Finding a Full Glass and a Fresh Start

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by Kristina Domitrovich
photos by Lindsay Pace

Around two-and-a-half years ago, Mori Freeze found herself at a crossroads in life.

“I just tried to figure out what I was going to do,” she said. “I needed something life-giving, something to look forward to, and I decided to start a flower farm.”

Her first interaction with the five-acres she’s named Fresh Farm Tupelo, was when her youngest’s high school senior portraits were taken on the property. Freeze approached the owners and asked if they’d be willing to sell. They were. She and her daughter moved into the house in the fall of 2019. At that point, it was too late in the season to plant anything, especially for a novice grower, but she spent the following months dreaming.

“My dream is that this is a place where friends and family and community can gather together and it be a peaceful place,” she said. “That freedom to relax and just enjoy each other, not just a conversation, but then also creativity –– it just opens up a whole different part of a person.”

That first year, she spent much of her time laying groundwork. Originally, her property was surrounded by a chain link fence overgrown with vines. She removed the fence, did a lot of weeding and worked on creating flower beds and raised beds. She planted zinnias, sunflowers, and a few perennials, “so I wouldn’t be replanting as much.” 

The Farm

Though her mother and grandmothers always had flower gardens –– her mom had roses, one of her grandmothers always had lilies “everywhere,” and the other grandmother always had zinnias –– Freeze hadn’t always grown things herself. 

“I learned years ago that it’s just really good therapy for me to dig in the dirt,” she said. “It’s just a good stress reliever, a good mind clearer.”

She said with her new-found passion, there will always be something new to learn. As a pharmacist, she’s accustomed to always having something new to learn. But with pharmacy, she said there’s at least a base-line knowledge on which to add.

“I will always and forever be learning on this subject,” she said. “I am so behind the learning curve, I find myself every day reading just to learn how to start the seed better or what fertilizer to use, because I’m trying not to use any pesticides, herbicides or anything like that. I’m not going to claim organic, but definitely natural.”

Along with flowers, Freeze also threw some herbs into the mix; things like oregano, lavender, rosemary and her personal favorite, basil.

“I love the smell of it,” she said. “I love to cook with it, I love pesto and I love the ease of it.”

She says basil is something anyone can grow. This past summer, she expanded and created a small vegetable garden for her personal use. But she found herself unable to keep up with the vegetable garden and the flowers. This year, she plans on just growing vegetables she knows she’ll enjoy throughout the summer –– things like cucumbers, tomatoes (she loves to make her own salsa) and okra. “Keep it kind of simple,” she said.  

Though she doesn’t plan to personally grow an extensive garden this year, she wants to have some families rent gardening plots.
“Teach their kids that that seed one day,” she says, “will become a squash vine that has some squash on it.” 

She has a lot of plans and projects in the works, actually. She laughs that her oldest always tells her, “‘Mom, everybody needs a good project.’” Well, Freeze has her hands busy with all sorts of projects she has underway: Her property has a working well pump, and she plans on converting it to a table. She just finished digging an irrigation system by hand that will send water to four or eight new raised beds. She wants to add a bathroom to the well house, which is currently where she starts her seedlings. She wants to convert a garage-like building into a “walk-in cooler for the flowers.” In the fall, she’ll offer Friday-night flower arrangement parties, when she’ll encourage the visitors to “bring a picnic or something, just to enjoy the night.” And that’s barely scratching the surface. 

Currently, with all four of her kids in college (the oldest is in his third-year of medical school, her second-oldest is earning her master’s, and the two youngest are sophomores at the University of Mississippi and the University of Arkansas), she has her German Shepherd, Honey, on the farm, along with her “city-rescue cat turned country” Pumpkin who “has this problem: She stays hungry.” 

Next to her flower beds is a boxed hive of bees, though Freeze isn’t a beekeeper herself. She has a friend who agreed to share the honey with her, and tend to the bees on her land. Currently, there’s only one hive; but this year, they plan to extend it to two. With the extra honey, along with her herbs and some flowers, Freeze has partnered with Sera + Soul in Tupelo to be the provider for their “farm to shower” line of products.

Joining the crew of critters are her 12 chickens, which give her so many eggs she either has to sell them, send her sister home with loads of them when she visits or bake them into quiches. 

“Quiche is the way to go,” she said. “You can freeze quiche, (it’s) easy, use your leftovers in it.”

One day, Freeze would love to add “a dairy cow or a Jersey cow,” and maybe even a goat. Part of that is because of how much she’s enjoyed her chickens. 

“I cannot tell you how much satisfaction there is to go out there and my chickens come to me and want me to pet them, and they give me eggs every day,” she said. “I love it, I think it’s fun!” But it’s also because of the way she was raised.

Her father would crop farm, but he also had hogs, cows, horses –– the whole gambit.

“On the weekends, my dad would go out there (to the field), and I would tag along. I was very much a tomboy, wanted to be outside. It got me out of cleaning house on Saturdays,” she laughed. “I just love being outside.”

Glass Dreams

When Freeze first moved out to her property, she spent that winter dreaming. 

“I realized that I kind of lost for a while the ability to dream and do something different,” she said. “The greenhouse is my dream house.”

She started planning her window-walled greenhouse through Pinterest, but had to tweak it a lot. 

“One thing I have learned is that I don’t think big enough,” she said. “I’m trying to learn to think bigger. I mean, (if) you don’t take the risk, you’ll never know where you could be.”

It took her a little over a year to collect all the windows. Her best luck was at antique stores in Tupelo, Facebook Marketplace and visiting her sister in Memphis.

“Anytime I went up there, I’d come back with my car loaded,” she said. “Anything I could carry, I’d bring back.”

Building it wasn’t easy, and actually her contractor fell through. “I mean, I had a bit of a rough experience,” but thanks to her “sweet boyfriend,” her dreams became a reality. With heating and plumbing, the glasshouse can be a space for pretty much anything –– but Freeze has realized she wants to use it for more than just a greenhouse. Mostly, she plans on using it as an event venue –– anything from birthday parties, dinners with friends, bridal showers, Bible studies, bouquet classes, “anything you can think of.” Freeze said she’s open to ideas. 

“I think it’s kind of limitless,” she said. “The thing I’ve enjoyed the most has been just the conversations had around the table, and that people can find a safe place to come and just relax and dream, and use that creative side that a lot of times we kind of push to the side.”

The table, also built by her boyfriend, measures 16-feet long. She wanted it to breathe community, but also allow for versatility. The table is technically two, that way she can move them in and out of the glasshouse as needed, to cater to any event. 

“If I could hear the stories that have been told inside these windows in the homes they came from,” she said grinning, “it would be so neat to hear.”

The glasshouse is Freeze’s favorite part of her farm, and she spends as much time out there as possible. 

“It’s fun at night to light it up. My electric bill was huge in December because I would not turn the lights off, I left them on 24/7,” she laughed. “If I woke up in the middle of the night, I’d just peak out and see it, it’s been so much fun.”

There are a few tweaks she plans on making to the glasshouse, but she said that’s pretty true for the rest of the property, too.

“It’s one of those things, where it’s not exactly finished. I feel like it’s kind of like life,” she said. “If you wait ‘til everything’s perfect, you’re going to miss life. You got to kind of roll with it.”

That’s just one lesson Freeze has taken from her new walk in life; another comes from her new house, which is over 100 years old.

“At 53, I discovered that a clawfoot tub is a must-have in life.”

Tour Mori’s Greenhouse:

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