Chatham Flower Farm
Brings Beauty To The Eastern Shore
Something incredible is growing in Painter, Virginia. It isn’t just the bountiful harvest of dahlias, zinnias, herbs, or oriental lilies that grow and flourish at Chatham Flower Farm.
Ask anyone who picks up a bouquet of fresh cut flowers from Chatham Flower Farm. The effect is immediate… Joy. Calm. Happiness.
Kate Meyer and John Fitzpatrick, the farmers/ artists/owners of Chatham Flower Farm, wouldn’t have it any other way.
From their historic farm (circa 1690), they grow hundreds of varieties of some of the loveliest flowers around. Their farm is home to a historic barn built in 1801 that now houses their art studio and flower room, and is host to happenings throughout the year. Most recently, it welcomed friends and neighbors to the annual Meet at the Table event.
Chatham Flower Farm is a thriving, working farm and it all began with a visit to the region Kate and John now call home. Kate, a Pennsylvania native and her fiancé John, from the Hudson Valley area, quickly fell in love with the Eastern Shore. “We first came to the Shore when John and his brother were baling hay here. We really loved the area and visited for several years before we ended up settling here,” says Kate.
As for their decision to start a flower farm, Kate says a community-based business was always important to them. “We wanted it to work in a way that not only financially sustained the farm but that could also do something good in the community,” she explains. “Flower farming was something that not many others were doing here on the Shore.”
Kate spent her first winter in Painter researching in earnest, voraciously consuming any information she could find on the practice of flower farming. For the most part, growing flowers on a large scale was new to her.
“I never really had flowers in my repertoire,” she laughs. “…except for my family having a cutting garden growing up. I did work for an older couple on Martha’s Vineyard for a time one summer. They had a huge cutting garden on their farm. I went to market with them and learned a lot,” she says.
Flower farming at the scale that Kate and John now operate is labor intensive. Kate’s previous career working with show horses at the US Team level gave her plenty of experience with long hours and hands-on hard work.
“Originally, I had this image in my head of the random flower stands you see there in Martha’s Vineyard—on the honor system at end of driveway,” Kate recalls. “But this farm is really hard work. If I hadn’t worked in the horse industry before, I probably would’ve quit.”
Selecting the flowers to grow and the art of arranging them is something that was very natural for Kate. “I’m a painter so it kind of
goes hand in hand,” she laughs. “A creative is a creative whether you’re’ a farmer or an artist, or a waterman, even.”
“I enjoy the creative part of it. I also love starting seeds. It’s just remarkable when you see a seed that’s tinier than a grain of sand become a 6-foot- tall plant like a celosia,” Kate says. “That amazes me every year!”
So, what’s growing at Chatham Flower Farm? Lots!
With herbs, wildflowers, over 30 different species of flowers—and hundreds of varieties—the growing season is absolutely full of color. They grow around 350 different varieties of dahlias, 250 varieties of oriental lilies, rows and rows of colorful zinnias, beds of ever-elegant peonies, 200 varieties of gladiolus, and more.
Best, their flowers are as natural as they are lovely. As a no-till, Certified Naturally Grown® farm, they are committed to sustainable practices. Their flowers are free of synthetic herbicides, chemicals, and fertilizers. Their focus on good soil health and pollinators ensures a healthy, beautiful harvest.
Their flowers can be found at farmers markets right here in Cape Charles, and nearby Onancock and Chincoteague through the fall.
Chatham Flower Farm also offers CSA subscriptions. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a great way for the community to enjoy the fruits (and flowers) of their labor. “Customers can just come to the farm and pick up their flowers when it’s convenient for them,” Kate explains.
“When most people think of CSA, they think of food,” says Kate. “For flowers, it’s kind of different. Our CSA program allows us to buy new varieties each year, to invest in new dahlias, for example, or soil amendments. We have really enjoyed doing this,” says Kate of offering CSA subscriptions. “Last year was very big for CSAs. I think it gave people some joy in a time when it was greatly needed.”
Besides producing gorgeous flowers for their CSA clients, Kate and John also provide flowers for weddings and special events. If you’ve attended a Bay Creek event, you’ve likely seen their fresh, fantastic flowers on display. Chatham Flower Farm also graciously provided flowers for the recent Bay Creek Day of Giving charity event.
With a heart for community, Kate and John feel fortunate to do what they do here in this special place on the Eastern Shore.
What’s the best part of it all? “It’s the joy of it,” smiles Kate. “When we’re at a farmers market, or giving away our weekly free bouquet, or doing a bride’s wedding, and you hear someone say ‘this is so amazing, so beautiful, thank you’…that’s why we do what we do. The joy it brings is our takeaway.”
Kate and John are happy to welcome guests to their farm. They offer their space for small weddings, private dinners, artists workshops and flower workshops.
To learn more about their fresh flowers, event venue, or visiting the farm, contact them at (757) 442-1483.
Chatham Flower Farm
31094 Boggs Road, Painter, VA 23420
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