BC Farm Q & A - River and Sea Flowers

BC Farm Q & A - River and Sea Flowers

BC Farm Q & A - River and Sea Flowers

River and Sea Flowers

River and Sea Flowers

River and Sea Flowers


Our first feature in our BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation (BCAITC) BC Farm Q & A Series spotlights River and Sea Flowers, a flower farm on Westham Island. Learn about this unique local farm and owner Rachel Ryall’s passion for flowers!


River and Sea is a family farm growing certified organic specialty cut flowers for weddings, florists, and many other flower lovers in the Greater Vancouver area. The flower farm is run by Rachel Ryall with help from her husband, young children and extended family. ​​River and Sea grow specialty cut flowers supplying florists, a CSA, its farmstand, farmers markets, as well as DIY weddings and other events. Its flowers are grown with love and care from seed to bloom. The team begins the season with seeds sown in the winter carrying right through till summer, with flowers arriving in the spring and overflowing into the fall. ​The farm is situated on Westham Island, right at the mouth of the Fraser River where it flows into the Salish Sea. It sits upon rich agricultural land and the island's surrounding tidal marshes are an important site for migratory birds. Over the course of the year the farm is shared with great blue herons, sandhill cranes, snow geese, Canada geese, bald eagles and various hawks, owls and ducks amongst many other avian species.

River and Sea Flowers is certified organic by the Fraser Valley Organic Producer's Association. The team believes that organic flowers are better for the health of those who bring them into their homes to enjoy, for those growing and selling them as well as for the health of our environment. The farm also provides habitat for vulnerable native pollinators and beneficial insects. River and Sea supports biodiversity by growing a multitude of different crops with areas set aside for wildlife. Careful crop rotation prevents disease and the buildup of pest populations. The farm builds healthy soil with cover crops and compost and practices careful water conservation. In short, the farm grows vibrant healthy flowers the best way they can.

Q&A with Rachel Ryall, Owner of River and Sea

Q: What type flowers and other products do you produce on your farm and how are they sold? A: We grow about 60 different varieties of cut flowers year round, harvesting them between April and November. They range from small scabiosa blooms to dinnerplate dahlias, from sweet pea vines to snapdragons, ranunculus and eucalyptus. We choose to grow them based on their unique beauty, scent, or simply because they are an unusual variety. They are available in season to florists, as a weekly flowers CSA share, at farmers markets in Vancouver, at our farmstand and by the bucket or as designed pieces for weddings and events.

Q: When and how did your farm get started?  A:  River and Sea was established in 2016. I had been working at Cropthorne Farm growing veggies for 7 years and kept adding more flower crops to the little flower patch there and eventually decided I needed to work with flowers full time. I have a background in visual arts and a love for plants so growing cut flowers is a great match though I never would have expected to be on this path when I was in high school.

Q: What is new and exciting with your business? A: We have built this business from scratch and so it was really exciting to build a larger heated greenhouse with all kinds of bells and whistles this summer. We’d been starting our seedlings in a very basic tiny drafty homemade greenhouse until now and it will be great to extend our growing season with a heated space and to produce better quality seedlings to plant out in our field. Also, I’m always excited to try new varieties and different colours of crops so when a new one is about to bloom at the farm I keep a close eye on it to see what it’s like!

Q: What is your busiest time of the year and why?  A: Our busiest times are May and August. May is when our spring crops are flowering heavily and harvesting takes hours every day. We’re also hurrying to get all our summer blooms planted in May as soon as the field is dry enough. Fortunately the daylight hours are nice and long then to get all the jobs done. August is when our summer crops are blooming in full force and we harvest them every day. We are then in the full swing of selling our flowers through all the different avenues we use too so we have to be really organized to fill all our orders. We’re transplanting plants for fall flowers and maintaining our perennials crops then as well.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your business? A: Managing all the logistics and creating very detailed crop plans and projections. The long hours at the height of the season can be tough too. But there’s more time in winter to slow down a little.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your business? A: Bring joy to people’s faces when they see our flowers. And being able to spend time outside working with my hands to bring beauty into the world while taking care of our environment.

Q: What industry publications do you read/follow to learn more about floriculture and business?  A: I am a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and they produce an excellent quarterly magazine packed with information as well as having plenty of activity on their Facebook group with folks sharing information. Also Growing for Market magazine is geared towards market farming and has an article on flowers in every issue.

Q: What advice do you have for young agriculture entrepreneurs? A: Make sure you spend as much time learning business skills as you do growing skills. Producing beautiful flowers won’t get you anywhere if you aren’t able to sell them. Take the time to get some work experience on different farms and be open to learning different ways of doing things. There are as many ways to farm as there are farmers.

Q: Which are the top 3 soft skills do you think are essential to being a successful flower farmer? A: 1. Ability to learn from mistakes 2. Flexibility and adaptability 3. Work ethic. 

Do you want to learn more about River & Sea? Visit www.riverandseaflowers.com or find the farm on Instagram or Facebook.

BC Farm Q&A


About BC Farm Q & A: Readers can learn about day-to-day life on farms, the business of farming, and the rewards and challenges of farming through our BCAITC BC Farm Q & A series. The profiles provide knowledge and inspiration for future generations of agriculture enthusiasts. Does your business want to be featured? Contact our Communications Coordinator, meghan@aitc.ca for information.