It all started in 2019 when Brooke Freeman, along with the help of her family, began growing their first few beds of commercial flowers. That was the first step toward building the thriving business that is Brooke’s Fresh Cut Flower Farm, located in Goldsboro, NC.

That year, she also began putting in a gravel path to access some of her parents’ farmland as well as another plot leased from a neighboring farmer. “This property had some drainage problems,” Brooke explained, “so we began putting in swales and ditches after putting in the gravel path. We then proceeded to purchase an old greenhouse that was in the floodplains down the road and had not been used in recent years.”

Brooke’s family disassembled and then reassembled the greenhouse on their property. “After that, we started really farming… I had no idea what I was doing!” Brooke said that after a lot of trial and error, she found out what worked and started making sales in 2020.

Brooke came to farming organically, but it was not originally a part of her plan.

“I graduated with my undergraduate degree, and I immediately began a master’s program – they were not ag-related. I was a college athlete, and my entire life I have been very active and interested in staying busy and forming meaningful connections with others,” she said.

A follower of well-known farmer-florist-author Erin Benzakein, Brooke began asking her father about her grandfather’s old tractor, their farmland and how she could try her hand at running a small flower farm.

“I honestly never thought it would be as big as it is today. I thought it would be something I could do for a few hours out of the week as a hobby,” she admitted.

Brooke signed up to take Benzakein’s online course and made a deal with her parents: She would finish school and they would allow her to lease part of their farmland and have the use of her grandfather’s tractor.

“I think they thought my interest was just a phase,” laughed Brooke, “and that I would never actually work that hard. Then flower farming actually became pretty much my entire life. I think my husband thought I’d never come home again!”

Since purchasing that first secondhand greenhouse, Brooke has purchased another medium-sized greenhouse. While out driving with her sister, Brooke stopped on the side of the road next to a greenhouse that had trees and weeds growing up through the top of it. She went to the house next door and rang the doorbell.

Brooke Freeman said she came to farming organically, but it was not originally a part of her plan. Photo courtesy of Brooke’s Fresh Cut Flower Farm

“It was [answered by] the sweetest old man – Mr. Vernon. He told me if I was willing to do the work and tear down the greenhouse I could come and get it whenever I want it,” she said. “The next Saturday, my husband, myself and one of our buddies tore down the entire greenhouse and began putting it back up on our property.”

Since then, Brooke has also been awarded a grant that she used to erect six smaller hoop houses.

In just a few short years, Brooke has diversified the farm’s offerings. “We do regular deliveries like any traditional florist and have a weekly CSA flower subscription. I started with about 13 people, and subscriptions wax and wane – kind of like gym memberships,” she said. “We sell retail, we sell wholesale and we participate in pop-ups when we are able.”

Brooke noted that her customer base is very local. They only deliver within a 30-mile radius. In addition to custom flower orders, Brooke also offers eucalyptus orders.

The farm has also branched out into the wedding market. With two venues, Birdsong Chapel and Carriage Hall, Brooke’s business has expanded exponentially. “The largest thing we do is weddings. We do at least one wedding every weekend – some weekends we do three to five weddings,” she said. “We usually work on weddings Tuesday morning through Sunday until the bride goes down the aisle.” To keep up with all the work, Brooke hired two full-time employees.

She is currently working on just a few acres, but said her goal is to expand and farm even more of her 22-acre plot in 2024. She also wants her expansion plans to include opening up her operation to agricultural tourism.

“We’ve hired more help. We’re getting all the preparations in place. We’re essentially opening an entire new business,” she said. “I don’t know anyone else who farms flowers and hosts ag tourism events every single weekend, so I don’t have another business to model this after. I’ve only seen this sort of thing done with apple orchards in the mountains. So that’s the example I’m using.”

Brooke has booked a large number of weddings for 2024. And she will soon be opening the farm’s corner store, an agritourism hayride and U-pick events every single weekend of a 37-week season.

“A portion of all purchases made at our corner store are given to a local nonprofit called Wayne Cares, which helps people in need of healthcare services, mental health services or substance abuse services,” Brooke said. “That’s what I want to see our flowers do – make people smile and do some good for our community.”

Although the wedding work is taking up more and more of her time, Brooke is not ready to give up on her CSA subscribers. “I had promised myself for the past few months this would be my last year doing a weekly flower subscription. But, here I go, getting started on the 2024 season. I just can’t give it up. I have some very loyal people who have supported me for all three years and I am blessed to have them in my life.”

Despite all the hard work, Brooke wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Becoming a farmer has taught me a great deal of patience and brought me so much joy. Every season on the farm comes with its own change and beauty, most of which is happening outside of my control,” she said. “I would not trade my time on the farm for anything. It wouldn’t be the same without my family, who has been beside me since this crazy dream started to come to fruition. Becoming a farmer is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”

For more information, visit Follow them on Instagram @brookesfreshcutflowerfarm and on Facebook at Brooke’s Fresh Cut Flower Farm.

by Enrico Villamaino