Karen Plarisan dreamed of working with flowers. After raising three children, she finally opened her own floral studio about five years ago.
"I've wanted a florist shop since I was in high school," she recalled with a smile. "When I hit the big five-O, it was now or never."
But after realizing her dream job, she soon was sick of exposure to the white powdery pesticide residue that accompanied many flowers from their sources in South America. She found the solution in her own Roseville, Calif., backyard.
With just over an acre of space, Plarisan and her family dug up the Bermuda grass where the kids had played countless days. Daughter Karly Plarisan, a graphic artist and avid gardener, became her mother's partner. Together, they planted dahlias, roses, zinnias and scores of other colorful flowers.
And together, they turn those blooms into beautiful bouquets and arrangements for their Verbena Flowers & Trimmings, a floral studio that grows its own materials.
"We're so close to the city, but still country," said Karen, who has lived at her home for 20 years. "You can grow a lot of flowers on an acre."
The mother-daughter duo are part of a new generation of flower farmers dedicated to growing sustainable blooms for local buyers.
"Arrangements are fun; farming is tough work," Karen said with a laugh. "This is our second year of farming with a purpose, and we've learned a lot."