Plough to Pantry
By Carolyn Schweitz
Dahlias may not be the first flower that comes to mind when one thinks of Western North Carolina. However, Carolina Flowers, a three-acre specialty cut flower farm in Marshall, is challenging the reputation of dahlias in the mountains. While dahlias are native to Mexico, the Blue Ridge Mountains provide an ideal climate for the flower. “Dahlias will steal your heart,” says Emily Copus, owner of Carolina Flowers. “There are many varieties in every color and petal shape you can imagine.”
The flower business runs in Copus’s family. Her great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather were flower farmers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Copus says that she has gained perspective from her family’s experience as flower farmers and learned to always expect and prepare for change. She actively works to attain a diversified and sustainable business. As the cut flower industry begins to rebuild itself through small, boutique and woman-owned flower farms, Copus is at the forefront of this rebirth.
In February, Carolina Flowers received a grant from WNC AgOptions for $6,000 to expand its dahlia growing program. Carolina Flowers will host two events this year to celebrate this grant. The first, Flowers and Clay, takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21. Flowers and Clay will be the grand opening of Josh Copus’s pottery complex. Emily and Josh work together as husband and wife to make Carolina Flowers come alive at the pottery complex and the two farming spaces.
Small group tours will be available at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to view the farm, including its specialty crops, the distribution process and the main dahlia field with thousands of blooms. More tour times may be released online and registration is required. The pottery complex and garden will be open all day. Visitors will have opportunities to learn about the challenges of farming in the mountains and to create their own bouquets at a stem bar. Additionally, Josh will be demonstrating and selling his pottery. The event is free and open to the public.
The second event celebrating Carolina Flower’s grant, a dahlia workshop focused on arranging the flowers, will be held on October 6. This workshop is the only opportunity to actually pick dahlias at Carolina Flowers.
Carolina Flowers provides full florist service, including wedding bouquets and designs. Subscriptions and delivery are available to the Asheville area. They sell their flowers at the Asheville City Market every Saturday 8 a.m. until noon and offer bouquets and bulk buckets by appointment at their studio on Main Street in Marshall.
Copus expresses her love for growing flowers, but also acknowledges the hard work that has gone into making Carolina Flowers a reality, including many sleepless nights spent getting the business off the ground. Even so, she strives for Carolina Flowers to feel like a home for her employees. “It may be a small endeavor,” she says. “But it’s my way of spreading goodness, expressing kindness to others and encouraging good will.”