Alberta flower farmer offers sanctuary for orphaned plants 'to be happy'

Sarah Adams says she's always been sad when having to discard a shrub that no longer fits in her garden, so she's offering her 5.5-acre lot as an abandoned plant sanctuary.

Sarah Adams is taking any bushes, trees or green thing you can't fit in your yard

Sarah Adams owns Alberta Girl Acres and runs an abandoned plant sanctuary. (Kendra Scanlon/Alberta Girl Acres)

A farmer in southern Alberta is looking to adopt.

Sarah Adams is offering a good home to orphaned, neglected or abandoned shrubs, trees and plants.

"I'm a compulsive planter, a compulsive grower," the flower farmer told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.

Last summer, Adams bought a 5½-acre farm near Vulcan, Alta., a small town about 130 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

She quit her office job in Calgary and started filling greenhouses with flowers, which she sells through her business, Alberta Girl Acres, mostly at the new farmers' market in Marda Loop and through subscriptions.

'Where they would be happy'

But her latest passion project dates back to her days as a renter. Even then, her green thumb couldn't be stopped.

Adams used to fill her rented backyards with shrubs and flowers. With each move, she had to say goodbye to her beloved plants.

"I just always thought, 'Man, wouldn't it be great to have a service where I could just kind of call them up and know that these plants were going somewhere where they would be happy,'" she said.

Alberta Girl Acres farm is near Vulcan, Alta. (Kendra Scanlon/Alberta Girl Acres)

Adams has had a few people interested in her offer. She's heard from "conscientious developers" who are clearing plots and don't want to trash nice apple trees. Others look to re-do their backyards or simply move a shrub to make way for a flower bed.

Often, gardeners end up overwhelmed by the upkeep some trees and shrubs require.

"There's a lot that we can grow in Calgary, certainly, and there's a lot that we can grow with a lot of tending," Adams said.

"Then there's a lot of things that I think people will get excited about and see them at the garden centre and realize we're not really the ideal zone."

For example, she noted, peach trees clearly grow better in B.C.

'Happy helper elves'

Adams asks if the plant is healthy and then organizes for the plants — preferably already dug up — to be delivered by her parents or boyfriend, who all live in Calgary.

"I have happy helper elves," Adams said. "They're kind of my picker-uppers and they come out to the farm every week to help out."

One woman donated about 500 irises she had separated but had limited space to plant. (Kendra Scanlon/Alberta Girl Acres)

Despite being a frequent mover, she promises the orphaned plants will have a long-time, if not forever, home at the farm.

"We are working away, we're breaking ground. There's no way I'm leaving this place for the next 10 to 20 years. I am in deep," Adams said. "I am putting roots down."

Once she has a good repository of plants in her mismatched sanctuary, she plans to post on social media and her newsletter to offer up the plants for gardeners on a budget.

The repository is well underway. She recently received 500 irises and expects to pick up a lilac bush and three mature rose bushes this week. 

  • Hear more about the plans Sarah Adams has for the orphan plants:
Sara Adams tells us about Alberta Girl Acres, her flower farm and home for abandoned plants. 5:36


With files from Kathryn Marlow and the Calgary Eyeopener.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a digital journalist with CBC Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.