Meet Arizona Agriculture’s Statler Family

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication Director: One might never notice that Arizona agriculture has a growing direct-market or retail scale flower business. In fact, many are discovering that flower, or floral, farming just might be the perfect home business, or an addition to what they are farming already. Those doing it say you can set your own hours (though with any farming those hours can be long and challenging) work outdoors and earn extra income for the family. Plus, for those just starting out, it becomes a family affair. The spouse and children often help out.

And, when it comes to flower farming some take to it naturally. Lindsay Statler, owner with her husband, Walt, of Green Creek Gardens in Dewey, Arizona, says her daughter takes to it instinctively. “The other day she told me, ‘Mom I’m going to make a few Boutonnieres for the wedding.’ I said okay and didn’t think anything else about it. Sure enough she created the most precious boutonnieres for a wedding we did the flowers for.”

Their story reflects that the entrepreneur spirit is alive and well.

An interview with Lindsay Statler, Dewey, Arizona.

An ongoing series of Arizona’s Farmers and Ranchers.

Tell us about your agricultural operation: We are a floral farm. So far, we have planted close to an acre of flowers with room to expand of about 80 to 90 different varieties of flowers. This is our third season growing, so we are still pretty new and have lots to learn. We’ve also had a vegetable garden all three seasons, but this season is the biggest that it’s been.

Lindsay and Walt Statler love the outdoors and doing things with family. While Walt is also an insurance agent for Farm Bureau Financial Services, he and Lindsay find time to raise a family, stay involved in the community and have additional businesses with the vegetable garden and floral farm.

What changes have you seen in the time period you’ve been growing, and have they been for the better or worse? We made the investment for me to go to a workshop up in Washington state last fall and it paid off big time just because the watering system that they demonstrated we were able to incorporate, and the landscape fabric, we had used it, but not effectively.

We didn’t use the right kind of fabric so it just shredded. So it was a workshop that I went to by a lady named Erin Benzakein; she owns Floret Flowers. She’s kind of the pioneer for this farmer-florist movement. She and another woman, Jennifer Love, have sparked this farm-florist push and drive. Erin up in Washington offers workshops and I went to one, which was a farmer-florist workshop.

Here in Arizona do you know of any other flower farmers? I think there is one, and she might be a Farm Bureau member. She’s out in Chino Valley and her operation is called Whipstone Farms. Her big thing is vegetables, but I know she does flowers as well.

[Editor's Note: Arizona Agriculture actually has quite a story when it comes to flowers.]

Even separate from your farm, what is your education background and do you have any certificates related to the field? Just a degree in biology! I graduated from Northern Arizona University. I used to be a science teacher, I taught seventh and eighth grade science. I then went into the administration side and was a principal.

Do you see any of your family - the younger generation - pursuing farming, ranching, or agribusiness? Yes. I see both my kids getting into it. My daughter, Cody, for lack of a better word, is already designing. She’ll go down and cut and then come back and put boutonnieres or center pieces together. Then Bo, he really enjoys the vegetable side of it. He’s totally into the pumpkins and the chickens. So they both are into the farming. Don’t let them fool you, they enjoy it.

The Statler bunch out in their flower farm.

Bo and Cody are fully engaged in the family experience on the farm.

What are your community activities? I participate in Awana, a Christian-youth program. I am an Awana leader too. I do that once a week and I also am a member of the Farm Bureau and participate in things through them. I also home school my kids!

[Editor’s Note: Lindsay was recently elected Yavapai County Farm Bureau Vice President at this year’s county Annual Meeting.]

What do you love most about farming? Every day I am impressed with the beauty that God provides. You just sit down there and think “how can there not be a God with flowers like this?”

What is one thing that people don’t know about you? I love to team rope when I have the time!

Why are you a Farm Bureau member? I like knowing that I’m part of an organization that is there to support me and that will have an open ear if I come up against a problem or a concern. They are also a valuable resource.

Just some of the stunning flowers that can be found at Green Creek Gardens in the spring, summer and early fall.

How will the next generation of agriculturalists have to operate? I hope the one thing that stays constant is the customer service. Just being there to provide that detail and being sincere when people come up and say “this flower reminds me of my grandma,” and not blowing that off.

What is the best business advice you have ever received or given? I’ve never been in business for myself, so this is a brand new adventure, but I think it was Danny actually, Danny Tomerlin that said, “You have to have a five year plan. You have to hold steady for five years and then re-evaluate.”

What kind of encouragement would you give to young farmers and ranchers? Just go for it. What have you got to lose? If you really want to do it there’s a way.

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