#EscapeWithNCAg is a year-long series that will focus on agritourism across North Carolina. Many farms, wineries and other agricultural businesses in our state offer events such as tours, yoga, educational classes, pick-your-own events and festivals, to entertain the public and teach them about our state’s number one industry. Each Thursday, we will feature a new site for you to visit with friends or family. Stay tuned and learn how to escape the stresses of life by diving into agriculture!
Flower farming in Western North Carolina takes patience, creativity and a lot of hard work. Niki Irving, owner and operator of Flourish Flower Farm in Asheville, not only grows over 300 different varieties of flowers each year, but also hosts many events to invite people to the farm and teach them about flower farming, design and more!
Growing up the daughter of a tree farmer in South Carolina, Niki learned a lot about horticulture at the hand of her father. “Although I grew up on a farm with my dad, I spent half of my career in outdoor education,” she said. “It wasn’t until 2015 that I felt called back to my roots and started Flourish Flower Farm.” After talking with her husband, Niki decided to lease a small plot of land in Asheville and begin her flower farming journey. “We didn’t have any land of our own at the time, so the land that we leased was about a half hour away from our home,” she said. “In 2018, we were fortunate enough to purchase a new home with land in a community that enjoys and appreciates fresh, farm-grown flowers.” Today, Niki grows more than 300 varieties of flowers on the farm, with about 50% of those being annuals and 50% being perennials. “I am sort of a plant hoarder,” she joked. “So anytime I see a plant that I like, I want to bring it back to the farm and figure out how to grow it myself.” In addition to all the common favorites, like zinnias, cosmos and roses, Niki also grows a variety of unique and fun plants for people to enjoy.
Only two years after the farm opened, Niki started hosting workshops to invite people out to the farm and share her knowledge of farming with the community. “I set up the workshops as an experience for people to come and enjoy with their friends and family,” she said. “Today, we not only have members of the community to come and enjoy them, but also people from across the globe.” Flourish Flower Farm hosts three types of workshops throughout the year each year: On The Flower Farm workshops, Flower Farming 101 workshop and Floral Design Essentials workshop. The On The Flower Farm workshop is a three hour experience that takes place once a month from April to August. Each month focuses on a different flower that is in season and has a special connection to that month. “This workshop consists of a farm tour, demonstrations, education, bouquet making and more,” Niki said. “We get a lot of repeat guests for this workshop due to the variety of flowers used throughout the year.” This workshop experience costs $245 per person and includes the arrangement, a keepsake vase, name cards, food and more.
The second workshop option, called Flower Farming 101, is for people who are aspiring to become a flower farmer themselves. “I didn’t have a lot of guidance when I first started out,” Niki said, “so this workshop is a way for me to share my knowledge with interested individuals and become a mentor to them during their own farming adventure.” Each workshop consists of twelve people and lasts two full days! Each participant will receive a course book with information on how to structure their business, farming how-to guides and more. “The book is about 60 pages long, so it is a great resource for farmers to come back to time and time again,” Niki said. Participants will also receive a catered dinner on the farm directly following the workshop. Flower Farming 101 costs $1,700 per person, but is well worth it due to the connections made and resources gained.
The final type of workshop offered at Flourish Flower Farm is the Floral Design Essentials workshop, where participants can learn how to make bridal bouquets, large arrangements and more. “This workshop is an all-day design class where we use a lot of flowers to make a variety of arrangements,” Niki said. “People also receive materials to take home and continue working on floral design.” The Floral Design Essentials workshop costs $850 per person. Niki gets a lot of workshops purchased as Christmas gifts during December and used throughout the year. Reserve your spot on their website today!
In addition to the workshops hosted throughout the year, Flourish Flower Farm also stocks a farm stand on-site for visitors to come and purchase flowers in-season. “Our farm stand is located at the bottom of the hill from our house and is entirely operated on an honor system,” Niki said. “I post the dates and hours that the farm will be open each week on our website and Facebook page. Each morning that the stand is open, I will go and collect anything that is available and stock the stand.” What’s available at the stand is highly dependent on season and includes many other items in addition to flowers, including bulbs and starter kits for people to grow their own flowers.
Although she loves all aspects of farming, Niki’s favorite part is watching the joy on people’s faces as they experience flower farming for the very first time. “Since I basically eat, sleep and breathe the farm, it’s easy to take it for granted sometimes,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but seeing people get excited about a workshop and experiencing the joy that they feel in making their own arrangement or learning more about their favorite flower is more rewarding than I can express. It is such a privilege to do what I do.”
By attending events at Flourish Flower Farm, people can learn about the importance of flower farming in our state, the seasonality of flower farming, the process of planting, growing and tending to flowers, and so much more. “My job is to educate people on this industry so that they can gain a greater appreciation for it and the hard work that goes into it,” Niki said. We are so proud of all the hard work she is putting into the industry and look forward to seeing her farm continue to grow in future years!