In Western North Carolina alone, there are over 300 family owned greenhouses that sell their products to wholesale and retail markets throughout not only the state, but also the Southeastern United States. Danni Speight, owner of Bluff Mountain Nursery in Hot Springs, NC, is one of many who sell products to area markets. In 1985, Speight’s parents started the business with only one greenhouse that soon grew to seven greenhouses. In their greenhouses, the family grew mostly flowers, like perennials, annuals, herbs, vines, and shrubs. In the early years of Bluff Mountain Nursery, their market was primarily wholesale business. Today, Speight mainly sells to retail markets.
In 2016, Speight was still heating the seven greenhouses with the original propane heaters that her father had installed after transitioning from wood heat. “They were really unreliable and we were losing several of our crops due to improper heating,” said Speight. Southwestern NC RC&D Council helped to supply Bluff Mountain Nursery with a $6,000 TVA Energy for Farms Grant to install four new propane heaters in the two most important greenhouses in the nursery. “We installed two new heaters in the propagation house that we start our plants in and two in the stock house where our plants stay when we are preparing to ship them out,” said Speight. “We have only been able to use the new heaters for one winter but we are so pleased already! We did not lose a single crop this past winter which is a big deal for us.”
The new propane heaters will not only allow Bluff Mountain Nursery to increase their plant production, but they will also cause a significant decrease in energy costs. “I cannot wait to see the difference these heaters make in the nursery’s energy costs,” said Speight. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this grant.”