Business blossoming for a cause: Flower field delivers hope for liver care

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MEQUON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Brenda Schieble started her flower farm in Mequon four years ago. Admittedly, she didn't know too much about running a small farm at the time, but with support from the local community, the farm has grown. Now, she's found an interesting way to give back.

"This is a Pro-cut orange. And there's also this, it's a White Light," Brenda Schieble said, showing off two kinds of sunflowers.

Schieble can tell you a lot about sunflowers, from the different varieties to when they're ready to be picked from the fields.

"Just the petals are lifting out of the center of the flower, so that's when we want to nab them," she said, showing one that's almost ready to go.

She's learned a lot in the last four years.

"Honestly, it started with having a summer maternity leave and I thought it would be fun to throw in a couple flowers for my kids," she said. "After that we gifted them to people and they were like, you need to start selling these, and we started selling them and it just grew from there."

Those flowers bloomed into Roots and Stems, her farm in Mequon.

"I mean it was a lot of trial and error, but through it all we had so much fun that it just kept us going," Schieble said.

Support from the local community has allowed her to grow, which in turn has inspired her to give back.

"There's six plantings back here to hit one," she said, pointing out rows and rows of sunflowers.

Schieble has planted thousands and thousands of the flowers this year.

"When you have a specific event, then you're talking to these plants and asking them if they're going to be here," she said of the process of getting them ready.

They may be green right now, but the timing has to be just right for a very special project.

"To hit those sunflowers on the correct day, we over-planted. because weather here in Wisconsin is unpredictable," she explained.

And that's where Dee Girard, with the Community Liver Alliance, comes in. She teamed up with Schieble for a project called DeLIVERing Hope-- with emphasis on the liver.

"And for her to really just jump on this and really be the key of us succeeding, because if it wasn't for her expertise and her logistics, too," Girard said of Schieble's efforts.

Schieble is happy to help.

"We feel really lucky to be a part of this campaign and to spread the word just about liver disease and bring awareness to it," she said.

The Community Liver Alliance is selling bouquets of sunflowers online -- all grown at Roots and Stems. It's a bright, happy flower.

"When I see the first sunflower open up for the year, it's encouraging because for me it just means that it's summertime," Schieble said.

The campaign is meant to bring awareness to liver disease and disparities in care.

"There's a ton of disparities in liver disease and liver transplant," Girard said. "We want people to be aware of that, but we also just want to educate the general public on you need to take care of your liver."

It also turns out that sunflowers have something in common with your liver.

"It is the filter of everything that you do, and everything that you put in your mouth, put on your skin, and breathe goes through your liver," Girard said.

"Sunflowers are actually awesome because they actually work like our liver in the fact that they can pull toxins, like heavy metals, out of the ground," Schieble added.

When the sunflowers are open and ready to be picked, volunteers will make them into 2,500 bouquets. Girard said she couldn't have picked a better partner or campaign.

"A sunflower means sunshine and hope to me and that's what we're trying to deliver to liver patients throughout our area," Girard said.

Volunteers are needed to help pick the flowers on Sunday, July 24 and Tuesday, July 26.

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