THE WELCH Farm in Shiawassee County was started by chance by Jennifer and Mark Welch. The main crop is peonies, but the couple’s original reason for buying a farm was to have space for their Highland cows. Jennifer and Mark now own four cows, two six-year-old females named Holly and Maisy Moo, a young female named Sunshine and a young bull named Romeo.

(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)


  Jennifer and Mark Welch moved to Shiawassee County from the Fenton area last year to follow their dreams of opening a farm. The couple, constrained by the over-crowding of the city, decided to ditch the congestion and find their own piece of land where they would be free to own cows and grow flowers, mainly peonies. They landed in Shiawassee County, where they purchased their dream farm, named, Acre 55 Farm.

   “I’m the one who said, ‘Let’s get a farm,’” shared Jennifer. “I’ve always wanted cows, so now we have four Highland cows, along with 18 chickens, which is probably a little bit too many, and then we started our flower farm last March when we moved here. I’ve been growing peonies for about 12 years. I think we have about 400 of them out there now. Our goal is to take those and keep splitting them every year so that we can take them to market. We are passionate about bringing joy to others in our community through our flowers.”

   “These are not your average flowers,” added Mark. “These plants can live for 150 years if they’re taken care of. There are peony plants that exist that your great-grandmother had on her property and they’ve kept them in the family all these years. They’re a unique plant. Jennifer started growing them, and I realized that they were able to be split, so we started doing that.”

   The couple currently grows 29 varieties of peony, ranging from the typical types one might find in a garden center to unique varieties such as the Bartzella Itoh, Black Beauty, Bowl of Cream, Dr. Alexander Fleming, Karl Rosenfield and Jan Van Leeuwen. The Black Beauties mature to be dark purple with a yellow center, the white Bowl of Cream are perfect for wedding season and the breathtaking Jan Van Leeuwens are white with yellow centers.

   The Welch’s peonies have finished blooming for the year, so it is time to begin splitting and planting in preparation for next season. Once the Welches grow their supply a bit more, they intend to open their farm to the community to enjoy. Jennifer looks forward to selling her flowers at markets and to flower shops, but the couple also intends to open a roadside flower stand and they want to offer classes on peony splitting and harvesting.

   Their big idea, however, is to start a “Battle of the Blooms” flower competition among local flower producers, hopefully starting in 2024. The competitors will be creating floral arrangements with flowers that they either bring from their farm or that have been donated. There will also be a twist, with a few mystery blooms that the Welch farm will supply, along with the vessels for these flowers to be put in to. Jennifer and Mark would like to make this a family fun day with some wholesome competition. The goal is to do this yearly and the Welches will also be donating to the winner’s charity of choice.

   While these fun ideas are still in the planning stage, Jennifer and Mark are hard at work on the farm, splitting, planting and tending their crop of peonies for the upcoming spring and summer bloom season.

Welch Farm was last modified: September 19th, 2023 by Karen Elford