Roy Crest Farms
Abbey Roy will be the first to tell you that she never saw herself as a farmer. She just knew she loved flowers. Today, the McCalla, Alabama, farm that has been in her husband’s family for more than a century is home to a thriving floral business.
How did you get started?
I didn’t really think that much about it. I just wanted to grow something beautiful. During the pandemic, we were able to slow down and return to our farm more often. Before I knew it, we (husband Denson and children Olivia and Keller) pulled out the old tractors to till up the ground. I filled the rows with hundreds of seeds and a few bulbs.
Who are your customers?
Wholesalers, florists, and floral designers—many here in Birmingham. By planting in bulk and selling in bulk, I can keep business development costs low while we build out the farm. We do offer floral-design workshops where we share growing information and create bouquets for guests to take home.
The peony has an heirloom elegance and layers of ruffled petals that just make my heart swoon. Many people think that we can’t grow them in Alabama because of our climate, but I am determined to find all of the best varieties that can flourish here so that we can all have fresh Alabama-grown peonies in our homes in April and May every year. To date, I have planted over 1,000 peonies and hope to add another 1,000 this season.
Good garden shears and a floral frog are must-haves! Floral frogs let you create arrangements with stability while still showing the natural movement of the flower stem.
“I plant what I love because flower farming is very hard work.”Abbey Roy
Blue Rooster Farms
At any given time, Allison and Kirk Creel’s Shelby County farm might have 30 to 40 varieties of flowers growing. In addition to supplying florists and event designers with blooms, they sell directly to customers through farm pickup and home delivery.
How it all began:
A strong connection with the land is at the heart of Blue Rooster Farms, a place where my (Kirk) grandfather grew boxwoods and other ornamental plants. While I grew up tagging along on deliveries to places like Plant Odyssey and Hanna’s garden shop, Allison took a bit longer to fall in love with horticulture, only associating time in the yard with the dreaded task of pulling weeds as a kid.
There is nothing else that so easily or so simply brings joy to other people. Everyone has a memory of picking a flower and bringing it to a parent, teacher, or friend. Growing local flowers also means our flowers will last longer, with most harvested less than 24 hours before delivery. And because they don’t need to be shipped in from other places, we can grow varieties that you don’t typically see in stores.
Flowers absolutely have individual personalities! Some are bold, sassy, and in-your-face while others are shy and have to be coaxed to bloom. Zinnias look at the summer sun and laugh at it. They thrive in the heat, and their flowers get bigger the more you harvest. Coral Fountain Amaranth has the coolest flowers that drape to look like waterfalls. And to make sure you don’t forget them, they reseed everywhere!
Kirk: I can’t wait to see snapdragons bloom. They come from the same seeds and we grow the same variety each year.
Allison: I love the anemones. They are ordered in February, arrive in October, are planted in the hoop house in November, and usually bloom in March.
May we visit?
Of course! Throughout the summer months, we offer “Flower Walk and Bouquet Build” workshops. Guests walk the fields with us and learn about the flowers we grow. Then everyone has a chance to create their own bouquet as we guide you with simple tricks and tips.
“Flowers are an effortless way to share a smile. We keep a vase at markets just for the kids who come by because they all want to touch the flowers, smell them, and usually pick them apart, one petal at a time.”Allison and Kirk Creel
Deep Roots Flower Farm
Leah Quarles moved back to her family’s farm, bringing with it her love of horticulture, design, and growing flowers—fresh bouquets for any reason and every season.
Life on the farm:
Located in Sardis, Alabama, our farm is about halfway between Birmingham and Huntsville. It has been in our family for over 100 years. We’ve grown cotton, soybeans, and field corn, and we even raised hogs and cattle in my childhood. That is why our name “Deep Roots” means so much to us.
When I moved back in 2017, I started growing flowers for myself but soon had local people ask if they could buy them. I have a background in horticulture and landscape design so I figured flower farming could be a fun, successful business. When planning what I’ll plant and grow, I research trends. For a time, I grew gladiolus which fell out of favor in the flower world for a time but are starting to see a comeback.
For all seasons:
In the early spring, you’ll find daffodils, lenton roses, tulips, ranunculus, anemones, snapdragons, dianthus, foxgloves, and a few other cool season annuals growing in our fields. Then along come zinnias in the summer when it’s also time to harvest vegetables. The zinnias always remind me of my grandmother and childhood summers on the farm. Fall brings celosia, gomphrena, and sunflowers, as well as dahlias. I think dahlias are the most exquisite and beautiful flower I have ever laid eyes on. Each bloom is so different and unique, and the colors are just amazing.
In 2020, when nursing home visits were nonexistent, I posted on social media that customers could sponsor a flower delivery to local residents. It was fun to see how that brightened the spirits of both the sponsors and the residents.
We do not have a storefront or regular hours of operation, but we do sell to wholesalers, designers, and direct to customers. We are open only by appointment, but on occasion, we set up our flower cart and offer bouquets on the weekends. (Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see when “Daisy” will be out and about.) We also do small-scale weddings, prom bouquets, and vases for special events. It’s especially fun when a client just gives me a color palette and lets me work with that.
“Customers can pick up flowers at our farm, the original home place. There is quite a bit of family history in every flower grown on this farm.”Leah Quarles
Leah Quarles: deeprootsflowerfarm.com – @deeprootsflowerfarm – firstname.lastname@example.org