagne, and yellow). They will be the base of the flowers! We have also added snapdragon, helichrysum, and talinum to see how they grow/how they look with the others!,” she noted. But that’s not all.
“We are working with the Baking Mariner to incorporate a wildflower halo around the base of the cake! Lavender will be incorporated at each place setting, and we are planning for a wildflower grazing table with local meats and cheeses, and also drying petals to throw as confetti during our ceremony exit,” she added.
The wedding’s site, historic Worsell Manor near Galena, is located midway point between the Jacksons’ Dorchester County home and the groom’s family, who are coming from Collingswood, N.J. The venue contains a rustically charming event barn, a welcome nod to Emily’s own farming roots.
Though she’s helped plant some farm crops over the years, the bride-to-be enlisted dad Paul’s help for this crucial sowing, acknowledging his vast experience and “greener thumb.”
He jumped in right away, ordering flower growing books for Emily to peruse, and teaming up to pick out seeds.
“Getting to spend time with my dad working on this has made it even better,” she said.
“My future mother-in-law Desiree has the same eye for beautiful wildflowers as I do, so I have kept her up with the growing process and she will be a big part in arranging the flowers,” Emily said. Desiree has also contributed her considerable artistic talent to painting the vibrant designs adorning the Emily’s Produce food truck.
As for mom Kelly, “she is always my biggest helper!,” Emily added. “She has let me and my dad take the lead on this project because colors are not her strong suit, as she is color blind. She is the biggest help in the planning process but she takes a step back when it comes to any decisions about color.”
A bevy of bountiful flowers from the field and greenhouse are already a major part of the overall landscape at Emily’s Produce. In addition to the Jacksons’ popular you-pick strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, and pumpkin patches, there is also a striking array of eye popping cutting flowers for picking, or for sale as charming wildflower bouquets inside the produce market itself.
The flowers, in fact, had always been among Emily’s favorite items to help sell; employees also enjoy being involved in creatively gathering the bouquets together, she said.
Last winter, while attending an “off season” farm market business workshop presented by a flower grower, Emily also became intrigued with the potential benefits of such a venture.
As she began planning her wildflower wedding portfolio, she was inspired to also begin offering a Wildflower CSA, so that everyone had a chance to enjoy the blooms. Details describing the program are described on the Emily’s Produce website:
“For the first time we are stretching beyond our local produce to our beautiful long lasting blooms. Not only does choosing a CSA benefit the consumer by providing farm fresh goods, but the consumer is also providing support to their LOCAL economy and their LOCAL producers. We have always valued the farmer to consumer relationship that a CSA provides, and we are super excited to be able to share our vibrant wildflowers all summer long in a different way!
“The entire program is 12 weeks throughout the summer (June through August). The flowers will be hand picked from our wildflower field and carefully arranged by our team so that all you have to do is enjoy your bouquet! If you’re looking for a great gift for a loved one, looking to add some color in your house, wanting to impress renters or visitors in your home with some beautiful local blooms, or just looking for a weekly serotonin boost through fresh cut flowers, you are going to love this program!”
As for Emily, she’s actually just as busy as ever, if not more so, working full-time at the family produce business, filling in as an aide at Saints Peters and Paul School in Easton, and traveling “from Berlin to Cumberland” as a state mobile “Ag Ambassador.”
Through it all, this bride-to-be feels thankful for so many good things to savor, saying that through it all, “This year just feels so right, in so many ways.”