Beth Youmans is a multi-talented lady who has found a way to combine her love for nature and growing with her enthusiasm for learning, challenging and dealing with people. Add to this a business acumen for marketing and accounting and an artistic creativity, then leave time for planning and accounting for her husband’s business and time to be an attentive and dedicated mother of two energetic guys, and you have a sketch of the entrepreneur behind you Farmyard flowers.
These are the skills and balance that Beth brings to Farmyard Flowers, her thriving business of growing, harvesting, and marketing fresh cut flowers from her home in southern Monroe County. She said she was learning more and more about all aspects of the business, from the farming challenges to the nuances of the Macon and Forsyth market differences. She’s always listening to a podcast, reading a book, or watching something new in her gardens.
Beth said she had always loved arranging flowers and learning the art from her mother that had learned from her mother before her. Beth made arrangements for her church for years before she began styling them professionally, and was often asked to make arrangements for weddings and other special occasions. She read about Floret Farm, a flower farm developed a few years ago by a married couple in Washington State, and the seeds of an idea were sown. Since then, Chip and Joanna Gaines of The Fixer-upper have made a documentary on Growing Floret and there are two other books in the series on floriculture.
Beth says she feels like it is something she can do, but there was a lot to learn about when to plant, when to harvest, and how to take care of the plants. She is starting her third year as Farmyard Flowers.
At this point in her life, Beth thinks that new high school graduates should work for a while so they know what to study before they go to college. If she enrolled this fall, she would like to study agriculture. However, after growing up in Macon, she went to the University of Georgia and graduated with a degree in journalism. She did an internship with Southern Progress Corporation, which includes such well-known publications as Southern Living, Cooking Light and Progressive Farmer.
She returned to Macon, began working as a secretary for an accounting firm, and married Brandon. When her first son was born nine years ago, she took the opportunity to stay with him at home. In 2014, the family that now includes Brandon, Beth, sons Levy and Howard, dog Tater, and five chickens added during the pandemic, moved to Monroe County. Her rural home is near the home of Brandon’s parents.
Beth started growing flowers for herself, but as she continued to make arrangements for her church and others, the idea of growing flowers commercially began to blossom. She has sold flowers at Mossy Corner Nursery in Smarr, Forsyth Farmers Market, and florists in Macon. She markets her flowers online and is successful with a subscription service that offers bouquets and arrangements paid for in advance on a monthly basis.
“I love the outdoors, but I also love spreadsheets,” said Beth of coordinating the agricultural and business aspects of growing flowers.
She says her business more than doubled in the past year. She thinks the Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) subscription format works well for her because it allows her to plant money for the next season. While working on planting and expanding, she also takes a Flower Farmer course. She is a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers and will tour a farm in Tennessee next week as part of the group.
“It’s a constantly changing market,” said Beth. “I always learn. You have to be there. “
She said freshly cut flowers are a $ 7 billion industry in the United States, but 80 percent of flowers are imported. Last year there was a worldwide shortage of flowers. Fewer flowers had been sold at the start of the pandemic; consequently less had been planted. By last Mother’s Day, demand far exceeded supply.
Beth said the key is educating wholesalers and florists about all of the benefits of using locally grown flowers like the freshness and fragrance. She found that imported roses are fragrance-free. One benefit for the environment is that local flowers do not have to be preserved with chemicals like imported flowers. Sometimes wholesalers and florists need to try new types of flowers, but there are plenty of substitutes available that will provide the colors, textures, and visual effects you want. Beth believes that given the benefit of supporting local growers, it is worth researching what they have to offer.
She is considering offering a “You Pick” option at Farmyard Flowers, but wonders how many urban and suburban residents would venture into the country. She thought of teaching some flower arrangements after upgrading her garden shed into a flower studio “but not in the summer heat”. She planted a pumpkin patch this year with a vision of hollowing out the pumpkins and using them as the basis for flower arrangements this fall. And she has plans for making wreaths and arranging bulbs for winter’s forced bloom.
Beth said spring and fall are the biggest seasons for cut flowers. When she released her first bouquet last year, it sold out quickly. She planted 400 tulips for the 2021 season; She will plant 2,000 this fall for the spring harvest. She keeps fields of dahlias and zinnias, among other brightly colored and interesting flowers that bloom for the summer, and plants mothers for the fall, checking soil and sun to implement what she has learned. The frequent rains this summer have not caused any problems as their two main plots are on slopes and drain well.
Beth’s husband helps her with heavy gardening, especially tractor and post planting, and her sons help with weeding and other chores. When she played a podcast about floriculture, she had an “Aha!” Hang on with Levy, 9 years old, who told her that the whole conversation was about learning your passion.
“I like to go out early in the morning, hit everyone when I wake up, have a cup of coffee and see what’s growing,” she said. “It’s just fun. I know I’m doing the right thing because I love it. “
Does she talk to her plants? Oh yeah. They are her natural stress reliever, and she is the one to keep up conversations. She chats with them while she cuts and looks for all of the new stuff that shows up underneath.
Beth apparently has some agriculture in her genes. Her father and brother grow row crops such as cotton and soybeans on their farm in Stapleton, eastern Georgia. Her sons join TG Scott Elementary and she would like to help start a farming club in the elementary school.
“There are a lot of cool, different things for schools,” she said.
Visit the Farmyard Flowers website at farmyard flowers.com to see what Beth is in bloom and available. She also plans to start harvesting and selling seeds in case you can imagine grabbing that early morning coffee and taking a walk before others get up to see what’s growing.