Tucked away in the Santa Ynez Valley in California sits a family of four on their picturesque flower farm. But surprisingly, that wasn’t always this couple’s plan. Dubbed Ballard Canyon Farms, the luxurious garden was the brainchild of field biologists Molly Sarquilla and her husband, Joseph. The couple first met while working in Puerto Rico as biologists for a sustainable forestry project. They later returned to Molly’s home in charming Solvang, California, to begin their farming journey together. “We had this science base before we both started farming, and around the time we both turned 30, we decided we wanted to go home and start a family,” Molly says. But the couple never could’ve imagined ending up where they are now. “We just kind of fell into flower farming. It was kind of accidental.”
Molly and Joseph originally started a vegetable farm, but a twist of fate led them to switch their focus from food to flora. Though she had no experience in growing flowers or arranging them, Molly offered to grow and arrange the flowers for her good friend’s wedding, and from there, her passion bloomed. “After we did that, we were just like, ‘This is what we should be doing,’ and it just kind of went from there.” Three years later, Molly and Joseph made the official transition to become a flower farm, growing vegetables only for personal use.
Since her first foray into flower farming and arranging, Molly has taken classes to hone her skills to create botanical beauties, citing Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm as her main mentor. Molly and Joseph also credit their years spent in Puerto Rico as scientists as a reason behind their flourishing farm. “Our scientific background plays a role in everything we do,” Molly explains. “Fertilizer mixes, field notes … there are so many things that we learned as scientists that now play a role in our everyday life. We implement that knowledge all the time.”
Now, Molly and Joseph frequent farmers’ markets and create arrangements for local grocery stores, but most of their business comes from wholesale, and they cite floral designers as some of their main purchasers. The couple grows dahlias, ranunculus, tulips, and everything in between, most of it used for weddings in the area. Though they had a stint in creating arrangements for weddings themselves, the couple is taking a break from that side of their business as their family grows, and now lets local floral designers handle the arrangements.