No running with shears.
That's the rule at Emery Acres Flower Farm in Rosemount, where visitors wander rows of snapdragons, zinnias and cosmos ready to snip their own bouquets.
"Your momma should have taught you already but in case she didn't, don't run with shears. We can grow flowers, not appendages," reads a sign near the barn.
Emery Acres is one of a growing number of pick-it-yourself flower farms taking root in Minnesota. While they're fairly new to the state, the DIY bouquet farms are quickly finding favor with flower lovers.
Most of the farms are in small towns or rural areas. Some provide shears, water and a vase or bucket so you can make your own floral arrangements on the spot. Many simply have an unattended stand with all the necessary flower-cutting equipment and honor-system payment. Prices and hours vary from farm to farm, as do rules about pets or photography.
At Emery Acres, pickers are guided by signs that indicate where on the stem to cut and how to strip off leaves to keep the flowers fresher longer. Snipping a giant bouquet (and a plastic container to take it home in) costs about $25.
Connie Merriman, who runs the business with her daughter Alicia, said U-pick flower farms have proved popular with families, book clubs, Girl Scout troops, even couples on first dates.
"Last weekend we had a couple who got engaged out here," she said.
Alicia Merriman hadn't even heard of U-pick flower farms when her mom broached the idea during the pandemic. The concept has been catching on quickly, though.
"Now that we have a U-pick flower farm, they're everywhere," Alicia said. "We're quickly finding others further out in the state, in other states, so it's fun."
Beauty by the bucket
Last year, when Marnie Macgregor moved from New York's Hudson Valley to her parents' South Haven, Minn., fruit farm, Fairhaven Farm, she decided to plant a quarter-acre with flowers.
She had visited a pick-your-own flower farm back in New York, and thought one might do well here.
"It was a really nice thing to be able to do, and kind of the closest that farmers get to passive income," she said.
Adding flowers to Fairhaven's U-pick fruit offerings was such a success that Macgregor added a "pick-your-own CSA share" for those who want to show up and snip regularly at the farm near St. Cloud. The shares quickly sold out.
Macgregor did an Instagram poll to see what flower people like most, and the hardy zinnia was tops. But her own favorites?
"I really love cosmos and yarrow," Macgregor said. "I'm a big fan of what are actually called fillers."
A simple sunset
A few years back, when Rhonda Seelhammer first came up with the idea to plant flowers on her land in Chatfield, near Rochester, and open it up to U-pick customers, not everyone grasped the idea.
"When I mentioned it to my close friends, they were like, 'That's weird,' " she said. "And I kept thinking, 'You know what, I just need to find my people.' And, oh, my goodness, we found our people."
After becoming a U-pick flower destination, she and her husband also planted blueberries. Now Berry and Bloom Farm, with berry fields and fields of about 60 varieties of annuals and a large selection of perennials, is in its fourth season of flower picking.
"It's all self-explanatory, self-serve, honor system. And it's Monday through Saturday and we're closed on Sundays. So it works like a charm," said Seelhammer.
Customer satisfaction is apparent from the many messages and thank-you notes they get from U-pick customers, some of whom also offer suggestions of what else they'd like to see at the farm.
"The biggest question we get asked all the time is, 'Could you guys please serve pizza and when can you start a VRBO?' I'm not kidding you," she said.
That has Seelhammer convinced that fields of vase-ready flowers aren't the only draw.
"We're so used to the country. So we're so taken aback when people are just blown away even by a simple sunset."
U-pick flower farms
Check websites for hours, open fields and conditions:
Emery Acres Flower Farm: 15490 Emery Av. E., Rosemount; emeryflowers.com
Berry and Bloom Farm: 6945 150th Av. SE., Chatfield, Minn.; berryandbloomfarm.com
Fairhaven Farm: 13835 51st Av., South Haven, Minn.; fairhaven-farm.com
Rustic Designs Flower Farm: 25801 County Road 9 NE., Belgrade, Minn.; rusticdesignsflowerfarm.com
True Blue Flower Co.: 35191 County Hwy. 4, Frazee, Minn.; trueblueflowerco.com
Owl Forest Farm: 3442 Mobraten Drive, Iron Junction, Minn.; owlforestfarm.com
Our Farm Fresh: 75842 240th Av., Hayfield, Minn.; ourfarmfresh.net/u-pick-flowers