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Rising Stars: Meet Sophie Wettstein

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sophie Wettstein.

Hi Sophie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always been passionate about making a positive impact with my life and career, I just wasn’t sure how. I studied Social Entrepreneurship at Rollins College and then moved to Philadelphia after my degree. I found myself working in corporate and feeling completely miserable, disconnected from life and the things that make me happy – it was not a good fit for me personally. I felt called to work on a farm so I could learn to grow my own food and live in nature. I got an apprenticeship at Full Sun Farm in Asheville. I fell in love with farming and with flowers. I started learning about the food and flower industries. I learned that most of the flowers sold in the US are imported from other countries in factory farms pumped with chemicals. The reality of how these flowers are grown is so far disconnected from what a flower represents- the ultimate expression of beauty and life in nature.

I saw the importance of growing locally and organically – to appreciate the beauty of flowers while growing in harmony with nature instead of damaging the environment. I did another apprenticeship at Swallowtail Farm in Gainesville and then last August, I decided to take the leap and start my own flower farm. I’m SO glad that I took the leap of faith. I have met so many people that value local, sustainable farms. I love educating people on the importance of supporting local farms and how damaging the factory flower farms are to the environment.

My dream is for as many people as possible to come to the farm to connect with nature and their truest selves. Being in nature and feeling connected to a greater purpose is what has changed my life, I want to help as many people as I can do the same.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It was definitely not a smooth road getting here. My life and career path seemed completely sporadic and it didn’t make sense to anyone else. I was always following my gut and my heart but other people didn’t understand why I kept switching jobs and moving around. I knew I was looking for the right fit. And all of those “failed” jobs and careers led me to where I am now. I learned so much from all of the experiences. I learn business skills but also I learned what it’s like to feel unhappy, out of alignment, not using my passions and skills to make a positive impact.

On the farm, there are tons of challenges. Farming itself is a constant process of learning and problem-solving. That’s what I love about it. There’s always room for improvement, opportunities to learn more and be a better farmer and better steward of the land. Nature makes you pay attention to it. The key is to move with the challenges, allow them to help you find a better way to do things.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I grow all of the flowers on my farm using organic and regenerative farming practices. My focus is on building soil health which creates healthier plants and life on the farm.

I sell bouquets and arrangements at the Downtown Bradenton Public Market and I do flowers for Weddings and Events. I’m known for my bright, colorful, textured, fresh-picked, wildflower look. I see creating flower arrangements as creating art with nature; keeping the look as real, organic and natural as possible. I hope that when people see my bouquets, they feel connected and in awe of the beauty of nature.

To be honest, I feel proud that I could grow anything in this area at all. When I started, I didn’t know if I could grow anything here. I feel thankful everyday when I’m in the fields with the flowers; planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, arranging. My days on the farm are filled with gratitude that I get to do what I do.

As the farm grows, my dreams for it grow bigger too. I’m in the process of building a barn to host workshops and events at the farm. I want to offer a space for people to come and connect with nature, learn about growing and be present and mindful in their own lives. I’ve been intentional in building a life I love and that reflects my values – I want to help others do the same.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I have thought about this alot. I define success as learning and growing. I will consider myself a success if I’m learning and growing in some way. I will consider my business a success if I’m learning and growing with it. It’s so simple and rings so true to me.

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