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Courtney and Andrew Witt at Blossomberry Nursery in Clarksville, Arkansas Courtney and Andrew Witt at Blossomberry Nursery in Clarksville, Arkansas

Planting Joy at Blossomberry Nursery

The Witt Family's journey to farming and floriculture through the purchase of Blossomberry Nursery in Clarksville, Arkansas.

Lindsey Holtzclaw

Lindsey Holtzclaw

Director of Marketing

“Have you ever considered selling your business?” a hopeful Courtney Witt asked through the phone.

When the voice on the other end of the line said no, Courtney thanked them for their time and quickly hung up, slightly embarrassed for her wishful thinking.

Early on, the Witts dreamed of a rural lifestyle. Courtney and her husband, Andrew, were living in California when they began raising a backyard flock of chickens. The hobby sparked a passion for agriculture in the young couple, and Andrew decided to enroll in a livestock management program at their local community college.

As graduation neared, the couple began discussing moving to Texas when one of Andrew’s professors, an Arkansan himself, promised extra credit if they took an exploratory trip to Arkansas during spring break.

The Witts fell in love with the Arkansas hills and laid-back atmosphere, eventually landing on Johnson County as their new home in 2015.

Fast forward several years – and three babies – later, the Witts were living their dream on a small cattle farm while working two off-farm jobs. While the couple was grateful for how far they had come, they longed for more time together as a family, which led Courtney to dial the number for Blossomberry Nursery in early 2022.

The Witt Family Courtney, Andrew, Oakley, Wyatt, and Wade

She had been driving by the Clarksville nursery and thinking about how much she enjoyed the place, so she followed her gut and called to see if they had any interest in selling.

After a disappointing rejection, two weeks passed before Courtney received an unexpected phone call from the owner of Blossomberry. After their conversation, the owner and her husband had reconsidered and decided to sell their nursery. There was just one problem: Courtney had yet to mention the nursery plan to Andrew.

After many in-depth conversations, the couple decided the timing wasn’t right. Courtney still needed to finish the school year teaching, and Andrew had recently accepted a new job helping manage a cattle ranch. They graciously declined, and Blossomberry’s owners listed the nursery with a realtor.

As the school year finished, Courtney decided to stay home with her children instead of returning to the classroom. Summer went by without a mention of the nursery until one night, Andrew asked, “Do you think we made a mistake?”

Remarkably, Blossomberry Nursery was still on the market months later, and Courtney and Andrew reopened the discussion about the purchase. Something told them now was the right time.

Through a series of fortunate events – the right appraisal price, a cash offer on their original home and farm, and a quick closing with Farm Credit, the Witts found themselves the proud new owners of Blossomberry Nursery in January 2023.

Courtney Witt walks inside one of Blossomberry Nursery's greenhouses with Farm Credit loan officers Anna Lester and Taylor Plugge

In less than a year, the Witts have transformed the nursery by giving the grounds and store a complete makeover and converting the back part of the building into their new home.

Shaping and growing their own business has come with its share of challenges, from learning how to grow plants in greenhouses to discovering how to produce income in all seasons.

“It felt a lot like diving off the deep end of a wave pool with ankle weights on,” Courtney says, laughing when asked how they learned to manage a nursery without a horticulture background. “But we have been so thankful for all the people who have helped us.”

The people of Johnson County and the agriculture community rallied around the Witts as they found their footing as new business owners.

Stan Brown, the nursery’s founder, served as a mentor and inspiration for the couple as they dreamed of the future. Wholesale nurseries, the Fruit Research Station, and their local extension agent, Jesse Taylor, provided a wealth of education for the Witts as they learned more about growing plants.

Another group quick to offer tips and tricks to help them get started were the seasoned customers of Blossomberry Nursery.

“There is no overstepping,” Courtney says. “Whatever you want to share, suggest, or teach, we are all ears.”

While horticulture is at the heart of the nursery, Andrew and Courtney also saw it as a way to share their farm and lives with others. From hosting family gatherings to cooking breakfast for neighbors on Sunday mornings, they love to share their blessings.

Courtney didn't take long to brainstorm ways to invite more people to their new piece of paradise. Soon, Blossomberry Book Club was born.

“I shared it on Facebook and was so nervous thinking that no one would want to join,” Courtney says.

Today, the book club has grown to 80 plant and book lovers. The club meets every two months at Blossomberry Nursery to discuss horticultural-themed books. It has also allowed many friendships to bloom.

The dreaming did not stop there. Realizing they had plenty of parking space, the Witts added a U-cut flower farm as an attraction to Blossomberry Nursery. Today, rows of brightly colored zinnias and vibrant cosmos greet you as you pull down the gravel drive.

In the eight short months since signing the papers to purchase Blossomberry, the Witts have hosted many other events on the farm and in their community, including yoga, library readings, date nights for couples, and even a pop-up visit from a coffee truck.

Looking towards the fall and winter, Blossomberry will feature sunflowers, a pumpkin patch, fall festival activities, and Christmas trees. In the future, the Witts hope to host more events on the farm and are exploring the idea of hosting garden weddings among the towering crape myrtles on the back of the property. They are also creating an educational nonprofit to offer farming, gardening, and homesteading classes.

As the Witts breathe life back into the nursery, the rich 40-year history of Blossomberry is not something they take lightly.

“This place is such a huge piece of Johnson County history. So many people come up to us and say, ‘Some of my best childhood memories were at Blossomberry,’” Courtney says.

Andrew and Courtney recount a recent visit from a man who created many beautifully arranged bouquets. The couple was surprised he didn’t have formal floral experience and instead worked in construction.

As he paid for his flowers, the man told them he grew up coming to Blossomberry with his grandma, who just turned 97. He had created the floral arrangements to surprise her.

“Moments like that make everything worth it,” Courtney says. “To share such a special, magical place with people.”

Blossomberry is also the backdrop for many important memories for the Witt children. They may be young, but each child is discovering what they love most about the nursery.

Oakley, age six, is a professional bouquet maker who loves to help visitors in the flower patches. She’s also a young entrepreneur, frequently presenting ideas like selling her heirloom tomatoes near the register.

While Wyatt, age four, was very passionate about their cattle farm, he is finding new things to appreciate at the nursery, like swimming in the pond or visiting the co-op with Dad.

One-year-old Wade loves to dig in the dirt, smell the flowers, and bring joy to customers with his bright smile. Since he was seven months old, Wade has accompanied his mom in the gardens and greenhouses in a baby carrier strapped to her chest.

From their children to the wide range of visitors they welcome each week, Blossomberry Nursery is a place enjoyed and cherished by all generations.

“We wanted this to be a place where people can come and bring a book and enjoy a picnic with their kids," Andrew says. "Just go out, sit in the fields, and let your kids roam and be kids."

Courtney agrees, saying, "Life can be so busy and hectic. We hope it's a break from all that when they come here."

Whether it’s giving a cutting to a child who arrives with a spark in their eye or listening to stories from a plant veteran who has kept the same houseplant alive for more than 30 years, the Witts are growing joy and a little bit of magic inside the hearts of each visitor at Blossomberry Nursery.

Planting Joy is an excerpt from The Rural Scene Fall 2023 issue. Click here to view the full magazine online. 

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