April 19, 2016 | The Story Exchange
Spring has sprung at Native Farm Flowers, nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains outside Saratoga Springs, New York.
In the last year, Barbara Jefts’ flower farm has blossomed. She doubled her land to 5 acres and built a second greenhouse, allowing her to grow new plants selected to help her stand out in the local market and maintain a farm that thrives over the long term. And she has pursued an array of creative projects — from wreaths and dried-flower arrangements to paintings on oil cloth — that both give her pleasure and offer income during the quiet winter months.
“Though I’m very able at this point, I have to think ahead,” says Jefts, who is 63 and runs the farm on her own. “I’m always thinking of a thousand things,” she adds. “I have to feed the artistic interest and also feed my pocketbook.”
By diversifying, Jefts says she is “doing well,” though she quickly adds that “my well is not a typical well.” Certainly, there is little typical about this woman, who in her youth groomed race horses, lived in a teepee and spent three years traveling the world on a motorcycle.
Divorced ten years now and mother to two grown children, Jefts has no aspirations to run a big farm. She just wants to maintain a life “that includes living with nature and having a wonderful little farm to enjoy, spending time with my family.”
But don’t let the modesty and simple living fool you. Jefts makes a solid living as a farmer, which is a true business achievement considering how few American farmers do.