Tarrnation Flower Farm, Sugar Hill, NH
Many a driver has slowed the car while passing the quaint Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, mesmerized by the immaculate layout and precise beauty of the landscape. An old oak tree towers over the red barn, neat rows of perennials curve away from the quiet road, perfectly shaped crab apple trees border the lawn, annuals grow in straight lines alongside vegetables, and the stone pathway to the small house at the farm is interspersed with bright pansies.
“I consider our flowers not only for how they will look as cut flowers in a vase but but also how they look growing in the ground,” says Reggie Tarr, who has developed the farm over the course of several years and is now joined in the endeavor by his daughter Vanessa Tarr.
The six-acre parcel that contains Reggie’s modest house (once a shed), the old barn (once a house), a new field barn, and two acres of cultivated land was once a part of Ski Hearth Farm just down Streeter Pond Road. Reggie initially leased the land from then-owner Sel Hannah and purchased the property in 1997.
alongside his flowers, but with the resurrection of Ski Hearth Farm, has turned his retail focus solely to flowers. As food-seekers travel Streeter Pond Road to reach Ski Hearth, Tarrnation Farm’s exposure has increased, too.
“We’re all benefiting from the big farm down the road,” Reggie says.
Tarrnation Farm has grown gradually over the years, primarily through word of mouth. However, a multi-page spread in Country Living magazine in 2014 thrust the normally reticent Reggie into the spotlight. With that attention and the increased traffic along the back road, Tarrnation Farm is booming.
Vanessa’s return to the farm has allowed the Tarrs to plan for the future and adjust to the local farming and flower landscape. As with any crop, weather presents the biggest challenge at Tarrnation Farm, and they are planning to install a greenhouse this year to extend the growing season and provide a space for transplanting in the spring.
Under Vanessa’s guidance, the farm started a cut flower CSA this year. In addition, they are working with local flower designers to provide flowers for weddings, along with some in-house design work by Vanessa.
Both Reggie and Vanessa have honed their skills through a combination of self-teaching, learn-from-your-mistakes, and formal flower education. Reggie’s foray into cultivation began when, as a self-proclaimed ski bum in Aspen in the early 1970s, he became interested in nutrition and organic growing. After making his way back East, he ran a landscaping business and plant nursery for almost 30 years before starting Tarrnation Farm. True to his natural roots, Reggie continues to practice sustainable farming, eschewing pesticides and refusing to use landscaping cloth, since it will not break down into the soil.
He has studied at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Florida, New York Botanical Garden, and Harvard University. When the growing season ends and the farm is tucked in for the winter, Reggie heads south. He has spent several winters in Chile and last winter traveled to Panama. He plans to return to Panama this winter and hopes to volunteer in some of the national park gardens there.
Vanessa learned about growing from her father as a little girl and has worked on farms in Spain and Panama, as well as in Maine and New Hampshire. She worked for several years with well-known local flower designer Emily Herzig of Emily Herzig Floral Studio in Littleton, New Hampshire, and completed an internship with renowned designer Erin Benzakein of the Floret design studio and flower farm in Washington state.
The Tarrs’ combined experience, outlook, and attention to every detail has created a farm that is both beautiful and bountiful. The perennials are arranged so that as one type of flower is fading, the next is blooming, providing a continuous show of color through the summer and fall.
“Colors are really important. The aesthetics of how the farm looks is important,” says Vanessa. “And we’re always still learning.”
Reggie Tarr/Vanessa Tarr
Tarrnation Flower Farm
96 Streeter Pond Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Cut flowers and bouquets in the barn
Littleton Food Co-op
Onsite, from barn studio
Meghan McCarthy McPhaul is an author and former newspaper reporter. She pens a regular column for the Littleton Record, as well as web copy and press releases for various businesses and her writing has also appeared in several regional and national publications, including Powder, Northern Woodlands, Forest Notes, and the Journal of the New England Ski Museum. www.MeghanMcPhaul.com
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