Working and Keeping: Seasonal Lessons in my Life as a Flower Farmer

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This article is part of a series, Unseen Work.

In 2020, I became the world’s most unlikely flower farmer.

I grew up in the sunbaked land of southern California with a backyard the size of a postage stamp.  My parents were not gardeners. I have a major aversion to bugs. I have zero agricultural training.

What did I have going for me? An artistic eye, a small property in the mild climate of North Carolina, and a love of the outdoors.  And as a homeschooling mother of three, I tend to see educationally enriching activities everywhere.  This was no exception.

You may have some dreamy images popping into your mind right now.  Maybe manicured rows of fragrant flowers, cute straw hats, children playing amongst the tulips?  Oh, I did too when I first got started.  But flower farming is about 95% sweat, 4.9% pretty flowers, and .1% Instagram-worthy photo-ops.

Yet in the gritty and often solitary work of farming, God has met me in some powerful ways.  The spiritual lessons often seem to couple with whatever season I’m currently finding myself in.

By fashioning things of beauty and order, we are declaring war against the decay and chaos that exists all around us.

1. The Winter Garden – Work Being Done Under the Surface

It is January, and I venture out to check on my sleeping garden. Crisp, clear air embraces me.  The discomfort of the cold sharpens my senses and draws my mind upward out of the mire of my internal dialogue.

I check on my dahlia tubers.  They are currently sleeping under a blanket of pine straw, but I know their roots are quietly extending down.  All is unseen to the naked eye – but there is deep work being done in the winter garden.

I, too, find myself in somewhat of a winter garden.  Most of my days, I go about with no witness to my work other than my small children and God.  In this hidden season of young motherhood, is work quietly being done in my soul?  Are roots of faith and trust going down deeper? Is hope growing in my heart as I anticipate and pray for a “harvest of righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10) in my life and in the life of those I nurture?  I know in this quiet season, I am seen by El Roi, the God of Seeing (Gen 16:13).

2. The Spring Garden – Expectation and Preparation

Spring has arrived – too soon and never soon enough.  I always long for the balmy breezes and flowered trees of this season, but the rush of activity that accompanies it almost always bowls me over.

My brain races with all that needs to be done in the garden; yet did I mention that school is still in session? Most of my day must be spent tending to my kids, not my flowers.

As I teach another math lesson, I stare out longingly at the blue sky and wonder how many hours I’ll get to dig in the earth between finishing school and needing to cook dinner.

“[Becky, Becky], you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” (Luke 10:42).  Humbled, I turn my eyes to the precious soul in front of me. I turn my heart to my patient Savior, at whose feet I sit.  Who am I to give more thought to a plant than to an immortal soul?

The stress of prepping and planting in spring causes me to take stock of the deeper prepping and planting I need to be doing to those in my care.

3. The Summer Garden – Creating Beauty is Declaring War

During the Summer season, my favorite day of the week is Friday.  This is when I prepare bouquets to be sold at a coffee shop downtown.

I go out into the sticky morning air to start harvesting blooms.  Once I have all the flowers harvested, it’s time to arrange. Moving amongst the buckets of flowers and foliage, I lose myself in the artistry of arranging each bouquet.

There is so much pleasure in being an artist, whatever kind it may be.  Just as God blessed Bezalel with creative genius to devise artistic designs for the temple (Ex. 31:1-5), I believe He gives all humans the potential to image His creativity.  But we live in a world that has been marred by sin. I hope I can show my children that by fashioning things of beauty and order, we are declaring war against the decay and chaos that exists all around us.

4. The Autumn Garden – Life through Death

Autumn is the time for seed saving.  I walk amongst the rows of expired flowers and snip them into a paper bag.  It’s from these seeds that next year’s garden will grow.

One flower, creating hundreds of seeds.  The words of Jesus come to mind: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24).”

I also know that my lifespan closely resembles that of a flower.  Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

These flowers are a signpost to me.  Does my life point people to the sweetness of the Lord?  Did I take the seed of the gospel that was given to me, and use that to multiply disciples? Each seed has been equipped with all that it needs to grow and become a large plant; according to 2 Peter 1:3, I also have everything I need for this task of growing and making disciples.

Moving through the seasons with my flowers has been a way that God has tended to my soul.  He teaches me through nature all the time, and these are just a few of the many lessons he has taught me.  As I continue in this mostly unseen work that the Lord has provided, I pray that the soil of my heart will be soft so He can continue to plant His truth deep within.

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Becky Hatfield

Becky Hatfield is wife to Jake (Director of College Life, SEBTS) and mom to Evelynn (8), Ellis (6), and Easton (4). In 2019, Jake and Becky founded Rocking Chair Farms and Gardens LLC, where they grow flowers and microgreens. She fills her days with homeschooling, farming projects, and snuggles with her chocolate lab, Ruca.

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