Reinhardt Blooms – Beauty in a Family Business
By Lisa Ann Krutzik
I don’t know why I had not thought about where flowers come from, or that they would actually be ‘farmed’, but here I was standing in the middle of eastern Michigan surrounded by 30 acres of amazing blooms! Together, Katie Wachowiak and her parents Walter and Joy Reindhardt farm this homestead located in Kawkawlin, Michigan.
The land their family currently farms was originally deeded to an American Civil War widow in 1880. Many years later, the Reinhardt family purchased it from her and started building their family farm. This was a traditional second generation dairy farm until Walter and Joy decided to shift gears in life. Joy decided to purchase a seed cleaning machine with the intent of reselling it. When that didn’t pan out, they decided to do something else with it: clean the seeds produced from the flowers and perennials they were growing (as a hobby), and replant them.
This now meant they had more seeds than they would typically plant in a year. So they started selling their flowers in a roadside stand and then at farmers markets. Over the next 11 years, they found themselves farming 30 acres or the 60 they own—with over 100 different amazing cut flowers and perennials! Joy runs the business side of the venture while Walter and Katie plant, harvest, and sell the hardy flowers to local florists; in farmer market stands; and Katie designs floral bouquets for brides and churches on the weekends. Katie shared: “The ‘green’ movement has enhanced our business—especially in the wedding market, because so many of today’s brides are looking for locally gown products.”
Genetically altered seeds have provided some challenges within the industry. Reproducing some of the varieties is not possible. They have been altered in a way to not produce a second crop. But because of Joy’s seed cleaning machine purchase, they have been conserving from early on and have certain varieties of flowers in seasons that the commercial market doesn’t because of crop failure. Another feather in their hat is that Reinhardt Blooms grows lisianthus locally and this flower typically is imported from Holland!
Economics have been a challenge over the last few years because flowers are a luxury item, not a necessity. Katie shared: “We have to make sure they are something to be proud of and that they are hearty so our clients see the value in their purchase.”
When I met with Katie, she was busy creating beautiful bouquets for a Pinconning, MI wedding. The deep purple color of the lisianthus struck me as unusual and the amount of texture created by having six different varieties in the bouquets was tantalizing to me as a photographer. There was no color tipping. All the flowers were natural and the amount of attention, plus personal love for what she does, shone through each arrangement and bouquet. She even made me a hat clip with live flowers! It was a wonderful experience to be a part of and a memory that’ll not fade.
If you ever find yourself standing in the middle of acres and acres of freshly blooming flowers—you just might happen to be standing in the middle of Reinhardt Blooms in Kawkawlin, Michigan!