A new story from Slow Flowers with Debra Prinzing
AM So excited today to be visiting the State of Tennessee as part of our fifty states of slow flowers series this this year. And I'm delighted to introduce Laura big be fought of whites creek flower farm. Hi Laura Hi Deborah. Thanks for jumping on the line with me. Happy to do it. Actually we've never met in person but we've been pen pals for awhile. Well give give me a snapshot of where you're located and a little bit about whites creek flower farm because you're more than a farm. You're also floral design studio right right. uh-huh we are in a little municipality In Davidson County Tennessee That is actually called Whites Creek. It's quite historic. It was settled back in early. Seventeen hundred And but we are within the Nashville city limits. So we're this wonderful little the rural pocket Just northwest of Nashville. In fact we're twenty minutes from downtown. That's great for you because that's probably a lot of your customers are yes they absolutely are. Yes so it's it's perfect. It's a wonderful location. What kind of acreage do have we personally own? Three and a half acres But I also grow. I'm very fortunate that my next door neighbor is a gardner. At our local Botanic Gardens teakwood gardens and she she has a big wonderful backfield about two acres that she also lets me grow on. She's just thrilled to have flowers. Grown back there and So far has not allowed me to pay her rent. It's it's been a wonderful setup and it's completely it's it's adjacent to my high tunnel so it's it's great that's crazy. I mean it's think that you have that much. Access to land in. Basically the shadows of an urban market is a dream. That's wonderful so give us a sense of what you're growing Laura And you mentioned a high tunnel so you're doing field grown as well as undercover yes. Yes in the high tunnel. I'm growing tweedy a- and and Snap Dragons Louisiana this renunciation CALOS have a row of Eucalyptus down the center. Thanks Dave dowling. That's what he recommends what I've done I'm going to grow some both perennial and Annual sweet peas in there as well so So that's all the high tunnel I look for unusual varieties of things to grow Because I'm kind of a plant NERD. Hudson Great Yeah I do I do a lot of Do a lot of unusual perennials and things and I start so far. I've I started everything from seed except the bulbs informs I bring those in but everything else I I start from because that's just such a magical process for me. What is your season? I know Tennessee. I mean it's technically the south. I don't know what your zone is. But it seems like you maybe have a longer growing period than people mighty my suspect. Yeah we're considered mid south here. We're not the deep south right we're mid south and We get crazy easy wild swings in temperature so we can be below zero in winter but we can be over a hundred in the summer so We're in zone seven. Kevin Sound seven a and Yeah we have for farmers who do row crops. We have three growing three. You can get three planting I and the season so it's pretty long starting with the like hell wars and tulips undercover and things like that February we we can start having things in February and then we also undercover. We can have Mums and Dallas and and even some flowers late into November. Wow so you're still. We're here talking on actually on Halloween. And you're still you're still running around harvesting it. Sounds he's like yes. We'll take absolutely I've got MOMS and Since sunflowers and not a whole lot else right now and I will have until tonight because my values are in the field so tonight we're supposed to get a heart brost so they will be. They will be gone tomorrow Well thanks for taking a pause to talk with me. I really wanted to get you into our our a rotation and next week is Tennessee so aubrey so who are you selling to. And how do you sell I. I'm really curious knowing your proximity to Nashville. That you're you're you're probably have a lot of different channels. Yes yes there are quite a few different channels. I started out selling to Selling to the public and farmers market and I just felt I'm a one woman show so I kind of felt like that. That was the best option for me. The and when I started my son was still An elementary school. So he's still pretty young and I didn't want to be on the road with a with a bucket route trying to go out several days a week because I wanted to be available to him so I did a Saturday morning market and that at at one point I was doing at once by myself. Oh my goodness yes other people's staffing the booth or how are you doing that now with me and my little son and my husband of course would help out in the boots you know he would help load and unload and shirt you know help with the tables and stuff like that but Yeah so that I WanNa say it got old really quick but I did love it because I'm an extrovert and I love love meeting the public and working with them but that quickly led to weddings because people would stop by my booth and they go. Oh this is just just what I want my wedding to look like. Do you do weddings. So I started doing wedding design and then that became so profitable that I finally had to let the markets go because because they were really keeping me from doing the weddings and the weddings. What were were what with really paying the bills? So the I've heard similar narratives tips from others in the Cell Towers Community who had that. That's stair step approach with initially at farmers markets and then that led to requests for a wedding design. Do you find the people. See your aesthetic and especially at the farmer's market. They don't really know what to call it. They think it's like a wildflower look which is clearly not but the air there's something that is capturing their Emotional connection to those flowers and I'm just wondering yeah look. How do you describe describe? Your aesthetic does a designer I typically call mine. I even have this verbiage on my website an an English country garden. Look that freshly gathered. It's like you just walked into an English country garden and although I grow an awful lot if natives but that that also really resonates with people especially here in Tennessee because a lot of A lot of our original Citizens since here Trace their ancestry back to England and the Scottish Isles show that really resonates with them to say English Country Garden freshly gathered third So I tend to use that although when people say wildflower They also they'll think about their grandmother's garden here. We are in the somewhat. Were World South and they think back to simpler time when their grandmothers had beautiful flowers and they could just walk out the back kitchen door and cut the flowers and put them on the table. And I think that's why it resonate so deeply with people instead of romance of the handpicked bouquet and fact that they know you. And you're the grower so love that Ryan so how. How long have you had whites creek flow or farming in what led to it? I'm just I don't think I know your story well Initially chilly I was a singer actor. Dancer both my husband and I were and lived in New York City. Just push pests us. The singer actor dancer isn't it considered a triple threat dance. He was the least of the three definitely a Singing actor Oh my goodness with forced to dance. Sometimes you performed in in In New York in the theater world I did did we. We neither one of us. We'd been there several years. And and we were both getting seen for Broadway shows but not getting booking them and I I have off Broadway away credits. And he sang at Carnegie Hall. And you know we we. We just weren't making that step up and we were in our mid thirties and We wanted to have a child so so we left New York and We had a child we moved to Orlando Afford and had a child and Are Wonderful Son Burton and then Various circumstances brought us to to Nashville. Okay and my hus-. My husband is now primarily filmmaker and animator. He still does some acting and voice work and puppet tearing he's he's really cool guy But my son had reached the age where you know. He was a lot more independent and I was like. Oh what am I going to do. It's now community theater didn't cut it for you now. You know I just know I. Yeah I was ready to move on and do something else. I was out planting roses and we had bought this property and we were just you know spending all this time mowing it. And what can we we do with this. Property is crazy and I my husband came out and I was planning roses and he said you look so happy. Why don't you do something like this? And I came inside and googled flower farmer. And that's how I found your book the fifty mile. Okay Oh my goodness wow history so that was probably around seven or eight years ago or let's see that book out two thousand twelve. Yeah Twenty Yeah Twenty Eleven two thousand twelve. Yeah right in there. Wow what a great story. I you know that. Thank you for sharing that. That's isn't that funny. What how did we ever learn anything before the Internet for one thing and look? What's happened for you? I mean I can't quite believe you're a one woman show with access to five acres curse of farming area. I mean that's intended. That's not five acres broken out. I have about a an acre broken out. Okay but the across five acres the large Garden but oh my gosh I had five acres. I just I'd never sleep. Yeah you'd have invaded Laura one of the things that I feel like since I met you and I I I remember reaching out to you when you first joined slow flowers just because I had a A an aunt in Nashville who wanted to send flowers to but of course it was January or something and it didn't work out but that's how we first connected connected personally and I remember thinking there weren't a lot of people doing what you're doing at the time in Nashville but look uh what the explosion of the local flower seen Including people who create yeah including people joining flowers in in Tennessee. I mean what what has happened. And and how. How have you witnessed? That sounds like people probably contact you when they google flower farms in Tennessee. And you pop up. Yeah they absolutely do. And I've really enjoyed. I wouldn't say mentoring but kind of meeting encouraging A lot of the young growers so any time some younger has contacted me and said Hey. Can I come look at your farm. Yup come on over because there. Is You know automate so many mistakes. You May as well learn well and under two floors contact to Erlich. How're you? How are you seeing being things? Change on the on the customer side with Flora's I don't do too much with floors I've had a few contact me But pretty pretty much all my flowers were going to. My design started just growing specifically for things that I like to design the design with So but I like talk about the collective here about our collection. Just share your news. Yeah this is exciting okay. Great we've got so many wonderful talented new growers and designers a ton of new designers. Oh and that was another revenue stream it is it while I didn't sell to Florida to brick and mortars I had a lot of designers who would come to me and it was really it. It was really a cool thing because we could share design tips. There was no like Rival rear like that. You know I mean if they got a Gig that was great because they could come by flowers. If I got a Gig you know. I'm sure they would like to have had it but you know they knew that I grew my own flowers. So it's been a really. It's a really nice community of designers and growers here so I did sell to To the designers contact me but now the demand has grown so much with all the designers and all the brick and mortar that Several growers in Middle Tennessee have banded together together and we formed a COUPLA collective while we can pool our resources and sell directly Both retail and wholesale sale. And so what what is it called. Tennessee cut flower collective. Okay Great. We'll we'll I'd like to try to get uh-huh more information on that to share with people but you currently have a website and a presence on social media and that okay good. We'll share those links than did this happen about. I remember you emailing emailing me about this when it first started within the last year right. Yeah well it I think it officially we're doing our grand opening Next next I in twenty twenty we had kind of a soft trial period. Soft opening This year and I must say it would not have happened. Happened at all if it hadn't been for misty moment from Twin rose farms down in Murfreesboro. Which is south of Nashville Right.