Debra Prinzing

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Episode 311: The Bloom Project’s Heidi Berkman and the healing influence of flowers

August 23rd, 2017

Through flower donations from farms and wholesalers, and through tens of thousands of volunteer hours, The Bloom Project brings flowers into the lives of people in hospice and end-of-life care.

The phrase “flowers feed the soul” is one you often hear, on greeting cards, on hand-painted signs, in all sorts of sentiments.

And in the opinion of today’s guest, flowers not only feed the soul and spirit, they play an important nurturing role in health care. My guest today, Heidi Berkman, is the founder and president of The Bloom Project. Based in Portland, Oregon, The Bloom Project has been giving the gift of fresh floral bouquets to hospice and palliative care patients since 2007. 

I’m posing with Heidi Berkman (left), who runs The Bloom Project, driven by the mission to harness the healing power of flowers. We gathered earlier this week for a  “Seattle Whirlwind” auction package to which Slow Flowers donated a workshop at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

Heidi reached out to me to introduce herself several years ago, and then, through our mutual friend Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers, I really got to spend time with Heidi, both talking about the floral business, but also doing fun things like when all three of us traveled to Detroit last October at Lisa Waud’s invitation to speak at Detroit Flower Week.

Volunteers make hundreds of bouquets each week for delivery to hospice caregivers. (c) Byron Roe Photography

The first time Heidi and I actually met in person was April of 2016, when I was in Portland to speak at the Portland Garden Club’s annual flower show. Heidi put together a tour and reception for me to learn more about The Bloom Project, and to meet key board members and volunteers, as well as to see the beautiful workshop and studio headquartered at Teufel Holly Farm, just west of Portland. Donated by Larry Teufel, flower farmer and nurseryman, the space is akin to what you’d see at any large production facility, with tall work tables, great light, and plenty of cooler space for the flowers. Pretty impressive to see where The Bloom Project’s volunteers receive and processes donated stems of flowers and foliage, as well as where the gift bouquets are created, packaged and prepared for delivery to the ultimate recipient.

Heidi and I have been talking about when would be an ideal time to feature The Bloom Project on the Slow Flowers Podcast and with our mutual travel schedules, we waited until now. This week, I’ll be hosting a fun event as a Slow Flowers donation to The Bloom Project. At the annual Bouquets of the Heart auction that benefits the organization, I joined Larry Teufel in donating a “Seattle Whirlwind” day-of-flowers package for five guests.

Larry Teufel (left, with me) flew the auction package winners and their guests to Seattle (from Portland), on his beautifully-restored classic aircraft.

This week, Larry, who pilots his own plane, flew the winning bidder and a few of her friends to Seattle . . . I hosted them on a tour of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, which gave me a chance to talk about the mission of Slow Flowers and the importance of supporting local, seasonal and sustainable flowers, and the people who grow and design with them.

Debbi, Susan, Debra (me), Leianne and Susan — showing off our bouquets in Seattle as part of the auction package benefitting The Bloom Project.

We had a short design session and everyone left holding a bouquet with a story. I think that story — the story of showing compassion through flowers — is what The Bloom Project is all about — and Heidi is a powerful communicator for her cause and mission.

Before we get started, let me tell you a little more about The Bloom Project.

The project started in Heidi’s Central Oregon garage, beginning with a few flowers and a few volunteers who wanted to create something special — bringing beauty and joy to those in end-of-life care. Many, including Heidi, had experienced the loss of a loved one in hospice care, and recognized that they could make use of resources (flowers) that would otherwise be tossed out.

Photos (c) Byron Roe Photography

Over the last decade, The Bloom Project has continued to grow and support hospice and palliative care agencies across the state of Oregon, with the Portland Metro area as its base. Volunteer teams have flourished, supporting the organization’s goal of serving additional patients and families.

Donated workspaces, supplies and equipment, provide a wonderful place for volunteers to come together to create hundreds of beautiful bouquets each week. The Bloom Project relies on a committed group of floral and community partners who support its efforts and mission.

Heidi has twenty-five years of meeting and event planning experience with a strong background in retail marketing and extensive nonprofit experience. Her deep appreciation for the work of hospice comes from the personal experience of watching a loved one being cared for.

She has always enjoyed working with flowers and says she is grateful to be able to create bouquets with donated flowers that can provide encouragement to others instead of being discarded. Heidi’s passion for The Bloom Project has motivated her to share the story and spread the word about the power of flowers.

The Bloom Project’s Bouqets of the Heart event takes place on October 27, 2018, in Portland.

Her vision for the organization is to continue to network people and resources in communities where hospice and palliative care organizations are serving patients and their families during end-of-life care. This simple act of kindness can be given by gathering a team of committed volunteers, sourcing flowers and supplies, establishing a workspace and obtaining the support of the surrounding community to provide in-kind products and services along with financial contributions to support the growth and impact of the organization.

Details on The Bloom Project’s Bouquets of the Heart event, October 27th, in Portland. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Thanks again for joining me today. My take-way from this conversation with Heidi is that we shouldn’t ever discount the impact that flowers have in the lives of our community, team members, customers, and clients. These are more than luxury goods, more than perishable indulgences. A flower contains the expression of life and beauty — and can touch the heart and the senses where words may not be adequate.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 225,000 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:

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.

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:

LaBranche
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
 
Wholesome 5
by Dave Depper
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Dave_Depper/
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/
ecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 310: Gill Hodgson and Flowers From the Farm — an update on the British-Grown Floral Community

August 16th, 2017

I’m smiling along with today’s guest, Gill Hodgson (L) of Fieldhouse Flowers and Flowers from the Farm, a UK-based association of flower farmers and florists who promote British-grown botanicals.

Flowers from the Farm, the UK’s nationwide network of cut flower growers

In 2014, when this podcast was in its first year of existence, I met Gillian Hodgson “virtually,” as is the case for so many of us who value the positive attributes of social media.

On February 18, 2014, appearing on what was only the 30th episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast, I introduced you to Gillian and called her the Mother of the British Flowers movement.

A Yorkshore-based flower farmer and owner of  Fieldhouse Flowers, Gill founded Flowers from the Farm in in 2011.

The not-for-profit network run and administered solely by volunteers has grown to more than 500 members.

Most members are sole traders running small or micro businesses: farmers, smallholders and gardeners, who are using their knowledge of horticulture and floristry to grow and present a different range of flowers from those available in the supermarkets and the wholesale markets.

From Cornwall up to Scotland, and every region in between, these artisan flower farmers are growing old favourites: Sweet Peas, Bells of Ireland, Dahlias and Aquilegia, as well as trying out lots of new varieties.

Flowers from The Farm’s members grow for wholesale, sell to retail and event florists, as well as to the public at farmers’ markets and craft fairs. Some have farm gate sales or have teamed up with local shops to sell their bunches and bouquets.  There are also have online retail florists, and utterly brilliant wedding and event florists among the membership. Sound familiar? It’s a lot like Slowflowers.com, of course.

Love the beautiful new website for Flowers from the Farm (and PS, this image shown was one that Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement and several other Yorkshire members created for the 2015 British Flowers Week campaign)

Flowers from the Farm’s map of flower farmers and florists in the UK!

On the beautiful, new, 2.0 version of Flowers From the Farm’s website, relaunched recently, we learn this: Although the majority of British flowers are sold during the summer months, flowers can be grown in Britain all year round.  Scented Narcissi start to come out of Cornwall and the Scillies in October; tulips from Lincolnshire are in the shops for Christmas. Many members are skilled at forming gorgeous winter foliage, scented shrubs and the winter flowers into amazing displays during the shortest days.

Flowers from the Farm brings together all these growers and florists and provides local meetings and events, encouraging members to come together to build displays at all the big flower shows, holding workshops to improve members’ skills and – equally importantly – provide the place where you’ll make friends with like-minded people who will become your new work colleagues. Again, sounds a lot like our Slow Flowers community, right?

It was lovely to meet Gill Hodgson face-to-face after our long-distance friendship! She is as committed to putting British flowers on the map as I am about doing the same with American grown flowers.

Just over a year after Gill and I recorded our long-distance Podcast interview via Skype, I met her in person! Along with many other Flowers from the Farm colleagues, farmers and florists in the Yorkshire region, we gathered at a very special high tea hedl at RHS Harlow Carr, a beautiful botanical garden.

On that same trip, I met and interviewed Helen Evans of London’s New Covent Garden Flower Market who encouraged me to emulate British Flowers Week and launch American Flowers Week. I also met Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement, who hosted me in Hebden Bridge, a village in Yorkshire, and showed me (and my mother, Anita) the most magnificent, unforgettable time.

Here are links to those conversations, captured for past episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast:

Learn About British Flowers Week with Helen Evans of London’s New Covent Garden Flower Market (Episode 197)

A Perfect Recipe: Floral Design Workshops and Delicious Local Food, with Sarah Statham of UK’s Simply by Arrangement (Episode 198)

Why am I going on and on about these wonderful British friends and their homegrown flowers?

Well, today, I have a lovely update for you — a new conversation with Gill Hodgson. To my complete surprise, and delight, I reunited with Gill in person last week at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ regional meeting in Ontario, Canada.

I attended the fabulous and well-attended 2-day conference, hosted by many ASCFG Canadian members, after spending a few days at the Garden Writers Association symposium in Buffalo, NY. Once I realized that I could add a few days to my travels and spend time with ASCFG members, many of whom are involved in the Slow Flowers Community, I jumped at the chance.

And there, walking alongside me during a tour at Green Park Nurseries was my friend, Gill! On a whim, she decided to fly over to Canada to attend the conference and have a fun vacation with her husband.

Of course, with my digital recorder in my backpack, Gill had little choice but to sit down with me for a 30-minute interview. I asked her to update the Slow Flowers Community on news about the British-grown flower community and you’ll love hearing about what’s happening in a very dynamic hub for local, British-grown flowers ~seasonal, local and sustainable, much like the Slow Flowers narrative.

Here’s how you can follow Flowers from the Farm:

Flowers from the Farm on Facebook

Flowers from the Farm on Instagram

Flowers from the Farm on Twitter

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 222,000 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

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.
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.

Our music today:

Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine
by Shake That Little Foot
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Shake_That_Little_Foot/Shake_That_Little_Foot/
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 309: Meet Michelle LaFriniere of Chilly Root Peonies of Homer, Alaska

August 9th, 2017

Chilly Root Peonies in Homer, Alaska

There are hundreds of small farms growing hundreds of thousands of stems of beautiful, romantic peonies across the state of Alaska and I suspect that each farmer is as unique and passionate as the next. As you may remember from last week’s episode featuring Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore, I spent last weekend in Homer, Alaska, one of three major hubs for peonies in the state.

While there, I was delighted to reunite with today’s guest, Michelle LaFriniere of Chilly Root Peony Farm. She and her husband Michael Poole are early adopters who have been growing peonies as cut flowers since planting their first roots in 2009. Their focus wildly beautiful blooms are produced naturally and sustainably, with no chemicals.

Michelle LaFriniere and Michael Poole recently hosted peony fans on the Alaska Peony Marketing Group’s farm tour.

I met Michelle and Michael on my first trip to Alaska in 2012. Then, I was lured to the 49th state because of its emerging peony agriculture and I had to see what was happening with my own eyes.

At the time, just five years ago, people didn’t really use the words Peonies and Alaska in the same sentence, but I think that’s changing, if the floral industry has anything to say about it.

There are acres and acres of peony fields, flourishing in June and July as far north as Fairbanks (Latitude 64). Further south, peonies bloom in Homer until August and even early September. The cool thing about this chilly state is that an intrepid group of farmers has made a cut flower industry possible. With an entrepreneurial spirit, access to land and a serious can-do approach to farming in Alaska, they seized the opportunity and created a market for their lovely crops at the exact same time when a huge percentage of weddings takes place in the Lower 48.

It’s a sweet spot flower farmers dream of finding. After learning about Alaska’s emerging peony scene in 2011, I set my sights on a first-person trip. In late July 2012, I spent one week there, logging more than 1,500 miles on Alaska’s highways and byways (and a few dirt roads to nowhere!), visiting 15 peony farms and meeting with dozens of wonderful people behind the blooms. I came home totally enthralled with the hardworking character of flower farmers everywhere, especially in Alaska where no one expects you to grow anything except those oversize cabbages that win blue ribbons at the state fair.

Michelle and I enjoyed time together in late July when I attended the Field to Vase Dinner as a guest of Scenic Place Peonies, where this photograph was taken.

Here’s why it’s so exciting:

Peonies are one of the top bridal flowers in the country, according to many industry sources. Yet in the lower 48 states peonies peak in late May and early June. If you are a bride yearning to hold a bodacious bouquet of peonies on your special day in July, August or September. . . you are simply out of luck. The next chance for peonies comes in the fall, around October, when they bloom on Australia and New Zealand flower farms – and those have to be shipped to you at outrageous expense and a serious carbon foot print.

Luscious peonies from Chilly Root Peony Farm

So, when the folks in Alaska, inspired by the research of professor Pat Holloway, now retired from the department of high altitude agriculture at U of A/Fairbanks and the Georgeson Botanic Garden, discovered they how easy it was to grow peonies and harvest them in July and August, well, a brand-new seasonal flower crop emerged on the scene. The marketplace has responded with a voracious appetite for the pale pink, coral, cream, wine and hot pink blooms. Brides and their floral designers are jumping for joy – and Alaska has its first agricultural export crop. Not fish. Not oil. But PEONIES!

This micro-flower story has taken place in less than a decade, gradually at first, as a few folks planted a few hundred peonies on an acre or two. Then, armed with Pat’s research and information gleaned from her workshops on growing and harvesting, more joined the peony revolution. Like many perennials, peonies take at least three years to become productive, so it has only been in the last five years that significant quantities of blooms have been cut and shipped out of state.

If you are wondering “what’s so special?” about these flowers, I can only tell you that there’s some kind of magical fairy dust in the soil, air, sunlight and altitude of Alaska that adds up to fields of robust, healthy and vivid flowers. Some have stems like you’ve never seen before – 30-inches and longer. The foliage is healthy and true green; the petal colors are intense and vivid when you want them to be and subtly quiet when that’s preferred (in other words, better than the catalog photos!). These plants are extraordinarily responsive to the 20-plus-hours-of-sunshine in the land of the midnight sun – and the sunlight seems to be that secret ingredient for the flowers’ success.

Michelle and Michael are two of the state’s veteran growers. Their farm, Chilly Root, is a family-owned enterprise located on the Kenai Peninsula overlooking stunning Kachemak Bay. Established in 2009 on their rural home site, Chilly Root is a compliment to the couple’s 30-plus-year ongoing commercial fishing business.

The farm is among the latest to produce peony blooms in the state – and that’s a good thing. Chilly Root’s flowers thrive at an elevation of 1,495 feet, which delays their harvest date and extends the peony shipping season for florists and their clients wanting the flowers for late summer or early fall weddings.

Michelle and Michael grow more than 30 different varieties of herbaceous peonies. As they say on their web site: “From root to bouquet, we tend our flowers with pure passion. We bring organic, sustainable and natural beauty to the market and hope to leave the Earth better than we found it.”

A dreamy sea of peonies at Chilly Root Peony Farm

You can follow Chilly Root Peony Farm at all these social media places:

Chilly Root Peonies on Facebook

Chilly Root Peonies on Instagram

Chilly Root Peonies on Pinterest

Thanks again for joining me today and getting in on the peony craze!

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 219,000 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

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.

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:
 

Episode 308: Kelly Shore’s Unforgettable Year and what happens when one floral designer embraces a local, American-grown sourcing philosophy

August 2nd, 2017

Kelly Shore, framed by Alaska peonies grown by Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska

Fun times in the 49th State and the Land of Peonies, with my Slow Flowers sister, Kelly Shore

Earlier this week, I returned home from five glorious days spent in Homer, Alaska, which has become one of my favorite places in the world. It was my fourth trip to Alaska in five years and my third to Homer, where peony farmers and Slow Flowers members Beth Van Sandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies offered me the most generous hospitality and friendship.

Alaskan Grown, our hosts: Beth Van Sandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies.

If you haven’t met this flower farm, here are two podcast episodes from our archives worth listening to:
Episode 282: News from the Alaska Peony Growers Association, including a conversation with Beth Van Sandt
Episode 154: Debra and Christina’s Alaska Peony Adventure, including Christina Stembel and Beth Van Sandt

Peonies and Glaciers = Homer, Alaska Beauty that inspires today’s guest, Kelly Shore

I was surrounded by flowers — not just peonies, which of course, steal the show, but all sorts of naturally and cultivated beauty in their high tunnels and the gardens around their home, as well as along the fields’ edges.

That beauty also lured today’s guest to Scenic Place Peonies and I couldn’t pass up a chance to record this interview with Kelly Shore, owner of Petals by the Shore, based in Olney, Maryland.

A sneak peek at the setting where last weekend’s peony-filled F2V dinner took place

The abundant fields at Scenic Place Peonies

As the featured floral designer for last weekend’s Field to Vase Dinner, produced by the Certified American Grown program, to which Scenic Place Peonies belongs, Kelly Shore brought passion, sensitivity, respect and love to everything she touched. The tablescapes incorporated both peonies and other foraged and cultivated botanicals — all from Scenic Place Peonies. And beyond that, Kelly shared Beth’s vision that the table designs reflect a sense of place, of Homer itself, of the fishing culture there, and of the rugged beauty of the state of Alaska.

Kelly Shore, on site in Washington, D.C., this past May, as part of the lead team of designers who created the First Lady’s Luncheon florals.

Here’s a little more about Kelly. Much of this introduction is excerpted from the January 2017 article I wrote for Florists’ Review magazine, which accompanied an extensive gallery of photography, called “Four Seasons of Floral Design.”

Kelly Shore began shopping at the local farmers’ market in her community several years ago. She was enchanted by the unique, fresh, just-picked flowers on offer and struck up friendships with the vendors, becoming a regular customer at the Olney Farmers & Artists Market, located in Olney, Maryland.

Having begun her career at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus flower shop in 2000, Kelly later worked in retail and freelanced as a wedding and event floral designer, while her boyfriend (now husband, Joe Shore) was deployed in Iraq.

Kelly and Joe moved to the Washington, DC area in 2010, where she expected to put her Education M.A. to work as a teacher. But classroom positions were hard to find, so she returned to floristry, not realizing it would become her lifelong profession.

Through friendships with other florists, she networked, studied and expanded her wedding and event floral design business, Petals by the Shore.

Petals by the Shore serves wedding clients in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania, a densely-populated area where, Kelly says, “everybody seems to come back to when they get married.”

Kelly and I met briefly in 2014 when I spoke at the Chapel Designers’ New York Conference, but our friendship and mutual admiration has been cemented in 2017, thanks to the many ways our work has overlapped.

Kelly, Christy and Margaret formed the lead design team for the 2017 First Lady’s Luncheon. (c) Susie and Becky Photography

Some of the First Lady’s Luncheon florals created by Kelly and the team.

A few months after we collaborated on the Florists’ Review article, I was asked to recommend a floral designer to take the lead on the First Lady’s Luncheon, a time-honored, nonpartisan event that is presented by the Congressional Club. 2017 was to be the second time that Certified American Grown flowers were donated and designed for this luncheon and I immediately thought of Kelly as a candidate for the role. She joined the project and collaborated with Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals, and Christy Hulsey of Colonial House of Flowers, two other Slow Flowers members who’ve designed for past Certified American Grown events.

This is one of my fav pics of Kelly, snapped while she wasn’t looking — and while she was Instagramming a peony that caught her fancy at neighboring peony farm, Chilly Root

I have to say, I think Kelly felt like it couldn’t get any better than being part of the featured design team at the First Lady’s Luncheon . . . and then she was invited to take on the peony-themed decor for the Field to Vase Dinner in Homer last weekend.

What a year she’s had and I think you’ll be inspired by her story, her commitment to working with flower farmers whenever she can, and her vision for changing how wedding and event flowers are sourced and used.

Thanks again for joining me today and sharing in Kelly’s enthusiasm about American grown flowers — from Maryland to Alaska and everywhere between.

Here’s how to find and connect with Kelly Shore:

Petals by the Shore on Facebook

Petals by the Shore on Instagram

Petals by the Shore on Twitter

Petals by the Shore on Pinterest

Here’s how to find and connect with Scenic Place Peonies

Scenic Place on Facebook

Scenic Place on Instagram

I invite you to share your story, too — I’d love to hear it! You can find more stories about floral designers and farmer-florists in the inaugural issue of the Slow Flowers Journal — print edition — out now in the August issue of Florists’ Review.

Look for the August issue at Floral Supply Syndicate and your local wholesale florist, or take advantage of the special subscription offer that Florists’ Review has shared — 12 issues for $21 (which is 62% off the cover price) and I promise you that you’ll find inside each Slow Flowers Journal, our mini-magazine, the stories, news and resources important to you.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 217,000 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 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.

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.

Slow Flowers Summit Recap and Review

August 1st, 2017

It’s hard to believe that one month ago, nearly 100 of us gathered together in Seattle for the first Slow Flowers Summit. Before too much time passes, I want to personally thank you everyone who attended and invested their time and presence in sharing this incredible experience with me and others in the Slow Flowers Movement!

Here are a few of the Raves we’ve received to date:

The Slow Flowers Summit was a great platform for discussing important issues, the most important for me being diversity and inclusivity in the business. . . a fantastic event with something for everyone that didn’t shrink from the more challenging issues facing us.

The Slow Flowers Summit was hugely inspiring to me as a grower and an entrepreneur. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other like-minded people who are successfully uniting their passion for flowers with a vision for a better world.

The Summit offered a day of inspiration and conversations. Being in the presence of other men and women who are passionate about their craft and the world behind the flowers was inspiring and uplifting. The value of the people that I met, the conversations that we united around, and the ideas that I left with made the day invaluable. I hope to be back year after year.

My participation in the Summit has sparked new ideas regarding how I grow my business. I’m inspired to think bigger and connect with a larger audience of like-minded flower people.

Thank you to our presenters for their intelligence, ideas and wisdom:

Above, from left: James Baggett, Riz Reyes, Nicole Cordier Wahlquist, Chantal Aida Gordon, Emily Ellen Anderson, Teresa Sabankaya, Amy Stewart, Debra Prinzing, Lisa Waud and Leslie Bennett

Who attended? Here’s a breakdown of how attendees identified themselves* in our post-Summit survey:
Florist/Floral Designer: 50 percent
Flower Farmer/Farmer-Florist: 27 percent
Educator: 14 percent
Media: 10 percent
Flower Gardener/Floral Enthusiast: 10 percent
Other categories: Wholesale floral managers, horticulturists, online floral retailer
*respondents were allowed to choose more than one category

We asked: “Was the Summit content relevant to you and your business?” Attendees ranked this answer 4.22 out of 5.0 
We asked: “What elements of the Summit were valuable to you? Attendees ranked these choices as follows:
1. Connecting with other Attendees
2. Connecting with Speakers
3. Learning about new Resources & Skills
4. Playing with Flowers (Flower Wall and Flowers on Your Head)

Panelists, from left: Chantal Aida Gordon of thehorticult.com blog; Leslie Bennett of Pine House Edible Gardens; Riz Reyes of RHR Horticulture; and Nicole Cordier Wahlquist of Grace Flowers Hawaii

Our Master of Ceremonies, James Baggett of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative

Keynote speaker Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential and many other bestselling titles.

Lisa Waud of pot & box, Flower House Detroit and Detroit Flower Week

Enjoy our PICTURES!! Summit photos are here for your enjoyment and use. Follow this link to see/download.
Please credit (c) Hannah Brenlan and Luke Holtgeerts and use these hashtags: #slowflowersummit #americanflowersweek when you use any of these images. Thank you!

READ THIS. #SlowFlowerSummit 2017 is a HIT!
I loved reading one attendee’s thoughtful response with her takeaways from the Summit. Kit Wertz of Los Angeles-based Flower Duet wrote an extensive review in her July newsletter. You’ll want to subscribe to her newsletter! Thanks, Kit!

I can’t close without thanking all of our Sponsors and Volunteers.

I especially want to thank Stephanie Downes of Vanita Floral, @vanitafloral, our Event Manager Extraordinaire, and Niesha Blancas @nieshamonay, our Social Media Maven, from Poppy Social Media.

Seriously. Could. Not. Have. Done. The. Summit. Without. Them. xoxo

Our Audio/Visual Team was the best! Thank you to Hannah and Andrew Brenlan and the Brothers Holtgeerts (Henry and Luke).

A few of the many flowered and beautiful heads, thanks to Mud Baron for Flowers on Your Head

Thanks to Mud Baron of Muir Ranch for adding a festive, Instagram-worthy “flowers on your head” element to the day!

I’ve received personal notes from so many of you — and I promise to write back as time allows. I hope to announce a save-the-date for our 2018 Summit — on the East Coast — very soon.

Until then, continue to Inquire, Inform, Include, Instigate and Inspire!

Episode 307: Slow Flowers Podcast Celebrates our 4th Anniversary with Travis Rigby of Florists’ Review

July 26th, 2017

I’m celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Slow Flowers Podcast with a special guest and big announcement!

On July 23, 2014, I said this at the top of the Slow Flowers Podcast:

During the past year, I produced and hosted weekly episodes of this podcast — with news and insights of the American Grown flower movement.

The people who have been guests on this series have generously and passionately  shared their time and knowledge.

Our inspiring and straight-forward dialogue has prompted thousands of listeners to return, week after week, downloading the audio files to their various devices, to listen in the design studio, in the flower fields and wherever else they spend their days.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is now a must-hear medium connecting  listeners across our country with creative and influential voices and exciting points of view.

Thank you for joining me and please get ready for the next 52 weeks of great conversations.

We’re in full bloom, so to speak, and there’s an abundance of great information I’m eager to bring you!

That’s how I pronounced the news of this Podcast’s one-year anniversary, with 15,000 downloads and, as I said, 52 episodes to show for it.

Here we are, today, celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Slow Flowers Podcast, and by numbers alone, we’ve made some amazing strides. We have enjoyed 215,000 listener downloads, and have produced 208 episodes.

Behind the numbers are authentic relationships that have been formed, a community of like-minded kindred spirits who are truly trying to improve our floral landscape.

We are making empowered decisions about how flowers are grown, brought to market and incorporated into our designs, decisions that affect our branding and businesses in a positive way.

Your participation in and support of all Slow Flowers projects is at an all-time high. With more than 715 members of Slowflowers.com, with ever-increasing support and collaboration with many of our sponsors, with the explosion of involvement in American Flowers Week — at more than 5 million impressions on social media during this year’s campaign, with the media attention not just about our program but about flower farmers across the country creating wholesale supply hubs and elevating the discussion about local flowers, and with this year’s amazing Slow Flowers Summit just occurring . . . well, we have so much to celebrate.

Let’s pop the cork and congratulate one another. Like a true community, your success equals my success; when the light is shined on one member, it benefits all members; when together we value interdependence over competition . . . that’s what inspires me and I hope it inspires you.

Four years ago, I started this tiny podcast wondering how I would ever “fill” the lineup with enough guests and stories to tell, imagining that eventually, I would be scrambling to find people to interview week after week. Well, that has proven NOT to be the case and it is pretty beautiful to acknowledge this accomplishment. My instinct for news tells me that the pool of voices to bring to you — as we inquire, inform, include, inspire and instigate new thinking — will not disappear. That’s a promise.

Travis Rigby, president and publisher of Florists’ Review

There’s one more big accomplishment to share and it is happening thanks to today’s special guest.

Please meet Travis Rigby, president and publisher of Wildflower Media, the parent company of Florists’ Review, Super Floral and an extensive bookstore and publishing operation.

Travis also is president of two companies both based in Portland — PosterGarden.com, a portable display company founded in 1995, and FlowerBox (formerly Blumebox), an innovative flower vase company specializing in recyclable vases.

Travis purchased Florists’ Review Enterprises and its suite of businesses in early 2016, with the sale closing on April 1 last year, so he has less than 18 months as a magazine publisher under his belt.

He acquired the Topeka, Kansas-based business from Frances Dudley, the previous owner of 29 years, but I was amazed to learn that Florists’ Review is a venerable, 120-year-old trade magazine.

Florists’ Review has been serving the floral industry for nearly 120 years. Established by Gilbert Leonard Grant in 1897 as The Weekly Florists’ Review, it was the first floral magazine to use photography rather than sketches, giving florists a true picture of what was happening in their industry.

Even during his short period of ownership, Travis has made some exciting changes, including redesigning Florists’ Review, with a larger-size format, higher quality paper and fresh graphics. With David Coake as editor and Kathleen Dillinger as new art director, together the cover and inside content of Florists’ Review are catching people’s attention.

“Four Seasons of Floral Design” featured designs from Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore in Olney, Maryland, and flowers from Plant Masters flower farm.

I began contributing articles to the magazine this past January, auspicious timing for me because it coincided with the magazine’s beautiful new format. As you’ll hear in our conversation, Travis and I met through a mutual friend, the uber networker Heidi Berkman of The Bloom Project in Portland (who incidentally you’ll hear on this podcast in the not-so-distant future).

Being the magazine junkie that I am, I was immediately fascinated to meet Travis and talk about the future of print media. The magazine world has undergone a huge shakeup in the past decade, as has all print, especially newspapers, but Travis and I found ourselves agreeing that there is a sweet spot for micro-niche publications that really drill down on a focused topic or serve a distinct audience — and that Florists’ Review had the potential to become the publication of choice for the mainstream floral industry. Of course, I’m not really in the mainstream, preaching local and seasonal flowers, but Travis saw something of relevance in the Slow Flowers platform, and he continued to say “yes” when I brought story ideas to the table.

Here’s a sneak peek of our opening pages of the Slow Flowers Journal — launching inside the August issue of Florists’ Review.


Now, thanks to a new partnership, more than 13k subscribers of Florists Review will read regular coverage about the Slow Flowers Movement and the people who grow and design with local, seasonal and domestic flowers. Beginning in August, next week, I am joining Florists’ Review as a Contributing Editor and, you will find our dedicated editorial section called Slow Flowers Journal inside the pages of Florists’ Review magazine, the highest-circulation floral industry trade magazine on the market.

In the coming issues, we’ll feature:

Isn’t that cool? Now even more readers will learn about the #slowflowersmovement and how they can adapt and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle in the floral industry.

Want to see what it’s all about?
Subscribe to Florists’ Review and read our bonus Slow Flowers Journal content at the special rate of $21 for 12 issues — 62 percent off the cover price! Take advantage of the special subscription offer from Florists’ ReviewClick on this link or call 1-800-367-4708.  I promise you that you’ll find inside each Slow Flowers Journal, our mini-magazine, the stories, news and resources important to you.

Thanks again for joining me and for helping me celebrate all the good Slow Flowers news of this Podcast’s significant fourth anniversary. If you want to get more involved, please reach out — I’d love to hear from you!

Join the Slow Flowers Community on Facebook, and share your story of this ever-changing ethos to source domestic, American grown flowers and support flower farmers, as well as adopt a more mindful, sustainable lifestyle for you and your business.

As I mentioned, the Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded nearly 215,000 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 services 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. Its 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:
Additional music from:

audionautix.com