Helen Skiba and Nelson Esseveld, owners of the Artemis Flower Farm, are at the Nederland Farmers Market every week, although they are based in Longmont. How they got here is a long and fascinating story.
Skiba is a Colorado native whose biologist parents instilled in her a love of the outdoors that eventually called her back home from her life as a city-based academic. On the way, she served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador and was awarded a Masters in agriculture from CSU.
After working as an intern at a farm in Lyons, she bought into the business as the flower manager: “I learned so fast how to make bouquets, arrangements, and how to grow flowers – it was a whirlwind, but it was exactly the puzzle I needed. There was so much to learn, and I loved the challenge.”
The business moved to Longmont, changed its name to Artemis Flower Farm, and by 2014 became a “full-fledged operational farm and floral studio!”
What sets Artemis apart from being just another florist is that “We are an ecology-focused specialty cut flower farm. We grow over 300 varieties of annuals, perennials, and everything in between…. On the farm, we offer workshops in gardening and floral design…. We are here at the Nederland Farmers Market, and we also sell flowers wholesale at the Colorado Flower Collective, and to florists in Longmont and Boulder. In addition, we offer simple wedding design for couples focused on waste-free and sustainable celebrations.
“Because we grow our own flowers, we are much more than a florist, and because we design with our own flowers, we are much more than a flower farm. The growing informs the design, and the design informs the growing, so that we are always improving how we grow and how we create.”
Skiba emphasizes that “We work hard to make our business as earth- friendly as possible….We use homemade biological amendments from Korean Natural Farming to add nutrients and native organisms to our soils, limiting inputs from outside the farm…. By growing a wide range of flowers, we invite diversity to our farm and provide nectar sources not only for honeybees, but for native bees, wasps, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
“In our studio, we use rental vases to avoid the massive waste common in the wedding industry, as well as durable mechanics like chicken wire and flower frogs, eschewing carcinogenic and toxic floral foam. Any packaging is compostable or recyclable, from the tape we use to package our bulb and tuber boxes, to the cards in our bouquets.
“As part of the Treehouse Farm Collective, we are creating an interdependent web of farmers and communities that, because of its diversity and depth, is strong and resilient. We strive to give our employees the best working environment possible and cultivate a farm workplace that values, rather than exploits, the passion of young people for nature, farming, and a truly regenerative world.”
Skiba and Esseveld, along with part-time farmers and floral designers Kailey Littlehorn and Amanda Akoto, want to keep their company small, servicing customers only in Boulder and Longmont – and at the Nederland Farmers Market, the only one they attend. Skiba runs most of the day- to-day business, while Esseveld helps to create branding, marketing, and website assets. At his day job, Esseveld works as a graphic designer and marketing director for a social media software company.
Happy in following her calling, Skiba says that the favorite part of her work is “Waking up early and smelling the fresh air as I start cutting flowers, and the satisfaction and richness of witnessing the myriad stunning forms that nature can make.”
Sponsored by the Town of Nederland, with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.