Location: At the “triangle” of County A and South Highland Road (8999 S. Highland Road, Fish Creek)
Acreage: ¼-½ acre of specialty cut flowers, ½ acre of pumpkins, gourds and vegetables
Meet your growers: Sara and John Lancaster, and baby Jack (known as Farmer Jack to customers)
Serendipity seems to be a recurrent theme in the creation of OneEighty Petals, a fresh-cut flower farm in Fish Creek. From picking their location to starting their flower farm, John and Sara Lancaster seemed to stumble – happily! – into their new venture. Since opening with a few wholesale customers and a small flower stand, OneEighty Petals now offers pick-your-own flowers, ready-to-go bouquets, custom orders, design services and flower subscriptions. I asked the Lancasters a few questions to learn more about the operations of their flower farm.
Tell me a little bit about your connection to Door County. What made you pick Fish Creek for your location, and how many years have you been producing?
Sara had spent summers on Washington Island since she was three weeks old, and her family has been visiting since her grandmother was 13. Because her family members always had to catch the ferry, however, they never spent time visiting the mainland.
“Once we were together,” Sara said, “we decided to start splitting our vacations, with some time spent camping at Peninsula State Park and exploring the various towns and villages. As far as choosing Fish Creek … serendipity! It more or less chose us. We bought our property in the fall of 2015 with the long-term goal of opening a pottery studio and gallery, but took a detour into flowers. Our first season growing was in 2017, with just the stand and some wholesale. In 2018, we added design work and pick-your-own.”
What interested you into delving into cut flowers?
Again, serendipity! Sara’s hair stylist from “where we used to live was good friends with Abbie Turner, who owned Door Blooms. Abbie was closing her business and selling some of her plants. We thought we would buy some of the perennials to plant around our property. In talking with Abbie about her farm, she said, ‘Well, you guys have a better location. You should do this.’ We took the plants back home and naïvely planted them in rows, with the idea that we’d grow some flowers.”
How does the sustainably grown system of growing work for flowers?
“For us,” Sara said, “that means using organic practices in our farming, even though we aren’t certified organic. For fertilization, we use cow, goat and chicken manure, as well as fish fertilizer. When we spray for pests or disease, we also use organic and OMRI [Organic Materials Review Institute]-approved products. Because we are also beekeepers, we do our best to spray when beneficial insects and pollinators are not active.
“One thing unique to us – and that coincides with our sustainably grown mission – is that everything we use in our bouquets or design work is produced on our farm, so when people give or receive a OneEighty Petals bouquet, or use our design services for their event, they are truly getting flowers that are 100 percent local to Door County and harvested directly from our field.
“Because we can grow only so much, this sometimes means offering alternatives to customers who have their heart set on a specific flower that we either do not grow or is not in season. That could be seen as a challenge, but we actually find it opens doors to another part of our mission, which is educating people on where their flowers come from, the seasonality of flowers and the benefits of using flowers that are in season and locally grown.”
What’s the best part of growing flowers, and what’s the hardest?
“The best part is seeing how happy people are when they see or receive our flowers,” Sara said. “The hardest part is that there is little downtime. We’re a two-person team doing all the seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, designing and maintaining the flower stand. We start planning in January or February. Seeding indoors begins in March and runs through April.
“Then it’s time to plant seedlings, dahlia tubers and direct seed in May.
Weeding, pest control and harvesting takes up most of June. Then in July, August, September and into October, it’s harvesting and making bouquets. After the frost, it’s time to clear the field and dig up dahlia tubers to be stored until the next season.
“It’s a lot of long days – and sometimes nights – but it also gives us the opportunity to educate people about what it takes to produce the flowers we love to have in our homes and at our special events. Just as the slow-food movement reconnects people to the food on their table, part of our ‘slow flowers’ mission is to reconnect people to the flowers in their vases.
“Of course, this year threw us some additional challenges with COVID-19 and an infant. Hopefully Jack can start weeding next year!”
Where does the name OneEighty Petals come from?
“The name is actually an offshoot of the name we came up with for the original pottery gallery. When trying to decide on a name, we wanted to connect it to our location, which the locals referred to as ‘the triangle’ at South Highland and A.
“Then late one night, John asked, ‘What about OneEighty Pottery? There are 180 degrees in a triangle, and we’re doing a 180 with our life.’ It stuck! When we branched into flowers, too, OneEighty Petals seemed like the perfect fit.”
Where can people find your flowers other than at your location? Do you visit farmers’ markets?
“We did the Fish Creek Farmers’ Market for two seasons,” Sara said, “but we took a break this year after Jack was born. Currently, if you stay at the Cedar Court Inn and Fish Creek Motel – or any of the properties they manage – you can add one of our bouquets to your room. We have also had our bouquets for sale at the Fish Creek Market and hope to work with more local businesses.
“On-site, we offer pick-your-own, and if you don’t have time to pick, [we have] ready-to-go bouquets from our Petals-to-Go flower cooler. In addition to custom orders and boutique-wedding and special-event design services, we also provide our flowers – particularly the dahlias and lisianthus – wholesale to many of the local florists in the area.”