The main barn at Harvest Moon Flower Farm, as seen from the fields.
Linda Chapman harvests yellow and orange zinnias on Friday, September 29, 2017. Fridays are spent preparing for Harvest Moon’s appearance at two local farmers markets on Saturdays.
Linda Chapman holds a bouquet of freshly-cut flowers.
Linda Chapman’s dog, Bo, looks on as Carmen Sheppard picks Mexican Sage.
Hannah Linn uses a box-cutter to snip cattails for the day’s bouquets.
Gay Venegas walks among bushes of Mexican sage at Harvest Moon Flower Farm.
Linda Chapman and Gay Venegas ride a modified golf cart back to the barn. Chapman and Venegas have been friends for years.
A finished bouquet of flowers sits on the ground inside Harvest Moon Flower Farm’s main barn.
Carmen Sheppard stands at a counter inside the main barn, making bouquets. Sheppard’s wedding was held at the farm in July 2015.
Dried bouquets of sunflowers, coxcomb and zinnias hang from the rafters on the second floor of the main barn.
Linda Chapman exits the modified golf cart she uses to move flowers around her property.
The main fields at Harvest Moon Flower Farm.
On a little farm just outside of Spencer, Ind., four women stand hunched over the earth. They’re dressed sensibly, their hair pulled back, and they wield box cutters. These are the women of Harvest Moon Flower Farm.
Those who frequent the Bloomington Community Farmer’s Market will recognize Linda Chapman, owner-operator of Harvest Moon. She’s hard to miss – tall and tanned, with an easy smile and bright blue eyes.
On this particular Friday morning, Chapman buzzes around her property in a modified golf cart. She’s busy getting her flowers ready to sell at two local Saturday farmer’s markets, something she’s been doing since 1989.
Carmen Sheppard picks a sizeable bunch of orange zinnias and sets them inside a bucket on the back of the golf cart. It’s a chilly September morning, but she wipes her hands, wet from the dew, on bare legs.
Sheppard grew up in a log cabin just down the road from Harvest Moon, she says. Her mother, Gay Venegas, has known Chapman for many years. Venegas is also busy picking flowers, bunches of Mexican sage and eucalyptus. She’s unsure exactly how long she’s been working at Harvest Moon.
“We don’t know,” she says, looking at her daughter. “A long time. How old are you, Carmen? 24?”
Everyone laughs. They’re a tight-knit group of women. An hour of flower-picking comes and goes, and the women begin to move the bunches of flowers from the field to the barn to be sorted and arranged into bouquets.
Hannah Linn, a 20-something woman with glasses and a big laugh, carries a bunch of dahlias into the barn, stepping carefully around buckets of sunflowers and baby’s breath.
“It’s always a dance in here,” she says, gesturing to the cluttered counters.
That’s why there aren’t any male employees, says Venegas: “They’re very clumsy. They take up a lot of space.”
The women set about making bouquets: a zinnia here, a sunflower there. There doesn’t seem to by any real rhyme or reason to their arrangements.
“The flowers let you know where they go,” Venegas says. Once again, laughter bounces off the walls of the old barn. The women talk as they work; Linn’s landlord wants her to renew her lease, Sheppard’s husband did something funny in the kitchen last night. They reminisce about Sheppard’s wedding, held at Harvest Moon in July 2015.
“There really isn’t a better place to get married,” she says. “It’s so familiar and personal.”