Flowers

More than just flowers growing at 1818 Farms in Mooresville

Tucked away in the corner of one of Alabama’s oldest towns is 1818 Farms, where calendula, zinnia, coneflower and more seem to glow neon against heavy clouds.

Owner and founder Natasha McCrary cracks open a white bachelor’s button revealing an intricate seed.

“It looks like a tiny little skeleton,” she says.

McCrary walks quickly between tall rows of annuals and perennials, mucking about in bee-printed rubber boots and green overalls. She and another employee have finished fertilizing and are watering the flowers before getting ready to harvest them for bouquets. The farm delivers 50 to 100 bouquets a week as part of its seasonal subscriptions. The menu of blooms requires careful planning to have enough flowers without letting them go to waste.

“In this job, speed is important,” she says.

McCrary began 1818 Farms in 2013, mixing an all-natural shea butter cream. Since then, more than 300,000 jars have been sold in stores and online in several scents, including her her preferred lavender her. Coffee, cuticle cream, milk tea bath and the most visual product, the flower farm, have expanded. Many bath and body ingredients are grown in Mooresville, tended to by McCrary and an employee while products are processed at a warehouse in downtown Huntsville.

The farm’s shea butter cream, which comes in several scents, is a popular seller in stores and online. (1818 Farms)

At least 500 stores carry 1818 Farms products, including local shops such as The Cupboard in Decatur and UG White Hardware & Furniture in Athens. The website, 1818farms.com, features the many retail products for sale, the farm’s history and information on retailers that carry the 1818 Farms line.

1818 Farms is a working farm, not open for drop-in tours or for many events.

“If you’re doing the work, it’s hard to do both,” McCrary says. “If everything is planted, we’re tending to 13,000 flowers at a time.”

Judging from the demand 1818’s bouquets and workshops have garnered over the pandemic, it seems people crave the simple and earthy beauty of flowers. A dried flower workshop last summer sold out even before an announcement made it online.

The work is in McCrary’s blood. The farm began as a way to teach her children about land and sustainability, something she learned from her father her, a botanist. McCrary’s husband, Laurence, who has a financial background, runs that side of things, while their high school and college-age children assist with chores and hosting guests at events such as bloom strolls. Their children are fifth-generation Mooresvillians; Laurence McCrary’s ancestors in the town date back to the 1800s.

The farm features native flora such as oak leaf hydrangea and drooping canopies of magnolia. Some of the fauna is less typical, such as Southdown Babydoll sheep, the farm’s marketing mascot.

Dried flowers hang at 1818 Farms. The company has reported an average 70% year-over-year growth for the past five years and flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic. (1818 Farms)

The company has reported an average 70% year-over-year growth for the past five years, and though the COVID-19 pandemic ended many a small business, it was actually a boon for 1818 Farms. Home delivery bouquet subscriptions picked up during quarantine, and bath and beauty products have long been the business’s biggest money makers.

McCrary is proud of the farm’s growth of species of flowers famous for not flourishing in the Deep South’s stout heat, like poppies and digitalis, also known as foxglove. The trick? Start seeds early and harvest blooms before the true heat sets in.

Most days on the farm average nine hours, and McCrary, who is 50, wonders how that will feel in later years.

“I don’t think people realize how physical this is,” she says. “Nothing’s mechanized. Everything we do is done by hand.”

Still, the gratification of working outdoors outweighs the aches and pains.

“For me, satisfying is seeing what you can grow from that tiny seed,” McCrary says.

This story originally appeared in Alabama Living magazine.

About the author

Getprofitam

Leave a Comment