This Women in Business Wednesday, we’re excited to introduce our friend, Beth Foley of Bella Terra Flower Farm. Beth will be popping-up at our Designer Tent Sale this Sunday, but before she does, we wanted to tell you a little bit about her …
Bella Terra is a small, specialty cut-flower farm in Southeast Michigan. The business is committed to sustainability, mindfulness, and leaving their small patch of Earth a little better than they found it.
We interviewed Beth about her goal to produce organically, her aesthetic for flower arrangement, and her favorite pair of shoes! Inspiring, artistic, and ambitious; we know you’ll love Beth as much as we do!
. . . . .
BETH FOLEY, BELLA TERRA FLOWER FARM
Job Title/Position: Owner, Bella Terra Flower Farm
Tell us a little bit about Bella Terra! What inspired you to start your business?
I never would have expected I’d end up running a flower farm. But I have always known, at least in the back of my mind, that I wanted to run my own business. When I left the corporate world to raise my two little ones, I found myself looking at life a little differently. I wanted to get the kids involved in something where they’d see tangible results of hard work, with fresh air in their lungs and sun on their faces. We dug up a patch of our backyard, planted some seeds, and Bella Terra Flower Farm was born.
What's your favorite thing about running your own business?
Learning new things as I go. Nature truly is amazing. Every time a particular flower crop isn’t quite as productive as I had hoped, or some new pest devours a variety I was eagerly awaiting all season, it’s an opportunity to learn and approach things differently next time.
Having to tell some customers no. We just can’t be everything to everybody, and we aren’t trying to be. For example, we are asked all the time but currently don’t do wedding design work. Perhaps we’ll offer that in the future, but for now, it’s a time investment that we aren’t able to take on. We stay focused on what we love – nurturing flowers from seed, allowing us to create ‘everyday bouquets’ and share the beauty with others. Saying ‘no’ goes hand in hand with creating time to unplug and rest. This could be a 24/7 job if I let it!
What's your favorite flower?
Right now, frilly specialty tulips. They are so breathtaking and unexpected. Next month, probably snapdragons. They smell amazing and remind me of my Grammie. The month after that, probably dahlias ☺ There’s always some new beauty in the field to fall in love with. But I’m constantly drawn to the unique varieties that you just don’t find everywhere.
Describe your aesthetic for arranging flowers in general.
Rustic, loosely arranged, garden-inspired bouquets that highlight the casual elegance of locally grown flowers.
Bella Terra has a very eco-conscious way of working. Tell us a little bit about your organic growing methods and sourcing locally/why it's so important to the business.
While we are not certified organic, we do grow using organic practices, without the use of synthetic chemicals and pesticides. We use as little plastic in our work as possible, especially single-use plastic. We are constantly working to improve our soil fertility, because healthy soil means healthier plants and a stronger ecosystem. Overall, we aim to leave the Earth a little better and more beautiful than we found it. And by sourcing locally, we are minimizing the footprint we leave on the Earth while supporting other small businesses in our community.
Your business seems to be ever-evolving. What do we have to look forward to from Bella Terra?
My dream is to create a place of community, a ‘destination’ where someone can come to escape from the everyday chaos. A place to share beauty, have a cup of coffee and some good conversation, maybe take a class, and leave with an armful of beautiful flowers to brighten their day or spread kindness with others.
What does a typical day at BT look like?
It’s different every day, which is part of why I love it. I’m constantly shifting between planning the fields, starting seeds, responding to emails, planting seedlings, managing the bookkeeping, and harvesting and arranging the flowers. For example, even though we’re harvesting tulips in the field now, I’m also poring through catalogs to order next year’s bulbs within a couple weeks. It keeps my mind fresh and keeps the job interesting – it’s hard work but doesn’t feel like a job! Though I will always be out in the field in the sunshine if I have the choice.
What's the best career advice you've ever received?
When I got my first ‘real’ job at 21 years old, my dad encouraged me to always be learning something new. I have really taken it to heart. It’s good career advice, but great life advice too!
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Home & Lifestyle
Name a trend that will never go out of style: white t-shirt and great pair of jeans.
Name a trend you hope never comes back: 1980s country plaid home decor
Design advice to live by: Keep it timeless.
What's on your coffee table? ‘Cool Flowers’ by Lisa Mason Ziegler, Traditional Home magazine, and piles of seed catalogs. And always a good cup of joe. (Seriously, always.)
Most beloved thing in your closet: An oversized cashmere sweater that belonged to my dad.
Ideal vacation: Any place with a sandy beach.
Describe your favorite pair of shoes: Perfectly worn-in leather flats.
Who do you love to follow on Instagram: I have so many but if I have to pick one, Erin Benzakein/ Floret Flowers is so inspirational. She shares the beauty of her work, but also the real nitty gritty of owning her own business and in particular, flower farming. It’s not always super glamorous! Her first book was the nudge I needed to really pursue this crazy farmer-florist dream, and it has been a love affair ever since.
Odds & Ends
Go-to drink order: Large coffee, 2 creams
Best restaurant in the area: Sava’s in Ann Arbor
Favorite way to spend a day off: On the water with a good book
If you could have brunch with anyone who would it be? My momma