Life often calls for flowers—it’s hard to imagine the place or time that isn’t better with some fragrant, colorful floral beauties in the picture. And when life calls for flowers, you can call Petal Creek, where a couple of onetime restaurateurs are now collaborating with the Earth Herself to bring rampant beauty to every possible moment. “I like to say we do everything from seed to centerpiece,” says co-owner Jesse Taylor Feldmus. “From selecting the perfect blooms on through designing and arranging and setting up, we do it all hands-on. In winter, I can source your wedding flowers from a trusted network; during the growing season, I like to work pretty much exclusively with what we grow right here.”
Feldmus and Jake Stortini met and fell in love at Bard College, then dropped out and opened the much-loved Murray’s in Tivoli in 2011. When the pandemic hit and Murray’s had to close, the couple wasn’t quite sure what their next move might be. Like so many of us, they found that spending more time at home sparked a desire to fix things up. for Feldmus and Stortini, was a 13-acre former fruit farm in Milan, near Red Hook, with a history stretching back into the 19th century. They’d just purchased it in 2019, and to say it needed a little work is an understatement. “The house needed a ton of work and the property needed a ton of work,” says Feldmus. “We just kind of dug in and did it. And I developed a green thumb. So once we knew we had to close Murray’s permanently, we decided to give this a go. After running a restaurant for around 10 years, it just felt right to try something totally new and different.” Feldmus says that just about the only common thread between running a restaurant and farming is that both require a whole lot of work—but in both cases, it’s work they can love. And in both cases, they’ve hit a sweet spot—providing joy.
“I like to say we do everything from seed to centerpiece.” - Co-owner Jesse Taylor Feldmus
Photos by Yannis Malevitis Photography
“Our business is twofold; we sell wholesale flowers/bouquets and we do floral design for events.”
– Jesse Taylor Feldmus
“This is only my third full year doing this,” says Feldmus. “So I’ve learned what grows well and what doesn’t, what I like to work with and what I don’t. Our business is twofold; we sell wholesale flowers/bouquets and we do floral design for events. We partner with some local vendors and supply flowers to them, and I do a lot of special events. I do weddings, I do a lot of corporate work—anything from intimate dinners for 10 to weddings for 150.” Feldmus, who grew up in New Jersey, and Stortini, originally from Tacoma, Washington, had fallen in love with the Hudson Valley’s magic at college; running Murray’s only strengthened the bond. “It was true before the pandemic and it’s just increased—people want to be here,” says Feldmus. “Whether it’s to celebrate a wedding, get a vacation home, or move the whole family up from Brooklyn, this area draws people in. And the kind of people who move here, become rooted here. They want to have a reason to be here, to find a creative way to make a meaningful contribution.”
Photo by Yannis Malevitis Photography
That describes the Petal Creek team and also the extended Feldmus family; his parents moved up in 2018 from New Jersey to a farm of their own in Clermont, which now hosts a large greenhouse where Petal Creek starts its seedlings. “Having my parents move up here and now jump in and work with us is a huge blessing,” says Feldmus.
“We start everything indoors, beginning in February, and then, come early spring, we plant. In May, we plant the dahlia tubers—they start blooming in July and carry us through the later part of the season, right up to the frost. Then, before the ground freezes, we need to dig all the tubers out of the ground, wash them, and store them by varieties. We have about 200 varieties of dahlias right now. For every tuber you plant, you get about five back.”
Their basement is stocked with thousands of dahlia tubers, which are sold online in spring to dahlia fans from everywhere. “Dahlias are a very hot flower, for good reason,” says Feldmus. “They’re very versatile; there are so many varieties of colors and sizes out there, and people are breeding new ones all the time. The tuber sale was crazy—we sold out of half of the varieties within an hour of putting them online, and got to meet people from all over the country.” Besides dahlias, Petal Creek offers somewhere around 100 flower varieties, meaning they have access to anything a designer or event coordinator could want. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of really wonderful, creative people in the event industry,” says Feldmus. “I got my feet wet with that at Murray’s. We did a lot of events then; although we never really did flowers, I’ve always found them interesting.”
““I’m so glad we’ve settled here and found a way to contribute and now make the farm productive; this part of the world is just a magnet for all things good.” - Jesse Taylor Feldmus
Besides putting the flower power into any occasion and supplying local retailers with bouquets, Petal Creek sells flower shares—a CSA-style arrangement in which members can pick up an artful bouquet of what’s blooming most beautifully every week for the 10-week season or purchase a dahlia share, which runs for six weeks. “We make it super easy to have fresh flowers— just come by on Friday and pick them up,” says Feldmus. “You’re supporting the farm directly, and you get to stop by and see how it’s all growing.”
Sometime in the next couple of years, Feldmus and Stortini may begin hosting events right on the farm amidst all that blossoming glory. Right now, though, if you’re hosting or organizing something, Feldmus would love to be your floral designer: “I’m so glad we’ve settled here and found a way to contribute and now make the farm productive; this part of the world is just a magnet for all things good.”
petal creek farm
639 Spring Lake Rd, Red Hook