Week 3 // Slow Flowers Challenge
January 25th, 2015
So naturally, I wasn’t able to create my own seasonal and local bouquet!
TIP: From the Flower Farmer
Orchids make great cut flowers!
January 25th, 2015
So naturally, I wasn’t able to create my own seasonal and local bouquet!
Orchids make great cut flowers!
January 20th, 2015
It is my pleasure to introduce you this week to Chet and Kristy Anderson, veteran flower farmers and owners of The Fresh Herb Co., based in Boulder, Colorado.
If you’re a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers or if you’ve read the “Rocky Mountain Flowers” chapter in The 50 Mile Bouquet, you’re already familiar with the Anderson name — and their beautiful flowers.
The Fresh Herb Company is a specialty grower of culinary and ornamental greenhouse crops and fresh field-cut flowers, proudly serving the Rocky Mountain West local market for over 30 years.
Chet and Kristy grow fresh greenhouse and field-cut flowers May through October. They market field fresh bouquets, peonies, phlox, sunflowers, zinnias, delphinium, larkspur, and many more varieties to customers throughout the Rocky Mountain Region — including grocery chains, weddings and special events., as well as at the Boulder County Farmers Market,
Warm, intelligent, creative and engaging, this couple has been so generous over the years in sharing their home and time with me. I visited their farm in May 2011, after being part of a lecture series at the Denver Botanic Garden.
We reconnected in November 2012, when Kristy and Chet came to the ASCFG national conference that was held in Tacoma. And when it turned out that I was going to fly through Denver on my way to a conference for professional speakers this past November, well . . . I basically invited myself to Longmont, about 20 minutes from Boulder, where the Andersons live on the most picturesque flower farm.
Chet emailed me back almost immediately, saying “yes.” Hi Debra…..we would love to see you. Let’s count on seeing you here at the farm at 12:ish. We’ll have a bite here and get you on the road in time to make it to the Springs by 4:00. Sound ok? Thanks, C.
I was eager to see Kristy and Chet and to get an update on how things had progressed in the previous 12 months.
You see, in mid-September of 2013, we got word that an autumn storm in their area caused devastating floods from Lefthand Creek, wiping out a huge portion of The Fresh Herb Co.’s farm. Right after the disaster, Chet wrote this in an email:
” . . . pretty bad here. House is fine; greenhouse is mostly OK. Barn and coolers are still taking on water but are mostly OK. Pump house is gone. The pond is FULLY silted in (very amazing!). All roads to and from our facilities are gone and there is only one way out of here to town. Flower fields very rough….not sure what will survive, though the peonies fared the best (ya gotta love peonies, eh?). Biggest bummer may be that I have 3,000 bunches of sunflowers and nearly 500 beautiful bouquets in the cooler with no place to go! Dang! . . . “
And then he concluded with a few words that tell you volumes about Chet’s rather upbeat outlook on life:
“As we all know, things could always be worse. Very thankful that family and friends, and house are all safe. Now simply the cleanup.”
I always say that American flower farmers are tenacious and resilient. Listen to our conversation as evidence.
After a delightful lunch featuring butternut squash soup (so beautiful that I had to photograph it!), we walked the farm, saw the enlarged and repaired greenhouse, now 17,000 square feet in size, admired all the new peonies and perennials that were in the ground, ready to hunker down through winter in anticipation of spring.
Then Kristy, Chet and I sat outdoors on their stone patio. Yes, it was early November in Colorado, and yes, it snowed just a few days later at the conference where I was, at least, in Colorado Springs. But I felt the sunshine on my shoulders and was truly warmed by our conversation. Thanks for listening in . . .
I’d love you to read the entire story about Chet and Kristy, as included in The 50 Mile Bouquet.
Download the PDF of their chapter here: Rocky_Mountain_Flowers_The_50_Mile_Bouquet
And if you are lucky enough to make it to Boulder, Colorado, make sure to schedule a day at their famous Farmer’s Market and stop by to say hello to these intrepid and passionate folks!
Listeners like you are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before! We have exceeded 30,000 downloads and every time that figure climbs, I’m encouraged that more people are learning about the farmers and florists who are keeping American-grown flowers thriving. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.
January 16th, 2015
For my own arrangement, for Week 2 of 2015, I was inspired by these vivid magenta-purple snowberries,which I saw growing en masse at Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon.
This is the farm portrayed on the cover of The 50 Mile Bouquet, one of the most productive and sustainable small cut flower farms I’ve ever visited.
Owners Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall encouraged me to cut as many of the stems as I wished. It was already dusk and there was something quite wistful about harvesting floral elements in the waning winter light of January 10th.
I was excited to create an arrangement worthy of all that brilliant fuchsia. I filled a glass pitcher with the snowberry stems when I came home, and then . . . of course, GOT TOO BUSY to design.
TIP: American Grown Flowers
January 14th, 2015
Last week’s featured guest was Fran Sorin, gardening and creativity expert, and author of the just-released 10th Anniversary edition of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening.
Fran graciously contributed a copy of her book for me to give away to our listeners. The lucky recipient from our drawing is Wendy Gorton. In her comment on my web site, Wendy shared her earliest memory of flowers or nature – and I know that when Fran hears this, it will bring a huge smile to her face. Wendy wrote:
I’m adopted and lucky enough to have had an adoptive mother who loved working in the garden. She would take me out with her at a very early age, where we would plant vegetables and flowers and make mud puddles. This time with my mother was such a gift and taught me how to reconnect to what is important in life. A beautiful story in relation to this…my mother told me that one time, after one of our sessions in the garden where we both came in just covered in mud, the social worker stopped by, as was the case with adoptions. My mother was mortified and tried to explain why we were covered filthy. The social worker just smiled and said, “no worries; it looks like this little one is having a healthy childhood.”
Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment and I hope you come back to win something in one of our future drawings!
I’m super excited to introduce you to today’s guest, Emily Calhoun. A farmer-florist who owns Floriography, Emily has established her growing fields and design studios in two locations — Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Albuquerque is in the center of the state and Las Cruces is in that little niche near El Paso, Texas where New Mexico, Texas and Mexico come together. We’re talking 235 miles apart!
Floriography blossomed in 2012 when Emily saw the need, even a thirst, for responsibly grown flowers and a fresh, new design aesthetic that was modern, yet steeped in tradition (just like her!).
She proudly produces and utilizes stunning heirloom flower varieties alongside all-time favorites like sunflowers and tulips.
Floriography’s business model is unique in that Emily collaborates with other growers, landscapers, and home owners to harvest many local and native plants, cacti, and foliage, bringing a special touch from New Mexico’s beautiful landscape through her floral designs to table, event, or special occasion.
Sourcing botanicals locally eliminates many of the extra costs associated with the floral industry, thus making it affordable to enjoy the benefits of fresh flowers.
Floriography is the expression of Emily’s pleasure and skill in providing beautiful, unique, natural, and innovative floral design while honoring her agricultural heritage through sustainable best growing practices.
The name Floriography (while it is indeed a mouthful!) reinforces Emily’s belief that flowers carry profound meaning for the thoughtful giver and the lucky recipient.
Floriography, defined as the language and the art of communicating through flowers, gained popularity in the days of Victorian England. This interest in the language of flowers had roots in Ottoman Turkey, when during the first half of the 18th century the court in Constantinople became obsessed with tulips .
Floriography is founded on this powerful and romantic notion that flowers are such wonderful communicators.
“Our mission is to help our clients express their fondest thoughts, hopes, and feelings through our flowers and design,” she says. “I believe in flowers…”
Emily continues, and this is excerpted from the Floriography web site:
“I am constantly in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds us in the Rio Grande valley.
I love walking through the farm land and down the drainage ditches collecting pods, grasses, and other unique vegetation.
After living around the country, working in Latin America and Europe as a travel guide and cook, and traveling through several Asian countries, I always knew I’d return to my agricultural roots in southern New Mexico and West Texas to join my family’s farming business.
“Upon returning to New Mexico after one of my adventures, I threw a big dinner party and was shocked to discover that while we live in a beautiful and productive valley, the closest source for buying “farm fresh” cut flowers was more than 500 miles away.
As an avid dinner party and entertaining enthusiast, I was sad and discouraged that the flowers for my events had to be sourced from such a distance (even South America), and may not have been grown in a way respectful to the environment or the workers.
So, I decided it was time that our beautiful valley should add specialty cut flowers to its agricultural repertoire. Thus began Floriography.”
“We believe in honoring our environment and agricultural heritage in a way that delights the senses.” is one that resonates with me – and I know it will with you.”
I recorded this podcast in mid November when I was able to visit Emily while traveling through Albuquerque for a day. We had a lovely interlude on her homestead that included playing with all sorts of gorgeous ingredients gleaned from the farm in Las Cruces as well as from the growing fields on her land outside Albuquerque. Here are the November bouquets we designed. I think they’re simply sublime:
I want to conclude today’s podcast by sharing the very sad news that the Slow Flowers community lost a lovely and wise flower farmer on December 25th. Peg Moran, owner of Friends in the Country, a flower farm in Pawtucket, Connecticut, was Stonington Farmer’s Market’s flower vendor for 17 years, since the market began in 1997.
Here is what the Stonington Farmer’s Market shared on their Facebook Page:
During the growing season, she supplied the Market with a wide range of flowers, from common favorites to unique wonders that she grew on an acre of land she cultivated in Pawtucket. It was always a banner day at the Market when Peg returned for the season wearing her signature straw hat, the back of her car filled with buckets of beautiful flowers.
Her book, An Acre Plus, An Invitation to a Growing Life, describes her journey to becoming an experienced flower grower and building her business, Friends in the Country. She used sustainable farming techniques to raise cut flowers for weddings, parties and local farmers markets. She brought on teen garden apprentices from Stonington High School to learn agricultural techniques and help in her business. She grew annuals in long raised beds and fifty varieties of perennials in terraced beds that curve around her farmhouse on Mary Hall Road. Recently, responding to growing demand, she modified her business model and began growing bulbs for the holiday and early spring seasons, working with other local growers to extend and broaden her seasonal offerings.
Peg was a fervent entrepreneur, and she shared that passion with others, developing entrepreneurship courses and teaching at the University of California as well as far-flung schools in Estonia and Russia. She developed curriculum and taught peer-based programs for microloan lending agencies in Boston, Massachusetts, Willimantic and New London, Connecticut.
She was devoted to sustainable, local and small-scale agriculture. She spearheaded CLUC*K (Chicken Lovers Urge Change), the organization that promoted back-yard chicken farming and successfully worked to change planning and zoning regulations to permit such farming in Stonington.
Peg—author, entrepreneur, farmer and agricultural advocate—lived a busy, engaged life. She was a mother, grandmother and mentor to many. She worked hard, crusaded for causes in which she believed, and supported herself through her lively intellect and avid interests. She will be remembered as “the flower woman” to her customers and “quite a woman” to her friends.
I only met Peg recently – this past November at a Slow Flowers farmer/florist gathering at Robin Hollow Farm in Rhode Island. It was such a lovely evening and I’m so grateful Peg drove nearly an hour to join us. I came home to Seattle immediately and ordered An Acre Plus, Peg’s memoir that she self-published in 2009.
After reading every word I sent Peg a note only a few weeks ago telling her how much I adored her book. I didn’t hear back from her and she died six days later. But hope she read my note and that it made her smile.
My condolences to Peg’s family and her vibrant farming community. If you want to be moved by her beautiful language and honest insights about making a living as a flower farmer, I urge you to get a copy of An Acre Plus. I had hoped to have Peg on this podcast as a guest in 2015. Now, sadly, you’ll have to listen to her voice through the pages of her book.
Thanks for joining me today. My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. Listeners like you are downloading and listening to the Slow Flowers Podcast more than ever before! We reached 30,000 downloads this week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts.
This podcast is brought to you by Slowflowers.com, the free, nationwide, online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms. It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.
And thanks to our new sponsor, the California Cut Flower Commission, committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers. Learn more at ccfc.org.
January 13th, 2015
**Note: this press release was distributed nationally via PR Newswire today – in anticipation of the news media’s Valentine’s Day reporting
SEATTLE (Jan. 13, 2015) – This Valentine’s Day, Slowflowers.com urges consumers to rethink how they celebrate and woo by supporting local farmers and florists with sustainable, American-grown bouquets.
The flower market is booming! Retail value of U.S. cut flower sales totals $7-8 billion annually, but of the 224 million roses sold in 2012, only two percent were American-grown. Nearly 500 Slowflowers.com florists committed to sourcing U.S. grown flowers have sights set on Valentine’s 2015 to take back business that has for decades belonged to 1-800 tele-florists and the imported flowers they distribute.
The battle begins in Miami where its international airport receives 80,000 – 120,000 boxes of flowers per day during Valentine’s week. Ecuador has the largest share with U.S. growers nabbing only two percent of the market, behind Canada. On the heels of the successful farm-to-table movement, Slowflowers.com is racing to galvanize support for its farm-to-vase crusade. Valentine’s 2015 is positioned as an industry coup, where the country’s most progressive Slowflowers.com florists are turning down 1-800 orders that flood their businesses every February – opting instead to meet demand with artistic pieces using only domestic flowers and foliage.
Debra Prinzing, founder of Slowflowers.com and consumer spokesperson for the Congressional Cut Flower Caucus, says sweethearts will select American-grown if given the option. “Fifty-eight percent of consumers would rather purchase domestic flowers if given the choice. Valentine’s sees millions of roses arrive via Jumbo Jet with a shelf life of just days,” she says. “Even if ‘American-grown’ is not a concern, buying fresher flowers should be.”
Christina Stembel, Slowflowers.com florist and owner of San Francisco’s Farmgirl Flowers, has built her business using only California-grown flowers. “The entire process of ordering from the big guys feels like you just got conned,” says Stembel. “We’re pledging flowers that are fresh, local, beautifully designed, and thoughtfully delivered.”
The Origin Matters push from the California Cut Flower Commission is hoping to change flower-giving this season by placing Valentine’s 2015 into the hands of florists committed to domestic flowers. “We are ready to prove Slowflowers.com bouquets and arrangements are far better than imported alternatives,” says Prinzing. “It’s time to show your love with local flowers.”
Slow Flowers is an online directory to help consumers find florists, event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers committed to using American-grown flowers. More information is at www.slowflowers.com.
PR Contact: Lola Honeybone, 615.818.9897, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 7th, 2015
Before we get started, I want to announce our new Slow Flowers Podcast Sponsor for 2015 – the California Cut Flower Commission.
The Commission is committed to making a difference as an advocate for American Grown Flowers.
I’ll be working closely with CCFC on a number of initiatives to promote domestic flowers in 2015, and I promise to keep you posted as details unfold.
Today on the Slow Flowers Podcast we launch the Slow Flowers Challenge, share all about a new urban flower farm in Pittsburgh, and explore the meaning of flowers on a personal level with author and gardening personality Fran Sorin.
To kick off 2015, I invite you to join in the fun and creativity of the Slow Flowers Challenge. This project was inspired by Katherine Tracy, a talented plantswoman, designer and owner of Avant Gardens Nursery in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Katherine blogged about taking the “Slow Flowers Challenge” after hearing my presentation at Blithewold Mansion and Gardens in Rhode Island this past fall…and she started using the hashtag #slowflowerschallenge, which in turn prompted other people to create seasonal bouquets, photograph them and share their designs on Facebook, Instagram and personal blogs.
Katherine’s artistic arrangements reveal her love of the natural world, the seasons, the plants, the gifts of the garden and wilder places. I’ve so enjoyed seeing these bouquets pop up across the web – thoroughly serendipitous and seasonal – representing pure joy for a moment in time. SO I thought, “why don’t we make the Challenge available to everyone who loves local flowers?”
I encourage you to check out these very simple rules and download a free SlowFlowersResourceGuide2015 here. Sign up to receive weekly design updates and follow a link to the Slow Flowers Pinterest Gallery, where you are welcomed and encouraged to post your seasonal arrangements. Let’s have fun, make beauty, and change the American floral industry with new (and more seasonal) habits.
Briefly, before getting to our main guest, I also invited Jonathan Weber to share what’s going on with greenSinner, a Pittsburgh-based floral design, wedding and event studio and urban micro flower farm that he owns and runs with partner Jimmy Lohr.
Past guests of this podcast, the two have made good on their dream — to buy more land and establish a working flower farm. Jonathan and Jimmy recently purchased 4 acres of long-neglected land inside the Pittsburgh city limits. It’s called Midsummer Hill Farm.
I couldn’t be more excited to see them take this major step, but so much is needed to get seedlings and bulbs into the soil in time for flowers to bloom in 2015. Here’s a recent article featuring greenSinner, Midsummer Hill Farm and Jimmy and Jonathan’s crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo, which runs through January 27th. I encourage you to check it out and perhaps invest in the growth of local flowers in Pittsburgh.
Today’s guest Fran Sorin is an author, gardening and creativity expert, and deep ecologist. Her book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, was groundbreaking when published in 2004. It was the first book to address gardening in the context of creativity, and as a tool for well-being and personal transformation. Here is a link to my blog post about “Digging Deep for Flower Lovers,” sharing favorite excerpts from Fran’s book.
Fran recently released an updated 10th Anniversary Edition of Digging Deep. The book is even more vital today, because our culture has become increasingly obsessed with technology and progressively more “nature deprived.”
From the moment Fran decided she wanted to share her passion for gardening with a large audience and approached the local Fox TV station in Philadelphia about the idea, she became a fixture on the TV circuit. She spent years as a gardening authority on Philadelphia’s Fox and NBC stations; she was the regular gardening contributor on NBC’s Weekend Today Show, and made several appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Lifetime, HGTV, DIY, and the Discovery Channel. She is one of the creators of the popular weekly dose of garden news at Gardening Gone Wild Blog.
Fran is celebrating her tenth year as a CBS Radio News correspondent. Her Digging Deep gardening features are heard several times a week on CBS Radio stations throughout the United States. She has also written dozens of articles about gardening and well-being for USA Weekend Magazine, Radius Magazine, and iVillage.
She has spent more than twenty-five years initiating and working on community projects that have served the diverse community of West Philadelphia, most recently initiating a community garden and learning center on the grounds of a church in an underprivileged neighborhood of West Philadelphia.
Even prior to becoming an ordained interfaith minister, Fran was ministering to folks whether she was taking on the role as a garden designer, a media trainer, a TV personality, or a radio host. Fran’s greatest strengths are in connecting to audiences and individuals and galvanizing them to take action. In these tumultuous and technologically obsessed times, when so many of us feel stuck, scared, and disconnected from ourselves and others, her optimistic, grounded values, and empowering message are needed more than ever.
Here is Fran’s video – she’s a woman on the street, sharing her inspiring “Give a Flower. Get a Smile” project:
Follow Fran here:
Give a Flower Facebook Page
If you want to participate in the drawing for a free copy of Digging Deep, post a comment about your earliest memory of gardening or experiencing nature. Your comment enters you into the drawing, which takes place at midnight Pacific Time, this Saturday, Jan. 10th. We’ll announce the winner next week.
My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast more frequently than ever before. We’re at nearly 30,000 downloads, which will be an exciting milestone to reach in the coming week. So I thank you!!! If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.
© Debra Prinzing, all written and photographic content. Website design/development by Willo Bellwood/Metric Media