Debra Prinzing

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ARE YOU COMING TO THE SUMMIT? It's been called a TED Talk for Flower Lovers!

Please join us at this innovative one-day conference for thinkers and doers in the progressive, sustainable floral community. You'll enjoy great speakers, eco-design, challenging conversations and networking connections to jump-start your branding and personal mission. Plus, we'll feed you and send you home with an awesome flower-lovers' swag bag!

Click here for more details and tickets: $175 (Slow Flowers Members receive a generous discount price of $135)

Episode 298: Slow Flowers Summit Preview #1 — meet James Baggett of BH&G and Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative

May 24th, 2017

The countdown for American Flowers Week and the Slow Flowers Summit has begun — we’re only five weeks away from the June 28th kickoff of American Flowers Week 2017 and just shy of six weeks from the Slow Flowers Summit, which will take place on Sunday, July 2nd in Seattle.

You’re invited to participate in both — and you can find all the details and links here in this post.

I’ll be previewing as many of our Slow Flowers Summit speakers as possible over the coming weeks. First of all, please meet James Baggett, science and horticulture writer, garden editor at Better Homes & Gardens and a true pioneer in garden media.

I captured this photo of James Baggett in his “happy place” — in a garden. It was the White House Kitchen Garden, which made the moment all the more special! Our colleague, photographer Bob Stefko, can be seen working in the background.

On the road with JAB

James Baggett, showing off the many titles he creates with coworker Nick Crow, his art director. It simply mind-boggling to grasp their huge productivity – and it’s an honor to be one of their writer-producers.

I’ve written and produced stories for this incredibly generous and talented man for years and I count him as a friend. In fact, as I mention often, if given a choice, I’d rather be his friend for life than ever write a single story for him in the future.

James is definitely demonstrating his friendship and support for my passion by agreeing to be our master of ceremonies during the Slow Flowers Summit.

He’s flying to Seattle from his home town, Des Moines, Iowa, where BH&G and its parent company Meredith Corp. are based. As luck would have it, my travels took me to Des Moines last month when Meredith sponsored my lecture at the Wonder of Words festival on Earth Day. While there, I grabbed a short interview with James to share with you.

James A. Baggett has been a garden editor and writer for more than 20 years. In addition to his new role as BH&G’s garden editor, he shaped content at Country Gardens® magazine as its editor in chief for nine years after serving previously as editor of PerennialsTM and as the founding editor of Nature’s GardenTM magazines, both Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications.

Early in his writing career, James wrote Martha Stewart’s “Arranging Flowers” book, which was released in 1999.

James also is the former executive editor of Country Living Gardener and Rebecca’s Garden magazines. He is the author of Flower Arranging, a Best of Martha Stewart Living Book (Oxmoor House) and the former garden editor of American Homestyle & Gardening.

James formerly gardened in New York City — where he tended a 10-x-20-foot garden behind an 1850 brownstone — and he now gardens in Des Moines, where all the available land surrounding his Arts & Crafts bungalow has been given over to flowerbeds, specimen trees and shrubs, and containers.

James has a Bachelor of Journalism degree, from the University of Missouri-Columbia’s famed School of Journalism. In 2015, the American Horticultural Society honored James with the B. Y. Morrison Communication Award, which recognizes effective and inspirational communication – through print, radio, television, and/or online media — advancing public interest and participation in horticulture.

“Garden writing is science writing with Jazz Hands” — James Baggett

Click here to download the James Baggett Profile, “Charming, Disarming and Engaging,” written by Maryann Newcomer for to the GWA Association of Garden Communicators newsletter. His curiosity and passion about everything in the natural world comes through in all aspects of his work and his life, and I’m thrilled that he’ll be joining us as the emcee for the Summit.

Emily Ellen Anderson of Seattle’s Lola Creative.

Next up, past guest of this podcast, Emily Ellen Anderson of Seattle-based Lola Creative. If you missed my interview with Emily (episode 168) you’ll want to go back and hear her entire journey of arriving at a floral career drawing from a background in landscape architecture.

It’s inspiring and it’s one of the reasons I asked Emily to speak at the Slow Flowers Summit on the topic of “Reinvention: Professionally, Artistically + Sustainably.” She will share her story and talk about how creatives are morphing with the changing cultural scene, changing aesthetic tastes and changing values.

And a huge bonus of having Emily involved in the Summit will be her “live” demonstration of building a foam-free floral wall.

It was during our recent walk-through of the Surf Incubator Event Space where our Summit will be held, that I recorded our short audio conversation. Our mutual friend Liz Browning of Laughing Girl Flowers was with us and we were all so excited to see the environment that will house the Summit gathering. We also discussed logistics of building a mini version of the massive floral wall that Emily and her team created for the 2016 Seattle Art Fair.

Her business, Lola Creative, is comprised of a team of art-minded, world-wandering, endlessly curious event and visual art professionals and ready to get obsessed with their clients’ projects. They specialize in design and production of bold events with a focus on brand enhancement and generating a meaningful connection between guests and a host organization, styled photoshoots and creative direction for online content and marketing campaigns, exceptional weddings for excellent couples. Lola Creative includes craftspeople, architects, project managers, marketers, writers, painters, organizational master-minds, and bold thinkers. Lola operates out of a light- filled studio in Edmonds, Washington, serving the entire state and Northwest region.

Lola promotes sustainable flower growing, low waste events, and low-impact practices of all kinds, including composting plant waste, reusing materials, and sourcing locally and responsibly. Lola Creative has ceased the use of floral foam for its toxicity and non-biodegradability. A portion of profits benefit scientific research, creatures, and kids’ education in entrepreneurship, art, and technology.

Check out Curious Lola, Emily’s blog where she shares tips, stories and videos about building, running and designing an event design and floral business.

Find/follow Emily at these social places:

Lola Creative on Facebook

Lola Creative on Instagram

Lola Creative on Pinterest

Thanks for joining us today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 191,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

It’s time to sign up for the Summit and you can find the registration link and more details right here.

The information you will gain in a single day at the Summit is an incredible value for just $175 — and members of Slow Flowers receive a great thank-you rate  of $135/ Your registration includes all lectures and coffee/light breakfast, lunch and a cocktail reception with speakers — plus a flower lovers’ swag bag and chance to network with the doers and thinkers in our botanical universe.

I can’t wait for you to join us in Seattle on July 2 in the heart of American Flowers Week!

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
The Zeppelin; Dirtbike Lovers
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 297: The Flower Power Network: Florists Coming Together to Learn and Lend Support

May 17th, 2017

Above, I’m seated on the sofa with fellow Flower Power speaker, Aimee Newlander of the Slow Weddings Network. Flower Power’s members often meet in one another’s homes, gardens and studios. These photos were taken by Sarah Gonia, an Olympia-based photographer (c) Sarah Gonia.

Sarah captured this hellebore (from Maura’s garden) in a centerpiece that welcomed us to Maura’s home. (c) Sarah Gonia

Another lovely moment from Maura’s floral arrangement (c) Sarah Gonia

We’ve been talking about networking, collaboration and community quite a bit lately and this week’s topic continues that thread with Seattle’s Flower Power.

This intentional cohort of floral designers and farmer-florists formed in early 2016 with a core group of new friends, many of whom met while taking a large-scale installation workshop with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box when she came to town.

Flower Powers’ monthly gatherings rotate among different member’s homes or studios and focus on business topics and face-to-face social networking . . . today, only 18 months after forming, the list of Flower Power members has grown organically to more than 35 participants.

Maura Whalen of Seattle’s Casablanca Floral shared this portait from her collection. She’s seen in front of her beautiful design studio.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom, based on Seattle’s Eastside, at work in her home-based design studio (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Many Flower Power members are also involved in Slow Flowers and so somehow I was added to the mailing list . . . every time their monthly meeting notice lands in my in-box, I open it curious to discover the topic and host. I have felt very included but never had a chance to attend until May 1st. Maura Whalen invited me to speak about Slow Flowers when she hosted the group in her beautiful home and garden in Seattle.

Before our evening’s program began, I sat down with Maura and another early Flower Power member Tammy Myers to talk about the reasons why they started the group and how it has served their evolving floral careers.

Maura Whalen of Flower Power

Maura Whalen owns Casablanca Floral and Tammy Myers owns First & Bloom. Let me introduce a little more about them:

Maura’s Casablanca Floral began in 2014 when she hauled a wreath-making machine into her children’s tree fort and filed for a license to pursue her lifelong dream of a floral business.

 In truth, a passion for flowers and the natural world has been with Maura her entire life, beginning with time spent with her Italian grandmother Flora who had a glorious garden in which Maura loved to play.  At home as a child, her mother made her a deal:  if she weeded the garden, she could create an arrangement for the family table.   Later, Maura worked in a floral shop to pay her way through grad school. Casablanca Floral is the culmination of one woman’s lifelong love for expressing creativity through flowers.

The word Casablanca denotes Maura’s favorite flower and her favorite classic film and to her, Casablanca has always signified ultimate elegance.

Casablanca Floral has bloomed into a thriving business serving the Seattle metropolitan area. Operating out of a beautiful backyard studio rather than a storefront allows Maura to keep her work personal, close to home, and close to the heart.  It’s no surprise that being a mother to two fabulous teenagers entwines and overlaps with Maura’s life as a florist.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom

And here’s more about Tammy Myers. She writes this on First & Bloom’s web site:

If you had asked me 10+ years ago about owning a florist business, I might have laughed!  Who knew I would be here today.  Like most young twenty-something’s, I was headed to the big city and wasn’t ever going back to the country!  Growing up in a small town outside the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington, I was drawn to the city like most-  the fast pace, the glitz, the glam, and the opportunity.  And it’s all true.  Those years were fun and still are when I get a chance to sneak away.  But there’s nothing better than the sheer glimmer in my son’s eyes when he discovers something new out in the country.  As parents, we’ve all been there.  We start to live again- better, through our children.  

What I’ve learned over the years is to love what you do.  Surround yourself with passion, integrity, perseverance, and ignore anyone who says otherwise.   

​What I’ve learned in the past couple years is that I’m not really selling flowers.  I’m selling feelings.  The emotion of one person passed to the other as a feeling through the tangible package of flowers.  That’s why it’s so important I get it right.  Getting it right means everything to me and most importantly it means everything to my customers.  It means I played a tiny little part in someone feeling comfort about the life jolting news they received from the doctor or the feeling of celebration for the ass-kicking mountain they conquered called cancer.  It also means I get to see a glimpse into some of the most important days a couple experiences like walking down the aisle or welcoming another amazing person into this world.  And the best part is, someone chose me to help convey those priceless thoughts and feelings.  What a gift that touches me right to the core!

Flower Power member Katie Clary Githens of Clary Sage Studio (c) Sarah Gonia

Guest book (c) Sarah Gonia

Slow honey, shared by some guests (c) Sarah Gonia

Maura Whalen’s “of the moment” bouquet featuring elements clipped from her garden and foraged in her Seattle neighborhood. (c) Sarah Gonia

As we mentioned during the episode, I have two past episodes to share with you that relate to today’s guests:
I hosted Tammy as my guest on Episode 201 as she discussed her all-American/all-local sourcing philosophy; and I featured Tammy, Maura and several other designers who are now involved in Flower Power on Episode 230 during the workshop with Lisa Waud when the seed of an idea seemed to be forming for this group.

Flower Power doesn’t officially have a web site or Facebook group but you can get to know Maura and Tammy at their social places:

Casablanca Floral on Facebook

Casablanca Floral on Instagram

Casablanca Floral on Pinterest

First & Bloom on Facebook

First & Bloom on Instagram

First & Bloom on Pinterest

As special thank you to Sarah Gonia of Olympia-based Sarah Gonia Photography. She attended Flower Power as a guest and generously shared these photos with permission.

Thanks for joining us today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 189,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:

Around Plastic Card Tables
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 296: The Farm-to-Florist Wholesale Story Continues in Montana and North Carolina

May 10th, 2017

Local flowers grown and designed by Kelly Morrison, co-founder of Piedmont Wholesale Flowers. (c) Kissick Weddings

Many of you feel that pull — the desire to come together with like-minded Slow Flowers folks and create community, cooperation — and commerce — around local flowers. It’s a powerful urge, and I’ve been fortunate to observe and come alongside individuals all around N. American who are making something happen as a response to that pull.

Some of the ideas I’ve been tracking in my annual Slow Flowers Floral Insights and Industry Forecasts, since our first report in 2015, embody these themes. I just shared my thoughts about this with a group of Michigan flower farmers who are exploring a new wholesale model, so the timing is ideal given today’s podcast topic.

Fresh, local, and seasonal flowers at Piedmont Wholesale Flowers © Ali Donnelly

If you haven’t noticed, I’m here to tell you: New, Farmer-Driven Wholesale Hubs are meeting the growing demand for local, seasonal and sustainable flowers coast to coast.

On the heels of recent podcast episodes featuring an update about the Sonoma Flower Market’s second year and the new Twin Cities Flower Exchange’s launch (featured in Episode 290) and the episode celebrating the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’s successful 6th Anniversary (featured in Episode 294), today I am delighted to introduce you to two emerging wholesale flower hubs, run by flower farmers and tailored to their floral customers. Both flower farmers are Slow Flowers members and I’m delighted to share their stories with you.

Kelly Morrison, co-founder of Piedmont Wholesale Flowers

First, meet Kelly Morrison of Color Fields Farm and the new Piedmont Wholesale Flower Market, based in Durham, N.C. Our interview is followed by my recent conversation with Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and the Westside Flower Market in Missoula, Montanta.

These conversations really underscore the following themes I’ve been tracking in my annual forecasts:

  1. Cooperation and community – this idea needs no explanation other than to say, when flower farmers and floral designers convene, something explosive takes place – a harmonic convergence of nature and art, creativity and ingenuity. Wholesale hubs for local flowers foster that convergence.
  2. Micro regionalism – across North America, as farmers and florists form unique alliances for commerce, marketing and promotion, the net benefit means more local flowers available to more consumers.
  3. More farms selling direct – Flower farmers are increasingly taking power into their own hands to market their crops rather than abdicate to a wholesaler who may or may not represent their brands as they like.

And if you have any doubt about this cultural shift spreading far and wide, these two women’s stories will give you something exciting to consider, perhaps about your own marketplace.

I met Kelly Morrison in person when I traveled to the Triangle NC area last September as a guest of Jonathan and Megan Leiss of Spring Forth Farm and Maggie Smith of Pine State Flowers, where we held a mini version of the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop and had a blast designing with gorgeous locally-grown flowers.

So it has been wonderful to correspond with Kelly about what’s happened since — and that is the debut of a local wholesale flower cooperative instigated by Kelly and two other flower farmers, Jillian Mickens of Open Door Farm and Katy Thelen of Happy as a Coneflower Farm.

Here is a little more about Kelly: A first generation farmer, Kelly comes from a long line of southern gardeners going back as far as anyone can remember.  Plants and their stories are passed down in her family like heirloom jewelry or antique furniture. They are something to be shared. They have a history and a story to tell. They are intimately tied to their season. This connection to time and place drives Kelly’s work as both a farmer and a designer. Her goal is to bring the story and seasonality of flowers to her clients’ special event and also to their lives.

READ MORE…

Episode 295: Farmer-to-Farmer – ASCFG’s Flower Farmer Mentorship Program

May 3rd, 2017

This week’s guests include, from left: Linda Doan (Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers), Sarah Ervin (Southerly Flower Farm) and Tanis Clifton (Happy Trails Flower Farm)

It’s the first week of May and we have just announced details about the third annual campaign called American Flowers Week.

Set for June 28 through July 4, American Flowers Week started in 2015 as a grass-roots endeavor inviting flower farmers and florists to post images of their red-white-and-blue bouquets on Instagram, Twitter or other social media channels.

In that first year, the campaign stimulated 400,000 social media impressions. Last year, with more time to plan, we added beautiful collateral material, a free USA floral coloring map that participating florists and flower farmers could download and share with customers, and even red-white-and-blue stickers used by florists, flower farmers and retailers to label their AFW bouquets. Impressions on social media hit 1.3 million last year.

For 2017, I’m more ambitious than ever about American Flowers Week — and you’re invited to join in!
We’ve just released the press announcement and the gorgeous campaign graphic (shown above), featuring the most beautiful wearable sunflower gown you’ve ever seen!

These and other images are included in our free collateral material that you can download and use from americanflowersweek.com. At that site, you’ll also find inspiration about what creative activities Slow Flowers members are cooking up to promote local flowers in their communities — all ideas that you can borrow and personalize for your marketplace.

At the heart of American Flowers Week we are staging the first ever Slow Flowers Summit, a one-day forum for thinkers and doers in the progressive, sustainable floral world.

Taking place on July 2nd in Seattle, the Summit will feature pioneering voices and compelling topics to perhaps push you to a new level in your own relationship with American grown flowers.

Tickets are on sale now and you’re invited to join me, along with floral luminaries like Amy Stewart, author of the groundbreaking book Flower Confidential, Teresa Sabankaya of Bonny Doon Garden Co., James Baggett, garden editor for Better Homes & Gardens who is our master of ceremonies for the day, Chantal Aida Gordon from the award-winning blog, The Horticult, who will moderate our diversity panel with florist Nicole Cordier Wahquist of Grace Flowers Hawaii, landscape designer Leslie Bennett of Pine House Edible Gardens, and horticulture-floriculture whiz Riz Reyes; Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative on the foam-free flower wall and professional reinvention, and floral innovator Lisa Waud of pot & box and Flower House Detroit — who will lead a conversation on the creative process.

All this for just $175 with a deep discount offered to Slow Flowers Members. We’ll have swag bags, giveaways and delicious local lunch and cocktail reception with speakers, all with a view of the Seattle waterfront from our venue, Surf Incubator Event Space in downtown Seattle. Please join us!

After the success of its inaugural two-year session, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower GrowersMentor Program is ready for another round of matching new growers with veteran farmers.

The main goals of the program are to help fast-track younger or inexperienced growers through the learning phase of beginning flower farming; build more successful growers and engage older or more experienced growers.

ASCFG has just opened up the application process at its web site for those interested in finding a mentor for the 2018-2019 class, with a May 31st deadline. Click here for the requirements and application details.

To learn more about program, I’m hosting several guests today.

Tanis and Rick Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm

Tanis Clifton of Happy Trails Flower Farm in Dennis, Mississippi. Tanis is the past southeast regional director for ASCFG who worked on the initial development of the organization’s Mentorship program. She provides the “big picture” thinking behind the formation of this farmer-to-farmer program.

Tanis Clifton, Happy Trails Flower Farm

Happy Trails Flower Farm

Follow Tanis/Happy Trails at these social places:

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Facebook

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Instagram

Happy Trails Flower Farm on Twitter

In 2010, Tanis and Rick established  Happy Trails Flower Farm at their homestead in the scenic hill country of Northeast Mississippi.

The couple grows hundreds of different flowers as well as greenery, vines, pods, cotton and other unusual vegetation, which they sell to discriminating florists, event designers, grocery stores, flower lovers and customers at Pepper Place Farmers Market in Birmingham, Alabama.

As Tanis writes on her web site, “Happy Trails Flower Farm is part of a growing movement to provide slow flowers all  over the USA.  We are committed and compassionate about supporting local flower farmers, like ourselves, thereby providing seasonal and local  blooms to designers, florists, grocers and lovers of flowers.”

READ MORE…

Episode 294: A Floral Collective of Greater Good: Celebrating and Selling Local Flowers with the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market’s Sixth Anniversary

April 26th, 2017

Six years ago this week, a band of intrepid Pacific Northwest flower farmers opened the doors at a cold, nearly empty warehouse in Seattle’s Georgetown District, and the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market was launched.

In the opening days of Seattle Wholesale Growers Market things were a little bare. Here is a photo I snapped on April 26, 2011

I have been along for the wild ride of this pioneering Market that has stimulated an entirely new way of connecting locally-grown flowers with buyers who value seasonal and sustainable botanicals grown with care and respect for the land.

“Brimming with Blooms” documents the origins of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Of that beginning, I wrote this in The 50 Mile Bouquet:

A seed germinates when it comes in contact with light, warmth and the nourishment of healthy soil. Similarly, good ideas sprout and take root when they are sown in ideal conditions. That was how the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative came into being – a new farm-to-market enterprise that connects cut flower farmers with florists and their customers.

Illustrated by David Perry’s documentary-style photography, the chapter “Brimming with Blooms” tells the story of the origins of SWGMC in June 2010 and the ideas, people and circumstances that led to its actual debut by April 2011.

Today, the SWGMC is anything but an empty warehouse with just a few twigs and flowering branches.

The Market has come into its own as a vibrant, viable economic engine for sustainable agriculture, for offering high quality local products and excellent customer service to the floral community in the greater Seattle area. Beyond this, the Market has continued to instigate, influence and inspire others who have studied its model, adapting lessons for their own regional hubs for selling flowers.

So in honor of the sixth anniversary of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, I’ve invited two past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast to sit down with me and reflect on all that has transpired and all that the Market still aspires to achieve.

Left: Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall; Right: Vivian Larsen (c) Mary Grace Long Photography

Please welcome Diane Szukovathy, co-owner with her husband Dennis Westphall of Jello Mold Farm, based in Mt. Vernon, WA; and Vivian Larsen of Everyday Flowers in Stanwood, WA. Together they have been part of the core group that founded the SWGMC and they serve as co-chairs of the Market board.

Follow and find Seattle Wholesale Growers Market at these social places:

SWGMC on Facebook

SWGMC on Instagram

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 182,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

And thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

Syndicate Sales is an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that brings the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — and supplies to farms large and small. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Heliotrope; Vittoro
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
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Episode 293: A Walking Tour of Alm Hill Gardens, where my favorite local tulips grow

April 19th, 2017

Happy Spring!

I’m holding my breath, but I am hopeful that spring is truly here, aren’t you?

Before we get started, I want to share some very important news — especially for all the U.S. flower farmers listening. Every five years the USDA – that’s the US Department of Agriculture – conducts a Census, a complete count of farms and ranches, and the people who operate them, all across the country.

This year, 2017, is an Ag Census year. A lot has happened in flower farming since 2012 and I strongly believe that the Census metrics will reveal that.

For instance, we know from the 2007 and 2012 Census reports that U.S. farms representing flowers grew 16% as a crop category. To be specific, that’s a boost from 5,085 farms to 5,903 farms.

I am excited to see what the new 2017 Census reveals, but here’s where you come in. The folks at USDA work very hard to get the Census questionnaire to everyone in farming, but as you know, it’s easy for smaller or super busy farms to fall through the cracks. We cannot afford to have that happen, folks. The data reported will influence policy and funding for U.S. Agriculture and I believe that flower farms need to have a much larger piece of that pie, whether it’s through specialty crop block grants, value added producer grants or other programs that help support our industry.

Producers who are new to farming or who did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 form by visiting www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June. USDA defines a farm as any place from which at least $1,000 of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year — and that means unless you’re a hobby grower like me, you should be counted!

As I mentioned, the sign-up period ends June 30, 2017 — and all you have to do is follow the link and just sign up. By the end of the year, you will receive your questionnaire, which you can leisurely complete in the middle of winter! The new Census will be published in 2019 and of course, I will be here to share the highlights, hopefully with a guest from USDA  to interpret it for us. THANKS so much for checking this out.

Stunning tulips. This variety is called ‘Alladin’, a lily-flowered tulip grown by Alm Hill Gardens in Everson, WA

Crates filled with tulips on bulbs

This week, I’m sharing some audio that I recorded on a visit to Alm Hill Gardens. As I say in the title of this episode, Alm Hill is my favorite source for local tulips. I first met flower farmers Gretchen Hoyt and Ben Craft while working on The 50 Mile Bouquet and there is an interview with Gretchen in that book’s section called “Grower Wisdom,” with photographs by my collaborator David Perry.

If you have bought tulips at Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, it’s probable that you purchased the vibrant, fresh and lovely sustainably-grown tulips from Alm Hill Gardens’ stalls. They are my go-to stop for when I need armloads of tulips for a workshop or demonstration. It just makes me so happy to support a local flower farm that brings its harvest direct to consumers. Established in 1974, Alm Hill Gardens is a small family farm specializing in quality. You can also find their flowers in Seattle at the University District Farmers Market, West Seattle Farmers Market and Ballard Farmers Market — all in Seattle.

‘Temple’, a lovely slender tulip.

Here’s a little of what I wrote in The 50 Mile Bouquet:

If you follow Gretchen Hoyt and her husband Ben Craft around for a season, you’ll gain a profound admiration for how their values, sustainable farming practices and sheer hard work produce something so ephemeral and delicate as a lilac, tulip, lily, anemone or peony.

The couple overcame many obstacles to reach this moment: When they planted their first field of raspberries in rural Everson, Washington, just 2 miles from the Washington-British Columbia border, Gretchen was a single parent of two young children who had escaped from the city. Ben was a veteran of the war in Vietnam who wanted to unplug from society.

“Ben’s parents were dairy farmers. I never grew anything until I was 26 years old,” Gretchen says. “We had Ben’s dad’s tractor, no running water and no power, so we started with very little at the beginning.” Their efforts grew into one of the first year-round, direct-selling farms in Western Washington. Today, the 47-acre property contains six 30-by-100 foot greenhouses, countless high tunnels (hoop houses that can raise temperatures by 10 degrees), and fields of edible crops and, of course, flowers.

Even the spent heads are stunning!

Alm Hill Gardens is known for its luscious cut tulips, which account for 80 percent of their floral production. At Seattle’s Pike Place Market the sign reads: “Alm Hill Gardens: A Small Sustainable Family Farm Since 1974” and the stall overflows with irresistible blooms in a vibrant spectrum of hues to the delight of locals and tourist alike.

The longer-than-usual production season — from mid-Thanksgiving to May — is possible, thanks to many growing techniques perfected by the farm. These include planting already-chilled bulbs so they bloom by Christmas. It means sheltering thousands of hybrid tulips in greenhouses that elevate air and soil temperatures and protect stems from Pacific Northwest rainfall. The volume of flowers required to satisfy a bulb-crazed market is mind-boggling, requiring an intensive planting system. Bulbs are planted in 12-inch-high crates and stacked for weeks like building blocks in a large walk-in cooler before being moved to the greenhouses for early spring harvesting. “We have tulip crates stacked floor to ceiling,” Gretchen laughs.

Alm Hill sends an employee with carloads of tulips to Seattle’s Pike Place Market every week and also sells at several neighborhood farmers’ markets including the Bellingham Saturday market, which is closer to home.  Depending on the season, these brilliant gems on plump green stems can sell from $20 to $30 for a bunch of 30. You can find the classic ovoid-shaped tulip, like the orange-and-purple streaked ‘Princess Irene’, or more unusual varieties, such as the parrot and French tulips.

Gretchen told me: “I knew I wanted to be a farmer when I finally grew a garden,. This is what I was supposed to do.”

Gretchen Hoyt of Alm Hill Gardens (left) a veteran flower farmer. Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture magazine, right.

Joshua Craft led us through the high tunnels.

You will hear several voices on this episode, Gretchen Hoyt, her son-in-law and farming partner Joshua Craft, an experienced vegetable, grain and livestock farmer who is now deeply involved in Alm Hill Gardens, and of course, me. The fourth voice is my dear friend Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor of Pacific Horticulture, a fabulous quarterly journal that covers people and plants on the West Coast. Our day trip to Everson was so special.

Super healthy, fragrant hyacinths grown in crates.

Here’s how to find Alm Hill at their social places:

Follow Alm Hill on Instagram

Find Alm Hill on Facebook

Lorene designed this on the spot to showcase irises, hyacinths and tulips, just-picked from Alm Hill Gardens.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 180,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors!

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2017: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

I’m so excited to announce that Syndicate Sales has returned as a 2017 Slow Flowers sponsor! Syndicate Sales is an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

And drumroll, please, let’s welcome Johnny’s Selected Seeds as our newest sponsor. I can’t tell you how jazzed I am to partner with this employee-owned company that brings the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — and supplies to farms large and small. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:
Bending the Reed; Fudge 
by Gillicuddy
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/gillicuddy/
Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/
Additional music from:

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