Flywheel is the vision and passion of Carole Mapes. After growing up on her family farm in central Iowa and graduating she intended to become an environmental educator. The environmental educators of her youth introduced in her a love of wild places and our responsibility to care for them. After a few seasons of working as an educator it became clear that is wasn’t a good fit for her. Around that same time she had begun volunteering on a small farm in Iowa. So that fall she began applying to farms for apprenticeships that following summer.
That is how Carole found herself working at Fail Better Farm in Etna, Maine and Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra, Maine in the spring of 2013. She continued working for Cornerstone for the next three years. In each of those years Carole took on more and more responsibilities. At Cornerstone she was also offered the chance to grow a few crops of her own management. She choose flowers. And the little flower patch grew each year she was there till the final year is was several beds and took one day of her time each week to harvest and manage.
In the fall of 2017 Carole was accepted for the Farmer-in-Residence program through MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmer’s and Gardener’s Association). Through this opportunity she was able to venture out on her own, and Flywheel Flowers found its start. This invaluable experience gave Carole the chance to grow the farm in a way that otherwise would have been impossible. At the end of this two year residency Carole moved the farm to Brooks, Maine.
Harvest usually start early May with tulips, daffodil and hyacinths from field grown bulbs and overwintered larkspur, poppies and other hardy annuals from the tunnels. As the season progresses buckets of foxglove, forget-me-nots, sweet peas, scabiosa, nigella and so many other beauties will find their way into the cooler. The season for fresh cut flowers usually ends in October with ornamental kales, pumpkin-on-a-stick and eucalyptus.
Throughout the growing season countless bunches of dried flowers are harvested and hung to dry for use come fall. Dried flowers were among the flower Carole grew when she worked at Cornerstone. They remain of interest to her and every year another flower or variety gets added to the list. The farm goes all out, bringing garlic braids, dried flower wreaths, smudge sticks and more to festival and fairs around Maine from September-December. We are also excited to offer these through our online shop. Please check back to soon when that is up and running.
Lastly, it would be remiss to not mention here the many other faces of Flywheel. The farm is the passion and vision of Carole. It would not exist were it not for her. But is is only able to be what it is because of Lauren, her younger sister. She joined Carole in Maine and then came with her to MOFGA as well. Lauren joins Carole at least one day a week during the growing season, harvests the bulk of the dried flowers and manages their extensive garden. Carole also has been supported in her farming efforts by her number one cheerleader, her mom, Chris, who though she still lives in Iowa provides as much support as she can from miles away. Carole’s boyfriend Nick also gives at least one day of this week during the season to wash buckets, take on small carpentry projects and harvest with her.
Beyond those immediately involved with the farm, there is also the community that allows Flywheel to be what it is. The other farmers in our town, those also growing flowers in the state, our customer who loyally support us each week at market and the brides that opt for locally grown, flowers, harvested with care.