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Farm fresh and fragrant

Jefferson couple turns their love of flowers into a career

POSTED: July 1, 2011 12:30 a.m.
By LeAnne Akin /Times regional staff

Nathan Phillips cuts some sunflowers inside the fenced field at his Rambler Road Inn home where his business, The Yellow Petal, grows the variety of flowers which he and wife, Jennifer, sell at area farmer's markets and by special order

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For Nathan and Jennifer Phillips of Jefferson, life is blooming with activity for their family business, The Yellow Petal.

By bunches or bouquets, The Yellow Petal flowers are not limited by color or type.

While the business primarily grew sunflowers during its first year, zinnias, dahlias, four or five different kinds of celosia, marigolds, dianthus, peonies, rubeckia and even basil can be combined into beautiful displays of Mother Nature's handiwork.

It is connecting with the earth that makes their business a passion for Nathan.

When he wanted to fulfill his desire to grow things, his father suggested that he plant flowers rather than vegetables.

"I love to plant things and he said everyone plants vegetables, so I followed his lead." His father, Ed Phillips, is a landscaper who grows flowers full time near Greenville, S.C.

Nathan, who has a degree in animal science, also works full time as a breeder supervisor for Pilgrim's.
Nathan leaves home early in the morning to visit farms, many of which are in the Jackson County area, and evenings may find him in the field harvesting flowers until dark.

"He loves to grow plants," says wife Jennifer. "Nathan really has a passion for growing things and is a very hard worker."

The Yellow Petal got its start in the field adjoining Jennifer's parent's home where the couple lives with their three daughters, Faith, Cora and Amanda, and yellow lab, Clem.

"We started out small and through trial and error," said Nathan. "We have added every year and have been pleased with the good response."

The 3-year-old enterprise is growing with Nathan removing some trees to make room for the addition of greenhouses. Eventually the pool may be filled with colorful flowers instead of used for recreation.

The Yellow Petal first showcased its floral offerings at the Jefferson Farmer's Market but more recently began vending at the Historic Downtown Gainesville Market On The Square from 2:30-6:30 p.m. every Friday, as well as the Hall County Market from 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Jennifer has also visited the Spout Springs Market a couple of times, but the Thursday afternoon time frame is hard to juggle with three young ones. The girls, who sometimes accompany their parents at the market, will likely develop their own green thumbs.

Faith is already showing her marketing skills as she attracts customers to their booth and gives recommendations on flower combinations.

Jennifer said she hopes their family enterprise will foster a European trend , where flowers are at markets everywhere and everyone buys a bunch of flowers to carry home with their daily food purchases.

"Not many people realize there is a place locally where they can purchase fresh cut flowers direct from the grower," said Jennifer. "We use few pesticides and provide high quality, beautiful flowers at a great price.

When Jennifer had lots of yellow daffodils last spring, she shared them with those at Bentley Assisted Living, whose smiling faces let her know how much joy their flowers can bring. Daffodils and irises are popular spring favorites for The Yellow Petal.

"It is amazing the difference between locally grown, fresh cut flowers and flowers shipped in from outside the United States," said Jennifer.

Food is not the only thing that should be bought locally, flowers should, too," said Jennifer. "We like to say that flowers are food for the soul!"



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