Whistling Winds Flower Farm boasts bouquets and banquets
Since 2000, Monica Puskar and her husband, Stan Puskar, have operated a “hobby farm” in Mt. Pleasant Township.
“We did church events, had festivals; both of our kids’ weddings were here,” Monica Puskar says of her rural home.
But the idea of a cut-flower business and hosting other events persisted. Puskar, 55, planted a trial garden in 2018, trying new flowering plants. She also learned — and continues to learn — about the damage certain insects and deer can cause in gardens.
In June, with the knowledge gleaned from that trial run, she launched her new business — Whistling Winds Flower Farm — as a cut flower sales and event space.
A field of flowers
As two miniature donkeys, Maddie and Tillie, wander in the backyard, a handful of chickens peck and cluck nearby, Puskar strides into a field of flowering plants of all sizes and colors. Butterflies and bees hover over the beds.
“I usually weed every day,” she says.
Her crisp white apron, a gift from her sister, Helen Klejka Barchesky, is dotted with colorful plants and flowers and sports plenty of pockets for tools and her cellphone.
Puskar, the ninth of 10 children, grew up on a nearby dairy farm. Her maternal grandmother, she says, lived in a “patch town.”
“Her entire yard was garden and flowers. She grew no grass. That is vivid in my memory,” she says. “Mom (the late LaVerne Klejka Klaka) was quite an arranger of flowers.”
“I have about 20 varieties of flowers,” she says, ticking them off as she strolls.
Ageratum, purple basil, gomphrena (bright, button-like buds), zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, calendula, bells of Ireland, statice, tithonia (a Mexican sunflower), snapdragons, gladiolus all spring from the field.
“I have 15 varieties of dahlias. They are labor intensive, but I love them,” Puskar says. Succession planting — staggering the planting/picking times — helps increase the blossoming season.
Nurturing a business
Puskar sells flowers at her farm, at Naser Foods in Pleasant Unity, and plans to have bouquets for sale at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve for its butterfly release, co-sponsored with the Greensburg Garden Center, on Aug. 3.
Michelle Ludvik, produce manager at Naser Foods, says it’s a new service for the store. “She (Puskar) brought us her small (bouquets). We sold some on the weekend,” Ludvik says.
Puskar also has started a limited delivery area drop-off flower subscription.
Puskar and Barchesky work together on wedding and baby showers, rehearsal dinners, anniversary and birthday parties and other small events in the farm’s barn. “She is our exclusive caterer,” Puskar says.
They may come by their party planning naturally. “Mom was the ultimate hostess — we all got that from her. She showed us how to roll out the red carpet,” Puskar says.
They buy locally as much as possible, and use only paper or real china. “I use no plastic or (floral) foam. We are big composters,” she says.
The event barn has no set menu or pricing. “She (Barchesky) makes whatever you want. It’s very customized,” Puskar says.
Her flowers decorate the tables, and event guests are welcome to walk the farm’s fields.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .