Bushwick’s Local Flower Farm and Florist True Leaves
True Leaves Floral is a beautiful concept from Jessica Balnaves & Ryann Mead. Jess and Ryann grow gorgeous flowers in Jess’s Bushwick backyard, and create unique flower arrangements with their home grown flowers.
Woman-owned and operated, they have been selling the arrangements to local restaurants (on the tables at Sea Wolf), shops (The Rack Shack displays them), the Saturday Bushwick Farmers’ Market, the Bushwick Food Coop, and they also make custom orders. At the farmers’ market they sell plants, including their $10 “Can o’ Chamomile,” catnip, salvia, fig trees, violas, basil, and marigold plants. They’re also happy to give advice to plant buyers, so you can follow up with them if you don’t have a green thumb.
Their garden is bursting with medicinal calendula, chamomile, clover, vanilla marigold, flax flower, nasturtium, including cilantro flower, oregano flowers, basil flowers, snapdragons, bachelor’s buttons, dahlias, carrot flowers, and too many other flowers to name. Everything is grown to source the flowers themselves; they don’t grow for the purpose of eating, though some of it is definitely edible! The plants started from seeds in “makeshift greenhouses” in Jess and Ryann’s apartments—think seedlings growing all over their kitchens and living rooms.
Last summer, Jess and Ryann began talking about the idea of True Leaves. They had both been farmers at different times in their lives, but had never grown flowers. When it was time for Jess to move a few months later, she only looked at places with backyards. Jess’s yard in Bushwick is perfectly suited for gardening; they crafted one 24-foot raised bed, four eight foot beds, and have various containers full of flowers at differing stages of growth.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign in just four days, they were able to make their dream a reality. 2016 is an experimental year—they’re trying to figure out what works for people, what grows well, and what people like best. With more than 50 different varieties of flowers, there’s a lot of trial and error. Plants are grown in succession, so that there are always flowers blooming at different stages: a row of sunflowers rises from shortest to tallest, or youngest to oldest.
The garden is truly an ecosystem: you’ll find ladybugs humming all over. Sourced from Crest Hardware, the ladybugs took care of the “aphid situation” in the garden. Jess and Ryann always inspect the flowers after cutting, to ensure the ladybugs don’t become unplanned residents of someone’s apartment.
Next up—they are looking for more space to expand their business, and more funding to do so. They’re hoping to build rickshaws for their bikes for home deliveries (which are delivered by subway now).