Flowers play a huge part in the beautification of our homes and land. Restaurants, hotels, and events like weddings use flowers to add color and to create a pleasant atmosphere for their visitors. Indigo Bunting Farm (IBF), located in Marshall, NC, is working toward becoming a supplier for these various customers. In 2015, Adam and Sarah Swartz started selling their flowers to local florists and also did arrangements for weddings. “We really started to amp things up last summer,” said Swartz. With business on the rise, the couple found that they did not have means to grow things like they would like. “We weren’t able to grow in the cooler months because we didn’t have a greenhouse,” said Swartz. “All we had was a garden plot that we could only grow things in seasonally.”
Southwestern NC RC&D assisted the Swartzs in getting a $6,000 TVA Energy for Farms Grant that would help pay for the cost of a greenhouse kit as well as a geothermal heat exchange system that would help to reduce energy costs. A geothermal heat exchange system contains a pump which transfers heat to or from the ground which makes the earth the main heat source. “Just having this greenhouse as well as the heating system has made our plant production so much more profitable,” said Swartz. “We can now grow more than just flowers because we can properly take care of them.” IBF is now able to grow vegetable, root, and berry crops, like tomatoes; and cucumbers, eggplants, raspberries, blackberries, and ginger.
“In the future, we would like to start supplying weekly flower arrangements to local bed and breakfasts and hotels,” said Swartz. “We are also moving towards growing edible flowers and herbs for restaurants in the area.” This project has helped the Swartz family tremendously because not only can they grow in the cooler months of the year, but they can now work toward achieving their goals of expanding their operation.