• Elizabeth Bretko

Marigold Garlands



It started five years ago now, when I moved onto a farm in Oregon. Our family was growing food and I was doing farmers market with my tea blends. I wanted to grow flowers too but knew the competition for bouquets was steep, it seemed to me that niche was already filled.

At the time I'd been in the chai business for years, and although I've never been to India, that place seems to have a strong hold on me. So, once again inspired by the vibrant culture there, I planted marigolds.


Growing marigolds and selling garlands has been one of the most wonderful, fulfilling and life affirming experiences of my life. These little bursts of sunshine have served me in so many unexpected ways! Helped me to survive the break up of my family, to collaborate with friends, to stay connected to farming even though I've moved off my own farm, to generate income in the winter months and to keep me in tune with the weather and seasons. The marigold field is truly my happy place.



This year I planted 150 feet at Sweetwater Farm in Hugo. I am so very grateful to farm there as it is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been and I looooooove the family that runs it with all my heart! I harvest the flowers every Friday evening and I string the garlands at farmers market on Saturday. And at home Saturday night. And most of Sunday..... The harvest peaked this year in the last weeks of September. Maximum flower power had me stringing garlands every evening straight through the week! Labor of Love, for sure. But! All the garlands that don't sell fresh, come back to the shop to dry. They dry vibrant and keep for years. The dried garlands sell online throughout the winter, blessing us with income and the opportunity to send these little rays of sunshine to people all over the country!


Marigold garlands are a universal. They are traditionally used in India, Thailand, Vietnam & Mexico to honor transitions & rites of passage: birth, death, weddings, completions, beginnings & holy days. I am incredibly honored to facilitate this ancient tradition.


Fresh garlands are still available online and at the shop this week and probably next, but the season is certainly drawing to a close. We always hope to harvest through Halloween and Day of the Dead, but sometimes Mother Nature has other plans for us.


My hope for this aspect of my business is to grow it! Ultimately I vision a team of marigold girls, a field of marigolds in cultivation, a greenhouse to start them in & several excellent partnerships with wedding planners and funeral directors across the country. I'm gonna take these sweeties all the way to Bollywood, baby! Meanwhile I will enjoy the last of this season, the harvesting, stringing, selling, drying & the sad but liberating experience of turning the beds in for winter. And in the long winter nights ahead, you can bet I'll be dreaming about how to plant more marigolds in 2017.


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