Valley Bounty: Passalongs Farm

Published June 22, 2024 in the Daily Hampshire Gazette

A Farmer-Florist Grows Beautiful Local Blooms in Florence

“In a different life, I think I would have been an artist from the beginning,” says Adrienne Bashista, owner of Passalongs Farm and Florist. “I wasn’t forbidden from a career in art, it just didn’t occur to me. But now in my fifties, I’ve realized what I want.” 

As a flower farmer, floral designer and small business owner, Bashista is now surrounded by opportunities for art and creativity. Whether it’s one centerpiece arrangement or a wedding’s worth of floral touches, the results have been beautiful, and different every time.  

Adrienne Ehlert Bashista, owner of Passalongs Farm in Northampton. Photo by Carol Lollis/Daily Hampshire Gazette

Passalongs Farm covers about an acre of land in Florence, spanning Bashista’s home property and an area leased from the city. Flower beds have sprouted up seemingly everywhere, filled with hundreds of species and varieties whose blooms will become her art supplies. Roughly a third of the flowers she has planted are annuals, but most are perennials that come back every year.  

On the floral design side, about half of Bashista’s income is from designing flowers for weddings. She also takes custom orders for special occasion and sympathy flowers, and offers weekly or monthly flower subscriptions for fresh seasonal arrangements. In all cases, both pick-up and delivery are offered. 

Passalongs Farm also sells flowers at their self-serve farm stand on-site at 198 Sylvester Road in Florence. The stand is open daily, April through December, and customers can pay with cash, credit card, check or Venmo.  

“Colorful” is the first word Bashista uses to describe her aesthetic. “I’m not a monotone person,” she says, “and I tend to be generous in my arrangements because I grow more than I can use. In florist-speak, my style is often called a wildflower look. That’s not connected to any kind of flowers, it just means using lots of smaller blooms and varied textures.” 

While Bashista has always loved flowers, she spent the early part of her career as a librarian, arranging books instead. But when her younger son needed more care, she left behind that full-time job away from home to support him. Instead, she picked up part-time work managing a farmers market where they were living in North Carolina.  

Photo by Carol Lollis/Daily Hampshire Gazette

“Before I managed a farmers market, I had never been to one,” says Bashista. “But I loved it. I loved talking to the farmers and seeing how they had created their own businesses.” 

That experience planted the idea that she too could indulge her entrepreneurial streak and support her family by growing and making things. That thought took root as she relocated with her family to western Massachusetts, and over the next few years it began to bloom.  

“The reason I decided to grow flowers was simple,” she says. “I loved them the most. I planted out a quarter acre – more like a big garden than a farm – and started selling flowers at farmers markets in Easthampton and Westfield. At that point I was sort of funding my hobby. I wasn’t making much money yet.” 

Her first job designing flowers for a wedding changed the equation immediately. It was a big job with a learning curve, but in the end her clients were thrilled. Meanwhile, she walked away earning triple compared to a weekend working farmers markets.   

Megan Johnson and Nadia Kamel, employees of of Passalongs Farm, plant succulents. Photo by Carol Lollis/Daily Hampshire Gazette

Fast forward to this year, and when the weather is nice Bashista will sometimes be working two or more weddings in a week. The standards for wedding flowers are high, aimed at absolute freshness and perfection. Detailed preparations with clients lead up to a head-spinning rush of harvesting, arranging and installing flowers in a very short amount of time. Yet within the many demands of this work, Bashista has found her stride.  

Wedding flowers have one job: being beautiful in a way that represents the couple celebrating their love. As a result, most clients choose Passalongs because they like Bashista’s style. Still, many also recognize the benefits of working with a farmer-florist who sources locally and grows many things herself. The choice can align with someone’s values, like supporting local businesses and celebrating the local landscape they call home. Plus, from a quality standpoint, florists using local flowers often have an easier time providing both freshness and variety.   

Bunches of flowers for sale at Passalongs Farm in Northampton. Photo by Carol Lollis/Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Says Bashista, “I am choosing the best of what’s in season based on what I’m seeing a few days before the event. With that, your bouquet is not going to look like everybody else’s, because I don’t have to just pick from whatever the flower wholesaler has. And if I need three stems of something, I can just go cut them, I don’t have to order whatever the minimum is a month ahead. That means I can offer tremendous variety.”   

Bashista is constantly moving between the roles of farmer and florist. As a farmer, she plans ahead and grows more than she needs so that as a florist, her supplies can be plentiful even if some things don’t thrive in a particular year. 

“If I don’t have something myself,” she says, “I’ll try to buy it from Old Friends Farm in Amherst, LaSalle Florists and Greenhouses in Whately, or other smaller growers. And then if I need to, I’ll have things shipped from larger wholesalers.” 

In her years of running Passalongs, many of the skills Bashista has picked up are a blend of science and art. Some of these she passes on in workshops held in all seasons on the farm. Coming soon in July is a cut and design workshop, where attendees will get a tour of the farm and can harvest and arrange their own floral centerpiece with coaching. In the fall, she’ll host workshops on making dried flower art, and come winter a wreath-making workshop too. Registration is at their website: 

Food keeps us alive. Gorgeous things like flowers give us joy. Luckily, western Massachusetts has no shortage of farmers growing both, offering freshness and beauty that are hard to beat.  

Jacob Nelson is communications coordinator for CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture). To learn more about local farms growing flowers – and food – near you, visit