A Mott Park family creatively reused a vacant lot to add beauty to neighborhood

When Janie and Ryan Beuthin moved to Flint’s Mott Park neighborhood in 2011, they encountered something that is familiar to many Flint residents: they lived on a street with several vacant houses, including one right next door.

Over time, the houses were filled, many were renovated, and new neighbors moved onto the street. But one house, located right next door, wasn’t salvageable and was eventually torn down, leaving a vacant lot. The family first adopted the lot to maintain it and later purchased it through the Genesee County Land Bank. Then, they started to get creative about what to do with the space.

“Immediately, my husband wanted a big vegetable garden,” Janie Beuthin said. “But, with three small kids, a full-time job, and the amount of weeds, it wasn’t working out the way we wanted. Every year, I started taking over more and more of the space with flowers.”

Now, three years later, the space is mostly flowers (although there are still some tomato and garlic plants). It has also turned into a business -- Twig End Farm -- and a point of pride in the neighborhood. The flower farm specializes in selling fresh-cut, sustainable, locally grown flowers to florists throughout eastern Michigan, as well as to individuals through special orders or a subscription service.

Beuthin, who has been gardening for about six years, has been selling flowers for approximately three years, and the response -- and demand -- has been positive.

“Last year, I started doing the flower subscriptions,” she said. “That has grown so much that I had to cap it. I’m already sold out for 2021 and there is a waiting list for 2022.”

The growth of Twig End Farm as a flower seller is somewhat limited by space. Beuthin’s goal is to maximize as much space as possible on the lot, but there is still only a finite amount of flowers that will produce each season. The business has grown mostly through word of mouth, but an inspiring byproduct of starting the farm has been Beuthin’s ability to participate in major milestones for people who purchase arrangements.

“I had a guy email because he was proposing and wanted flowers,” she said. “It means so much to have flowers we grow be a part of peoples’ big life events.”

The flower farm also serves important purposes beyond being a creative business venture. Beuthin also homeschools her three children, and having a flower farm provides a unique outdoor learning space for the kids.

“Mother nature is a better teacher than I am,” Beuthin said, noting that her daughters can already point out anything that is edible in the garden. “It has been a big part of their life.”

Although it is private and not open to the public, it has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood and a way to meet more people who want gardening advice or to discuss landscaping.

“It keeps me outside and connected to my neighbors,” Beuthin said. “People walk by, stop, and talk. It adds a little extra to the community feel here. It has been a huge blessing.”
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Patrick Hayes.