How We Started...
Field to Cottage Nursery began in 2016 after I worked at a local garden center and discovered that many customers were asking for native plants the garden center simply could not source. Customers also wanted chemical-free plants that were safe for pollinators, but we sales people had no information regarding what chemicals were used at the nurseries we purchased from, or what their growing practices were.
I left that job determined to fill a niche that seemed to be lacking in Wake County - a native plant nursery focused on growing straight-species plants without using any chemicals. With just a few thousand dollars in savings, I built a simple greenhouse and cleared some space on my property for a nursery. I ordered some basic supplies, some seeds, and gathered ingredients for my custom potting mix, then went to work growing plants in the fall of 2015.
The business has grown slowly but steadily since 2016. It has been challenging, but I’m fortunate in that folks have always stepped in to help out. The Wake County chapter of the Audubon Society has been amazingly supportive from the get-go. And in the fall of 2019, my former garden center co-worker and good friend Cara Emens came onboard as a business partner, taking over production of annuals, herbs, and vegetables. She has dedicated space on her property for a small ‘roadside stand’ which has been a big success.
About "Team Scara"
Sarah Charlesworth: I come from a long line of farmers, and spent many childhood days outdoors at both my paternal grandparents’ dairy farm in upstate SC and my maternal grandparents’ land in the Cumberland Plateau of TN. These were formative experiences and shaped my worldview significantly.
I have worked a plethora of crazy jobs including, but not limited to, being a bicycle courier, cleaning up toxic waste, being a janitor, working at a record store, being a garde manger, working as a grocer at a food co-op, being a horticulturist at a NYC park, running a market garden, and working on a landscaping crew.
I do not have a college degree, but have been gardening for about 20 years, and I ran a small farm operation for 4 years. I believe in learning-by-doing and am always happy to both learn from others and share my own knowledge.
Philosophy: Plant and landscape just enough area for your needs, then devote the rest of your space to wildlife and insects! You will find that both functions are equally rewarding in their different ways.
Cara Emens: Cara grew up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey where her love of nature was nurtured by her parents in the unique coastal habitat. She has worked at several retail garden centers in New Jersey and also locally in North Carolina. She is an avid gardener and loves working with her son to create unique pollinator gardens for butterflies and moths.
She loves creating custom container gardens for clients or providing guidance to create your own containers.
Philosophy: There are no rules with gardening or landscape design. Plant your favorite colors, textures, or flavors. Gardening should be expressive and fun!
Many thanks to the people who made all of this possible:
Andrew BG, who has kindly made sure that I had a roof over my head and food to eat during the first several years of being completely broke while getting this thing off the ground, and who has delivered many a carload of plants for the nursery and sacrificed many a precious weekend day to help me out at the farmers’ market.
Alexia Maneschi, who has devoted countless hours of volunteer time potting up plants at the nursery, spreading the gospel of native plants far and wide, and shamelessly promoting the nursery in whatever ways she can think of.
Cara Emens, who heroically stepped in right when I was feeling overwhelmed, who is much better at customer service and sales than I am, and who has put in countless hours of work, even roping her husband and child into helping out on many occasions.
Gil McNeill, who has been the best tech consultant ever and a willing guinea pig for my crazy landscaping ideas, and whose unfailing optimism and moral support for this project has helped me through many a trying time.
Maura Egan, who came up with the idea to do special plant sales for Audubon members, which helped get the nursery off the ground in its first years, and who provided valuable encouragement in those early days.
Val Engel, fellow native plant enthusiast, who first connected me with Wake Audubon AND with Cary Herbfest, and who encouraged me to start this project.
Midtown Farmers Market, which provided a space for me to sell plants and flowers in those first few years; and especially Boris Popov, "The Pepper King", for being extra awesome to me (and to everyone else at market).
Pat Fish and Cary Herbfest, which also provided a space for me to sell large amounts of plant material during those first years when I had a glut of plants and a dearth of customers.