Those gorgeous bouquets you get at Whole Foods? They may well have been picked the day before from the fields of Longmont’s The Fresh Herb Co.
If you can’t snip flowers from your own backyard garden, this is probably the next best thing: Many of those bright summer bouquets you see in local Whole Foods Markets come from Colorado’s own backyard—specifically, The Fresh Herb Co. in Longmont.
Its owners, Chet and Kristy Anderson, got into the growing business 35 years ago. “We were both in graduate school, studying for master’s degrees in urban and regional planning; I was in law school, too,” Kristy says. “Chet was writing a thesis on agricultural land preservation techniques. I came home from work one day and the thesis was packed up in boxes. He said, ‘I can’t do this. If I really believe in doing something to preserve agricultural land, I’ve got to be working it. I’ve got to be a farmer.’ ”
After buying the old Bader School property—they live in the converted former schoolhouse—the couple started out by farming herbs and mixed vegetables. (“We were one of the first farms in the country to do mixed baby salad greens,” Chet says proudly.) When competition from California got fierce, they switched to ornamental flowers; they now have about 28 acres planted, along with greenhouses for the colder months.
“Colorado is a great place to grow flowers, with the intense sunlight and cooler evenings,” says Chet, who points out that this state was once the rose and carnation capital of the country, “except the weather—hail, wind, early or late snows—can bite you in the tail.”
In addition to the bouquets, which they hand-assemble on site, the Andersons do hanging baskets, succulents and herbs, in a growing season that runs from January through October. “We grow about every kind of flower you can imagine,” says Chet, including sunflowers, peonies, Oriental and Asiatic lilies and zinnias (the peonies and Oriental lilies are his faves).
Chet estimates the company makes 10,000 to 20,000 bouquets a year, which are sold in Whole Foods throughout the Rocky Mountains. And the flowers are as fresh as can be. “We get all the flowers cut in the morning by 10 or 10:30, before the field heat gets to them,” he says. “Then everything comes to the barn and the crew works down either side of two very long tables making bouquets.” Then they go into the buckets, onto the cooler, into cool trucks and off to stores.
And do the Andersons keep some of those fancy flowers for themselves? “Of course!” Chet says. “We always have the best flowers in town.”
THE FRESH HERB CO.
Fresh-cut flowers, hanging baskets, succulents and herbs grown in Longmont and sold at local Whole Foods Markets.