Skip to main content
edible storiesLocalVirginia

Cultivating Joy: Spring Creek Blooms

By March 22, 2024No Comments

“Most of us are creatures so comforted by habit, it can take something on the order of religion to invoke new, more conscious behaviors–however glad we may be afterward that we went to the trouble.”—Barbara Kingsolver, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”


It’s the golden hour of Sunday as the heat finally lifts. Bugs are out, but not the biters. There is a hum of life reminiscent of a cellist warming their instrument. I’m standing in a field of flowers, surrounded by activity. Bees are flitting between sunflowers, celosia and lisianthus blossoms. There are uninvited Japanese beetles munching away on tender leaves, and a blue pipevine swallowtail nuzzles the butterfly weed with her proboscis, searching for nectar.

It’s awe-inspiring to learn the half-acre of land I’m standing on grows 140 varieties of flowers, especially as this is the farm’s first season.

For many of us, 2020-2021 was a year of slowing down. Of developing new routines and habits, of not traveling but staying in our communities, perhaps getting to know our neighbors a little better over the picket fence or at the farmers market.  For Susanna Byrd, 2020 was the beginning of a new adventure: starting her own cut flower farm, Spring Creek Blooms.

“I always credit my gateway book, Barbara Kingsolver’s, ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’… I read that the summer before I went to college,” says Byrd. “So as soon as I went to college, I looked for opportunities because that sparked my interest in local food and local food production being an important piece of the puzzle of solving environmental/sustainability issues … I took a sustainable agriculture class in college and worked on a nearby sustainable livestock farm and just loved it, that sparked my interest in that lifestyle and the values of the work.”

Over the next decade, Byrd worked at fourteen different farms across the U.S. and South America — some for a span of just a few weeks; others for a few years. The certainty that she wanted to start her own farm cemented itself in her, and she knew exactly where she would want it to be.

“I grew up around here and I love being close to the Blue Ridge Mountains. My soul is just wrapped up in them somehow,” says Byrd.  As we wind our way through the property, the mountains hugging us in the background, it is easy to see how one could fall in love with this place.

Byrd returned to Virginia and pursued her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Hollins University (full disclosure, this is how we met one another). While working on her master’s, Byrd also worked at Thornfield Farm in Fincastle, VA.

“Feeding vs. Nourishment. That’s a big evolution in my journey as a farmer. I used to be very focused on physical nourishment — healthy eating and how important that is for us — and it is incredibly important, but when I started to be a part of the flowers at Thornfield, I witnessed how much I looked forward to and how much joy I got out of working with cutting/arranging flowers and it just sort of changed. Farming in general can be pretty tough, exhausting work and to have that feeling of joy and uplift from getting to work with the flowers really sent a strong signal to me that this is just as important as physical nourishment, nourishment of the spirit.”

Byrd’s grandparents had purchased land outside of Charlottesville when Byrd was young, and when they died her parents took over the property and Byrd spent the rest of her childhood there: “I definitely have a relationship with this land. It is in the family now — as strange as I feel about land ownership — it does feel like a beautiful thing to invest in. To be here now as still a fairly young person and to invest in it for my future,” says Byrd. She currently farms a small part of the land and she and her parents all live on the property. Her parents have made it their life’s work to steward the land as a wildlife and nature sanctuary, which may seem at odds with allowing their daughter to farm part of the property.

“I’ve had to be very considerate of my parents’ wishes … part of the reason my mom has felt comfortable letting the farm into the land is that I care about sustainable, ecologically-based practices.” Byrd grows the flowers with the expectation that many will not make it into a vase or wedding bouquet. Instead, she grows them for the flora and fauna of the area — the pollinators and birds — and to enrich the life in the soil. “I think seeing my understanding of and respect for these relationships has helped my parents feel good about the work I’m doing in relation to what they care about.”

Byrd broke ground in the fall of 2020, planting bulbs for the spring season and installing caterpillar tunnels (covered row beds). The winter was spent planning and starting seeds, then spring saw the farm come to life, the bud break coinciding with the construction of a flower house, a cold storage and arranging space that Byrd hopes to one day invite the community to for classes and events.

There’s a bravery to Byrd’s work. Cultivating joy is something our fast-paced society often overlooks or ignores altogether. But as I stand in this field, breathing in soft scents and feeling the colors of summer reflect on my face, I feel the importance of Byrd’s farm, re-enforced by the past 15 months. We walk through rows of butterfly weed (a native species and her mother’s favorite) and Byrd looks to each flower as if greeting a long-time friend.

“To trust in my own joy was an important part of deciding to grow flowers. To trust that if my joy is going into the work of producing them, that joy is going to transfer to other people. To me, to my sort of poetic creative self, that feels just as important as the work of growing food. … Flowers are just so great for the spirit and help to tap into our connection with nature and her prophecies and cycles. The ephemerality of life and the beauty of it.”

This article first appeared in our 2021 Summer Issue. To learn more, visit

Leave a Reply