Benton City florist heals community during the pandemic

BENTON CITY, Wash. – Down a quiet back road in Benton City, you’ll find River Road Flowers, owned by Jennifer, Jennie for short, Weltz Horpedahl.

It’s where she finds solace and shares her beautiful creations with locals.

“Just love playing in the dirt, planting seeds, that’s always been my passion. You do enough of that and you have a lot of beautiful flowers and plants to share with your community,” Jennie said.

Among the sights and sounds of Jennie’s neck of the woods, her flower booth stands tall, filled with home-grown bouquets for purchase.

“There was a lot of trial and error that first year seeing you know, what people wanted, what the need was here, and where we fit into things in the local agriculture scene,” she said.

It all started years ago in her backyard garden.

“Just kept getting a little bigger, and bigger and at some point in time my husband said, ‘it would be nice if this could sustain itself.’ I think it was getting to be a little more than just a hobby at that point,” Jennie laughed.

Eventually, she turned the lot across from her home into rows of greenery and flowers.

Now, River Road Flowers is a full blown business, but Jennie’s garden is more than just fascinating florals and hard work.

“I like to joke that during the week I’m caring for peoples’ bodies, and then on the nights and the weekends when I’m in the garden, I’m caring for their souls,” she said.

The farm is her sanctuary from a challenging year fighting on the frontlines.

“I’m so proud to be a respiratory therapist and I’m proud of my co-workers and the great work they’ve done this past year,” she added.

By day, Jennie works with patients as a respiratory therapist at a local hospital and by night and the weekends, she’s a florist.

“COVID has been a very interesting time to be a respiratory therapist; we are generally involved when people are having their worst days,” she explained.

During a respiratory pandemic like COVID-19, Jennie’s career field has been called into action more than ever.

“With the patient workloads, and the different things they’ve had to do, you know, they just stepped up and didn’t skip a beat,” Jennie said.

The trials of COVID-19 has made River Road Flowers even more important for Jennie.

“Kind of that peace and quiet just time for reflection and a little bit of time to wind down at the end of the day.”

As well as the customers who find comfort in her arrangements.

“Regardless of what’s going on everywhere else, the flowers keep blooming, the sun keeps shining, you have that to look forward to it really has been such a blessing,” Jennie said.

The flower stand is stocked every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can find River Road Flowers at 65105 North 56 PR in Benton City, Washington. Jennie also arranges dried and pressed bouquets, and you can always see what she has in stock by following her online.

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