Debra Prinzing

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Episode 318: Bailey Hale, Ardelia Farm + Co. and Farmer Bailey’s Plugs

October 11th, 2017

Bailey Hale (left) and Thomas McCurdy (right) of Ardelia Farm & Co.

There’s been an ongoing theme for our podcasts this year — that of reinvention, re-branding and diversification for everyone in the Slow Flowers Community. As creatives, it makes sense. We are multidimensional and we strive to balance entrepreneurship with artistry in equal measure.

Today’s guest, Bailey Hale, is one such individual. Bailey and his husband Thomas McCurdy established Ardelia Farm & Co. in 2011.

Inside the sweet pea greenhouse

Today it is a cut flower farm, floral design studio and bakery in Vermont’s picturesque Northeast Kingdom. Thomas bakes using local, organic, farm-fresh ingredients to produce everything from chocolate chip cookies to wedding cakes. Bailey raises specialty cut flowers, supplying farmers’ markets and florists, as well as providing full service wedding and event design.

Sweet peas galore — the top crop at Ardelia Farm & Co.

I met Bailey in 2014 at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers annual meeting in Wilmington, where we struck up a brief acquaintance. I learned a lot more about his floral life story a few months ago when we both attended the regional ASCFG meeting that took place in Ontario, Canada’s Niagara region.

It’s amazing what a shared drink in the hotel bar with kindred spirits can lead to — before the evening was over, I made a point of inviting Bailey to come on this show as a guest.

This is how the “plugs” look when they arrive at a client’s farm — the individual plant starts are grown in flats, ready to be plucked out and re-potted into larger containers or directly planted into the ground.

We both agreed to schedule the interview and this episode for early October to coincide with the launch of a new season for Ardelia Farm & Co.’s spin off venture, Farmer Bailey Plugs.

As things happen in our community, we often catch glimpses of each others’ activities while scrolling across the screen of a computer or phone. I noticed what Farmer Bailey seemed to be about — and guessed that Bailey was batching or bundling a number of small orders into ones large enough to meet minimums set by plug or seed companies. What began as a “let’s help out friends in the flower farming world” gesture has rapidly taken off — and for 2018 it looks like the business whose tagline is: Custom Plug Brokerage for Professional Cut Flower Farmers will gobble up a good part of Bailey’s time.

In our interview, recorded via Skype recently with me in Seattle and Bailey in Irasburg, Vermont, I learned that the seasonal cycles of sourcing and marketing plugs and seeds is somewhat complementary to cut flower farming and floral design. Bailey saw an opportunity to fill a need — and he refined it into a sustainable business venture. I can’t wait for you to learn more.

Here’s more biographical information about Bailey and Thomas and how their chicken video went viral and made them famous a few years back. This is excerpted from their “about” section of the Ardelia Farm & Co. web site:

I’ve been working with flowers for a long long time. My grandmother taught me how to grow flowers when I was 5 years old, and this turned into a life long passion.  After receiving my B.S. in horticulture from the University of Kentucky, I worked at Longwood Gardens before starting an award-winning floral design studio (MODA botanica) in the heart of Philadelphia. Along with my business partner, we exhibited at the internationally renowned Philadelphia Flower Show where we took best in show a couple of times, and got to travel the world looking at cut flowers and meeting the folks who grow them.

When my husband Thomas and I left Philadelphia to start farming in 2011, I had no idea that flowers would be a major part of our operation. But after dabbling a bit, and joining ASCFG, I felt like I had found my tribe. I already knew flowers, and I knew how to grow things, I just needed a little more information on how to successfully grow and market cut flowers. I credit ASCFG with connecting those missing pieces, and introducing me to some amazing folks, including many of you.

As Ardelia Farm & Co. was taking shape, I searched endlessly for new varieties and tried to navigate the plug grower/broker relationship. I couldn’t understand why we need brokers in the first place, or why growers don’t just produce what is popular and trending right now. I now see that there needs to be someone communicating between the plug producer and the professional cut flower farmer.

In fall/winter 2015 I put together a group order for 6 Lisianthus varieties, and got an overwhelming response. These new and odd varieties were in high demand with florists and growers alike, but didn’t show up on the radar of plug growers or traditional bedding plant brokers. And that’s where the idea for Farmer Bailey started. I see the trends coming to the US from Asia and Europe, I know what we can grow well here in the US, and I’m determined to get those items in the hands of the folks who need them while they are are still relevant. Floral trends do change rapidly (despite the recent 5 year “Blush & Bashful” stagnation) and being able to respond quickly is key for the American flower farmer. 

So I became a broker, and luckily Gro ‘n Sell is supporting me in this. They have so graciously agreed to help us all by producing things that may have otherwise taken a decade to come into commercial production. These new items combined with their standard offerings will help us meet the varied demands of our clients nationwide.

While I have plenty of ideas and keep my eye on the international trends, I am no oracle, and I don’t know everything you want to see produced as a plug. Please tell me what you want. If there is a critical mass of interested folks, I can start the process of sourcing seed and asking the kind folks at Gro ‘n Sell if they will assist us. Feel free to use the Contact Us form, or join the ‘Farmer Bailey Plugs for Flower Farmers‘ group on Facebook and join in the conversation.

Here’s how to follow and find Farmer Bailey & Ardelia Farm:

Ardelia Farm on Facebook

Ardelia Farm on Instagram

Farmer Bailey on Facebook

Farmer Bailey Plugs on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining us today! The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 242,000 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:

These Times
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 317: Flower farmers shift into retail floristry – update from Floriography Flowers in Albuquerque, NM

October 4th, 2017

Farmer-Florist-Retailer Emily Calhoun of Floriography Flowers in Albuquerque

Today you will hear from Emily Calhoun of Floriography Floral based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an early Slow Flowers member whose news we’re sharing with you today.

In my 2017 Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, released at the beginning of this year, I noted Shift #3 — “Return of Brick and Mortar.” I wrote: “There’s a lot of flower power going on as independent and progressive florists are signing leases and opening retail spaces in the same markets that have witnessed mainstream mom-and-pop floral storefronts being shuttered.”

A few inside views of the Floriography Flowers space — note the “Luxe Floristry” tagline — all images from Spur Line’s Instagram feed.

This insight continues to play out with reports of flower shops around the country hitting my radar.

The newest twist on this story isn’t just florists setting up retail spaces, but also FLOWER FARMERS adding brick and mortar to the mix.

This is intriguing and recently, when I learned that the owners of flower farms that featured on the Slow Flowers Podcast in the past are opening their retail ventures in their markets, I wanted to hear more.

This is a continuing story. Since we recorded this show, I’ve learned of others who fall into the flower farmer-turned-floral retailer narrative.

I’ll be reporting on this shift in our 2018 Floral Insights report, which will be released in Episode 330 on January 3, 2018. Not to get ahead of myself, but please reach out if you have any suggestions to share on that front!

I’m eager to bring you my recent conversation with Emily Calhoun of Floriography, NM. Nearly three years ago, I traveled to New Mexico to meet my friend Paula Panich for a writing retreat in Santa Fe. I knew I would have to fly into Albuquerque so I reached out to our lone New Mexico Slow Flowers member, and asked her if we could have dinner together and record a report for this podcast while I was “passing through.”  It all worked according to plan and you’ll want to go back and listen to that conversation, Episode 176, aired in January 2015.

Flowers from an autumn 2016 Floriography wedding.

A lot has happened since then and as Floriography has evolved and changed, Emily has been at the center of a mini-explosion in cut flower farming in the state of New Mexico. We now have four Slowflowers members in the state and I’ve promised them I’ll visit sometime in the coming year to document more of what’s happening there. Let’s learn more from Emily and the new Floriography retail space at Spur Line Supply Co. in Albuquerque, which she calls her “shopette.”

As Emily mentions, she loves adding edibles to her floral designs.

And here’s an introduction from the “about” page at the Floriography Floral web site:

We began this beautiful journey in 2011 with some canning jars and a tiny piece of dirt in between pecan orchards. From this tiny parcel and with cuttings from the yards of friends and neighbors, Floriography began selling flower bouquets at small farmer’s markets and through weekly seasonal subscriptions to businesses in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM. Customers and subscribers loved Emily’s (Floriography’s founder) designs so much that wedding inquiries started rolling in.  

What started out as a dream to make local flowers accessible to our little community has since blossomed into a thriving event design business that reaches across state lines.

Floriography’s designs and farm flowers have been internationally published in wedding and style bogs and in print via Martha Stewart Weddings and Rocky Mountain Bride. Our team travels across the country designing for high-end weddings and events. We are based in Albuquerque, New Mexico but seriously delight in travel!  

Coming up, By the time you hear this, I’ll be heading to the east coast where you can find me first at the October 7th Slow Flowers Connecticut Meet-up hosted by Michael Russo of Trout Lily Farm in Guilford. There’s still time to join us, so check out debraprinzing.com in the Events calendar for details — or find them in today’s show notes.

I’m continuing on immediately after my time in New England to Holly and Evan Chapple’s Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia,  where I’ll be a guest at the Field to Vase Dinner they’re hosting on Sunday, and then I’ll join Holly and several amazing instructors at the second FLOWERSTOCK, taking place Monday, October 9th and Tuesday, October 10th. I can’t wait to lead a series of creative writing exercises for the participants — and it’s not too late to register.

Holly is offering a special $200 discount for the Slow Flowers community. Use this promocode for a discount off of the one-day or two-day registration: FSSLOWFLOWER. This discount can also be used for Flowerstock’s “#treattheteam” offer to buy 2 tickets get the 3rd for free. Get in touch with me or write flowers@hollychappleflowers.com to request the promo code for the free ticket if you bring a third member of your staff or team.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 239,000 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.
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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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:
Betty Dear; On Our Own Again
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

Episode 316: Nature-Inspired Floral Design with Cindy Hanson of The Herb and Garden in Helena, Montana

September 27th, 2017

Cinday Hanson trims bunches of tulips moments after they arrived from their overnight trip from Mount Vernon, Wash. Thursday afternoon in her downtown shop The Herb and Garden. Hanson says she only sources her flowers from within the United States only and adds that ninety-percent of them are Calif., Ore., and Wash. grown. (c) Thom Bridge, Helena Independent Record

A local bouquet by The Herb and Garden (courtesy Cindy Hanson)

Before I get started, I want to encourage you to listen carefully at the end today’s interview to learn about upcoming Slow Flowers events that you can participate in — especially to take advantage of a generous Slow Flowers discount code that Holly Chapple has shared for anyone who wishes to attend the upcoming FLOWERSTOCK at Hope Farm in Waterford, Virginia, October 9-10. I’ll be there teaching floral memoir writing . . . and would love to see you there!

Cindy often sources tulips from Washington Bulb (c) Thom Bridge, Helena Independent Record

This week’s guest is Cindy Hanson, owner of The Herb and Garden in Helena, Montana. She is a longtime member of Slowflowers.com and I recently profiled Cindy’s retail flower shop in the Slow Flowers Journal print edition – inside Florists’ Review. Click here to read “Keeping it Local in Montana.”

I wanted to feature Cindy and her business in the first ever “How I Do It” entry for Slow Flowers Journal because she is a role model for sourcing local botanicals whenever possible and augmenting with American Grown and flowers from other states when Helena, Montana, is covered in snow.

My thinking is this: by featuring role models like Cindy and fellow retail florists in other frost-prone markets across North America, we’re helping to debunk the assumption that the Slow Flowers approach is difficult to uphold.

If she can do it in Zone 4 or Zone 5, of all places, you can do it, too.

You’ll enjoy our conversation, as Cindy discusses the journey she has taken from a career in horticulture and landscaping to selling and designing flowers.

(c) Thom Bridge, Helena Independent Record

Here’s how to find and follow The Herb and Garden:

The Herb and Garden on Facebook

The Herb and Garden on Instagram

I hope you can take inspiration from Cindy Hanson’s business model — one that gives The Herb And Garden a brand distinction in her marketplace for specializing in Montana-designed wedding flowers and providing her customers with American-grown flowers all 12-months of the year!

And here’s our special news: Last year, Holly Heider Chapple of HOPE Flower Farm welcomed dozens of designers and flower lovers from near and far for the first annual Flowerstock.

This year, she will again open her farm on October 9th and 10th for Flowerstock. Hope Farm is located just outside of the nation’s capitol and there, professionals and members of the community will gather for two days of demonstrations and talks by renowned floral designers like Ariella Chezar, Robbie Honey, Pat Roberts and Sherry Spencer and Holly herself.

I’m excited and honored to join Holly for this second annual Flowerstock Experience where I’ll be leading creative writing exercises for attendees, guiding as everyone begins to record a personal floral narrative.

NOW, to sweeten the deal, Holly is offering a special $200 discount for the Slow Flowers community. Use this promocode for a discount off of the one-day or two-day registration: FSSLOWFLOWER. Click here to register.

This discount can also be used for Flowerstock’s “#treattheteam” offer to buy 2 tickets get the 3rd for free. Get in touch with me or write flowers@hollychappleflowers.com to request the promo code for the free ticket if you bring a third member of your staff or team.

If you’re in the New England area, you can also meet me at two upcoming events — A Slow Flowers Meet-Up in Guilford, Connecticut at Trout Lily Farm on Saturday, October 7th and at the New England Farmer Florist Collective event hosted at Salted Root Farm near Plymouth, Massachusetts on Sunday, November 5th.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 237,000 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.
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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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.

Episode 315: Flower Farmer Nellie Gardner’s New Chapter in Historic Garden and Landscape Preservation

September 20th, 2017

Nellie Gardener, cut flower farmer, horticulturist and historic landscape preservation consultant.

SLOW FLOWERS IN THE NEWS

Nellie Gardner at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, where she led tours recently for attendees of the Garden Writers Association annual symposium.

Nellie, pictured on the grounds of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, NY, where she is in charge of landscape restoration.

Today’s guest is a woman who I met “virtually” nearly six years ago, but we only recently connected face-to-face. Her name is Nellie Gardner. When the two of us corresponded in late 2011, Nell was the proprietor of Flower Fields, based outside Rochester, New York.

At the time, I was wrapping up the final manuscript for The 50 Mile Bouquet, and one of the last chapters I wrote was about the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, called “From Their Fields to Your Vase.” I was a member of ASCFG, and a frequent reader of the members’ bulletin board where flower farmers posed questions and engaged in discussion on all sorts of topics.

One question caught my eye — from Emily Watson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Stems Cut Flowers. As it turns out, Emily is a past guest of this podcast; we featured her in Episode 185 a few years ago when we discussed her decision to add a new floral studio called Wood Violet to her business model.

Emily’s question about the viability and sustainability of working 80 hour weeks as a flower farmer and wanting to know that it was worth it prompted heartfelt reactions from fellow ASCFG member-growers around the country. One message came from Nellie Gardener, who wrote this:

“I have been able to make a frugal living by growing cut flowers for 20 years, with no outside income or partner with an income. I can only do it by working like a madwoman most of the year, doing weddings, developing many outlets, and extending my Zone 5 season by making Christmas wreaths (and) offering workshops and classes. To make a living with cut flowers, you not only have to grow efficiently, have quality (product), sell to florists, wedding and special event designers, and sell in both retail and wholesale channels, you also have to reinvent yourself to sell all your skills to the public who is hungry for anything real. The competition is cheap labor in South America and the use of flowers as loss leaders in stores like Sam’s Club and BJ’s. Only some consumers will buy on conscience, not price.”

Flower Field Farm in Spencerport, NY, where Nellie’s cut flower farm is located.

After reading her comments online, I contacted Nellie to ask for her permission to include them in The 50 Mile Bouquet and I promised to send her a copy of the book as my thanks. She agreed, and I believe the honest and sincere answers she wrote in reaction to Emily’s initial question gave readers an unusual peek into the life of a small-scale specialty cut flower grower.

Another view of Flower Fields Farm.

Over the years I would catch glimpses of Nellie and her flowers, including a beautiful spread in Country Gardens magazine, for which I’m a contributing editor. It was one of those lavish, romantic flower farming stories that prompted me to say, “oh, I wish I had been able to write that!”

Flower Field Farms’ array of fresh, field-grown blooms.

After all these years, Nellie and I finally met in person this past August, when she presented a roundtable topic at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium in Buffalo. I was ecstatic when I saw her name on the program. And the topic was a departure for Nellie — I thought. Rather than discussing cut flower farming, Nellie was there to share the story of gardening at the historic Graycliff Estate, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home on Lake Erie, built in 1926 for the Darwin Martin family. The grounds at Graycliff were originally designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a well-known landscape architect and contemporary of Wright’s. Once grand, like the estate, the gardens declined with age — and Nellie has assumed the role of horticulturist who is restoring the flower borders, harvest gardens and outdoor living spaces.

Well now, this was a new role for Nellie and it all makes sense now that I see this title on her web site for Flower Fields: “Cut flower grower, horticulture and gardening consultation.”

I reintroduced myself to Nellie and asked if she would join the podcast to share her story. What you’ll hear today is our rather spontaneous interview, recorded in the lobby of the Buffalo Marriott Hotel.

Dahlias on display!

Here’s a short intro from Nellie’s “about” section of the Flower Fields web site:

Nellie grows cut flower on her Historic Spencerport Farm, and is also the Horticulturist at the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin House in Buffalo. Her experience growing up on a hardscrabble farm on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia gave her motivation to put herself through College to learn the science of soils and plants.

With no formal high school education and no money she earned a degree in Agriculture from Nova Scotia Agricultural College and Cornell University. Working for The Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and her own private consulting business, has given her a wide range of experience she applies to her approach to horticulture.

Seeing opportunity and making use of everything she finds grew out of necessity and reuse and repurposing are instinctive. She has grown cut flowers for over 20 years and consults in horticultural problem solving and cut flower growing.

Wow — at a time when so many are seeking ways to diversify their brand and business, I love seeing how one flower farmer’s  path is taking her in a direction that is creatively challenging, professionally rewarding and thoroughly relevant to growing cut flowers.

Nellie worked hard to diversify her business model at Flower Fields Farm, including wreath-making in the fall and winter months.

Find and Follow Nellie Gardner at these social places:

Flower Fields Farm

Nellie Gardner on Facebook

Nellie Gardner on Instagram

Thanks again for joining me today. The Slow Flowers Community continues to grow, with close to 1,500 members having joined our Facebook group and increased engagement on a daily basis over our other social platforms, including Instagram. We are gaining momentum and your participation is key. The media continues to pay attention and Slow Flowers has received some great press lately, both in the trade media thanks to our new partnership with Florists’ Review, as well as in print and online places.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 235,000 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.

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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:
Chords For David
by Pitx
Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Acoustic 1
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:

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Slow Flowers, Montana Style

September 19th, 2017

Our lovely gathering of Slow Flowers aficionados, pictured at Hart’s Garden & Nursery in Missoula.

Earlier this month, I flew to Missoula, a Western Montana, college town where there is quite a bit happening on the local flower farming scene. t was on my way to speak at the Rocky Mountain Gardening Live conference held on September 11-12 at Chico Hot Springs in Pray, Montana, just 30 minutes outside the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Kathy Sherba, Carly Jenkins and Kristen Tack — all cohorts in Missoula’s Westside Flower Market

Jamie Rogers and Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm, with me (right)

A giant sunflower puts a smile on my face, snapped during my tour of Mighty Fine Farm.

The reason for this Seattle-to-Missoula leg of my trip was to meet up with Carly Jenkins and Jamie Rogers of Killing Frost Farm, Kathy and Adam Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm and George and Marcia Hart of Hart’s Garden & Nursery — all in the Missoula flower farming and Slow Flowers community.

Carly and I met in person earlier this year when she attended Tobey Nelson’s Whidbey Island Flower Workshop, which featured Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events and Kaleb Willis of Kaleb Norman James Design. Carly, or CJ, as she’s often called, gave me the big news about the second-season launch of Westside Flower Market, a wholesale farmer-to-florist venture that she and Kathy incubated beginning last summer in Missoula garage owned by Carly and Jamie. You can hear our Slow Flowers Podcast interview from that visit here.

Great recent coverage on local & slow flowers in The Missoula Independent.

This year, six additional flower farmers have joined the momentum and they are doing some really awesome things. Read more about the Slow Flowers Missoula story in this excellent piece that just ran in The Missoula Independent.

George and Marcia graciously hosted a barbecue, farm tour and meet-up at their property.

And while I didn’t count totals, I bet we had about 30 folks in attendance,  including some who drove up to 4 hours from places like Kalispell to join us!

From left: Special guest Rep. Willis Curdy, George Hart & Marcia Hart, flower farmers and hosts.

I was delighted to introduce the Slow Flowers Movement to all those who attended, including Montana Rep. Willis Curdy, member of the agriculture committee for the state legislature, who just wanted to learn more about flower farming in his district — very cool!

A quartet of fabulous flower farmers: Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm, Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm and Kathy Sherba of Mighty Fine Farm. Photographed at Mighty Fine Farm in Missoula.

We also had some very special guests in attendance — Jeriann Sabin and Ralph Thurston of Bindweed Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho! Jeriann and Ralph are past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcast, which we recorded last year upon the publication of their fabulous book, Deadhead: The Bindweed Way to Grow Flowers.

A last-minute flower farmers’ vaycay (thanks to an invitation from Carly), their 350-mile road trip . . .  and we were blessed with Jeriann and Ralph’s generous souls, playful personalities and amazing wisdom. People soaked up every word they had to say. Southeastern Idaho’s growing conditions are similar enough to those of Western Montana’s that our crowed wanted to hear every word — and wanted to buy signed copies of Deadhead!

Ralph and Jeriann shared their story and their flower farming wisdom at our Meet Up. Photographed at the beautiful grounds of Hart’s Garden & Nursery, Missoula

High tunnels filled with late summer dahlias at Hart’s Garden & Nursery.

An unnamed dahlia at Hart’s Garden & Nursery. The brilliance offset the smoky skies caused by Western Montana’s forest fires.

That night, Carly, Kathy, Ralph, Jeriann  and I stayed up late, talking and visiting under the Montana moon. It has been a rough few months there, with the rampant wildfires, so we all were delighted that the breezes cleared the skies for one beautiful evening. A very special thank you to Adam Sherba’s parents for lending us use of their fabulous Missoula home. Jeriann, Ralph and I stayed there in great Montana luxury. In the morning, I watched deer and wild turkeys roaming through the hillside below the home.

Chico Hot Springs, a favorite of everyone in Montana.

I drove from Missoula to Pray (about 250 miles east) on Sunday, September 10th, arriving before dinnertime to check into Chico Hot Springs. CHS is a very special place — historic for its dude ranch vibe, its restorative 104-degree soaking pools fed by the springs and its adjacency to Yellowstone. The original lodge, where I stayed, dates to 1900, but the first recorded reference to the Hot Springs goes back to 1865. This is a place for kicking back and relaxing, which I did lots of. But now that there is a Conference Center to host corporate events, people come for multiple reasons.

All local flowers from Bozeman floral designer Remy Greco-Brault, owner of Labellum. Remy taught a pin-on floral workshop after my lecture.

Rocky Mountain Gardening LIVE, with dahlias grown by #kangaroohousegardens in Hamilton, Montana

I was there as guest of Dan and Andra Spurr, editor and publisher of Rocky Mountain Gardening magazine.

This wonderful quarterly magazine is for gardeners throughout the Rocky Mountains, encompassing stories and subscribers from the Canadian-US border down to Colorado and includes Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.

I was delighted to speak about Slow Flowers and share the story of what’s happening in Montana and beyond to an audience of more than 80 attendees.

Several flower farmers and florists were there, which made me feel welcome and allowed me to brag about their achievements — including Cindy Hanson of The Herb And Garden in Helena, a Slow Flowers member who I recently featured in Florists’ Review/Slow Flowers Journal.

After my time at Chico Hot Springs, I left knowing that even more folks are supportive of our movement, our cause, and our purpose. I met florists who promised to join and list their businesses on Slowflowers.com and I made lifelong friends with Dan and Andra, who couldn’t have been more generous in their hospitality.

A final bonus — spending two days with my siblings, Scott Prinzing and his wife Kristen Rickels Prinzing. They live in Billings and have both contributed to Rocky Mountain Gardening in the past, with articles (Kris) and photography (Scott). As a very special treat, they agreed to record the upcoming holiday special music episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast — listen for that Episode 328 on December 20th. I have no musical talent, but it’s nice to have siblings who do!

Episode 314: The Flowering of Toronto with urban farmer-florist Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard

September 13th, 2017

Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard, a Toronto-based micro urban flower farmer and floral designer.

In 2011, I traveled to Toronto to give a Slow Flowers presentation at the Garden Writers regional meeting held at Canada Blooms, the mega indoor flower and garden show. And although that was during the frigid month of March and I knew finding locally-grown flowers would be challenging, my fellow GWA members foraged from their gardens for the greenery and branches I used in my demonstration.

I spent one early morning in early August following Sarah on her neighborhood harvest route

But one of the main items on my agenda for that trip was to meet Sarah Nixon of My Luscious Backyard, today’s guest. Her unique approach to urban flower farming first caught my attention when My Luscious Backyard’s story appeared in a feature article in one of Canada’s national newspapers.

Sarah’s business starts in her own backyard, which is certainly LUSCIOUS!

Sarah studied film-making and spent her student summers working on a certified organic farm in British Columbia called Nanoose Edibles. The daughter of flower gardeners, she learned to love the rhythmic farm rituals of weeding and harvesting, not to mention the importance of sustainable growing practices.

Flowers flourish in Toronto’s postage-stamp-sized front yards, lovingly planted by Sarah.

Armed with a B.F.A. degree from Concordia University in Montreal, Sarah moved to Toronto to create documentary films, train as a yoga instructor and plant her own first garden in the city. Little did she know that growing a cutting garden would turn her into an urban flower farmer.

“I was growing so many flowers that I started giving them away,” Sarah recalls.

The notion of starting a flower CSA took root and she launched My Luscious Backyard in 2002.

Early on, Sarah’s 30-by-50 foot patch of ground yielded annual sunflowers and zinnias, flowering shrubs and lots of perennials. She shopped seed catalogs for new varieties and gained knowledge and inspiration from The Flower FarmerLynn Byzcynski’s essential guide to small-scale cut-flower farming.

Weekly subscriptions expanded into requests for Sarah to design wedding flowers, and soon, My Luscious Backyard was at capacity. Sarah asked a few friends if she could plant cutting gardens in their yards. “Then I put an ad on Craig’s List, and now people usually approach me,” she says.

It’s certainly a fair swap: Sarah gains planting space and the homeowner gains a flower farm. “People seem to be eager to have someone else garden for them,” she points out.

With more than 50 varieties of everyday and unusual blooms, My Luscious Backyard is known for producing the freshest, most romantic flowers around. Sarah harvests, designs the bouquets and delivers them to customers on the same day. She uses organic principles, reminding customers that “no environmentally damaging pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers are used.”

Here’s a fun video clip produced by a local newscast, which introduces you to Sarah’s passion for seasonal, organic and locally-grown flowers:

On her web site, Sarah emphasizes the value-added of buying local:

“Many varieties available through us are impossible to find at a conventional florist due to the arduous travel requirements (of imported flowers). And because they are grown locally they haven’t used a lot of fuel to reach you, unlike most commercially available flowers which travelled thousands of miles before arriving in Toronto.”

Photo by Andréa de Keijzer

Her wildflower- and nature-inspired bouquets satisfy weekly subscribers between the months of May and October to customers who pay $45 to $85 per arrangement with a 4-bouquet minimum. Sarah also supplies bouquets to restaurants, offices and area grocery stores.

And picture this: Sarah often utilizes a low-carbon-footprint bicycle, complete with a trailer. ”It holds six flower buckets,” she points out.

I hope you are as inspired as I am by Sarah’s “intentional” story. She lives with integrity – and beauty. And I hope more of us can do the same – even in our own backyards.

Here’s how you can find and follow Sarah:

Follow My Luscious Backyard on Instagram

See My Luscious Backyard on Pinterest

Find My Luscious Backyard on Facebook

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 233,000 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:

Red City Theme
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com