Montana flower-growing industry flourishing with 50 farms on the map
By Dianne Parker,2023-05-30
At the base of the Bull Mountains near Roundup is a cut flower farm and a woman whose mission is to connect Montana flower growers to consumers.
You can visit Rimrock Flower Company for a farm tour and leave with a fresh bouquet.
“We really pride ourselves on growing really interesting things people have never seen before. It's items that don’t ship well, so you’re only ever going to find them from a local grower," said Andi Thatcher, owner of Rimrock Flower Farm.
It’s no secret agriculture is a driving force of Montana's economy, but while most people envision crops and cattle, Thatcher sees flowers.
“We have the earliest booming ones over here, and as it goes closer to the hillside where we lose sunlight, those will be our late season ones,” says Thatcher. “We grow everything people know about: snapdragons, sunflowers, stock, veronica, peonies."
Rimrock Flower Farm is a blooming business in a budding sector of the agriculture industry in Montana. There are now nearly 50 flower farms like this across the state registered as part of the Montana Cut Flower Association, something Thatcher founded for the state’s flower farm industry.
“There are so many new cut flower farms that are popping up, and it's very hard to navigate a new business, let alone one where you are growing flowers in Montana,” says Thatcher.
Thatcher also recently created a Montana flower farm map with the goal of increasing connection with local growers.
“Our big project this year is to get the word out about Montana-grown flowers. Just get the word out across the state to people who maybe just don't even know that is an option, to let them know they can get this really amazing product that’s so much better than anything else they will find, and it is from a local grower,” says Thatcher.
Thatcher features 100 different types of blooms, many carefully selected to withstand Montana's cold weather.
“Sweet williams, snapdragons. There’s one called buplerum, veronica. Anything that’s perennial here. Rudbeckia, daffodil, tulips are all things that can handle quite a bit of cold even during that little seedling stage,” says Thatcher.
She harvests her flowers during the coolest hours of the day, first thing in the morning and evenings. It's something that’s become a family project with a little help from everyone, including her two young girls.
“Believe it or not, we harvest most flowers when they are still pretty much closed. We will cut, for example, a peony still in a very closed bud stage, and then the customer gets it and the peony opens on their counter so they get plenty of time to enjoy that,” says Thatcher.
During high season, July through September, you can take a farm tour.
“It looks a lot different than a regular person’s garden,” says Thatcher.
This family-owned business is certainly growing in more ways than one as Thatcher's children continue to pitch in.
“They are five and nine, and they told me this year I don't have to hire an employee because they are going to work for me,” says Thatcher with light laughter.
Rimrock Flower Farm is a hyper-local experience with flower subscriptions and deliveries in Roundup and Billings. People can even take a floral design class at Frae Everyday Goods in Billings or at locations in Roundup and Harlow.