By Benjamin Cohn
Ivy Creek – Travel down a gravel path, follow the posted signs and make the correct turns and you’ll find yourself at Barnardsville’s most charming homestead, the location of the highly-acclaimed Never-Ending Flower Farm, operated by Loretta Ball and her immediate family.
Ball invited the Tribune to visit her farm and walk through the process one might expect when visiting the farm. She first gave some background on how her family business came to be.
“We actually had a retail greenhouse down on Barnardsville Highway. Then I had a neck injury and kind of had to step back from that,” she said. “We’ve been growing the cut flowers for about three years, intentionally. This is the first year we’re opening up the you-pick [concept] to get people up to the farm, kind of get people into agri-tourism [any activity that brings visitors to a working farm].”
Before her neck injury, Ball used to operate a similar plant-based business down on Barnardsville Highway. “We had a retail greenhouse. That would be like vegetable plants, hanging baskets, potted plants. I was still dabbling in cut flowers, but that was on the back seat,” said Ball.
Another fascinating aspect of her business is the company’s offer to plan and execute matrimonial ceremonies. “We do weddings. I still have a few dates available, but we’re definitely moving towards [being fully booked].” Ball said that weddings are not yet being hosted on their farm, but “that is in the works.”
Further plans for improvement to the Ball family farm include a sorghum mill with demonstrations, homemade apple butter and, perhaps, blueberry-picking.
“We’re gonna build onto that shed and we’re going to be making a sorghum mill to do sorghum. That is grown on the land. [Sorghum is like] molasses, but sorghum is just the syrup from the sugar cane, or from the canes,” she said.
“It’s kind of a process that’s not done a whole lot anymore. It’s a whole lot of work, but it’s one of those dying-out crafts. Our hope is moving the farm towards agri-tourism, offering the you-pick cut flowers. In the fall we’ll have the sorghum mill set up … so people can come up and see that being done. Probably we’ll have the apple butter.”
Ball told the Tribune that she inherited this tract of land upon marriage to her husband Kurt. “It’s all family land. There’s a tract that goes about 20 acres up the mountain.” She then explained her process for monetizing the crops grown so meticulously by herself and her family.
“We’ve got a big, extra large cup [for] 20 bucks,” she said. Ball expects that a customer could easily fit up to 30 flowers in the 20-dollar cup if the stems are cut extra-long. “You can get a big bucket, three gallons, for 65 dollars. For weddings or brides who want to do a DIY wedding, we can go ahead and pick their flowers for them and they can pick them up, or they’re welcome to bring their wedding party here and pick up [their flowers].
“We grow, I don’t know, there’s probably 25 or 30 different types of annuals. You just pick out what size container you want and we’ve got pruners available. I’d show you how to cut them, strip the stems, to get the maximum base life. Depending on how good you take care of them when you get home, [the flowers live] five to seven days. I put a little tablet of flower food in there for you.”
Ball and her family encourage readers to come and check out their “little slice of heaven,” words taken from the farm’s website.