KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Recent cut flower workshops held across Tennessee provided practical production and business planning information for business success with local cut flowers, a popular new crop choice for Tennesseans starting or diversifying their farm. The University of Tennessee Extension Center for Profitable Agriculture (CPA) organized the specialty workshops in Lebanon, Jackson, Maryville and Franklin. More than 300 cut flower producers attended.
“The interest in cut flowers is widespread across the entire state,” said Rob Holland, CPA director. “We see interest from people with years of experience selling produce at farmers markets to people who have very little farming experience.”
“Local cut flower production poses an interesting option for people looking to diversify their product offerings or with limited land availability,” stated Alicia Rihn, assistant professor of agricultural economics. “Many workshop attendees indicated they had an existing brand and appreciated learning more about ways to leverage their brands effectively, including pricing strategies and marketing channels to consider as they move forward with their business ventures.”
The workshops provided networking opportunities with other growers and taught participants about production practices and the business basics of starting a successful cut flower enterprise. With more than 30 types of cut flowers suitable for commercial production in Tennessee, workshop speakers encourage plenty of planning to ensure efforts are not wasted.
Carolyn Hunter is a cut flower producer who served as a panelist for one of the workshops. She runs Southern Bella Blooms, near Knoxville, where she grows, harvests, arranges and delivers specialty blooms. “It’s a lot of work, it’s labor intensive,” says Hunter.
According to a CPA project last year, many people start a cut flower enterprise to either complement other farm product sales or to generate a new income stream for the farm. But flowers can be sold through many venues – direct to consumers, delivered to businesses, customized for events like weddings, or wholesaled to florists and other service industry providers.
Cut flowers are one of six specialty crops that the Center recently focused on as part of a project partially funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
For more information about the Center’s specialty crop projects and other educational programs in value-added agriculture, contact the Center for Profitable Agriculture online at cpa.tennessee.edu.
Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.
–Brittany Decker, UTIA