U-pick flower business is blooming thanks to recent rains

Recent rains have flooded NW Ohio/SE Michigan fields, though allowed flowers to grow as large and bright as ever
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:11 PM EDT
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OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. (WTVG) - Farming can be a tough business in the Midwest’s ever-changing weather, though at Gust Flowers & Produce in Ottawa Lake, Michigan -- and across the region -- business is blooming.

“It’s grown every year, and now I think we have just under 5 acres of U-cuts,” says owner and operator Jake Gust. “[We have] 60 or 70 different varieties of flowers out there, so a lot of different options to pick from.”

Guests of the Gusts have been picking up produce at the roadside stand just inside the Lenawee County line for over a decade now, and picking flowers here since 2014... with the operation blossoming ever since. “We get a lot of families that just want to enjoy the sunshine, get out into some fresh space and cut flowers... it can make for an enjoyable afternoon or morning.”

The U-pick patch has been open for about a week now, though recent rains saw the field closed off for a few days: “If the field gets too muddy and the parking lot gets too muddy, you just can’t open,” Gust says. “I think everything’s dried out now, and hopefully we can hold on and not get too much tonight.”

Vibrant sunflowers, zinnias, and more greet prospective pickers now, though Gust says it’s been a tale of two fields compared to 2020. “Last year was really dry, and the flowers were probably half the size and half as many... this year, we’ve had so much rain and they look so nice with so much color. We like that happy medium.”

Greenhouse sales have been high during the pandemic, though Gust says there’s just something about cutting your own that gives an added touch. “If you have your own garden, you don’t necessarily want to see the fruits of your labor and then cut them where they look quite as good... but we’re set up for that out here, it’s the nature of the business.”

It’s not just the flowers up for purchase that draw folks in from both sides of the state line. “We have a sunflower trail or maze that’s been really popular,” recalls Gust. “The 5 acres aren’t quite in full bloom yet, but we’re close. We have props like an antique tractor or truck out there and a rustic old swing. We tend to get a low of photographers and families coming out to do pictures there... that part has really grown in popularity among social media.”

Gust Flowers & Produce is open now through Labor Day.

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