3 minute read

WilMor Farms: a blossoming family business

Bright little day stars Scattered all over the earth, Ye drape the house of mourning And ye deck the hall of mirth.
Ye are gathered to grace the ballroom, Ye are borne to the house of prayer, Ye wither upon the snowy shroud, Ye fade in the bride’s jeweled hair.
Bright little day stars Scattered all over the earth, Ye drape the house of mourning And ye deck the hall of mirth.
Ye are gathered to grace the ballroom, Ye are borne to the house of prayer, Ye wither upon the snowy shroud, Ye fade in the bride’s jeweled hair.

(A selection from “To the Flowers” by Martha Lavinia Hoffman)

Flowers are truly part of so many of life’s meaningful moments. Much like food, flowers are often present at the events that bring us together. And also like food, choosing flowers that are grown locally and responsibly is a great way to have a positive impact on your local environment and economy.

Just outside of Metter, is a multi-generational farm where flowers are abundant, roots go deep and family ties are strengthened through shared labor and purpose.

Parents Mike and Rita Williams wanted a practical way to teach their children about the value of work and instill a positive work ethic. They decided that there was no better way to do so than having a farm - and WilMor Farms was born on the land that has been in Rita’s family for generations.

The Williams’ four children are the ninth generation to live on the land which was given to Rita’s ancestor as a land grant from the Queen of England in the 1700s.

“Our acreage here is part of the original 5,000 acres that he got in the land grant. So, it’s pretty cool to have it in the family for so many generations,” Rita explained. “So, we had the farm which we rented out to a conventional farmer at the time. And we thought what better way to get children to work than farming.”

Though they originally planned on growing produce, the couple was impressed by Georgia Organics’ tour of the flower-producing 3 Porch Farm near Athens. After researching the area, they realized that they could fill a niche in the market here in Southeast Georgia.

What started as a hobby and a way to teach their kids about work in 2015, has grown to become a source of income for the family. They plan to continue to expand with the intention that Rita will be able to transition full time to the business of farming.

Daughter Josie has a budding appreciation for the flower business. “I have four children and they are homeschooled,” Rita said. “Josie gets up and gets her school done really early to come out here. This is her love.”

In addition to being a practical teaching tool for their children, the Williams wanted their farm to reflect their values. They chose growing methods that offer a cleaner alternative to the conventional flower industry by using natural and organic means of fertilization, pest, and weed control.

Georgia’s temperate weather allows for a fairly long growing season for summer and spring blooms and the use of high tunnels can extend those seasons. But even so, the flower season must take a rest over the winter months.

Though there are no blooms to harvest, there is still plenty going on at the farm.

Rita Williams and daughter Josie

Winter-hardy annuals will be going into the ground until early December where they will grow slowly above ground while putting down roots over the winter months. Flowers like bachelor buttons and larkspur will patiently wait until warmer weather encourages them to flourish in early spring.

Because sunflowers have become such a signature part of the WilMor bouquets, they too will get an early start to their growing season. New varieties of flowers are always being added to the mix. Rita plans to add in perennials by planting hydrangea and curly willow for added interest to the bouquets. Flower selection shifts through the seasons from early spring varieties to summer’s bounty and fall’s last offerings.

WilMor Farms cut flowers are available seasonally through local retailers including: Whole Foods in Savannah, Canoochee Creek in Metter, Pittmans in Lyons, Food World on Fair Road in Statesboro and through the Statesboro Farmers Market.

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