Sponsor Spotlight - November 2019
- Story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson and La Terre Farms
What do you do with almost 500 acres of never-developed land covered with ancient oaks, magnificent magnolias and dotted with ponds and a creek?
Teri and Bubba Wyly and son Connor brainstormed, looking at opportunities for their Kiln property beyond timber harvesting, which they’ve done for years, and planting Christmas trees as daughter Katie and son-in-law Andrew West have done.
Then a nursery owner looked over the property on Bayou La Terre and suggested they harvest what they had – slash pines, cedar trees, magnolias and holly bushes – to make fresh garlands and wreaths. So Teri and Connor bought a used piece of equipment with a hand crank to wire together branches and leaves. La Terre Farms LLC was born.
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Teri said their greenery is “free-flowing and natural, not a lot of pretense.” Orders can be customized with additions such as eucalyptus or unique flowers. Customers can also send a photo of what they’re looking for, and the Wylys will duplicate it.
“Everything we produce – garland, wreaths or just greenery bundles – will be custom made, again something that makes us a little different,” Connor said.
Since Teri and Connor both have day jobs, they work on the greenery mainly on weekends. Their venture has had a modest start with no social media or advertising yet, but they see potential beyond holiday orders. Products like theirs are in high demand among people who enjoy greenery in their homes and businesses. They’ll test the concept out for a few years to see where it leads.
This new venture comes at a time when Teri, an attorney, is nearing retirement and is looking forward to a second career, “something that’s exciting and that I am passionate about.”
The Wylys bought their first 80 acres in the Kiln 30 years ago from Judge Dan Russell. They were headed from a Biloxi conference back home to New Orleans on a Sunday when the car overheated. They found a realtor’s office open and went in to call for a mechanic.
Bubba asked about land for sale and learned the Russell property had just been put on the market. “We bought it that afternoon,” Teri said. The couple ultimately moved to Bay St. Louis and joined law firms in Gulfport.
The garlands and wreaths may turn out to be the start to expanding use of the farm. Teri said possibilities include you pick ‘em blueberries and sunflowers, harvesting honey from bee hives and eggs from cage-free chickens, and even creating an ecotourism retreat.
Bubba’s family has a farming operation in North Louisiana. Teri says, “Much of the farming advice comes unsolicited from my lawyer husband, but is welcomed nonetheless.” Over the years Bubba has enjoyed his work on the property that Teri jokingly calls the “Bubbarosa.”
Still firmly rooted in Bay St. Louis, the Wylys’ ultimate goal is to spend more time in the country and expand the greenery business to the nearby New Orleans market.
“As we grow into different products like blueberries and flowers, we think our location close to the interstate gives us a solid market with access to the Gulf Coast as well as New Orleans,” said Connor.
“From what we can tell, there aren’t a lot of others providing fresh local greenery in the area. We think we have a chance to offer something unique to the public.”
Said Teri, “We feel confident there is a demand and not just for the holidays. And we’re well placed to do that.”
To inquire about ordering garlands and wreaths, call Teri at 228.369.4438.