Not all beautifully arranged flowers come from floral shops.
Some come direct from the garden like those from Rooted Plant Farm, where owner Rebecca Sadlowski grows, builds and creates with flowers from her farm in Agawam.
Rooted specializes in sustainably grown cut flowers and seasonal inspired floral designs for all occasions, weekly deliveries and event services throughout the year.
Sadlowski’s journey to Rooted began with a small roadside stand in Hadley, where she sold vegetables that were grown on rented family land. Eventually cut flowers were added to the mix, and customers began asking her to create arrangements for events from showers to weddings and from bar mitzvahs to reunions, as well as other private gatherings. So, in 2015 the vegetables took a back seat and the stand focused solely on selling cut flowers alongside her wholesale business and event services.
Then, last March, exactly one year before COVID-19 would forever change our everyday lives and commerce, Sadlowski along with her life partner Albert Grimaldi purchased a six-acre farm in Agawam.
“The land hadn’t been farmed in over 25 years and was completely overgrown with no infrastructure such as greenhouses, irrigation systems, tunnels for growing, and no electricity outside of our home. We cleared the land and built two tunnel greenhouses and are set to build two more this fall to allow us to continue to grow flowers and plants throughout the winter months,” said Sadlowski, who maintained the Hadley stand until they were ready to open this year.
Rooted’s name, as described on their website, “is symbolic of the past, present and future. It honors my great grandparents - and all those alike - that have steward lands making the future possible. Rooted is dedicated to the preservation of farmland and being a source for local, eco-friendly flowers.”
The fourth generation Pioneer Valley native and self-taught floral designer said she loves growing and connecting people to local agriculture.
“I love the thrill my customers feel when they realize they are getting a local product grown within miles of them. When I started doing events, people were blown away that I could produce such beauty with locally-grown flowers. I’m a cheerleader for local flowers, vegetables and dairy produced here in the Valley. The local notion isn’t as prominent in Agawam as it was in Hadley, so I feel more of a voice now for promoting locally grown,” Sadlowski said.
It is for similar reasons that Sadlowski never entertained the thought of opening her own floral shop.
“First and foremost, I am a grower. My passion is agriculture and being a producer. Also, with the new farm needing so much infrastructure, it didn’t make sense to rent additional space for a brick and mortar shop,” she said.
While not having a visible storefront in a shopping district to help generate business, Sadlowski noted they initially relied on word-of-mouth for customers to find them.
“Of course, we have our website to order from and we have launched our business on Google. Any service or product you walk into a brick and mortar flower shop looking for, we can do. It’s just that our niche is that all of our flowers come from our garden. I don’t use any flowers grown elsewhere, such as California or Canada,” Sadlowski said.
“Despite growing most of the flowers ourselves, we like to support local growers to deliver the best of what is in season. So, if someone is looking for a flower that I don’t grow, but that another local farm might have, I can get that for them, she added about her conviction for “always 100% New England grown.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, it changed the day-to-day lives of everyone, including consumer behaviors in favor of e-commerce.
“Suddenly, because of the shutdown, no one was really shopping, and that ended our wholesale flower business. There were also no events being held and no need for flowers. So, that forced us to focus all of our efforts on retail, which was something new for us. And, the very next day after the shutdown began, we had a retail website up and running and began delivering flowers,” Sadlowski said.
“What we quickly found out was that many people were ordering flowers during the pandemic to decorate their homes and brighten their spirits. We also delivered many arrangements for customers trying to reach people they couldn’t see during the pandemic, such as grandma who was home alone, or for life events such as births and deaths,” she added.
Today, with states reopened and events allowed once again with a small number of attendees, Rooted is back in the events business and maintaining their newfound focus on retail. Wholesale is now a thing of the past.
Arrangements for all occasions, or just to brighten your days, can be purchased online or by phone Monday through Wednesday only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. by calling 413-349-8351.
For those who want to pick (not by going out into the garden) from an array of freshly harvested bouquets and mason jar arrangements, Rooted offers their “self-serve flowers” sold from a cooler in their blue garage at 501 Shoemaker Lane. The stand is open only Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until dusk.
“This isn’t your average self-serve spot. You won’t find simply mason jars on a cart to choose from. Instead, they are all nicely packaged and ready for gift giving from our large cooler,” Sadlowski said.
Rooted offers free delivery throughout Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut on several specified weekdays noted on their website. They are not able to deliver to hospitals during the pandemic. Contactless deliveries take place between 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. A fee is applied for deliveries outside of those dates.
When creating for special events, depending on the season, Sadlowski grows over 250 varieties of annuals, perennials and bulbs from which to choose from when designing her pieces.
“Sometimes we blend our services. For example, a bride may have us create bouquets and boutonnieres for her wedding, but would prefer to make her own centerpieces. We have DIY buckets that we fill with cut flowers, not just any flowers thrown in, but those which best match the palette they give us to work from and the aesthetics they want to create,” Sadlowski said.
While it’s too late in the year to sign up for their 2020 monthly flower subscriptions (this year they offered them for the months of April, May, June, August and September), keep checking their website for 2021.
“If you like to receive flowers regularly to brighten you home, this is the best fit, and subscriptions make a nice present to give someone,” Sadlowski said.
A true family affair at Rooted, the couple’s cute, little blonde daughter, Mary, can be seen on their website and on Facebook.
“She is literally with me all of the time on the farm. And I just gave birth to a baby girl on Sept. 14,” Sadlowski said about Julia, who will no doubt be helping on the farm sooner than they think.
For more information, visit rootedflowers.com, call 413-349-8351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org