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Meet Morgan Sharpe of Creekside Flower Farm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Morgan Sharpe.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Creekside Flower Farm was born from an appetite for beauty and a need for place. Having lived a somewhat transient life growing up (including New Jersey and Nicaragua), I (Morgan) have learned that there is power in place and in belonging to the land and to the people that surround me.

Trapped inside by short, cold winter days I dreamed of building a greenhouse from old wooden windows—a warm, sunny place to combat winter. After a few weeks of searching and many more weeks of hard work, my dream had become a reality and a stepping stone to an even bigger dream.

Jill Baldschun, owner of The Barn at High Point Farms wedding venue, encouraged me to try flower farming. She and I agreed that a flower farm next to a wedding venue was an ideal pairing. By August of 2016, I had purchased and sown 2,400 seeds including feverfew, foxglove, and snapdragons in my greenhouse.

Knowing that I would need start-up funds, I set my sights on the Covenant College Seed Project—a competition among Covenant College alumni entrepreneurs—for $10,000 in seed money. With the help of the CO.STARTERS curriculum and many generous people, I wrote a business plan and pitched my idea for Creekside Flower Farm at the 2016 Seed Project competition. After winning a portion of funding, I launched Creekside Flower Farm.

Located in Flintstone, Georgia, Creekside Flower Farm exists to provide beautiful, lasting flowers, that are responsibly grown on local land that reminds us that we belong to a place and to the land on which we live. We offer wedding packages as well as a Flower CSA/Subscription option for individuals and local businesses. Customers can choose to receive a weekly bouquet or bucket of in-season flowers from Creekside Flower Farm. We also have regular pop-up sales during our growing season and we sell wholesale flowers to local florists.

This year Creekside will be expanding the variety of flowers that we grow to include ranunculus, anemones, and several different colors of dahlias, among other varieties. We have begun booking weddings for 2018 and are hopeful to book several more!

Has it been a smooth road?
Prior to starting Creekside Flower Farm, I (Morgan) had no experience running a business and though I had grown up with a garden, I did not study horticulture or have the know-how to run a farm. With that said starting a business and farm has been a very steep learning curve. Much of my learning has been through trial and error.

Here is one story of trial and error learning:
In the fall of 2016, I transplanted around 100 snapdragons from my greenhouse (where I had started them from seed) to my field. I tucked each small seedling into the soil and gave it a good watering–everything that I thought I needed to do.

However, the following day I returned to check on them and over half of them were completely gone! I noticed that some of the stalks had been cut at the very bottom and that the remaining snapdragon lay on its side wilting. I was distraught and didn’t know what the cause was. After some research and asking other farmers I concluded that cutter worms had caused the damage.

Unfortunately, such small seedlings couldn’t recover, but I wanted to protect the remaining snapdragons. And so I tried coffee grounds and diatomaceous earth–sprinkling them around the base of each seedling, but the cutter worms continued to pillage my snapdragons.

Finally, I came across an organic pesticide that stopped the cutter worms from decimating my entire crop of snapdragons. This was a very challenging and frustrating way of learning and yet it is part of farming. There are numerable variables to farming and some of them I have little to no control over. I do all I can to give my flowers good growing conditions and yet there is little to nothing I can do when a hail storm blows through the valley.

There have been other obstacles as the owner and operator of Creekside. I have had to wear all the hats–marketer, farmer, accountant, web designer, etc. I have enjoyed learning and working in each of these capacities and yet it has been very challenging to balance them all and to do them all well. At times it seems that my marketing plan dwindles at the expense of another sowing of sunflowers, for example.

And yet, I have had great luck in my business as well. Creekside has been featured in different articles, which has been a huge help on the marketing front. I have had business mentors and marketing mentors come alongside me. The land I farm just so happens to be on a slant, which is ideal for farming because water does not sit or puddle which would cause my plants to rot or mold. Though the road has not been smooth, I don’t know that I would want it to be easy. I think more often than not it is the challenging things in our lives that end up being the most valuable and rewarding things.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Creekside Flower Farm – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Creekside Flower Farm exists to provide beautiful, lasting flowers, that are responsibly grown on local land that reminds us that we belong to a place and to the land on which we live.

We grow and arrange flowers. Creekside has four main outlets for getting flowers from our farm to our customers. One way is that we offer wedding packages to brides getting married locally. With almost two years of floral design experience, I (Morgan) am able to meet a variety of styles and preferences that brides have. Creekside also offers a flower subscription program during our growing season (May-October). This allows individuals and businesses to receive a weekly arrangement of in-season blooms. Furthermore, Creekside frequently does pop-up sales and special deliveries locally. Finally, we offer a limited selection of wholesale flowers to local florists.

Unlike most florists and flower providers in our area, our flowers are locally grown, meaning that they are fresher than those imported from Ecuador or Mexico or even those flown across the country from California. Furthermore, our flowers are unique to our area. Often our customers tell us that they have never seen a particular type of flower that we grow–whether that is lisianthus, celosia, or anemones.

One of the things I am most proud of was an idea I had this past season to do a Bouquet Blitz. I recognized that there are many people that could really benefit from having fresh flowers in their house that may not be able to come buy them from me. And so for several weeks, I delivered flowers to widows or shut-ins in my area that I did not know. I called it a Blitz because these people were unsuspecting, they did not know that I would stop by their house to bring them flowers. I partnered with several churches and an organization called Widows Harvest to obtain names of individuals who would benefit from a bouquet of flowers.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I don’t know Atlanta well enough to speak on this. I have really enjoyed the venues and restaurants that I have visited in Atlanta. I do not like the traffic!

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Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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