Pick-your-own flower farm in Bellefonte has upcoming events

When Christie and Mark Holloway moved to Bellefonte from Philadelphia, it was for an office job, not to start an agritourism business.

They bought farmland near Hublersburg and decided that since had the opportunity, they should at least try to grow something. They grew produce, hops and in 2019, began growing flowers, originally just for a family member’s wedding. Christie Holloway said she had fun during that process and decided to grow more the next year.

And so, Rooted Farmstead was born. Specializing in fresh cut flowers, on-farm events and floral design, the venture has grown beyond anything she could have ever imagined.

“I would have never, ever, ever imagined this is where we would have landed. And who’s to say this is it?” Christie Holloway said earlier this month.

They started doing Pick-Your-Own events in 2020 and 2021. While they loved their property, it wasn’t well-suited for the events that were beginning to evolve, Holloway said.

“In an unlikely string of events, we started to look at properties and this one just came to fruition, and it’s been perfect,” Holloway said of their new location, 138 Scott Ave., Bellefonte.

An aerial view of Rooted Farmstead and some of the flowers on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

The 50-acre farm is located along Jacksonville Road, about 1.5 miles south of the I-99/I-80 interchange, and has easy access for visitors. They’re able to grow about four times the flowers, too, including dahlias, zinnias and snapdragons.

“It’s just been a dream,” she said.

With more space and flowers came more events and opportunities for the first-generation farmers to pursue. One of Holloway’s favorites has been the different workshops they offer. She is self-taught from growing to designing flowers and enjoys taking something that seems unapproachable, and making it approachable.

“I’m not a classically trained florist, like I am very humble about what I do. And to see people come into a workshop and look at what the finished product is going to be, and be like, ‘Oh, I’m not creative, I can’t do this’ … And then at the end, they ‘re like smiling ear to ear, being like, ‘Oh, I did it!’ and they feel good about themselves,” Holloway said.

They often collaborate with other small businesses; sometimes a workshop is held at a local business, or other times a local business will play a part in the workshop at the farm, like classes on how to make charcuterie boards, macrame or cocktails.

Christie Holloway snips plants to make bouquets at Rooted Farmstead on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

“It’s just so much fun to make those community connections and to make … agriculture and just these design concepts more approachable. And I feel like that’s something that more urban areas offer,” she said, adding that they hope to bring more trends and experiences to Center County.

Agritourism has been a popular way to give people who didn’t grow up on farms the opportunity to tour, learn and explore farms while boosting the agriculture industry. Center County has several agritourism offerings, such as goat yoga, and farm and agriculture heritage driving routes.

A lot of well established farms that were solely based in production have taken advantage of agritourism to try to reinvent themselves, Holloway said. What is unique about Rooted Farmstead is that they started their venture as an agritourism destination, rather than trying to morph into it. She has a lot of admiration for those farms that are transforming themselves.

Flowers at Rooted Farmstead on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Rooted Farmstead is now Holloway’s full-time job. Going from working a full-time office job to running her own business has been “awesome” — yet exhausting.

“Everyone says it, when you start your own business that you’re going to be putting in more hours. And yes, that is 100% true, but I’m putting in more hours with my girls, with my family, with the community, making these connections, playing on all the things that I love but I didn’t really know would convert ,” she said. For example, she’s always loved photography, but never thought that she’d use it to help market her own business.

“I’m grateful and I know was privileged to have the opportunity to do this as a side business before I was able to go full time, and so I was able to make a lot more mistakes. I was able to try so many different things until something clicked,” Holloway said. “I also know that when we got to a point where I was like, I have to see where this goes, like something was just pushing me and I just had to listen to it.”

Zinnias bloom at Rooted Farmstead on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Earlier this summer, Rooted Farmstead was awarded a tourism grant from the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau and the Center County commissioners. The $3,000 grant will be used for visitor enhancements to the cut flower farm, including outdoor lounge seating and a wildlife hedgerow, which will encourage more wildlife on the farm and act as a natural windbreaker.

They’ll also be using some of the funds to install a peony cutting garden. Holloway said that’s a big deal because peonies are a highly sought after crop — and very expensive.

“The season is fleeting and it’s hard to justify the investment because they are expensive plants to start. … So the grant is helping us make that investment,” Holloway said. “And what is going to be very unique is that we are going to open it up for the public to pick. There are absolutely peony gardens and growers that grow peonies, but it’s very rare that you can come and pick your own, and we know that’s going to be very special for this area.”

She’s confident that they’ll be able to start picking them in 2024, if not a little sooner.

Christie Holloway works on a bouquet in the flower shed at Rooted Farmstead on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

In the meantime, Rooted Farmstead is open for Pick-Your-Own and general shopping in their retail shed on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On some Sundays throughout the growing season, they have Sip ‘n Snips, an event with local bartending service Drinks by Design, which creates mimosas and bloody marys using local ingredients. Other special events and upcoming markets can be found on their website, rooted-farmstead.myshopify.com or social media, www.instagram.com/rootedfarmstead.

Eucalyptus and a bucket full of flowers from pick your own at Rooted Farmstead on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Halie Kines reports on local government for the Center Daily Times. She grew up in Penns Valley and graduated from Penn State.


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