When Lynne Vinkovic bought a two-acre plot of land in the middle of industrial North Hollywood in 1995, she was a young mother with a distinct preference for natural-looking, richly perfumed backyard blooms over imported, mass-produced greenhouse roses.
“I wanted to be a rose farmer who produced roses that meant something to people,” recalls Vinkovic, now 59.
She planted unique varieties such as Sweet Surrender, known for its saturated scent, and Sutter’s Gold, with its unusual curled petals and unpredictable sunset tones, and soon found eager takers. Event planners sought out Rose Lane Farms for its English specimens. Local chefs came clamoring for her Damasks, an intensely fragrant variety renowned for its culinary oils. Trendsetting brides like textile designer Heather Taylor turned to Vinkovic’s rustic buds for their wedding bouquets. At times, boutique grocers Cookbook and Joan’s on Third couldn’t keep Vinkovic’s blooms in stock. And on Saturdays, when the farm opened to the public for fresh cut flowers, Vinkovic was nearly always sold out by noon.
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Then COVID-19 hit, and Vinkovic found herself thinking fast as business from weddings, events, and restaurants evaporated. In the beginning, she delivered bouquets herself, driving to longtime clients as well as new customers who’d found her through Instagram, especially after the gargantuan Original Los Angeles Flower Market was forced to close. She also took to bartering: she traded three bundles of roses for three pizzas with La Morra Pizzeria (and still believes she got the better deal). But it wasn’t until Flamingo Estate added the option of a Rose Lane Farms bunch to its exorbitantly popular CSA boxes in April 2020 that Vinkovic found herself on solid ground again, selling 120 CSA bunches a month on average. “It just absolutely blew up,” Vinkovic says. “People love it.”
With spring and vaccines here at long last, Rose Lane Farms is also celebrating. For the first time ever, it’s holding a Mayfair festival on site. The May 1 event will kick off the farm’s summerlong fresh-cut season with a rose entwined maypole, socially distanced crown-making, live music, and food trucks.
“It’s going to be very whimsical,” Vinkovic notes with a chuckle. “You can pick your own flowers, wear your crown, and roll around the maypole.” There is one caveat: featured bands will have to rely on their own power supply. “I’ve never grown with electricity,” she says proudly. Having run a slow-grown, sustainably minded business for 26 years, taking shortcuts doesn’t appeal to her.
“There was a time when I would have to drag two babies with me at four in the morning to go to my farm,” she says. “That’s something people usually don’t share on Instagram. As if everything’s so magical-: ‘Look at my goat in the yard with my children!’ There are days that are going to be tough. But you know what? If it’s something you love, it’s going to be worth it.”
Rose Lane Farms, 11740 Sherman Way, North Hollywood.