The Burello family of five lives, works, and plays together on the stunning Muddy Feet Flower Farm Kristin Burrello dreamed into reality.
“I’m always amazed, and somewhat intimidated, when I hear other farmers talk about how their kids are working happily by their side,” says Burrello, with her son Jotham, 5. “While I harbor dreams of boys who love to pick flowers by the thousands, getting them engaged takes a lot of planning, patience, rewards, and consequences.”
Seven years in, Burrello’s Muddy Feet Flower Farm is booming—and the hydrangeas are sky high.
“When we first set out I thought, ‘We’ll grow our own food. We’ll be so sustainable,’ ” says Burrello. The reality? “I don’t cook a meal the entire summer. I don’t have time.”
However, the family does keep chickens for eggs, and Jotham and his brothers clean out the coop.
Burrello admits that Jotham (right), here with brothers Atticus (center), 12, and Miles, 10, will work only if rewarded. Bucket-washing is paid at 10 cents a bucket or an hour of work for an hour of screen time.
Prep for twice-weekly farmers’ markets begins with harvesting flowers such as these dahlias the day before. Atticus has been going to the markets with Burrello since he was 7 years old and can now make his own bouquets.
One of the boys’ main farm chores is transplanting seedlings (in this case zinnias under their dad Jotham’s supervision). “Atticus would claim that the scene is typical because he is doing the work—and his brother Jotham is not,” Burrello laughs.
With her work right outside her backdoor, Burrello gets to spend more time with the kids. “One of my priorities was to build the business while being home and being available to the kids,” says Burrello.
Burrello has expanded her business to floral design, joining the ranks of “farmer florists” across the country.
Each day Dad types up an agenda for the kids. “It keeps them focused on long days when we’re working outside,” says Burrello. To-do items include household chores, farmwork, and even playtime. The lists are often peppered with wry commentary (“Find two toys we can give away. Something that hasn’t been touched for a while. Must pass inspection”).
“I wanted to make sure my kids would learn the value of work,” says Burrello, here with her professor husband and their boys. “And they have.”