Whether studded on top of cake or mixed into a salad, edible flowers add charming aesthetic to any plate. But they’re more than cottagecore eye candy. Many flowers lend flavor and, of course, aroma to different dishes – and some even have additional health benefits. These three farms supply edible blooms across Missouri.
Flower Hill Farm
When Vicki Lander learned about the chemical-laden growing practices used by some nurseries, she was disturbed by the idea of people purchasing edible flowers from them. As a farmer and the owner of Flower Hill Farm in Beaufort, Missouri, she knew that many of the flowers she grew for bouquets were also edible as well as herbicide- and pesticide-free, so she began selling them to professionals who adorn wedding cakes with the delicacies. While Lander has paused most direct-to-consumer sales, home cooks can place orders online for pickup at the Loving Roots Urban Farm stall at the Thursday afternoon farmers’ market at Winslow’s Table in University City, Missouri. Lander encourages people to ask their local growers for purchasing options to create more demand for edible flowers throughout the state. She also loves giving advice to at-home gardeners: She says June isn’t too late to plant basil, dahlias, marigolds and zinnias, adding that Brassica vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale also produce delicious yellow flowers.
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Flower Hill Farm, flowerhillfarm.net
Dried lavender lends a subtle floral aroma and flavor to the soft cake crumb, and edible flowers add an extra special aesthetic.
In Kansas City, edible flowers aren’t reserved for spring and summer. Missing Ingredient keeps its plants in a perpetual state of flowering 365 days a year. Get this: Some of its plants are more than six years old and still produce every day. It sounds like magic, but it’s just hydroponics, which involves growing plants under LED lighting in a controlled indoor environment without soil and feeding them nutrient-rich water. Missing Ingredient started out producing cornflowers to match the cobalt blue tile in one of its client’s restaurants, where they were added to a signature gin and tonic. The urban farm even developed an exclusive black and white dianthus flower for The Monarch Bar in West Plaza. Professionals and hobbyists alike can order edible flowers, from marigolds to violas, on Missing Ingredient’s website.
Missing Ingredient, 1720 Cherry St., Kansas City, Missouri, mi-kc.com
Maypop Flower Farm
As of now, only professional chefs and bakers have access to the edible buds and blooms from Maypop Flower Farm in Neosho, Missouri, but home cooks can still learn a lot from farmer and owner Molly McCleary. One of the most flavorful flowers that she grows is nasturtium, a warm-colored trumpet-shaped flower with a spicy punch akin to radishes. Opposite in both color and flavor, borage is a baby-blue star-shaped flower with a smooth texture and refreshing flavor similar to cucumbers. Having studied herbalism at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, McCleary is well-versed in the health benefits of herbal flowers as well. Anise, basil and sage are all strong aromatics with a sweet flavor, but she also loves them for their calming effects. Southwest Missouri residents and visitors can get a taste of Maypop Flower Farm’s edible flowers at places such as The Flour Box Bakery, Lilac and Lord Baking and Prairie Pie.
Maypop Flower Farm, maypopflowerfarm.com