JOHNSON COUNTY — A field normally full of color, is beginning to turn to fall shades as the weather in central Indiana cools.
This year, amid the pandemic, the flowers at P&D Flower Farm on the northeastern tip of Johnson County have been picked through by eager guests.
"We've been here three times this summer and we love it," one Indianapolis mother said as she clips more stems for her son's Baptism that weekend. "I'm just picking a lot, a lot, a lot!"
P&D Flower Farm is a bit of a hidden gem south of Interstate 74 and Acton Road, but far east of Interstate 65 in Greenwood. Owner and groundskeeper, Phil Vanblarcum, says he and his wife moved out to the farm several years ago to slow down, and give their kids space to enjoy nature.
He left his corporate job and together with his wife, they began doing wholesale flowers but they eventually added in the U-pick flower area for guests to come and search the field for flowers to take home.
They also provide space for events like weddings and summer concerts.
"The first thing that I love is just seeing the smiles on peoples faces," Vanblarcum said. "We are in the happy business. And when people come to the farm, there's nobody that is in a bad mood."
A blossoming business where people can getaway and just take a breath, but early in the spring before the flowers bloomed, the future of the farm was more uncertain.
"We didn't know what was going to happen in March. We were terrified. Being, ya know, a family-owned business, we didn't know what to expect," Vanblarcum said.
The COVID-19 pandemic had just rooted itself in the middle of our lives here in the Hoosier state as businesses and schools began to shut down. The reopening dates were uncertain, just as each season, weather brings many uncertainties to a crop. But for this flower farm, things began to look up.
"And come June, when the sun came out, the color came in, in the field, and people just wanted to get outside and enjoy some open space and do something that is normal," Vanblarcum said.
While their events and wedding side of the business suffered during those early months of the pandemic, their flower farm bloomed. Phil says the biggest "weeds" in that side of the business was that they were running out of blooms week to week as so many guests were visiting the grounds—a good problem to have in a time like this.
Jordan Brewer is Phil's future daughter-in-law and the event coordinator on the farm. She says the pandemic was hard on the events industry but at the farm they were able to use the resources that mother nature had to offer them.
"We are all outdoors so we don't have any walled-in spaces and people can feel more comfortable more spaced out. If they want obviously, we have lots of land for people to walk around on," Brewer said. "And so we've had to limit people RSVPing, buying tickets, whatever the event is, and hopefully people stick with the social distancing when we have our music nights."
The farm also has more sanitation practices put in place in recent months for guests as well as pathways to improve distancing between groups.
"We want people to feel safe," Vanblarcum said. "We want people to have fun and do something that is halfway normal, and get out of the craziness of the world right now."
Brewer helps create bouquets with the flowers the guests pick on the farm. She says that part of the job has mentally helped her cope during this pandemic.
"Help other people relax too, like he said, it is nice to put together a bouquet for ladies and they are like, 'Oh my gosh, it's going to look terrible. I just picked awful colors,'" Brewer said. "I put it together for them and they are like, 'Oh my gosh, it looks great. We love it!' So it's nice to see smiles on people's faces and just to bring them joy in kind of the dark times right now."
As the season for picking wildflowers dies down, Brewer says they are working on creating events to allow people to come out to the farm in the winter months including calligraphy classes and also wreath and garland-making classes, which in the past have been very popular.
They will post the events on their Facebook page.
They are also booking for 2021 and 2022 weddings and events.
For more information and to contact P&D Flower Farm, you can visit their website.