Three greenhouses used to produce tobacco transplants were left empty when the Blake family stopped growing this crop on their farm off Hunting Creek Road in southeastern Wilkes County about seven years ago.
Wanting to utilize the 35-foot-by-100-foot greenhouses instead of tearing them down, the family began exploring their options, said Brenda Blake, speaking during the Wilkes Cooperative Extension Service’s annual “Report to the People”.
“We talked about growing strawberries and tomatoes” and other perishable crops. “But with all of those, we had to make sure they were sold quickly,” added Brenda during the event at the Wilkes Agricultural Center.
Brenda said she communicated with a regional agronomist from the N.C. Department of Agriculture about what to produce, explaining that the Wilkes Cooperative Extension office didn’t have a horticultural agent then.
When the Blakes hosted a group of NCDA agronomists for a farm tour, one of them suggested using the greenhouses to produce hanging flower baskets for Mother’s Day sales.
Seizing this suggestion, the Blakes produced 1,500 hanging baskets on a greenhouse trellis system they built from old chicken house feed line pipe.
The Blakes are now growing bedding plants, vegetable plants and hanging baskets in three greenhouses.