By Arielle Windham
Empowered by Ladyboss Lifestyle
New Opportunity Blooms on the Prairie
Bismarck Woman Plants Her Own Path to Success
Almost every milestone in our lives is marked with flowers. Births, loves, challenges, milestones, and even deaths are accompanied by blooms. Studies have shown a fresh bouquet or stroll through the garden can improve mood and speed up the healing process.
Flowers have played an important role in Shari Glasser’s own mental health journey. The garden was her escape as she struggled through the ups and downs of infertility.
“I’ve always had a very close connection with the outdoors,” Glasser said. “Growing up, my mom had a rule that it was time to come in when the streetlights came on. Which could be like 10:30 p.m. in the summer. So, I was always outside. When we moved from an apartment to a house with acreage in Brainerd, Mom and I really bonded over the landscaping. That was really the spark. Since then, though, flowers and gardening became like my therapy.”
In 2020, Glasser shifted her love of gardening from hobby to business with Bogie’s Blooms. During the season, she offers locally grown cut flowers through regional markets and a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. To extend the longevity of her blooms, and provide a revenue stream in the off-season, she also offers floral preservation.
From Passion to Profit
“I never expected I’d end up in agriculture,” Glasser said. She studied to be a vet tech in school and spent a decade in optometry before taking the leap to become a flower farmer. And while her green thumb might come naturally, it has taken some time to grow into her role as a farm operator and business owner.
“When I was just gardening for myself, I didn’t like cutting flowers to bring inside,” she said. “I felt like I was taking away from the garden. But when you’re growing flowers to sell, it’s a bit different. I have to think of it like a crop now.”
Growing for production rather than pleasure put her horticultural knowledge to the test. She traded in the whimsical lines of an English Cottage Garden for a half acre of straight rows of about 100 varieties of brightly colored annuals and perennials. Bogie’s Blooms is an organic operation, which comes with certain challenges, but Glasser must also contend with our region’s sometimes extreme weather. Low tunnels allow her to get plants in the ground earlier in the season, which allows her to open her CSA subscription in February, just in time for Valentine’s Day. She has also installed irrigation for the hot, dry months and is currently working on a grant for a high tunnel.
“I always joke that I’m the MacGyver of gardening,” Glasser said. “If I can’t afford something, I’ll rig something up. For the most part, it has been successful, but I’m also looking for ways to fund more permanent and sustainable solutions.”
In addition to wind and weather, Glasser has to navigate the cash-flow challenges of a seasonal business. Her CSA subscription helps with early season costs until the farmer’s markets begin. Additionally, Glasser works part-time at a local florist throughout the year and began offering floral preservation to help Bogie’s Blooms continue to grow during the off-season.
Diversifying has helped maintain revenue throughout the year, but it doesn’t come without risks, so Glasser recommends, “Don’t quit your day job,” until you’ve gotten the majority of the financial kinks ironed out.
“We had an unusual spring this year, and I lost most of my early crop,” she said. “I was able to work with my subscription holders to minimize reimbursements and I got creative with the blooms that were workable. But there’s no crop insurance for flowers, so it’s important to always maintain a safe margin in the bank.”
A Bright Future
As Glasser’s business continues to bloom, she’s thankful for the support of her community and others in the specialty cut flower industry. Buying flowers locally not only provides a longer-lasting bouquet, it also supports an underrepresented segment of American agriculture. Glasser said nearly 80% of wholesale flowers are imported from South America. As long as they remain cool during transport, the flowers won’t degrade too much, but most florists can’t guarantee more than 3-5 days of vase life. With fresh-cut local flowers, Glasser can offer 7-10.
Additionally, with a few modifications, Glasser has found North Dakota to be ideal for growing a wide range of flowers, many of which aren’t typical for wholesale florists. She absolutely loves it when customers comment that this bouquet or this flower reminds them of Grandmother’s garden.
“I always say flowers are magical. They just put a smile on your face. And I’m proud to be a part of that.”