Medrano's Flowers: A Blooming Love for Community
Savannah Kuang, CUESA Staff
March 22, 2019
With flowers blooming just in time for spring, you’ll find no shortage of unique varieties at the Medrano’s Flowers farmers market stand. “I’m always trying something different and hoping that it’ll work,” says farmer David Medrano. “People are looking for variety, and I want to provide that variety, so they don’t get sick of the same flowers each time.”
Each week, David brings his pride for the art of flower growing along with a diverse variety of seasonal blooms, grown on his farm in Monterey County, to CUESA’s Jack London Square Farmers Market and Mission Community Market.
Connecting Flowers and Family
David’s career in cut flowers began more than 30 years ago, when he was 17 years old and started working part-time washing buckets at a floral wholesaler. As he gradually learned more about flowers and the process of growing and cutting them for market, he started taking charge of the wholesaler’s flower inventory and became an expert flower grower.
“I started walking in the fields, breezing through each row of flowers and observing to see which ones were ready to be harvested,” says David. This was part of his daily process to familiarize himself with the world of floriculture.
Several years later, David began growing his own flowers. He found that even though he enjoyed working at the floral wholesaler, he wanted to start his own operation with his family. At first, he grew flowers at home while still working at the flower wholesaler during the day. After long hours of practice and experimentation, he finally decided to grow his own flowers full-time and sell them for wholesale. A few years later, in the early 2000s, he started selling his flowers at farmers markets.
While he sold flowers to wholesalers, he also felt that it was important to also sell them at the farmers market. “It was a small business, and it was about keeping my family’s wishes of staying as a family business,” says David. “That’s why when my kids were a lot younger, I would always take them to the farmers market. They pretty much grew up at the farmers market.”
Today, Medrano’s grows more than 60 varieties of flowers. David’s wife, Rosa, and their children, Carla, Saul, and Mauricio, all work together to support the business, including floral wholesale and farmers markets.
Enduring the Winter Season
While David tries to offer a variety of flowers throughout the year, it isn’t always easy, especially during the cold winter months. “When it’s cold, there’s nothing going on,” says David. “So it’s usually tough for agriculture and flowers in general. But if you can hold on and endure those winter months, you can make it work.”
In order to keep his flowers continuously fresh and blooming, David covers each flower bed with plastic sheets and drills each sheet with holes for weed control and humidity. It’s also a sustainable way for him to control water usage. “Doing this will keep a lot of the moisture underneath the soil,” says David. “We also do this by using irrigation drip tape, which has been working perfectly for us for a while.”
Timing is also a key part of his philosophy to sustain flower growth and variety. David and his family plan which flowers to grow for each season at least a few months in advance. “It’s all about how you manage your timing on these plants,” says David.
Bringing Locally Grown Blooms to Market
After decades of being in the flower business, David now sells his flowers mostly at Jack London Square Farmers Market on Sundays and Mission Community Market on Thursdays. “It is definitely tough being a farmer today, especially with all the competition that comes from imports,” says David. “With the help of CUESA, farmers like myself are given an avenue to offer their product, and customers have access to fresher and healthier products.”
He enjoys being at the farmers markets because of the sense of community he experiences when interacting with market goers. “I always treat my customers as a family,” says David. “I treat them like family because knowing that if I take care of them, they’ll take care of the farmers. But if you don’t treat your customers right, they’ll walk away instantly.” He also thinks it’s important to develop special connections with the regulars who visit his stand. “I generally have conversations about their life and communities.”
With spring finally upon us, David is excited that he will be bringing special varieties like Canterbury bells to the farmers markets. “It’s actually one of my favorite flowers to grow,” says David. He recently brought in other varieties such as ranunculi, snapdragons, and tulips.
David’s passion for flowers runs deeper than just the growing process. When he’s in the community of the farmers market, he sees past the long hours and active labor it takes to grow high-quality cut flowers for market. “If you don’t grow anything with your heart, you will never make it,” he emphasizes. “You have to do this with your heart and soul in order to grow beautiful flowers. Otherwise, it’s not worth it because if it’s not in your heart, it’s not going to work.”
Visit Medrano’s Flowers at Jack London Square Farmers Market on Sundays and Mission Community Market on Thursdays.