Cypress Flower Farm Harvests Seasonal Blooms for Valentine’s Day

Selina Knowles, Communications Coordinator
February 8, 2024

Farmer Randy at Cypress Flower Farm's Market stand at FPFM

A part of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for over 30 years, Cypress Flower Farm brings seasonal flowers from the Bay Area coast to San Francisco every week. Randy Dardenelle, along with his sons and grandkids, runs the farm in Moss Beach and provides a freshly picked, local alternative in a market where the majority of cut flowers are imported.

Though Valentine’s Day may bring to mind images of rose bouquets, roses are not typically grown locally this time of year. But there are still beautiful varieties available that are locally grown. Randy shares his ecological approach to flower-farming and what seasonal blooms you should expect to find at the farmers market.

Two hands hold an orange poppy on Cypress Flower Farm.
Photo from Cypress Flower Farm.

Farming to Nourish the Local Ecosystem in Moss Beach

Randy has always been interested in farming, and when he was ready to give it a try, he found farmland in Moss Beach. Neighboring farmers were growing crops of vegetables like artichokes, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkins, and flowers, which he found most interesting. 

Cypress Flower Farm is on the edge of what Randy considers country property. Less than an hour’s drive to San Francisco, it’s just below the city of Pacifica, marking the northern edge of the natural and farmland region which extends to Santa Cruz. 

On the farmland, composed of 9 owned acres and 12 leased acres, Randy prioritizes encouraging biodiversity and preserving the natural environment. “I feel I’m obligated to do so because man is taking so much habitat from the native species that anything I can do to increase the habitat for wildlife, I want to do it,” he says.

Randy maintains two frog ponds on his farm, which are nearby a nature reserve park. “It enhances the ecology of the wildlife. And it’s a fun thing to have on the property,” says Randy. “I was down there the other day, and there were a couple mallards on the pond.” He says the ponds attract various birds, as well as raccoons, skunks, coyotes, possums, foxes, and bobcats.

The farm’s proximity to the ocean protects the flowers from overheating. Too much water can be a challenge, however, and Randy has lost some flowers to flooded beds. 

“Fortunately, the ground is fairly high and well drained,” says Randy, “but my crew is constantly out there with shovels, digging ditches so the water doesn’t pool up.” Ultimately though, after years of dealing with drought, he much prefers too much water to not enough.

Cypress Flower Farm at Foodwise's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
Cypress Flower Farm at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in 2010. Photo by Cypress Flower Farm.

Building Small Business Success Around Farmers Markets

While Randy expects to sell out this Valentine’s Day weekend, the flower market is generally quite competitive and oversaturated, with imports from other countries accounting for about three-quarters of the U.S. cut flower market. Selling out is usually the main challenge for small farmers like Randy, who relies on local farmers markets for all of his business. 

“Growing it is the fun part, selling is the hard part,” says Randy. “Fortunately, San Francisco has been very good to me. The Ferry Plaza is one of my best markets, if not my best market.” 

He continues, “I was one of the lucky farmers to be there at the beginning when the market started. One of the main reasons I think the Ferry Plaza was so successful is that the market manager was able to hand-pick the very best farmers in Northern California.”

Randy adds that “a constant labor turnover” is another pressing issue for Cypress Flower Farm’s small crew, which centers around a core team of four. “It’s getting a little easier now,” he adds. “When Trump was president, the borders were tight, and it was harder to get farm labor.”

“The farmers markets are essential,” says Randy about his operations. At the farmers market, he’s able to set his own prices, which allows him to pay his employees well, experiment with growing different types of flowers, and farm in a way that’s respectful of the natural environment.

Red, pink, and white anemone flowers at Cypress Flower Farm's stand at Foodwise's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco.

Seasonal Flowers From the Farmers Market for Valentine’s Day

Here are a few locally grown varieties that you can expect at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in mid to late winter:

Anemones (pictured above): Members of the Ranunculaceae family, these small red, purple, and white beauties are known as “windflowers.” Their petals slowly open to reveal a dark or yellow center.

Poppies, before they have bloomed, at Cypress Flower Farm's stand at Foodwise's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco.

Poppies: A poppy is a flowering plant in the subfamily Papaveroideae of the family Papaveraceae. Poppies are herbaceous plants, often grown for their warm-colored flowers. After you take them home from the farmers market, trim and burn the bottom of the stems. This encourages them to bloom and helps them last longer.

Buckets of pink, magenta, and yellow tulips at Cypress Flower Farm's stand at Foodwise's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Tulips: Tulips bring vibrant colors to winter farmers market stands. There are thousands of known tulip varieties in every shade and shape, from pointed lily-style tulips to frilly parrots. These hardy winter flowers grow well in the fields and thrive in the rain. 

View our full flower seasonality chart here.

Support Cypress Flower Farm at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays. For a full list of our farms that grow flowers, click here.

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