Collective Feature: Alaska Peony Cooperative

The Alaska Peony Cooperative is a group of over five peony farmers across Alaska that provide premium fresh-cut peonies during July and August. They ship nationwide with overnight delivery.

Rooted Farmers
Rooted Farmers4 min read

What a joy to catch up with the hard-working and humble Martha Lojewski, executive director of the Alaska Peony Cooperative and owner of Mt. McKinley Peonies.

Research into peonies as a specialty cut flower in Alaska began in 2001 and interest quickly spread throughout the state. Several adventurous individuals and families ventured out to explore becoming commercial flower farmers in the unique climate.

Now there are more than 40 commercial peony farms spread out across the great state, working together to bring their buyers exquisite flowers. Alaska boasts a reputation for rugged wilderness and unsurpassed beauty with a people as tough as the climate. These farmers are no exception, and are true adventurers in a blooming industry with limitless potential.

The Alaska Peony Cooperative was established in the spring of 2015 to allow many farms to achieve more collectively than as individuals.

We highly recommend checking out their website and blog for in-depth resources on all things peonies including a detailed guide featuring 24 varieties!

You can learn more about the Alaska Peony Cooperative by checking out their website and keep up with them on their Instagram.

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Photo credit: Alaska Peony Cooperative

What is your production season?

We sell peonies as cut flowers during the months of July and August. Growing anything in Alaska is fun and unique with the growing season. The snow melts in May, we enjoy nearly round the clock sun in June and July, and by late August fall starts to creep in.

Peony bushes shoot up tall and quick, many reaching shoulder height with ample sun, water and moderate temperatures. We harvest several times a day, even into the night because the sun never rests - and neither do we! Our climate produces big, beautiful peonies with vibrant colors. Sharing our flowers with people near and far motivates us to keep going during the hardest moments of harvest. 

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Photo credit: Alaska Peony Cooperative

What is your collective's origin story?

The first discussions about working together began in 2014. Farms were popping up all over our region, but marketing, selling and shipping individually didn't make sense at all. We wanted something different, but needed a framework that gave every member the same level of ownership in the organization and how it was managed. After a year of research and developing ideas into a strong foundation we were officially a Cooperative! Although our membership changes as farms develop and retire, our mission and vision have remained the same since the beginning.

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Photo credit: Alaska Peony Cooperative

Why is being in a collective valuable?

The support of each member! Each person brings a skill to the table and problem solving with everyone's ideas on the table is so much more effective. We share expenses and all reap the benefits of success. But beyond the business and financial benefits of working together the most valuable benefit of the cooperative is the camaraderie. We all lean on each other during hard times, even if it isn't related to farming. Growing flowers is stressful and difficult work. Having the support of each member behind you is what brings you out of the trenches and back into the enjoyment of the whole process. 

Brethour. Photo credit: Alaska Peony Cooperative

What features or aspects of Rooted do you find most valuable or unique?

No spreadsheets! Our process before Rooted was a mess, it was complicated and time consuming. We couldn't grow, we couldn't even sustain the workload we had. Rooted has given us our time back, and time is the most valuable thing we could ever gain. It is so simple to fill an order with multiple farms which cuts down on email communication. It is accessible by buyers and sellers to streamline entire the process. Inventory management is real time which makes sales more reliable. Absolutely everything about using Rooted has been a positive experience.

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Duchesse bouquet! Photo credit: Alaska Peony Cooperative

What would you say to a group that is considering joining Rooted as a collective?

Without hesitation, it is the right choice. Beyond the software being a comprehensive solution for flower farmers, the support team behind Rooted is the cherry on top. Any question or problems are quickly answered. They are constantly developing upgrades and request feedback on how to improve. And they offer regular office hours and trainings that you can count on for personalized help. Occasionally there is even a small banner of support written at the top of the screen encouraging us all to be the best we can be. Rooted has the big stuff, and small stuff covered!

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Photo credit: Alaska Peony Cooperative

Thank you Martha and the Alaska Peony Cooperative for sharing your story! Want to get your hands on their peonies?! Check out their shop page!