In 2007, Mandy Hornick and her husband Bob Smith began plans to own a flower farm. They finally found the perfect homestead in 2015 and started Blue Ridge Blooms flower farm and design studio. In their first year, the couple is growing dahlias, snapdragons, lisianthus, amaranthus, zinnias and other varieties – nearly 50 varieties in all. Mandy sells the arrangements she designs using fresh flowers grown on their farm. Her work can be found as take-home bouquets, restaurant décor, and at weddings and events throughout the Asheville, North Carolina area.
When I worked at Farmhouse Flowers and Plants, I learned the most important thing for success is post-harvest care to cool flowers quickly so they don’t deteriorate. When I decided to become a farmer florist, I knew a commercial walk-in cooler was going to be prohibitively expensive for a start-up business. We started planning our farm in 2005 and decided to use a CoolBot and build our own cooler like the one at Farmhouse Flowers.
In the summer of 2016, with one-half acre in production and flowers to harvest, we finished building the 8’ x 16’ x 8’ walk-in cooler inside our barn where we removed one of the stalls. With a 24,000 BTU air conditioner, the CoolBot and building materials, we’ve invested a little more than $5,000 in our 8’x16’x8’ walk-in cooler.
Working great – the cooler interior is painted with exterior mold- resistant paint. We installed an exterior light with moisture seal. An LG 24,500 BTU A/C unit is controlled by the CoolBot. We’re thinking of adding linoleum to the floor. Then, we’ll spray foam the floor / wall edge. Up next, we’ll add shelving inside the cooler and finish the outside steps. Finally, we’ll trim out the exterior with old barn wood/chalkboard/ and a painted wall.