Story and photography by Meredith Bernard
Dreams are like seeds. Sometimes they start small, but once planted and fed they can grow into something beautiful. When Celia Spillmann visited her first flower farm, a seed was planted for a dream that seemed far out of reach, if not far-fetched, but has become an ever-evolving reality that continues to grow.
Even though Celia didn’t grow up on a farm or even in the country, she did grow up with a love for the outdoors and has been an avid horseback rider her entire life. Her passion to live a life balanced between economic, social and environmental impact led her to pursue a Master’s Degree in Sustainability Studies and inspired the career path she is now following, as well as how she and her husband live their life. While in grad school, she was introduced to flower farming from a fellow classmate who worked on a farm in the mountains of North Carolina. Celia was intrigued with the idea and after she and her husband Matthew, settled in Caswell County with access to land at her parent’s horse farm, the idea of starting her own flower business took root, but not without a sharp learning curve.
Celia says the first year was nowhere near pretty, losing her entire first flower crop. But like any determined entrepreneur, she didn’t give up. It only took one flower to eventually grow to get her hooked and want to continue growing more. With many hours spent researching, doing workshops, visiting other flower farms, getting her hands dirty and back sore from trying new ways of growing, her second crop was much better and now into her third year she’s been able to expand Caswell Flower Company from one small lifeless plot to a large thriving one.
Perhaps even more beautiful than the flowers Celia grows, is what she does with them. In addition to offering them for sale as cut flowers and expanding into an exciting venture of floral design for events and weddings, she started Regenerationery Paper Company and uses her flowers to make a vast assortment of recyclable paper products. Even more awesome is that she uses fiber from her horses manure in the process, but nothing stinks about it. By combining manure with other natural fiber sources like flower petals, wild dog fennel, shredded junk mail, and water, a pulp is made and mixed with North American native, Non-GMO wild flower seeds to create completely biodegradable paper. Not only are the hand-stamped, hand-cut cards beautiful to see, feel and touch, they can be planted and continue being enjoyed long after they are used to send an announcement, invitation, business card or thank you letter. If that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, they also sell confetti that can be planted, made from the paper waste and cuttings, which means no waste at all.
If drive is any indication for success, Celia is in the seat for a long, rewarding journey. In addition to starting her flower farm and paper company, she has been working full-time for Danville Regional Foundation the past two years, continuing to ride and train horses, and working on renovating the old home she and her husband bought in Yanceyville. With her full-time position coming to a close this fall, she is excited to be able to focus more on growing her flower farm and continuing to hone and build her paper business.
Celia is proof that hard work, determination and pursuing what some may consider “crazy dreams” can always be worth the effort, with the reward not only being in the outcome, but the process. She’s grateful for every minute she gets to spend on her family’s farm and proud of the legacy she is building and will leave for future generations. No seed is too small to grow something beyond our wildest dreams.
Follow along with Celia’s latest products and flower ventures online by searching Facebook and Instagram for her company names. Her flower feed will instantly feed your soul.
Meredith Bernard is a farm wife, mom to two, photographer, free-lance writer and regular contributor to this magazine, living and working on a beef cattle farm in Caswell County. She’s a firm believer in the power of life stories, strong coffee and daily grace. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @thisfarmwife and her personal blog at www.ThisFarmWife.com.