Emily von Trapp has been into flowers since she was a 12-year-old selling bouquets at Mehuron’s. She inherited the green thumb from her parents, Tobi and Sally von Trapp, who own the von Trapp Greenhouse on Common Road in Waitsfield. At the greenhouse, Tobi and Sally grow and sell their own annual and perennial bedding plants, vegetable starts, herbs, roses, blueberries and hanging baskets.
Over the years, they transitioned away from vegetable market gardening and cut flower production and leaned into their retail garden nursery business. This transition provided an opening for Emily von Trapp to start her own cut-flower business, called von Trapp Flowers. Now, Emily and her parents work side by side on Waitsfield’s Common Road with two separate but complimentary businesses.
The greenhouse and the flower business have operated in a symbiotic relationship for years. Emily has her own space for her flowers but expands into the von Trapp Greenhouse as it starts winding down in the fall. “I call it tulip Tetris,” said Emily, referring to the annual shuffling around of flowers.
BOTH UNDER STRAIN
With the onset of coronavirus, however, both the greenhouse and the flower farm are under strain. The von Trapp Greenhouse has already delayed its annual May 1 opening, despite the fact that this is their 40th anniversary. “We are still trying to come up with a plan for opening for our spring season. We hope to be able to offer our annual Mother's Day hanging basket sale for parking lot pickup but have no firm opening date scheduled as of yet. It's hard to plan an opening because everything is so uncertain,” said Sally.
The prospect of canceling a spring opening for the greenhouse is saddening to Emily and her parents alike. “For us we have these quiet winters where we’re slowly plotting along and growing everything. When we open in May it’s like this beautiful fanfare where all of a sudden we get to see all of our neighbors and all these familiar faces. The fact that that’s compromised pulls at our heartstrings,” said Emily.
Emily’s flower business is also feeling the coronavirus crunch. The flower business is open year-round, but, unlike the greenhouse, the flower business is not open to the public. Instead, the bulk of Emily’s flowers are sold to markets across the state. “At this point, seven of the 14 markets I normally sell to are closed. Sales have dropped off. If it continues at this rate, in June I will be offering a CSA curbside pickup,” said Emily.
In the meantime, Emily has partnered with her cousin Sebastian von Trapp, who runs the cheese creamery at von Trapp Farmstead across the street, to sell her bouquets. “My bouquets are going to be available through the von Trapp Farmstead weekly curbside pickup starting next week. People can order them on the von Trapp Farmstead website,” she said.
Until then, she encourages people to find her flowers at any of these seven shops: Mehuron’s in Waitsfield, Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier, Village Market in Waterbury, Jericho Market in Jericho, Shelburne Market in Shelburne, or in Burlington with curbside pickup, Home and Garden and Nu Chocolat.
As a safety precaution, Emily delivers flowers to open markets less often than normal, and in higher quantities to limit exposure. Additionally, she always wears gloves and a mask when working. “We’re taking this very seriously,” said Emily, who strives to keep customers safe in return for all the support they’ve given. “We’ve had so many phone calls from people in the community. The community support is amazing. It keeps us going,” said Emily.