EcoBlossoms Farm Brings May Flowers through the Summer

Bahiyyah Parks checks the buds as the peonies come online. Peonies are in season for only six weeks, and any climatic disruption can mean disaster.

On March 11, 2023, DC’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) held the third annual urban agriculture summit at Anacostia High School. Called Rooting DC, the summit is a daylong forum that provides education about urban agriculture and food systems, cultivates health and protection of the environment and builds community. In a booth between DC Master Gardeners and a bee producer was one participant whose beautiful photos of flowers and flower arrangements, along with her sparkling smile drew, everyone in.

Meet flower farmer Bahiyyah Parks, owner and all-around person for EcoBlossoms Farm in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Her farm is a project in the making but one that she has embraced fully. Having just returned from a seven-and-half-month sabbatical in Turkey and Morocco, Parks is busy pulling weeds and putting her work in order. A huge fence around her four-acre farm keeps deer and other unwanted guests out and has allowed her to expand her plantings. “Between COVID, needing to secure my farm and the fact that the farm did not have a water source, my startup has been slower than I thought it would be,” she remarks. “In the last year, a well has been put in and the fence is up, so now I am ready to move forward.”

Bahiyyah Parks says being a flower farmer is a dream come true, and she is excited to be able to grow her business in 2023.

How to Become a Flower Farmer?

“I have always loved flowers and gardening, ever since I was small,” says Parks. She grew up in an urban setting and remembers being chased by boys in elementary school, threatening to throw her into grass and dirt. She laughs to think of them seeing her now, pulling weeds and doing every dirty job there is on the farm.

“I became conscious of organic farming when I had my son and started buying organic at Whole Foods. It was so expensive, I decided I better grow my own, and one thing led to another. I thought I wanted to grow fruit trees,” said Parks, “but I didn’t have the space to do that.” She signed up for a six-week course on farming offered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, hoping to learn about fruit trees, but attended all the classes. Realizing that growing fruit trees weren’t going to work, on the last night of the class, when she was asked what she planned to farm, she replied that she wanted to grow peonies and flowers.

In what might be called divine intervention, that very night she got a call from a flower farmer who wanted to quit and asked if she would come and dig up his plants. Just like that, Parks and a friend had 72 peony plants.

A new deer fence around her four-acre farm will enable Bahiyyah Parks to plant more flowers and even some black lentils.

She is grateful for the help she receives from the state and Prince George’s County programs and for the generosity of other flower farmers who share their journeys and information. “It is a really amazing network of people.”

May Is Peony Time

In addition to peonies, Parks plants sunflowers, zinnias, dithianes and snapdragons. But her heart is really with the peonies. This late spring flower, often associated with Mother’s Day, is one of the world’s beloved perennials. The plant and flowers are easy to maintain and have a great fragrance. “I love the pink Hawaiian coral color peony, Miss America and Paula Fay,” says Parks. She plants 40 varieties of peonies each season.

The peony season is six weeks. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, it can be horrible for the flower farmer. Last year, the spring was cold, wet and unpredictable. Ecoblossoms’ peonies were late. Parks had only two weeks to cut all her peonies, which usually mature in the six-week period. “I was cutting 400-500 stems a day,” she says. “I couldn’t keep up and my hand seized up from the overuse.” This year she is more hopeful. With the early heat, the peonies are on schedule to be in full bloom for Mother’s Day.

It takes three years for a plant to be ready to yield five to seven stems to cut. Sometimes a plant will produce one bud in the early years, but it is better to pluck the bud and let the plant spread and be better rooted. Parks thinks it is best to plant the ball roots in the fall and let the plant root itself in the winter months. When you buy a plant, it will be described as having a certain number of eyes with the root, which means the number of stems the plant will put out. She recommends one with five to seven eyes.

Peonies are one of the most beloved flowers.

Bringing the Flowers to Your Home

I love the idea that I can bring the beautiful flowers to your home or be part of your special event,” says Parks. “There is something special about local flowers. They are grown by hand, without pesticides and without a history of social injustice for the workers.”   

If you want to subscribe, as in the CSA system of vegetables, Parks offers a variety of plans, starting with the spring peony subscription (six weeks) from May 7 through June 11 for $160 to $270. A spring floral subscription is nine weeks for $270. She also offers a Mother’s Day bouquet (extra-large) for $45 to $60. The bouquet can be delivered to your home, or you can pick it up at Petworth’s Farmers Market from May 6 to June 10. You can meet Parks at the farmers market or sign up online.

EcoBlossoms Farm will deliver to your home, or you can pick up and meet Bahiyyah Parks at the Petworth Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Not only will you have a home full of beautiful flowers and smells, but you will also know you are supporting a local farmer and business. Buying peonies locally guarantees your flower arrangement will be truly one-of-a-kind.

To buy a single bouquet, sign up for a subscription to receive flowers all summer, or hire Parks to help you design your own garden: You will wonder where this service has been, and you will enjoy spring and summer in a totally new way.

Rindy O’Brien’s love of flowers started with her grandmother, and now she passes it on to her own granddaughter. Contact Rindy at