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  • Writer's pictureDawn Bly

Meet the Team--Ms. Dawn and Mr. Eric --and the Farm's Origin Story)



A man, a woman and a girl teenager in a yardful of flowers in Olathe.
Meet the Team: The family in the garden in July. Photo Credit: Olivia J. Photography.

We are the Bly-West family and opened our suburban Olathe garden to the public as a u-pick flower farm in 2022.

 

Here's a little bit about us:

 

Mr. Eric (that is what the neighborhood kids call him) is known as our "Corporate Sponsor." When not working for Ms. Dawn, he works as a Customer Service Manager in the area. He ditches his bachelor's degree when at home to moonlight as our digger, hauler, encourager and expert deal-finding shopper. He is a lifelong Kansas City suburbanite who loves to listen to the Saturday morning lawn and garden radio talk shows. It took Dawn years to persuade him to abandon the springtime kneejerk lawn "Weed and Feed" habit to allow us to become completely chemical-free. Now, he is glad that he did as he appreciates the butterflies and bumblebees and hummingbirds that regularly visit the property and/or make it their home! He can twist a mean bouquet when we are in a pinch and likes the zinnias best because they do not quit flowering until frost!

 

Ms. Dawn (as the neighborhood kids refer to her), is our main grower and idea-generator. She grew up on 70+ acres in the Ozarks and was responsible for LOTS of gardening chores and taking care of farm animals as she grew up! (Including chickens...lots of chickens.) She swore that once she grew up that she would get an education and leave the country. No more farm work for her!

 

She DID leave....two bachelor's degrees, one master's degree and a couple decades of IT work later, she realized she had missed the outdoors and sunshine the entire time.

 

After retiring from IT to start a family (the Lovely Assistant young person in the picture above), Dawn started gardening again, with an emphasis on edible landscaping. Edible landscaping is a hobby that can be done at home in 20-minute intervals while tending a kiddo. Turns out, it is a lot more fun to garden when you want to do it, rather than have it show up on your "chores list" as a kid. Dawn got her outdoors and sunshine back in spades!

 

(Her parents are still amused by the back-to-nature switch!)

 

We found that gardening is a great way to connect with your kid and neighbors. Dawn would sit in the front yard during pandemic lockdowns while the flowers were blooming and talk with the neighbors walking by--flowers were a favorite topic of conversation. The Lovely Assistant learned much of her science, math and many other school and life lessons while sitting in the garden with her mother.


Each winter, we would sit down as a family with the gardening catalogs and dream. Each spring, the garden somehow got a little bigger! We admit, things got a bit out of hand. Eventually we found ourselves tipping from traditional edible landscape gardening into an unofficial microfarm, growing garlic and producing herbs for multiple families. It was pretty amazing how much one can produce on just a normally-sized suburban lot!


Along the way, we found out that giving away flowers is an amazing way to improve your emotional health and make new friends. We are not big enough to compete with market farmers, but we can offer those who do not have time to drive to a country flower u-pick farm the opportunity to experience a u-pick in the suburbs. Before opening in 2022, we moved the veggies to the back yard and the flowers to the front yard. (As Eric says: "Business in the front; party in the back...like a mullet!" Now we get to serve the community one cup of flowers at a time!

 

Did you enjoy this chance to "Meet the Team?" If you want to know more about the Lovely Assistant, click here.

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