MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Flowers have the power to brighten a room, to uplift spirits, to adorn cakes, to show sympathy at funerals, to represent love at weddings, to celebrate special occasions, and the list goes on. University of Mount Olive (UMO) senior Amber Weaver understands and appreciates the power of flowers.
“I truly believe that flowers are food for the soul,” she said. “Flowers help people feel better and happier by providing a little sunshine and joy to a person’s life.”
Weaver is an agricultural production systems major, who is putting the knowledge she is learning in the classroom to work in her flower farm located in Kenly, NC. She calls the business Pinkney Farm, because it is located on Pinkney Road in a little community called Pinkney. “I grow cut flowers and produce,” she said. “After graduation, I plan to transition to working at the farm full time and turn it into something big. I would eventually love to have my own wedding venue at the farm as well.”
Weaver’s interest in agriculture was cultivated through her schooling and by her grandfather, Harry Hinson, who grew produce and raised pigs. “My grandad has taught me most of what I know and am still learning about growing produce,” she said.
Weaver attended Charles B. Aycock High School where she served as FFA Vice President and President, respectively, during her junior and senior years. After graduating in 2016, she enrolled at Wayne Community College where she earned her associate’s degree in science in 2018. She then transferred to NCSU majoring in Animal Science. “The college was too big for me,” she admitted. “So, I did my research, and transferred to UMO in January of 2018. That was the best decision I have ever made. I am so grateful for the community and knowledge that UMO provides.”
During one of her classes at UMO, Weaver learned about all of the misconceptions in agriculture. “The class showed me how much I need to stand up for our farmers and “AGvocate” to the public,” she shared. “This really got me interested in agriculture and I decided to become a farmer myself. I took the leap this year and it truly feels like I am doing what I was called to do.”
Weaver owns 39 acres of farm and woodlands, on which she currently farms four acres of cut flowers and produce. This is her first planting season. She started with a 20 x 60 used greenhouse, which she purchased used and moved to the farm. She then filled the greenhouse with her planted seeds, and as soon as there were no more risks of frost, she spent a couple of weeks transplanting into the field.
“My most popular flowers are Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cosmos, Marigolds, Amaranths, and Celosia,” she said. “There are plenty more, but those are the ones I am currently harvesting.”
In addition to the flowers, Weaver grows squash, zucchini, corn, collards, okra, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, spinach, green beans, and some herbs. This fall she plans to grow pumpkins as well. She delivers her flower bouquets to local people that order online through Facebook or Instagram. In the coming weeks she will sell both her flowers and produce at the Town Market in Pine Level and the Farmers Market in Goldsboro.
The end product may be beautiful and tasty, but the work can be dirty, hot, and laborious.
“The chores on the farm are different with every passing day, but the main three are pulling weeds, irrigating if needed, and checking for pest damage,” she stated.
Weaver knew going into farming that there was a lot of work involved in growing flowers. After all, she had plenty of first-hand experience through an internship with Foxhound Flower Farm in Lillington. Through the internship, Weaver prepped and planted beds, did farm projects, harvested, and arranged bouquets. “The internship helped me realize how much work goes into flower farming, and supplied me with much needed hands-on experience for what I needed to start my own farm.”
Even with all of the experience she has gained at her internship, through her classes, and by working in the UMO flower garden, Weaver has found that her best teacher may be trial and error.
“Well the saying ‘you have to spend money to make money,’ is no joke,” she shared. “It has been challenging navigating the costs of running water and electricity lines to a field, as well as buying a tractor, a greenhouse, and all of my materials within my first year of operation. I have also realized that I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew by planting so many different things that require differing harvest times and storage techniques. However, providing my community with local grown produce and sending some love and happiness through my flowers right to people’s doorsteps keeps me going.”
Nothing seems to deter Weaver’s determination and spirit, and like her flowers, she seems to have a special power – the power of positivity.
“I can’t thank my friends, family, and UMO enough for all of the support I have received throughout my first year of farming,” she said. “It truly means so much to me and keeps me going to be the best I can be at what I do.”
Weaver is the daughter of Mike and Melissa Weaver of Pikeville.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.
—Rhonda Jessup, University of Mount Olive