Wildey Flo Just a short drive outside of Cincinnati, in New Richmond, Ohio, you’ll find the home of Wildey Flower Farm. During the spring and summer months, the fields and greenhouses are awash with the dazzling colors of the wildflowers the Wildey family grows and sells in simple, yet stylish bouquets at Over-theRhine’s Findlay Market. But the bitter winter air doesn’t mean this farm is quiet. It’s quite the contrary. The air is lush with the scent of fresh evergreens, and the place is bustling with energy. You see, come this time of year, Wildey Flower Farm transforms itself into nature’s holiday décor market place, and the abundance of the season is all around. Wreaths and swags made of natural materials are the Wildey’s forte, with everything needed gathered right here on the farm itself. It’s a frigid December Sunday, and we are welcomed by Ed Wildey, his wife Karen, and their youngest daughter Rosemary, with hot coffee and a box of fresh donuts from Holtmans. Rosemary is a cherub faced five year old, with bright blue eyes, and a huge smile. She proceeds to show us around the farm, introducing us to the donkeys, cows and chickens. Her favorite chicken is named Lasagna. We follow Ed around the farm as he thoughtfully gathers full branches of the various greens that he will use in the wreaths and swags. He spouts off the names quickly. He knows the land well and clearly has a passion for it. Ed Wildey has a shy smile, but he’s quick to mug for the camera. Karen and I follow along with our steaming cups of coffee, Rosemary trailing behind with a donut in each hand. Karen tells me a bit about the land and its history. This 66 acre former tobacco farm has been in Ed Wildey’s family since he was a baby. Both Karen and Ed have worked the land during its tobacco days, but it’s very clear that they enjoy this endeavor much more. Karen tells me, “Tobacco farming is back-breaking, un-forgiving work. This is something we can do together as a family”. Adds Ed, “We also do what we do to make a difference in a city we love, and we’re very passionate about by trying to offer people a reason to come down to Over-the-Rhine. Also, I’ve recently learned that during the Great Depression, my great Grandparents would peddle their farm goods in the city, so maybe it’s just in my DNA”. The small white church down the road has been in New Richmond since 1872. It’s the congregation of Ed’s family, and it proudly bears Wildey wreaths on its front doors. A tiny one-room school house sits just across the road from the church.
ower Farm With Ed finally satisfied with his haul, we head back to the barn. He lays the various branches all around a table-mounted wreath assembly machine, complete with a foot pedal crank. A round, metal wreath frame is set on top of the wreath machine. One by one, with a precise creative eye, Ed picks and chooses the fullest branches, and begins to attach them to the wreath frame. With each crank of the pedal, the branches are mounted to the frame. Every so often, an extremely enthusiastic Rosemary arrives to apply her strength and ‘help’ Daddy with the work. Ed patiently obliges. As each wreath is finished, it’s sent over to Karen, who then decorates it with pinecones, dried berries and leaves. Simple, elegant, perfect. The Wildeys will assemble over 200 wreaths this holiday season, mostly repeat, special orders. Ed tells me that they are very popular teacher gifts at the local schools. With the morning’s work completed, we’re treated to a tour of the rest of the property. The cleared land is dotted with raised flower and vegetable beds, commercial greenhouses, and livestock pens. Approximately two acres are devoted to wildflower cultivation during the warmer months. A main house with its kitchen garden and personal greenhouse lie towards the front of the parcel. The resident mouser keeps watch over all. Despite the brutal temperature, we were delighted to visit this charming, local family farm, and to share their treasures with you. We promise to take you back there in the summer to adore the flowers. Until then, you still have one more weekend to find your home’s perfect adornment, or an exquisite hostess gift. Say hi to Karen, Ed, Rosemary, and the Wildey’s eldest daughter, Lily, in the farm shed at Findlay Market. Check the market’s website, www.findlaymarket.org or the Wildey site at www.wildeyflowerfarm.com for hours. Welcoming visitors to your home for a meal during the holidays begins with your décor. Natural greenery sets the tone for the perfect evening. As your guests come through the door, nothing welcomes as warmly as the smell of a perfectly roasted chicken. And, if they’re fortunate enough to enjoy your hospitality for the weekend, might we suggest a delicious and fragrant frittata to lure your loved ones out of their cozy beds in the morning?
[chuht-nee] From the East Indian word chatni, this spicy condiment contains fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices. It can range in texture from chunky to smooth and in degrees of spiciness from mild to hot. Chutney is a delicious accompaniment to curried Dishes. The sweeter chutneys also make interesting bread spreads and are delicious with cheese.
holiday issue, 2011