5 Life Outside the Construction Site: My Visit to Costa Farms

>> Monday, March 12, 2012

Ready for one doozie of a blog post? Ready. Set. Go…

Last week, I left my construction site behind and cruised on down to Miami for a quick trip to Costa Farms (mega houseplant provider for Lowe’s, Costco, Kroger, IKEA…you catch my drift) with a dozen other writers/bloggers/gardening gurus…Yes. That’s right. I said a gardening…I’m not insulted one bit if you are scratching your head wondering how on earth I managed an invite. According to the fine folks at Costa, they wanted a wide variety of writers & bloggers to attend this year’s social summit. I definitely represented the currently-have-zero-plants-in-my-immediate-surroundings-unless-an-overgrown-lawn-qualifies demographic. Nonetheless, a great time was had and this DIY-er definitely left with the inspiration to turn my brown thumb green…or at least a slightly less muddy shade of green.

Off we go on our whirlwind tour of the farm. Load ‘em up and move ‘em out!…

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First stop: Cacti and succulents. Very cool plants that seem incredibly tough to kill. Right up my alley.

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Next up: The orchid farm.

If you’ve ever picked up an orchid from IKEA, this is where they are grown.

By far the most breathtaking destination for the day. Rows and rows (and rows) of orchids in all colors. Gorgeous.

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Those trusting farmers even allowed us to manhandle a few during our lesson on how to repot an orchid. Mainly this photo makes me giggle since from this angle it looks like we are all wearing fancy headdresses.

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More roughing up the plants when we broke into teams for a little good spirited competition. Each team had 15 minutes to whip up a lush creation with a limited supply of materials.

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My team with our tablescape…click here to head over to Costa Farm’s Facebook page to vote for ours as the winner!
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By this time we were starving, so we loaded up and headed over to the trial garden for lunch. In the trial gardens, different plant varieties are studied and evaluated so that only the very best quality of plants are shipped out to retailers.


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One of the most exciting new products Costa is busy whipping up is their line of 100% biodegradable packaging, meaning you can buy a plant and stick it right in the ground as is. You say simple & good for the earth? I say done!

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Next, Costa wanted our help picking our favorite plants from the trial gardens. I was definitely a fish out of water in this activity since I know little to nothing about what I was looking at but I did my best…

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Check out my reasoning for selecting #6. I just know my feedback will prove invaluable to my new friends at Costa. You are welcome…

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Moving at lightening speed, we cruised over to where they produce coconut coir—a sustainable alternative growing medium (think dirt). Here they saturate condensed blocks of coconut shell and test to make sure the pH level is suitable for the plants.
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Looks yummy, eh?

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Finally, our last stop of the day was to the hibiscus farm. Costa grows a stunning variety of hibiscus plants with huge, brightly colored blooms, know as their Tropical Escape line.

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After a quick freshening up at the hotel, we headed over to the President & CEO’s home for dinner—who are husband and wife, by the way. So stinkin’ cute…Great food, great company and one heck of a tablescape outfitted with glowing arrangements and terrariums.

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Whew! A long day of stomping around the farms at Costa, but I cannot tell you how much I learned not only about plants but about the company as a whole. As a true family business, Costa Farms is nothing less than an inspiration. With passionate, down-to-earth executives leading the way for growers and employees on every level, it’s no wonder Costa has been such a great success over the past 50 years. The business major in me was excited to see the inner workings of the business. The blogger in me was eager to share my experience on the farm with you. And the brown thumb in me was ready to bring a few plants into my construction site…It’s happening. Stay tuned.

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5 comments:

Jeff & Kristin McClure March 12, 2012 at 4:20 PM  

Great opportunity and thanks for sharing!

JM

Katie Dubow March 12, 2012 at 8:08 PM  

We were so lucky to have you!! Brown thumb turning green!!

Cara @ Live the Home Life March 13, 2012 at 1:52 PM  

Jeff, it was such a great experience. I can't wait to start greening up my own house!

Katie, it was a blast! Thanks so much for having me!

Cara

Pink Overalls @DIY Home Staging March 16, 2012 at 7:57 AM  

Jealous. I just heard about Costa at a lecture on growing cactus and succulents. It must have been exciting to see so many beautiful plants. I'm glad you shared it all with us. I'm sure you'll have good luck with your growing!

Cara @ Live the Home Life March 16, 2012 at 9:11 AM  

Visiting Costa was such a great experience. The farm was beautiful and learning about the family who has owned and operated the business for over 50 years was inspirational. Great plans and great people...and you can't beat the location. Miami? Yes, please!

Cara

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