Five minutes with: Amy Ayers

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A rainy January morning gave farmer-florist Amy Ayers a break from her winter garden chores to sit down for an interview with the Christian Leader. Since 2018 Amy has been farming a plot on her parents’ Central California farm where she grows a glorious array of more than 100 kinds of flowers. She combines these blooms with cuttings from her own yard to create floral arrangements. Her creations range from petite jelly jar get-well bouquets to elaborate wedding displays. At Hope Kingsburg, her home church in Kingsburg, California, her flowers contribute to worship on Sunday mornings and grace the bedside tables of elderly shut-ins.

How did you become interested in growing flowers?

It’s definitely in my blood. Grandpa had a labyrinth of gladiolas and iris. He and Grandma loved to try that new seed in the catalog. When you grow up walking around a yard and talking with Grandma about the flowers, it’s just going to come. My plot is right where grandpa’s garden was in the old horse corral.

How do home-grown flowers compare with florist flowers?

There’s something different when you’ve done the whole process—planted and tended, harvested and arranged. It feels like a piece of my heart. Locally grown flowers are not perfect and uniform like the red roses in the grocery store. In fact, I like a crooked stem. In the gardener’s eye, if something grows really wrong, it’s more interesting to us than the perfect bloom.

How do you and the church partner together in your work?

I love calling people in the church about what is blooming in their yard and using their blooms to create arrangements for Easter and other church events. And I like when people will call out of the blue to tell me, “I have this bush blooming.” There are faster and easier ways to get an arrangement done than going to someone’s house to visit with them and pick their blooms, but when you do those things it pulls other people into the idea of giving and can really bless their socks off.

What is your favorite season?

I love the dreaming, the seed shopping, creating a vision in my head for the coming year. Finding that new and interesting variety for the year is part of the thrill of the hunt.

What do you appreciate about the flower-growing community?

Flower farmers are very visual people who enjoy color and form. We are always dreaming and pursuing the vision in our head. We’re growing something not just to get it to market, but to use, to give, to enjoy. There’s a lot of hope in flower farming, lots of anticipation before the reality hits and the gophers eat the carnations again. But there’s always next year…. That’s the hope part of it.

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