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Childhood Passion for Flowers Inspires Farm

Most first-graders have no idea what they want to do when they grow up, but Erin Ostreicher did. "I wanted to be a florist," she says. "I didn't really know what a florist did -- I just knew that I loved flowers."

Flowers found their way into her writing and artwork in college, but it wasn't until she moved to Vermont and chanced on a book about flower farming that she knew what she was going to do. "I got a job working for a woman who had a flower farm," she says, "I knew this was what I was meant to do."

Back home, Erin enlisted the help of her dad, Jay Ostreicher, to dig up part of the family's back garden so that she could start her own flower farm. They built a 10-foot perimeter fence to keep out the deer and created raised beds. Erin planted a riot of annuals and perennials, including zinnias , sunflowers , ageratum and, her current favorites, bachelor's buttons . "I like that it's an old-fashioned flower," she says.

With the flower farm flourishing, Erin set about looking for outlets for her cut flowers and whimsical flower arrangements. "I specialize in weddings and events from Fairfield County to New York City," she says. She also provides weekly arrangements to business and private homes. And you can find her at Westport, Conn.'s farmers' market on Thursdays, and at the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg, N.Y. on Sundays.

Her next big project is a pop-up store at the Anthropologie store in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. "They spotted me at the Brooklyn market and asked if I would work with them," she says. Fashion is a huge inspiration, she says, and she feels that her natural flower arrangements complement the Anthropologie look. She prefers whimsy, romance and simplicity to contrived designs. And she only uses flowers that she likes. "When I'm at the markets," she says, "I like to create arrangements on the spot. Customers like to see that."

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