UNB Alumni
Telling our #ProudlyUNB stories

Business is blooming for Sophie Sharp (BA/BEd'22)

Author: UNB alumni

Posted on Jan 26, 2024

Category: Young Alumni , UNB Saint John , Arts , Education , Inspiring Stories

From Lower Millstream straight to kitchen tables across New Brunswick, life has become a lot more colourful thanks to Sharp Brook Flower Farm. For UNB recent graduate Sophie Sharp (BA/BEd’22), agriculture has always been an important part of her life growing up on a dairy farm. This passion led Sharp and her sister, Ellen Folkins, to open their own space to the community and share their love of locally grown flowers.

Launched in the spring of 2021 and named after the brook that runs through their family farm, Sharp Brook Flower Farm is grown on about an acre of land, alongside two acres of speciality heirloom pumpkins. Located in a beautiful valley in Lower Millstream, New Brunswick, Sharp says they grow over 100 different species of flowers from tulips to dahlias, to a peony field - with over 500 peony plants waiting to bloom.

“The last summer before the end of my university career, my dad hired me on our family dairy farm, and I planted a 10 by 20 garden beside our house,” says Sharp. “I created an Instagram account to keep my friends updated and as a result I wished I had planted a bigger garden. People were really interested in what we were doing, and it just took off from there.”

In their first season of business, the sisters were blown away by the demand for local flowers and the support of the community. Selling their cut-flower bouquets at the end of their driveway in “The Posy Shed,” customers in neighbouring communities and cities across New Brunswick have enjoyed their beautiful arrangements in their homes and at their own events and weddings.

Since launching, Sharp Brook Flower Farm has continued opening its doors to The Posy Shed, but has also introduced weekly u-picks throughout the summer months. Sharp says one summer they saw over 400 people grace the farm to participate in the u-picks, where customers snip their own stems and fill a vase while enjoying the views of the colourful flower beds. Since then, they’ve lost count. During the off-season months, Sharp is busy hosting several hands-on workshops on topics such as seed-starting, growing your own cut-flower garden, and holiday wreath making.

“The most rewarding thing for me is to welcome people to the physical space of the farm. Our family has lived on that farm for 210 years and we’re the seventh generation to farm there. It’s really special for us to be able to share that with the community and to show them that this is the place where your food comes from, where your milk comes from, where your flowers come from. Watching people take pictures, enjoy and decompress in a space that we’ve worked hard to create is really something.”

But at the core of their business values is the importance of sustainability. Sharp says they’re continuing to learn how much excessive waste, cardboard and plastic is used for stores importing flowers. Growing on site at Sharp Brook Flower Farm means their flowers are fresher, live a longer life compared to store-bought flowers, are not sprayed, and are often cut and brought home by customers in the same afternoon. With a degree in plant science, Folkins is a great resource for helping to implement strategies that avoid waste and unnecessary soil emissions.

During her time at UNB Saint John in the concurrent BA/BEd program, Sharp played for the Seawolves women’s basketball team and was recognized for her extra-curricular contributions to campus with a UNB Associated Alumni Graduating Student Leadership Award. She says her experience being part of a team, and balancing her athletics and academics, taught her time management and a lot of transferrable skills that she uses today on the farm.

While Sharp is responsible for social media management, event coordination and website development, she is also busy on the agricultural side assisting her sister with planting, harvesting, clean up and cut down. She is also actively planning for the purchase of a new greenhouse, expanding their pumpkin field and taking on more floral orders for wedding clients in the future.

And she does all this while balancing her other great passion, teaching, as a grade four teacher at Sussex Elementary School for the 2023-2024 academic year.

“Farming has been a really great outlet for me when I’m not teaching. To be outside in the fresh air, to keep moving and to be physically active when I return home from the classroom has been so beneficial for my mental health. I’m really lucky to have the opportunity to get to do the two things I love.”