August 31, 2022

Ranburne family turns dairy farm into plant nursery, café, and community space

4.2 min read

(Barn of Blooms/Contributed)

In east Alabama, just miles from the Georgia border, is the tiny town of Ranburne. The community of fewer than 500 isn’t known by many outside of Cleburne County, but in March of 2020 local couple Taylor and Cole Gibbs gave Alabamians a reason to take notice. They opened the Barn of Blooms. a plant nursery and community gathering space selling everything from seeds to shade trees—all grown by local farmers. 

Though they’ve only been open for just over two years, Taylor says Barn of Blooms has been years in the making—she and her husband just “didn’t see God’s bigger vision for it initially.”

It all started with a dairy farm. In 2011, Taylor and Cole bought a farm with the intention of working as first-generation dairy farmers. There, they worked for the next five years, milking cows at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m., 365 days a year. They built their family home on the farm and raised their two children there. But after years of industry-wide hardship, they were forced to shut down.

The Gibbs Family (Barn of Blooms/Contributed)

“The barn sat and collected dirt, dust, and farm equipment for four years,” Taylor remembers. “We decided to list our farm and home that sat in the central location. When we looked down at the barn, it was the constant reminder of a failed dream. We thought maybe our family just needed a fresh start.”

The Gibbses put the farm on the market and made the decision to start over somewhere new. Then one morning, Taylor had an epiphany. 

“The kids were still asleep, and I went out to my garden,” she recalls. “It was still and so was I. [God] said to me as I looked down at the barn, ‘Bloom. Bloom where you are planted.’ It all hit me like a ton of bricks. Just because it was an old dairy barn didn’t mean that’s what it had to be.”

So, Taylor set to work converting the storage barn into a giant plant nursery where she could sell everything from vegetable seeds and shrubs to fruit trees, flowers, and houseplants. Anything that she couldn’t grow on the farm herself, she sourced from local farmers and growers across the Southeast. “Unlike your box stores, I see, feel, and hand select each plant that comes back to The Barn to make sure that we have the highest quality out there,” she says. 

But Taylor’s passion for plants didn’t materialize out of thin air. It began decades earlier with her grandmother, who happened to work at a wholesale nursery right across from The Barn of Blooms until she was 78 years old. 

(Barn of Blooms/Contributed)

“I would visit her often throughout my childhood, and it was always the coolest to me,” Taylor says. “After she passed away, I spent many hours in her greenhouse and her yard trying to keep up what she left behind. I thought I was helping my grandfather, but I was actually finding myself.”

With Barn of Blooms, plants once again helped Taylor find herself. This time, with a business she’s passionate about and a mission to connect with her community. Barn of Blooms is about much more than just selling plants. The Gibbses have created a space where the community can buy high-quality local plants, but also gather, support one another, and connect. 

Plant sales occur seasonally, but when the weather isn’t ideal for growing, The Barn doesn’t close up shop. Instead, it transforms into much more, hosting year-round events, from outdoor movie screenings to seasonal markets and even special holiday celebrations. The idea for a maker market came to Taylor during the pandemic. “I wanted to try to help out in way I could to fellow small businesses that were hurting,” she says. “So, we started hosting these amazing markets on our farm with over 60 unique and incredible businesses.” 

To encourage people to stop and smell the roses a little more, the family opened a café at The Barn, where visitors can purchase locally made food and drink. “My goal for The Barn of Blooms is to continue to make it feel like the world slows down for a bit while you are on the farm,” Taylor says. “You are able to take in the beauty of the blooms, the noise of the birds chirping, and just the stillness. Life is busy and hectic, but it stops for just a bit while you are here.”

Recently, the Gibbses embarked on a new venture by purchasing The Bell House, a wedding and event venue located just 10 minutes down the road from the Barn of Blooms. There, they hope to further their mission to foster community by hosting weddings, events, photoshoots, and more. “We simply want to create spaces where people want to stay a little longer,” Taylor says.

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