by Melody Reynolds
Every flower harvested by Mike and Polly Hutchinson at Robin Hollow Farm in Rhode Island is the result of many years of dedication with both hands firmly in the dirt.
Their well-blooming farm spreads over four acres. Robin Hollow Farm has created a specialty crop of flowers, both cut and potted. The farm currently has three greenhouses and offers more than 80 varieties of beautiful flowers. One quarter of the property is covered in plastic according to Mike, allowing them to stretch the growing season in the New England climate.
The cut flowers are picked and arranged to custom order. A June crop will fulfill the hundreds of wedding orders placed promising to offer a bride something unique on her special day. The summer months also pose to be very busy as many of the flowers from Robin Hollow are worn by soon-to-be graduates, and give color to the many farmers markets they attend.
The owners of Robin Hollow have very interesting pasts that have lead them to this well-rooted career.
Mike had originally thought he wanted to go to Veterinary School, but soon had a change of heart and switched his major to Environmental Education. Mike attended Purdue and upon graduation decided to peddle his bike from Indiana to Rhode Island. He traveled to Rhode Island as he thought it was his best option for jobs related to his degree field. Environmental Education was just starting to take hold in Rhode Island and he could be on the cutting edge.
Hired as a field teacher and naturalist at Alton Jones Campus of The University of Rhode Island, Mike created the farm camp, allowing kids from all backgrounds to experience a true working farm. The farm is still being used today. Alton Jones was so impressed with Mike they put him through a Masters Degree program at URI while he continued to run the farm camp.
Mike received his Masters in Adult Education in 1991 and ran the first NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) conference. There was where he met Polly. Polly volunteered for NOFA creating their newsletter and in 1992 worked for Phoenix gardens, feeding her passion for flowers.
Together the couple was asked to take their education and talents and become caretakers for the Historic Casey Farm in Saunderstown, RI. Mike and Polly started many of the still-active programs at Casey Farm including the well attended Farmers Markets, CSA programs and school camps.
During their time with Casey Farm, both Polly and Mike had a desire to have their own farm. Their dream was to create a niche for themselves in flowers. In February of 2007 the couple found the now-planted property and moved to their farm on Gilbert Stuart Road. Polly stated, “We always had our hands in the dirt.” Turning this raw land into fields of flowers came naturally to this hard working couple. “Our fields are maintained with our cultivating tractor, our hoes and various mulches for a maximum organic effect,”says Polly.
“Robin Hollow farm grows without chemical pesticides for our customers’ health and ours,” states Mike.
Mike and Polly work side by side all day harvesting and marketing their beautiful crop. They are blessed with a few volunteers and offer interns the experience they need to further their studies and encourage the next generation of farmers.
The farm offers “something different,” says Polly. Rather than traditional flowers like roses, Robin Hollow grows more extravagant crops that add height and personality to a bouquet.
“We work on an appointment basis with our customers, allowing us to get to know them and what they like,” says Mike. The flowers are picked just before full bloom and stored in a walk-in cooler just outside the workshop. This process ensures that the crop is at its peek perfection upon delivery.
As a working farm, Robin Hollow is not set up for drop in visits and always ask that you call or email first. They can be contacted at 401-2868 or Polly@robinhollfarm.com and Mike@robinhollowfarm.com
Robin Hollow: A colorful crop
by Melody Reynolds