Locally-Grown Flower Farm and Florist Offers Nature-Inspired Products that are “Grown, not Flown”
Brook and Derek Hoffbauer, co-owners of rural Duluth-based Duluth Flower Farm, are your typical hard-working farmers. Together, this married couple, along with their four children – Donna (16), Deegan (14), Dane (12), and Dottie (7) - operates five greenhouses and two farms, which are spread across five acres.
Here, the Hoffbauers grow a wide variety of dahlias, peonies, and many other flowers, along with plants, fresh fruits, and veggies. Come November, they use fresh evergreens to create nature-inspired products from what is local and in-season.
Derek’s father, “Farmer Doug” Hoffbauer, a long-time farmer and well-known vendor at local farmer’s markets, has been an astute mentor for the couple. “Doug has taught us everything we know,” Brook shared, adding that Derek’s mom, Lois, also inspires her about farming and family.
Educating his family and the community is a big part of Doug’s legacy. “It’s important to him that the kids know where food comes from,” said Brook. “Our kids participate in farmer’s markets, and with planting, harvesting and production. And Donna, our new driver, can now deliver local freshness. The kids have been selling since they could see over the counter. They’re learning both math and business skills.”
Together, multiple generations of Hoffbauers share the load of growing, harvesting, and selling their products. And, the philosophies behind how they farm – including using ethical, sustainable growing practices, selling products that grow well in our local soil and climate, and abiding by the phrase “grown, not flown,” also continue the legacy Farmer Doug started over 35 years ago.
As any good farmer knows, there is a season for everything. While Duluth Flower Farm operates year-round, they strive to use what is local and in-season. If they cannot grow it themselves, they support other farmers when possible.
Spring on the farm brings annuals, veggie starts, hanging baskets, blueberry plants, strawberry plants, potted arrangements, and the kids help with collecting Farmer Doug’s maple syrup.
With summer comes a wide assortment of fresh veggies, along with Duluth Flower Farm’s highly-popular dahlias and peonies, and about 100 other flower varieties.
Fall is the season for pumpkins, squash, gourds, apples, and Farmer Doug’s pick-your-own pumpkin patch. The Farm has a presence at a variety of local fall festivals and harvest fests.
Winter is when the evergreen business picks up. Balsam Fir is the most popular tree species used for Christmas trees and wreaths. Duluth Flower Farm’s hard-working designers create many wreaths, winter porch pots, kissing balls, gnomes, garlands, and more. They also ship their balsam wreaths from Balsamwreath.com, a website Derek created in college.
Besides the family, Duluth Flower Farm also employs several people. In the summer, they usually have four designers and two harvesters. During winter, they maintain a crew of about 20 people, who handle designing, shipping, harvesting, and other tasks.
Weddings, Funerals and Everyday Flowers
Duluth Flower Farm provides full floral services for funerals and weddings and also offers “just because” bouquets. “We offer a full design or a DIY option – we can pick the flowers with your event in mind and you can create your own wedding or event flower arrangements,” Brook shared. The design team is available and ready to work with couples and special event requests to bring their vision to life.
When it comes to weddings, they believe your wedding florals should be an experience that includes what is local and in-season at the time of your celebration. “We always start with what we grow,” Brook added. “We try to use what is fresh and in-season. If we don’t have it, then we partner with other farms. And if we can’t get our items locally, then we will use our full florist capabilities.”
Where to Purchase
While the Duluth Flower Farm is open by appointment only, there are plenty of other places their products can be purchased. “Most people call and pick up their order, or visit our website to place an order for delivery,” Brook said, noting that delivery services are available for the greater Twin Ports area. In the winter, balsam wreaths can be shipped nationwide.
However, Duluth Flower Farm also grows for many florists who support local farms, and they enjoy selling their products at Duluth’s Whole Foods Co-op stores. They also maintain a presence at the Duluth Farmers Market, located at 1324 East 3rd Street, throughout the spring and summer.
From October through December, Duluth Flower Farm rents a space at the Dan’s Feed Bin Garden Center, at 821 Hammond Avenue in Superior, where they sell wreaths, Christmas trees, kissing balls, evergreens, and centerpieces, along with decorative gnomes and garland. Their shipping crew will ship many wreaths nationwide, from Balsamwreath.com. Duluth Flower Farm still has plenty of fresh centerpieces for the holiday season, available now.
And, a country farm stand held at Farmer Doug’s (3361 Lindahl Road), is open through much of the growing season, selling flowers, veggies, and more. The farm stand successfully operates using the “honor system.”
Being a farmer is incredibly hard work, but it isn’t without its rewards. Brook shared a story about a customer with a unique request, and a bittersweet backstory.
“We had one customer come in with a request for a uniquely-shaped Christmas tree to remember her late son by, and she shared their memories together around that tree. Each year we bring that tradition to life for his mother. We are honored to be invited into the stories our customers share with us, and it brings us such joy to be able to design with their stories in mind.”
“It’s also rewarding for us to teach the next generation about what’s local and in-season,” she added. “We want people to know what’s available locally, and to be inspired by nature.”