Sharon Springs couple's florist shop takes root

ContributedMike and Maria Lange process lavender at the Sharon Springs farm in this undated photo.

Maria Lange of Sharon Springs is living life in full bloom.

Lange, 57, together with her husband, Mike, 58, operates Sharon Sprigs.

According to its website, the 200 Main St., Sharon Springs shop “grew out of (their) love of flowers, a love of vintage finds and a belief in sustainability.” Stock for the shop, which specializes in dried floral arrangements and lavender, is sourced from the couple’s Slate Hill Flower Farm, also in Sharon Springs.

Lange said, though they purchased the farm in 2016 and launched the shop a year later, her interest in flowers was cultivated over a lifetime.

“I started doing it out of my home when my kids went off to college, but I had grown up around flowers. My parents had a florist’s … and my dad did landscaping and had greenhouses, so I’ve always been around flowers and plants,” she said. “Some of my earliest memories are of picking bouquets for my mom’s friends.

“So, I’ve always liked the dried flowers side of things and the fact that they have an everlasting quality about them and can always be repurposed from a special event,” Lange continued. “I like repurposing things, so I use antique pieces for my containers, and I like the sustainability of using dried florals; you’re not using silks or plastics, so it’s healthier for you and the environment.”

The business began as Saratoga Sprigs, Lange said.

“Over the years, I’d done things for friends or family and then, when I had the time to do this for myself, I thought, ‘Let’s try this,’” she said. “We were living in Saratoga Springs and started at the farmers’ markets there. We would grow (the flowers), then sell them and do arrangements. Some people had never even seen dried flowers, and we just loved the reaction when they saw them and would say, ‘Wow, that’s something really cool.’”

Moving the business, Lange said, was happenstance.

“One day we took a drive through Sharon Springs on the way to Cooperstown and happened upon this farm that was for sale and that changed everything,” she said. “My husband fell in love with the farm and we decided, why not?”

After planting test beds, Lange said, a love of lavender took root at the 1890s property.

“The lavender did very well,” she said. “Now, we have a thousand lavender plants, a quarter-acre of flowers and I think we’re going to do a sunflower field for U-pick this summer.”

Lavender, Lange said, has also proven popular with customers.

“The lavender, to our surprise, has become our biggest seller,” she said. “People come (to the store) for the lavender, dried flowers, arrangements, tussies (smaller, compact floral arrangements) and wreaths. I’m kind of known for my wreath-making.”

Additional Sharon Sprigs products, Lange said, include warming pillows, sachets and work from local artists “highlighting the theme of flowers.” Such goods, she said, include pottery with lavender pressed into the clay, paintings and other ceramics.

Customer demographics, Lange said, have shifted with the pandemic caused by the spread of COVID-19.

“Pre-COVID, I would say mostly downstate (people), and mainly because of the Beekman (1802 lifestyle brand, also in Sharon Springs),” she said. “But this past year, we saw a lot more locals. We got people from Cobleskill, Oneonta, Saratoga Springs and Syracuse, but there was much more of a local footprint and that was really refreshing.

“Everyone has been incredibly supportive — from when we bought the farm to when we opened the business,” Lange continued. “So, we knew they thought it was important to support local businesses, and it’s because of that we’re still here.”

Lange said she and Mike hope to dig into their agricultural lifestyle.

“One thing we wanted to do but were cautious about was workshops — wreath making or lavender wands — but once we feel people can work together in a closer capacity, we’ll start those,” she said, noting that the wands are a French product, with ribbons woven around the floral part of the plant.

“And we’re working on a small store at the farm, more of a permanent spot for people to drop in and pick up lavender or honey, and doing more activities and farm-related events,” Lange said. The farm, she said, hosted a ticketed “Lavender Harvest” event offered through Beekman 1802 last year, with plans for a second harvest weekend July 10 and 11.

The farm will also host several you-pick weekends, Lange said, and is available for photography bookings.

For more information on upcoming events at the farm, visit slatehillflowerfarm.com or find “Slate Hill Flower Farm” on Facebook.

Sharon Sprigs, which operates year-round, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Monday; 10 to 6 on Saturday and Sunday; and closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

For more information on the store, visit sharonsprigs.com or call 518-424-3668.

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